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?
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.
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.
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.)
I think it looks more like an owl, myself.
"She's the anti-Christ. She truly has the soul of a moth and the brain of a dead trout."
See if you can tell what's wrong with this picture.
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.)
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?"
This story is brought to dramatic life in the accompanying picture:
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?
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.
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.
From yesterday's referral log, I discovered that one person found my blog by searching on the phrase "POLYAMORY BY AL GORE". I don't know what they were actually looking for, but it was probably not so much a cartoon by me and more like this piece of scaremongering from the Weekly Standard. Articles like this certainly do arouse my ire, so even though it's a three-year-old article, I'm going to vent about it for a bit.
Polyamorists are enthusiastic proponents of same-sex marriage. Obviously, any attempt to restrict marriage to a single man and woman would prevent the legalization of polyamory.
Or it could be that polyamorists tend to be liberals who recognize that every justification for restricting marriage to heterosexual couples can be traced back to an essentially religious argument, and what was that separation of church and state business anyway? Anyway, as far as I know, there's no law against polyamory, which is a whole different thing than poly marriage.
Inevitably, group marriages based on modern principles of companionate love, without religious rules and restraints, are unstable.
And what data is this statement based on? We don't have legal group marriages, so where is the author getting his information? And what about traditional monogamous marriages between secular people? Are those marriages also inherently unstable because of the lack of "religious rules and restraints"?Taking a leaf from the gay marriage movement, Singer suggested starting small. A campaign for hospital visitation rights for polyamorous spouses would be the way to begin. Full marriage and adoption rights would come later.
Actually, I think the strictures about hospital visitation rights are ridiculous in general. Why can't you designate as many people as you want as de facto relatives? I have lots of friends I consider as important to me as family members, and it's kind of bullshit that those people aren't allowed to have the same visitations rights that my family would have.The harms of state-sanctioned polyamorous marriage would extend well beyond the polyamorists themselves. Once monogamy is defined out of marriage, it will be next to impossible to educate a new generation in what it takes to keep companionate marriage intact. State-sanctioned polyamory would spell the effective end of marriage.
Way to state your premises as conclusions!Polygamy, polyamory, and the abolition of marriage are bad ideas. But what has that got to do with gay marriage? The reason these ideas are connected is that gay marriage is increasingly being treated as a civil rights issue. Once we say that gay couples have a right to have their commitments recognized by the state, it becomes next to impossible to deny that same right to polygamists, polyamorists, or even cohabiting relatives and friends. And once everyone's relationship is recognized, marriage is gone, and only a system of flexible relationship contracts is left.
Um...marriage is a relationship contract. How does creating more genres of relationship contract nullify the previously existing ones?
I have my doubts about how many people would take advantage of poly marriages, anyway. The type of polyamory I practice (where Rose and I are involved with people who are in turn involved with other people) seems particularly ill-suited to an extended marriage situation, although a system whereby we could assign certain rights to other people for certain situations (like the aforementioned hospital visitation rights) doesn't seem like such a bad idea. But if, say, three people are cohabiting and committed to living together and, perhaps, raising children -- well, that seems like a situation in which the participants might very well wish to avail themselves of the protections of marriage, and I don't see why those people should be denied it.
Oh, remember what I said before? Well, the author says he has an anti-gay-marriage rationale that's not religious!There is a rational basis for blocking both gay marriage and polygamy, and it does not depend upon a vague or religiously based disapproval of homosexuality or polygamy. Children need the stable family environment provided by marriage. In our individualist Western society, marriage must be companionate--and therefore monogamous. Monogamy will be undermined by gay marriage itself, and by gay marriage's ushering in of polygamy and polyamory.
But preventing people from marrying in no way prevents them from raising children! The only thing it does is prevent people who are raising children together from having legal protections that prevent their children being taken away from them if the biological or legal adoptive parent in the partnership dies. And if a stable, married home is so important to raising children, why don't we also make single parenting illegal while we're at it?
Also note the unstated assumption that every marriage is about children. For instance, Rose and I aren't planning to have any. Whoops! We accidentally subverted marriage.
(Thanks to Matt for the link!)
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
TEAM BUSH FANS
Bush fans are morons
Bush fans need help
TEAM STAB BUSH
liberals r ignorant
WORST PRESIDENT EVER
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
W is a war criminal
Neocon Deth Instinct
BOYCOTT MEL GIBSON
...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.
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 of...um, 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.
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?
Sudoku isn't the only type of puzzle that Snakes on a Plane is adaptable to. Behold -- Snakes on Logic Puzzles!
(Via Snakes on a Blog.)
(Also available from Amazon.)
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.)