August 31, 2006

Battling pornography...with snakes!

A couple people have pointed this out to me, from my Amazon page:


But where is the companion volume, How to Do a Better Job of Hiding Pornography from Your Spouse?

Posted by Francis at 09:25 AM | Comments (3)

August 29, 2006

This and that and that

I got a 419 spam this morning that began, "My name is Wintson Zuma an executive member of the South African tender’s board committee of the Department Minerals and Energy." My immediate response: "Wintson Zuma? Of the Popcap Zumas?"

As has been reported on a few of the other contributors' livejournals, the Onion is going to start running crosswords in a couple weeks, with a rotating cast of eight constructors. The first one (in the September 13 issue) will be by me, and will be available online, so be sure to check that on out. Not that I won't remind you when the time comes.

The first Snakes on a Sudoku on a Plane contest entry has been submitted. Behold:


Thanks, Ken! The rest of you have some big snakeskin shoes to fill.

Posted by Francis at 09:03 AM | Comments (5)

August 28, 2006

Not that any of this applies anymore, now that Pluto's off the map

I was looking at a book about astrology today; it goes into a lot more detail about what one's sign says about one's personality than some books I've seen. Let's see what it says about my sign, Aries.

Apparently I like "noise, excitement, danger, sex, satire" and dislike "peace and quiet, monotony, hypocrisy, injustice". Pretty spot-on except for the part about danger. It also suggests that I would enjoy gambling, rally driving, or rugby. Nnnnnnno.

There is a list of "traditional correspondences" for Aries; here are some excerpts.

Associations: Electricity, sharp things, metals, anger, satire. Again with the satire. Anyway, this makes me wonder if an Aries was the one who looked at a spoon and said "this is insufficiently pointy" and invented the spork.

Animals: Dragons, sheep, tigers. Yes, including imaginary animals really helps me take astrology seriously.

Herbs: [Among others], gentian, garlic, rosemary. No surprise on garlic and rosemary. But little did I know that astrology could explain why I love Moxie!

Places: England; Germany; Israel; France, especially Burgundy; ... all capital cities; places with sporting facilities; places formerly occupied by sheep, cattle, deer, thieves, limekilns, or brickworks; newly cultivated land; sandy or hilly ground; buildings with high ceilings and elaborate plasterwork; stables. So many parts of that describe lofts in Soho.

Posted by Francis at 05:59 PM | Comments (6)

August 22, 2006

Perhaps they heard that I own every Joni Mitchell CD, and naturally assumed I was female

Snakes on a Sudoku gets mentioned in the daily edition of Publishers Weekly today. Unfortunately, their daily news clips seem to be utterly un-copyedited. Be on the lookout for the words "soduku" and "diagnolly", the movie title Snake on a Plane (perhaps they're thinking of another, much less exciting movie), and for the remarkable result of my recent sex-change operation.

(Update: As noted in the comments, my gender confusion has been alleviated. You can also scroll down to the bottom of the page for a picture of me and one of my coworkers handing out promotional copies of Snakes in front of the Union Square movie theater.)

Posted by Francis at 12:13 PM | Comments (7)

August 18, 2006

Care for a piece of divinity?

I think it looks more like an owl, myself.

Posted by Francis at 10:29 AM | Comments (4)

August 16, 2006

Quote of the week

"She's the anti-Christ. She truly has the soul of a moth and the brain of a dead trout."

Posted by Francis at 12:17 PM | Comments (5)

August 15, 2006

Now that's what I call a sudoku variant

See if you can tell what's wrong with this picture.

Posted by Francis at 03:11 PM | Comments (6)

August 14, 2006

This contest may prove more difficult than I had originally envisioned, what with the TSA cracking down on paper (which I believe can be set on fire) in carry-on luggage

It's very stressful to travel by air these days, what with airports doing their darnedest to make it seem like terrorists are more likely to be foiled by security screenings than by, oh, surveillance by law enforcement. What better way to make your flight more pleasant than by entering a silly contest that has a trivial prize? All you have to do is send me a photo of yourself holding a copy of Snakes on a Sudoku...on a plane. Like so:


Feel free to dramatize the moment if you wish:


If exactly one person sends me such a photo -- congratulations! You win! If more than one person sends me a photo, I will pick my favorite. The winner will receive a copy of a blank CD in a CD case, with a CD cover that has these songs listed on it. I have no idea what will happen if you put that blank CD into a stereo. Probably nothing, but you never know. Contents ends in...oh, let's say a month. (Photos will almost certainly be posted here, so try not to make it obvious in the photo if you're also smuggling drugs on the flight or something.)

(Obligatory buy-the-book links: B&N, Amazon.)

Posted by Francis at 01:34 AM | Comments (12)

Everyone loves the smell of pi!

Debby writes:

I was at Copley Place the other day buying my parents a gift, and spotted something very odd on one of the pushcarts:


Who thought this was a good name for a perfume? And what's the slogan -- "smells irrationally good"?

I am assuming that we'll soon see:

e -- "Transcendent."


i -- I see an "Obsession"-like TV campaign for this one: "Was he real? Was he imaginary? All I knew was that he was unique, the square root of something ... impossible."

Or maybe just a square root symbol: "Why not try something radical?"

Posted by Francis at 01:04 AM | Comments (9)

Adapted from a novel by Graham Greene

Another installment from the Hip Reader (part one; part two).


This story is brought to dramatic life in the accompanying picture:


Posted by Francis at 12:28 AM | Comments (4)

August 13, 2006

Self-promotion on a blog

This is pretty sweet: Snakes on a Sudoku is plugged in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly:


I'm perfectly willing to accept both of those adjectives.

Conveniently, this issue is the fall preview, so I can use it to scout out new movies that are crying out for sudoku adaptations. How about Tenacious D presents the Sudoku of Destiny?

(You know you want it: B&N, Amazon.)

Posted by Francis at 03:26 AM | Comments (0)

And that boy grew up to be the lead singer of Loverboy

A new installment from the Hip Reader, in which we'll learn a little bit about /oi/ sounds...and, maybe, a little bit about life.


Posted by Francis at 03:05 AM | Comments (4)

August 11, 2006

I picture the young John Travolta as "Beefy"

While walking to dinner from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Wednesday night (where we had been checking out the corpse flower), Rose and I passed that guy who sells books down the street from the library, and Rose spotted an amazing book: the Hip Reader (Volume 2), from 1972.


It's an easy reader, meant for older readers than, say, Dick and Jane Have Fun, but what makes it wonderful is its desperate attempt to be down with the hip young people and their funky slang. (Hmm...I feel like that reminds me of something.) There's a definite "See Dick. See Dick get his groove on. Get that righteous groove on, Dick, yeah, get it on" vibe. To give you some idea, I present the story of "Poor Beefy".


In case you'd like to do a little preparation, here's a list of the vocabulary words you can expect to see in the story, which follows:


Truly a bad scene.

I'll be posting more scans from the book in the fullness of time; until then, practice what you have learned.

Posted by Francis at 03:00 AM | Comments (9)

August 06, 2006

Treadmiller's crossing

I thought the first dance video from OK Go was fun, but clearly I had not seen nothin' yet.

(Thanks to Matt for the link!)

Posted by Francis at 01:21 AM | Comments (1)

You can't spell "boondoggle" without "Boggle"

Over at Weboggle, there are always a few players and teams offering political commentary with their screen names. There seem to be more than usual today. Here's a selection from the games I just played. (Neoconservatives appear to be in the minority.)

Team Impeach Bush
Bush fans are morons
Bush fans need help
BushFans>lil peckers
liberals r ignorant
George W Turdgobbler
George W Buttwipe
George W Buttcrack
George W Buttface (I think those four might all be the same guy)
usa irish GO GWB
Traitors Bush&Cheney
W is a war criminal
Neocon Deth Instinct

...and, presumably in response to that last one:

Update: Among Sunday night's players, we also have BUSH IS A SNOTBOG, GOP FUBAR, I hate democrats, liberals r ignorant, cons can't govern, and jimmychoosGOISRAEL.

Posted by Francis at 01:02 AM | Comments (2)

August 05, 2006

Cutest protest ever

Up until about six months ago, I had never heard of the American Girl dolls. When I tell people this, they're usually slightly shocked at first, and then they remember that I am a boy. But since meeting Lorinne, who performs in both the shows currently running at the American Girl Place theatre (Bitty Bear's Matinee and The American Girls Revue), I have become fully aware of the cultural juggernaut that is American Girl, previously lurking in my I-am-not-a-prepubescent-girl-nor-do-I-have-occasion-to-spend-any-time-with-one blind spot. Had I still had any doubts about American Girl's ubiquity, they would have been dashed this Easter when Lorinne performed Bitty Bear's Matinee at the frickin' White House. (The show was, however, edited for length and to remove all the pointed political commentary.)

So anyway, it's been interesting to see the media's coverage of the actor's strike at American Girl Place. Even the snarky media is covering it. (Gawker, predictably, comes down firmly on the side, the right to crack wise? I can never remember if they have a moral center or not.)

One goal of the strike was to avoid being too aggressive, because the actors wanted the girls going into the store to be on their side. This led to the creation of signs that drew connections between the actors' desire to unionize and the can-do spirit of the American Girl characters:


...and the liberal use of animal ears (and puppy-dog eyes):


People who attended The American Girls Revue during the strike were treated to a piecemeal version of the show, with two store employees (who have performed as emergency fill-in performers in the past) covering the adult acting duties, when the show calls for four actors. (Bitty Bear's Matinee was simply cancelled.) One scene in the revue that had to be cut was the one in which one of the American Girls decries unfair labor practices. Too bad they couldn't have had the child actress who plays that part read her speech out on the picket line.

Posted by Francis at 05:47 PM | Comments (1)

August 04, 2006

If you want to get something done, blog about it

The paperback edition of Crossworld is now out, and it incorporates some changes to things which were -- coincidentally? -- carped about here. Too bad I didn't get around to the rest of the book. Here's a partial list of changes, though:

Page 15: Romano no longer claims that "hip" is a word that has "never to [his] knowledge appeared in the Times puzzle. (The parenthetical remark is simply deleted.)

Page 20: Reference to Paris and Moscow being the "two other cities [besides New York] worldwide that have active and extremely competent puzzling populations" deleted and replaced with more reasons crosswords are suited to life in New York. Tokyo sidetrack also deleted.

Page 21: Reference to pickpockets deleted, replaced with "A good proportion of [subway riders] put the enforced downtime to an arguably better use, and instead do puzzles."

Page 29: Or maybe I can't take credit for the changes to the book, since "day" and "in" are still transposed. Nor are any clarifications made to the sloppy section on word squares.

Page 48: The bit about non-Americans and SUPER BOWL LXXXVI was changed, though I'm not sure it has any effect on his meaning. Before: "Any non-American who happened to solve enough cross-clues to yield the string LXXXVI would tear his hair out wondering what on earth word or phrase could contain it, and soon rip the puzzle to shreds." After: "Any non-American who happened to solve enough cross-clues to yield the string LXXXVI would tear his hair out wondering what sport it refers to -- has there been an eighty-sixth America's Cup yet?"

Page 54: While Romano's crappy description of "checked letters" on page 53 remains, he did, at least, fix the incorrect cryptic reading of Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose.

Anyone spot any other differences?

Posted by Francis at 06:57 PM | Comments (4)

August 03, 2006

I believe I specified that she was wearing a blouse

Well, this is an unexpected Holy Tango tie-in.

Posted by Francis at 11:40 PM | Comments (3)

One snake only bites people who have just told the truth, while the other snake...

Sudoku isn't the only type of puzzle that Snakes on a Plane is adaptable to. Behold -- Snakes on Logic Puzzles!

Puzzle 1
Puzzle 2

(Via Snakes on a Blog.)

Posted by Francis at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2006

Hiss hiss bang bang

It started out as a joke, but somehow or other Snakes on a Sudoku turned into a real book -- and an official movie tie-in, no less:

Snakes on a Sudoku

(Also available from Amazon.)

Posted by Francis at 11:47 AM | Comments (10)

August 01, 2006

I've been out of town

But I'm back now. More substantive posts to come, but for now, two links:

Ken Jennings gives Alex Trebek the business.

Arrested Development fans will be delighted to know that the Pageant of the Masters is real, and still going on after more than 70 years. (This is probably old news to Californians.)

Posted by Francis at 12:15 AM | Comments (3)