Crossword shenanigans, part 2

To keep my brain busy while we watch television in the evenings, I do crossword puzzles, and not just any crossword puzzles but the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, which is as everyone knows the most hardest of the week’s puzzles.

I have mentioned before that there’s some weird hippie woo thing going on with me and the puzzles, because too often to be random[1] it happens that something will occur while I am solving the puzzle that refers directly to some clue/answer in the puzzle, and usually as I am solving it.

After sixteen months, I just finished volume 8 (pictured to the left), and here are the weirdnesses that I noted.


[Part 1 of the weirdnesses]

Part 2:

9/9/21, #125: We’re watching The Good Fight, and Audra McDonald refers to Al Capone / as I am reading 57A: 1920’s tax evader

9/12/21, #126: Ted Lasso says, “I’m doing breathing exercises” /as I see 55D: It breathes

9/14/21, #127: Marie Kondo show; main person Lorri says she’s saying “goodbye” to her past life / as I see 86A: Goodbyes

9/27/21, #132: Watching the Tonys, “Broadway’s Back,” a medley from Jagged Little Pill / as I’m solving 99A: “[ALANIS] Unplugged” (1999 album)

9/28/21, #133: 114D: Tony winner Salonga was a presenter on the Tonys

10/25/21, #143: I had just finished the puzzle when a character on Grantchester, an American lieutenant, says his grandfather had gone up against the Red Baron in WWI / 70D: Manfred von ______ (The Red Baron)

11/5/21, #151: Watching a rerun of Life in Pieces; little Sophia lists all her “bad words,” ending with the “F-word”: Fart / as I am seeing 52D: Toot

11/7/21, #151: Skit on SNL, something about a cable cancellation with Kieran Culkin / 142A: Many a phone caller, ON HOLD

11/8/21, #152: Curtis Sliwa had just lost the election for NYC mayor / 74D: Guardian Angels wear

11/22/21, #155: Watching Tick tick boom; he’s in the diner, woman says, “The trash needs taking out” / I had just solved 28A: Busboy’s job, sometimes

12/1/21, #160: After attending our daughter-in-law Kristin’s PhD defense panel today / 4D: Researcher’s goal, perhaps

12/29/21, #171: Watching Emily in Paris, where one of the main characters is named Alfie / 119D: Alfie’s residence

1/2/22, #172: The week before, my friend Chas was on Jeopardy; the answer to the Final Jeopardy was the Arno River / 21A: River spanned by the Ponte Vecchio

1/11/22, #174: Watching Big Bang Theory; Sheldon says, through Penny’s door, “Are you whispering ‘Don’t make a sound’?” / right as I hit 41D: Faint sound?

1/20/22, #176: Dwayne Hickman had just died / 119A: Sitcom character with “many loves”

2/3/22, #183: Watching the Beijing Olympics / 81D: Skater ____ Thomas

2/6/22, #184: Watching the Beijing Olympics / 70D: Top prize, GOLD

2/7/22, #185: An Olympics ad for Celsius soda / 34A: Quote, part 3, CELSIUS and 109A: Quote, part 7, DRCELSIUSCOULDSAY

2/8/22, #187: Watching the Beijing Olympics / 56A, Barcelona Olympics quest

2/10/22, #188: Still watching the Olympics / 97D: Olympian Johnson

2/14/22, #190: I’m wearing my Acadia National Park t-shirt / 1A: Acadia National Park locale

2/20/22, #192: Watching Sean White’s final interview at the Olympics; he’s asked about not winning a medal / as I am solving 70A: Fail to medal

One final false alarm: 3/3/22, #198: Episode of Home Economics, Connor has to step in to partner his housekeeper in a salsa competition / 8A: Latin step, but alas, it was SAMBA, not SALSA.

So over the course of sixteen months, I had thirty-three bizarre coincidences, and that’s out of 100 puzzles. That’s a pretty high woo-to-reality ratio, people. You’d think I would have won the lottery by now.


[1] Of course it’s random. But it’s still weird.

Crossword shenanigans

I’ve blogged about this once before, but the serendipitous overlap between the New York Times crossword puzzle and my life is often unnerving.

I have a big fat book of Sunday puzzles that I work through while we’re watching TV, and here are some of the occurrences. (This also happens with the daily puzzle I do online.)

  • On March 23, we were watching Stanley Tucci’s Italian travel series Searching for Italy. In the first episode, he visits Sicily and meeets a woman winemaker, whom he describes as “groundbreaking,” just as I’m reading the clue to 41D: GROUNDBREAKING PERSON. [#60, Sounds of the Past]
  • March 24, with Sicily still in mind, 56D: SITE OF A 1943 ALLIED VICTORY. The answer is Palermo, the main city of Sicily. [#61, Yule Get Over It]
  • March 25, we’re listening to some comedian tell the story of a girl who stole syrup from the hotel breakfast bar as I’m reading the clue to 87D: HOTEL FORCE [#62, Beans, Beans, Beans]
  • April 7, we’re rewatching the first episode of Ted Lasso, wherein Rebecca asks Ted if he’d like a tour [of the team facility] and he responds, “I’d love to see Abbey Road,” as I’m reading the clue to 27A: PLASTIC ___ BAND. [#69, Leading Singers]
  • April 21, we’re watching Shtisel, and the clue to 32A: LEUMI is one of the themed answers, wherein the clue is a word in another language leading to a pun, so that SALATA >> GREEK SALAD. Leumi is an Israeli bank >> HEBREW NATIONAL. [#73, In Other Words]

(Be patient; this is leading to a really bizarre conclusion.)

  • May 3, I had just returned from a burn weekend, where the cocktails I served used FOUR ROSES bourbon [30A: BLENDED WHISKEY, OR A VALENTINE’S GIFT] and on the drive home, the phone randomly played 74A: “THERE IS NOTHING LIKE ____.” [#75, Railroad Crossings]
  • June 5, we’re watching The Kaminsky Method, ep. 22, and in the background of a scene is a billboard from Kaminsky’s upcoming movie, The Old Man & the Sea. 76D: PART OF A HEMINGWAY TITLE (SEA), 101D: PART OF A HEMINGWAY TITLE (OLD MAN). [#85, Personal Score]
  • July 4, we’re watching A Capitol Fourth on PBS. The military band played the Olympic Games fanfare on bugles as I was solving 10D: BASE CALLER, and the B-roll footage of our great nation threw up an elk for 41D: PLIABLE LEATHER. (Who knew?) [#96, Rare Birds]
  • July 5, the last episode of Ted Lasso, he exasperatedly cries, “If God had wanted games to end in ties, she wouldn’t have invented numbers.” The title of the puzzle is Rational Numbers. We then watched the third episode of Worn Stories, wherein one of the stories is an astronaut. The soundtrack included “Major Tom,” and I got 45A: 1983 DAVID BOWIE #1 HIT. [#97: Rational Numbers]
  • July 15, we had just returned from a trip to New Orleans, where I had bought the fabulous Thomas Hamann piece, “Ikarus I,” and the puzzle hit me with 89A: SON OF DAEDALUS. [#101, See O2]

And now, finally, the exciting conclusion — or is it?? — to this series of weird coincidences.

Yesterday, August 29, I was tootling around Facebook and came across this post from an old friend, David Hammett, who had taught math at GHP for several years and still returned to help run the game show segment of the math tournament.

I had seen the image several times, but I had not quite made the connection that CARNIVOROUS was an anagram of CORONAVIRUS, but David’s friend Trip Payne did. Duh.

As fate would have it, the puzzle I completed on Saturday night was called Commanders in Fiche, wherein the themed answers had the last names of our presidents anagrammed, e.g., PRESIDENT OF THE LUNAR SOCIETY? >>JIMMY CRATER, etc.

Are you ready?

::cue Twilight Zone theme::

What does it MEEEEEAN???

I don’t think I’ve blogged specifically about this, but, you guys, I seem to have a cosmic connection with the New York Times crossword puzzle. Multiple times in a week, either in the daily puzzle or the mega-collection of Sunday puzzles I amuse myself with of an evening (I’m on my second book, thank you very much), something will evince itself in my life that is a direct reference to a clue/answer in the very puzzle I am working on.

It’s bizarre. My Lovely First Wife  is the TV watcher in the family,  and as we sit watching The Crown or The Good Place or whatever hellish Hallmark holiday movie she’s binging, I’ll be working on  a puzzle in my recliner, and pop! as I work on a clue, it’s referenced in Holiday Princess or whatever the hell we’re watching.

Don’t believe me? This just happened and I came upstairs to blog about it.

This morning, a former neighbor dropped by with some fresh-baked bread and a few other things. One of the items in the bag, which she oddly did not mention, was this:

This is a dragon fruit. I knew what it was, but what I didn’t know is what to do with it.

So off I go to the intertubes to find out. First stop, Wikipedia, which alas was all scientific without any regard to those of us who had to consume the thing.

The only thing Wikipedia had to say was this:

Dragon fruit is used to flavor and color juices and alcoholic beverages, such as ‘Dragon’s Blood Punch’ and the ‘Dragotini.’

Alcoholic beverage, you say? Show me that footnote.

Small, Ernest (2011). Top 100 Exotic Food Plants. CRC Press. p. 105. ISBN 9781439856888. Archived from the original on 18 November 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.

I followed the link, which led to:

Did you get that?

An Ivan Dragotini.



Today’s (Nov 25, 2020) New York Times crossword:


What does it meeean???