Wednesday, March 28, 2007

And the laundry goes 'round

A tick (three ticks, actually) over four minutes is good for a Wednesday. Raise your hand if you saw the answer to 61-A coming. OK, I don't believe you.

I could get behind this sort of schedule: laundry and internet in the morning, get to work at lunchtime, stay till 10:30. This probably means I'm guaranteed to teach morning classes next term.

Does anyone understand Mika's "Grace Kelly"? I keep hearing this song on the radio, and it's certainly got the catchiness it needs to succeed, but some of the choices seem a little bizarre. Not early-Bernie-Taupin-bizarre, but ... odd. "I could be brown, I could be blue, I could be violet sky" alright, I can see that those differences go together. I don't know whether we're talking eye color, LSD moods, or what exactly, but I can deal. However, we go on: "I could be hateful, I could be purple"? You couldn't find just one more color to round out the set? Is purple supposed to be the opposite of hateful? I'm confused. And don't get me started on that "Ka-Ching" at the end.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

2008 ACPT Practice, Day T-339

Just kidding. My time was not fabulous today, but I blame the cold medication. (I'm supposed to read for ACF Nationals this weekend---it had better be over by then, or I'm going to be angry.) It took me a long time (well past actually finishing the puzzle) to accurately parse "4-Her" as a member of a certain organization, and not some rock band or magazine aimed at women or something. Which is sad, because I think I must have seen that clue a good hundred times already.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Excel laughs at you!

I don't know how much Excel is used behind the scenes at ACPT, if at all other than making the output all neat'n'such for output, but look at this year's results for "January" Marks and Judy "May" (who, coincidentally, is therefore first in the alphabetical list). I could have sworn I'd seen Marc Maximov listed as "3/1/2007 Maximov" as well, but that appears to have been corrected.

UPDATE: Fixed! Never mind, now.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sometimes winds from the North are good

Getting everyone on the plane early + tailwinds = starting my car at the original scheduled time of arrival.

Other things from the weekend: NOTE WELL: Making no mistakes = tied for the last spot in the B finals (but not getting in on a tiebreaker, and it was really a tie for 4th place anyway). Making one mistake=all by myself in 13th.

Goal: top 5% (with 704 contestants, = 35th place). Actual finish, 39th. Without mistake: 25th.

Puzzle closest to the gods: #5 (!), only two minutes behind the pace. And (I think) the best puzzle of the tournament too, so only fitting.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

ACPT practice, days 4 and 5

I was covering another instructor's class this morning, so it was a big long day today. I had a time of 8-and-a-half for Thursday's puzzle, although I claim that I was distracted by the fact that I was in class, though on break, at the time, and I had to tell students that the reason they were having troubles drawing a line is not that the computer system was wrong but that they had, in fact, only managed to find one point on the line, and you can't draw much of a line with just one point.

Read more, rather spoilery, so don't read it

We'll see if I've got this spoiler thing down.

My official time on Friday's puzzle was 9:12; I forget how many times I submitted it until I got the NE corner right. It's not as though the clue for 6-A (or, for that matter, the answer) could in any way assist in solving the puzzle. I know I had
NESTED rather than MESHED at first, and it gradually got changed bit by bit, but that N didn't change (what's wrong with WHIMWHAN that isn't wrong with WHIMWHAM?)

Clues/answers that made me happy: 6-D, 34-A, 58-A; clues/answers that made me unhappy: 6-A, 26-A, 57-A.

I know that on Friday you shouldn't be scared of the long entries, since they're "straight"--no letter substitutions etc.--but I usually don't get them all right first try (since there's usually a lot of 15-letter phrases that have the one T, the E, and maybe the R that I've usually managed to fill in). So I was pleased.

Fast Food

There is currently a space race in the fast food industry: who are the spaciest people, the people taking the orders or the people giving the orders. I learned tonight that it takes far longer than it should to convince people that in order to acquire a soft drink from Burger King, one must, in fact, order a soft drink from Burger King (and pay for it, of course).

I'm all for "have it your way" and the like, but people, please recognize that there is a menu out there, and try to order things that could at least reasonably be considered to be on it. I have been behind a family ordering breakfast at McDonald's who apparently gleaned nothing from the menu board except what basic ingredients were there. Standing behind a family of five, each of whom orders something bizarre and outré (bacon and sausage, wrapped in a pancake, topped with egg) is an experience. When I came up and ordered "a #6", the manager (who was, by that time, working the cash register himself) gave me two free apple pies, just for ordering something actually on the menu.

There is a difference between not having them put onions on your sandwich, and ordering a "Big Mac, but without the extra bun, oh, and make it chicken instead of beef." Worse, the person behind the counter wasn't really listening, and so called the manager when he got stuck. I don't know exactly what buttons that manager were pushing, but there were a lot of them; and at the end, the customer had a pretty good approximation of what a Big Mac with chicken instead of beef would be. And then, the most amazing thing happened: the customer (an elderly gentleman whom I had opened the door for, not that I'm stereotyping) started trying to bicker about the price. He made a counter-offer to the manager at McDonald's! I have never seen anything like it in my life, and I don't think the manager had either; you could see the look on her face change from 'this person is a customer" to "this person is not a customer" just like that. And let me tell you, I never let old people get between me and the counter at McDonald's any more.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

ACPT practice, day 3: Wednesday

A smidge under six minutes today, nearly double the pace of the leaders. Mmm. Found it hard to get started; my first pass of Across clues gave me answers on the top two lines and the bottom two lines, with only "TCU" entered in between the two 15 theme entries. But we got there in the end, no thanks to "famous" pianists.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

ACPT practice, day 2: Tuesday

A theme flub, and a typo when reaching for the tab key (I hit "A" instead, which of course killed the letter I had just put in), for a disappointing time of 3:42, a full minute off the pace. I don't think, upon further review, that all the theme entries were clued appropriately, but that's probably just sour grapes. (Although Crossword Fiend does agree with me.)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

ACPT practice, day 1: Monday

2:20 in the applet online. ! Fourth person to finish (since on weekends, the puzzle opens up at 6pm rather than 10pm). Had to look back to find the theme, since by the time I got to the theme answer (bottom left-hand across) it was filled in by the downs. Oh well. 2:20!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

We All Saw That Coming

There was a big hubbub about Friday's J! game in the online game-show-nut world, set off by J!'s publicity people sending out PR about how the show was a must-see. "We can't tell you what's going to happen, but it's never happened before!" Everyone immediately said, "Oh, it's a three-way tie", and we were all right. It required stupid betting on the champion's part, but you can't blame him for seizing the opportunity. And since he was reasonably dominant through the show on Friday, he probably thought he could then win outright on Monday. If he doesn't, he's never going to live it down at Stamford this weekend, that's for sure.

When you tell us it's the season finale of "1 vs. 100", with no announced return date, and you start a game with 12 minutes left in the show, well, you know the $1M isn't going to go to *that* person, now don't you.