Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The war for more

The finals match the second-best team in the second-best division of the East with the best team in the best division of the West. And I'll tread no deeper into that water, because although I did count the total match points scored by each conference, I got the confusing sum of 40 vs. 39.5, and I don't know how that happens unless somebody was penalized for cheating, or something. On the other hand, I would find such a thing preferable to what they do in the National Hockey League, where there are, on average, more than two points (note to anyone who has never followed the NHL: traditionally, a win has been worth two points in the standings, and a tie one point, possibly because in pre-computer days not every newspaper could print "1/2" without difficulty or ugliness. In fact, I seem to face the problem even today on this very blog) awarded per game, because, as of a few seasons ago, or maybe a lot of seasons by now (time flies, and it's been flying for a long time, and I've pretty much lost all track of it), teams that lose in overtime still get a point in the standings, while the other side gets two points. Does this encourage, say, two teams locked in a tie late in the game, to try to postpone the decision till overtime? Well, it might, if hockey players are anything like sumo wrestlers. I was just reading "Freakonomics" (a non-fiction bestseller from 2005 by Dubner [a writer] and Levitt [an economist. Or maybe vice-versa]), and it reports that in the Japanese sumo league, wrestlers who finish the season at less than 50% are relegated to a lower division, and not only will they make far less money then than in the top league, but they also have to help bathe the top wrestlers, especially in washing their difficult-to-reach parts (by the way [hereafter "btw"], no homosexual demimonde double meaning is implied by my use of the word "top" in the preceding, any more than a higher-than-average incidence of homosexuality among sumo wrestlers is), and that, in season-ending matches between 7-7 records and 8-6 records, the 7-7's, on the cusp of relegation, score an amazingly high percentage of victories (which ought to make even clearer the fact that homosexuality among sumo wrestlers is no higher than the norm, and may in fact be lower. Btw, I don't believe that references to a particular famous Seinfeld episode are now so stale that they're fresh, so I'm not going to make one).

Contrary to my prediction of a couple of weeks, ago, "selfie" beat out "twerk" for Word of the Year. At least, according to the Oxford dictionary, it did. I don't know if they are the Rose Bowl* of WotY deciders, or if they're just first, in which case, they're the Blockbuster Bowl, or something. One article reports that "the most likely theory about the origin of (twerk) is that it is an alteration of work". If that is the general perception, then I am less surprised by Oxford's choice than I'd be if the more pungent portmanteau theory were the favorite one.

On to the match. I'll let the jumble speak. As usual, clicking on it makes it bigger.

* asterisked because I think I've overdone parentheticals today. Anyway, in the days before there was only one game that mattered at all, the Rose Bowl was hyped each year as the "granddaddy of them all".

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Semi Stuff

So, all those bets as to whether chess or the rubber duckie would be sooner named to the toy hall of fame go down as a push. Still, the news did make for a bit of excitement this week that ought to mollify those who have complained that the current world championship match has been too dull and not apt to create the boom for chess many felt was promised by the matchup between an Indian and a Norwegian, or a twenty-something and a forty-something, or a guy who wears glasses and one who doesn't. Also the US Chess League made the NY Times, though that was not a first. But this particular column announced the season's MVP winner, which rather implies that the fact that the league itself is a big deal is a given.

By the way, I was perhaps a bit snide in titling last week's blog entry "the real regular season". Really, the league is to be congratulated for its down-to-earth terminology for the several rounds of the postseason (i.e., quarterfinals, semifinals, finals), rather than the hyperbolic (but tempting) alternative "division finals, conference finals, league finals".

Miami vs. San Francisco:

Maybe I should be kind, as I was last week, and list the jumbled entries again outside the cartoons. But that denotes failure as an artist. Anyway, if you click the area, they seem legible enough on blowing up. I do admit this one limps a little bit, but if someone has been playing in the USCL since these jumbles began and has not been a subject yet, that indicates a certain difficulty. There can be the too easy problem as well, but this is not that. Returning to my prognosticatory roots, San Francisco by one.

New England vs. New York:

New York, also by 2.5-1.5.

In both, all the jumbled words have one and only one valid anagram as recognized by the anagram server at wordsmith.org. That is a guarantee, or I will give your time back.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A lesson in perspective

I lost a quarter the other day, falling out of my trouser leg. I had a vague sense that an unusually high number of coins tended to fall out of these pants pockets, but though I had looked, I had not noticed an actual hole in either front pocket, so I figured it was just bad luck. I have since discovered the design flaw: a hole at the top of the inner pocket, seemingly meant to be there, perhaps to enable one to straighten out one's underwear discreetly, but also forcing one to pocket ones coins a bit more deliberately. In any case, a group of tennish kids happened to be walking up the other way at that moment, and one girl among them told another "Jenny (or something), you dropped a coin". Jenny bent and picked it up, met my glance, and gave sort of a shrug that said "I know it's your quarter, but what can I do, my friend told me I dropped it". So what was I supposed to do, fight with a ten-year-old over a quarter? Anyway, the dime I found on the opposite sidewalk across that street bought more then than a quarter buys today.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The REAL regular season

I don't think "twerk" can be beaten at this point for Word of the Year, but "selfie" seems like a likely top ten, if it has not in fact already appeared on the list. Btw, I only recently learned that "twerk" was a portmanteau, but I'm now ready for the next "Jeoportmanteau" category on Jeopardy. Anyway, this is just to show that I am working in a new studio these days, which stays open later than the old one.

Connecticut vs. New England:

I knew I wasn't going to be able to commit to doing something every week for ten weeks, but I did almost do a preseason prediction, but I must have run out of time, or something. I seem to recall liking Connecticut in the East. I still do. Let's say by 2.5-1.5.

That's FEYLAD, FUELIT, ITLAGS, and NOTHYP. I entered one box sideways to try to beat the scanner's smart features, though I ended up borrowing a friend's scanner and had no such problems. I did have a different annoying problem when googling and yahooing for possible phrases. I don't mind the "did you mean ....?", because sometimes I do mean "....", but here, it didn't even ASK if I meant something else, it just TOOK FOR GRANTED that I did, and didn't even give me the OPTION of searching for the phrase that I ACTUALLY TYPED and MEANT to type.

Los Angeles vs. San Francisco:

I don't remember for sure who I was favoring in the West this year, or even if I got that far, but if I did, I think they are not around anymore. Anyway, San Francisco by 3-1.


Dallas vs. Miami:

INGAME*, THESEE, THEROX*, AMINES*. To explain the *s: In the case of INGAME, it is to acknowledge that there are at least two perfectly valid answers, but I figured since every single letter gets used in the final solution, it didn't matter that much. In the case of the other two, I think I had gotten confused about why I inserted the first asterisk, and did it because every letter was being used again. I do not mean to insult anybody's intelligence, but I figure the final answer is long enough that you deserved a break. Dallas by 2.5-1.5.

New York vs. Manhattan:

CALKJA, DUNLAP, USAENA, COOTLE. In the cold light of inebriation, this one is pretty strained. Also, I felt a bit of deja vu drawing this guy, but if I have in fact done him before, I am 99%+ confident the joke/pun/wordplay is different this time. New York by 3-1.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

I don't have time even to mail it in this week

(Original title: Something with "fucking", from 11/9, give or take a day. I'm combining all the NFL stuff into two posts, as an anti-clutter move. Two rather than one, because 26 people seem to have stumbled onto the Buffett vs. Gladwell entry, so I will let that stand as is, for the benefit of all who ponder the great questions.)

While browsing the used book racks at the Strand, I noticed a book called "The Shadow Knows", by a Diane Johnson, on the chance that it was about the pulp and radio hero Kent Allard/Lamont Cranston (before my time admittedly but I'm into that sort of thing) and on the inside cover was the signature "Daphne Merkin". The name rang a bell, and I wondered if I should pay the two bucks for it (even though the book, as it turned out, had nothing to do with that Shadow),just for the sake of the autograph. The foolishness or sagacity of the decision, though, depended on who Daphne Merkin actually was, and I had a feeling that if in fact it was not just my imagination and that I had in fact heard of her before, she was probably someone of the reviews-books-in-the-Times-or-some-such-no-apologies-necessary-impressive-in-its-own-right-but-let's-face-it-who-cares? type of fame, and in that case I would think about the cup of coffee I could have bought instead, especially since at this point in my life, one more book that takes up space and that I will probably have to junk anyway if I am forced to move out within three days, which seems increasingly likely, seems even more dispensable than usually. Anyway, having looked her up, I would say my hunch was correct, although she was the subject of a Susie Bright piece titled "Daphne Merkin Needs to Get Spanked Again" a few years ago, which would certainly have made good scrapbook material back in the offline days, especially if you don't bother to read the article, which is rather unflattering.

I had actually planned to put a bit of thought into these picks but I'm tired now and it's very late, so I won't. Once again, this idea of picking all the times was inspired by Larry Merchant's book about the betting side of the game, written in 1973. I thought that to persist with it all season long would be a real demonstration of maturity, but I have decided now that it takes even more maturity to abort a project that your heart and brain were never really in. So I'll take the raiders, TITANS, eagles, bills, COLTS, seahawks bengal, BEARS, 49ers, CARDINALS, broncos, cowboys and dolphins +7, -12.5, +1 (major, major line shift from the PACK to the eagles. I wonder what that's about?)+3, -9.5, -5, -1.5, pick, 6, 2.5, 7, 6.5, and 2.5.

Best bet--Don't commit to things you're not into. Also, this is the end, at least until the post season, which I really should be seeded into. Really tired, time for bed. Also, I will condense, I think, all the NFL posts into one. I'd delete them all but I don't want to seem to be trying to change the past. Also, when I combine, I will not leave this obscene title up, but for now it just expresses my mood so well.

...so I am picking all teams whose nicknames ("Giants", "Vikings") precede those of their opponents alphabetically, as long as the alphabetically-firsts are not favored by more than 2.5, in which case I pick the other side. Even the time it cost me to post this is hard to justify, but I am just that diligent about this blog. Just for the record, I am passing on any games that may already have happened, even though I have no idea of the outcome.

I'll sleep on the title (10/20/13)

Just some random crap to fill space till I get down to business....

All the free rice I have earned for the world on "freerice", and I still have to pay for rice at the supermarket.

I wasn't feeling it with this week's New Yorker cartoon caption contest. Also, I expect to be nominated for last week's, so why waste any brain cells?

On a strictly local note, if Marble Hill is in Manhattan, then the World Trade Center is in the Hudson River. But after all, we're all Pangaeans.

Relatedly, I resent having to scroll down to "New York" on web registration pages. Why isn't New York at the top, the way USA is often atop the nations list? Also, scroll down to 1965? Sorry, I'm not as young as I used to be.

I used to exult in my maleness because I could do both the patrilineal and the matrilineal test on the Genographic project. But now that I can do the 2.0 test for 2.0 x the $, I am exulting 2.0 x as much.

I had a cold last week. It went like this: Day 1-- Sore throat. Day 2-- Sorer throat, nose running like a faucet by end day. Day 3-- Nose still running hard, sneezing some. Day 4--Throat not sore at all, not sneezing, but occasional cough. Days 5, 6, 7 (I think; losing track now)-- Just mucus, phlegm to expel from time to time. No feeling of sickness otherwise. I worked throughout. Had to. Might as well earn money while feeling miserable. To treat the cold, I drank tea with lemon instead of coffee. Coffee tastes bad when I am sick. Tea with lemon (and milk), great. Speaking of coffee, I make buy/don't buy decisions based on this consideration--would I rather have this book (say), or half a cup (say) of coffee? So I bought more books than usual last week.

In case you don't know (and why would you?), I work on top of one of those tour buses. So I am in touch with the streets. So here is the word on the street today: hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare.

The greatest invention of my life has been the autosave feature, such as the one on blogger.com .

When I cared about sports, my favorite sports columnist was Red Smith. Now that I don't, it's Phil Mushnick. Ok, on with business:

Seattle*, ne, sd (it takes more to impress me than beating a 28 point spread, Jags), DETROIT, buffalo, chicago, dallas, st. l, tb, tenn, KC (why only -6?), cleveland, baltimore, denver, minnesota (I could see pick 'em, maybe, but Giants favored?), -6.5, -3.5, -7.5, -2.5, +8, pick, +3, +6, +7, +4, -6, +10, +1.5, -6.5, +3.5.

Best bet: If you want to go out shoplifting, make sure you leave your dead baby at home.

* Ok, I see before posting that it has been played already, and Seattle won/covered, so I won't count it. But I would have been right.

P.S. I am right now fixing up the Sunday NY Times "KenKen", which I have screwed up, because I hate to leave it half-done, but this will be the last one I do in my life (solve, that is, not create. I have not and will not ever create one).