March 25, 2008

The sort of thing that comes up naturally while instant messaging

You have to wonder if Uncle Scrooge was offended that his relatives Americanized the family name. "Donald Duck? What's wrong with Donald McDuck? Are you ashamed of your heritage?"

Posted by Francis at 04:43 PM | Comments (7)

March 19, 2008

Oniony goodness

Saint Patrick's Day is over, which means you don't have to kiss me anymore, even though I'm still (one-fourth) Irish. But you do still have to solve my crosswords. I'm sorry, but it's the law. Here's another one from the Onion.

Posted by Francis at 05:33 PM | Comments (1)

March 17, 2008

The solving of the green

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I trust you'll be celebrating in the traditional way -- by solving a holiday-themed crossword. Lucky for you, I wrote one! (Download Across Lite to solve.)

I ended up writing this because the last puzzle I wrote (you remember, with the Lucky Charms theme) seemed perfect for a St. Patrick's Day crossword -- but that was a really difficult puzzle, and St. Patrick's fell on a Monday this year. So in lieu of waiting until 2011, when it falls on a Thursday, Peter just ran it on a different date. But, he said, he still needed a puzzle for March 17 if I wanted to write one. So I did. The theme is pretty basic, so, to make it interesting for myself, I kept the word count low. (74 words; for comparison, the maximum is 78, and the maximum for a themeless is 72. I usually aim for 76 and go up to 78 if I get stuck.) A lower word count is also good for me because I tend to write clues that are kind of wordy.

Oh, and Peter wanted to run my byline for this puzzle as "Francis O'Heaney". I talked him out of it, pointing out that "Heaney" is already an Irish name and thus does not need to be made joke-Irish.

Posted by Francis at 11:12 AM | Comments (3)

March 12, 2008

The left, right or wrong

There are certain things a person can do to increase the amount of unwanted e-mails they receive. The first thing is to have an e-mail address. The second thing is to use it, ever. The third thing is to donate money to a political party.

Oh my goodness, do I ever get e-mails from Democrats. Half of them ask me for donations, the other half want me to sign petitions or call my representatives in Congress. And sometimes I do sign those petitions, even though I'm dubious about how convincing such easily accomplished activism can be. But I did not sign yesterday's petition, in which the good folks at urge Governor Spitzer not to resign...because that's insane, obviously he should resign. But, they say, that would just be knuckling under to the right-wing conspiracy

Dear Governor Spitzer,

Don't let the Republicans and the rightwing media drive you out of office!

You made a lot of powerful enemies in your career because you took on the most powerful crooks on Wall Street. Now your enemies are trying to get even by destroying your career and your life. Don't let them!

The whole investigation by the Bush Administration stinks to high heaven. This isn't a case of "structuring" or "money laundering." The FBI never investigates johns - so why are they investigating you?

The answer is obvious. George Bush and Karl Rove turned the Justice Department into the political destruction arm of the Republican Party. They've prosecuted 5.6 Democrats for every Republican.

That's why former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman is rotting in jail, and that's what they want to do to you.

As Americans, we are outraged by Bush's endless abuses of justice. If anyone should be removed from office, it's George Bush!

Governor Spitzer, please stand and fight against this outrageous and naked partisan Republican assault. We support you!

Uh-huh. Nice job turning that around into a call for Bush's impeachment, You're just like the people with the out-of-place anti-war placards at a reproductive rights rally. This makes everyone look lame. Try to stay on topic?

And seriously, let's not compare Spitzer and Siegelman. Don Siegelman seems to have been railroaded on trumped-up charges, whereas Eliot Spitzer has quite obviously been caught with his hand in the prostitute jar. Sure -- it's possible that this turned up because the FBI was looking for something in the first place, but it still wouldn't be a problem if, oh, Eliot Spitzer hadn't been hiring expensive escorts on a regular basis.

Anyway, I don't think he ought to resign because I'm morally offended that someone would hire a prostitute. I could care less. Prostitution ought to be legalized, as far as I'm concerned. (I am morally offended that he cheated on his wife -- which some readers may find potentially risible coming from someone who is married and has a long-term girlfriend, but those people would be forgetting the key issue of mutual consent, clearly absent here -- but cheating in itself is probably not a resigning-from-office offense. Although maybe it should be! Anyone else think that Al Gore would have actually won versus Bush if he'd already been in office at election time, thanks to a Clinton resignation?)

No, I think Spitzer ought to resign because he's a huge hypocrite. If you made your name as a state attorney general busting prostitution rings, you give up your moral right to avail yourself of the company of prostitutes. Come on now.

Unfortunately, there is no clicky box with a sentiment to that effect on the petition.

Posted by Francis at 09:13 AM | Comments (18)

March 09, 2008

Like sands in the hourglass, so are the sands of the desert, except there are way way more of them and they're not inside a glass thingy

There's a new issue of On the Premises up, with a new installment of Six Things by me. Check it out, if you are the sort of person who likes to do what I say.

Posted by Francis at 10:44 AM in Six Things | Comments (3)

March 07, 2008

Armless Tiger Man

That's all. Just Armless Tiger Man.

Now to sit back and wait for the Garfield takeoff where Garfield is removed and replaced with Armless Tiger Man.

Posted by Francis at 05:17 PM | Comments (1)

March 02, 2008

Quick crossword tournament update

A slightly disappointing year, but not too disappointing. I was in 3rd place after puzzle 6, three minutes ahead of Trip Payne in 4th, so pretty much assured a place in the finals unless I screwed up massively. Unfortunately for me, that's just what I did, making an error in puzzle 7 that I really should have caught. The spread in solving times was enough that I only fell to 7th place, which is a pretty high finish for having an error, and is in fact my second highest finish ever. So, not a disaster, and my solving times were fast enough that I'm reassured that my finish last year wasn't a fluke -- which makes me feel fairly sanguine about my error, really, because now it feels like I'll be in contention for the finals again at some point or points, so I don't need to sweat one mistake.

And honestly, when I got my copy of the final puzzle in the audience, I was slightly relieved that I didn't have to solve it in front of everyone, because it was just as evil as last year's final. It took me 17 minutes to solve it without the stress of being on stage (and I had two squares wrong). So that also eased the sting a bit.

One of several highlights of the weekend: playing Aunt Millie's Millions after hours on Friday. It's a game in which players take the parts of one of eight money-grubbing heirs out to get the most valuable items from Aunt Millie's estate. (Backstories for each character get created on the fly at the very beginning of the game.) When two players want the same item, they select a judge and each try, in character, to convince the judge why they deserve the item. I played an entitled latte-swilling nephew in the first game, winning a grandfather clock with my impassioned description of how I talked my beloved Aunt Millie out of succumbing to heart arrhythmia by insisting she listen to the ticking of the clock, and Millie's 124-year-old uncle in the second, winning a $1,000 goldfish by declaring my willingness to kill for it ("I fought in a war! I killed a man who was standing no further from me than you are right now! It wasn't illegal! It was a war! I could kill anyone I liked!") Too much fun. Thanks to my friend Scott Weiss for continuing to introduce me to excellent games -- and congratulations to him for his 10th-place finish (his highest yet, I believe)!

Another highlight: Eric Berlin's multipuzzle crossword extravaganza from Friday night. It's not up yet, but I'm told he'll be posting it to his blog before too long.

Posted by Francis at 11:20 PM | Comments (9)