5775: L’Shana Tova Tikatevu

September 25, 2014

Rosh Hashanah Symbols

NYT Sunday Puzzle – September 7, 2014

September 9, 2014

NYT Sunday Puzzle - September 7, 2014

Title: All-Encompassing

Theme: A rhebus wherein the 4 points of the compass fill 8 squares of answers that cross each other – N & S down and E & W across. In addition, each of the 4 unchecked squares in the center of the grid is filled with one of those letters according to its compass position.

3D. Kicks everyone out, say = cleaNS house
30A. Nasty storm, e.g. = foul WEather

8D. Big name in auto racing = uNSser
17A. “No lie!” = I sWEar

13D. Cousin of zucchini = acorN Squash
33A. Film director who said, “I think an artist has always to be out of step with his time.” = Orson WElles

50D. Karate instructor = seNSei
63A. Fan of pop’s One Direction, perhaps = tWEen

57D. Stretching muscle = tensor
64A. Veered off course = yawed

66D. Dodo’s lack = commoN Sense
98A. Southern farm concern = Boll Weevils

73D. 1960’s sci-fi series = Lost iN Space
100A. “No need to worry” = don’t sWEat it

Unchecked Squares:
47A. _____child (playful side) = inNer
80A. Atomic clock part = maSer
53D. Small flycatcher = peWee
55D. “_____ Satanic Magesties Request” (Rolling Stones album) = thEir

NYT Sunday Puzzle – August 10, 2014

August 10, 2014

NYT Sunday Puzzle - August 10, 2014

Title: Number-One Friends

The theme is found in 62-Across: What the answer to each of the six starred clues starts with. Answer: White House dog. The answers are common phrases beginning with the dog’s name. To determine the correct name related to the clue, the name of the relevant White House occupants is provided in brackets.

24A. *What to call a female ambassador [the Johnsons] = Her Excellency
116A. *Pairing up for safety [the Clintons] = Buddy system
3D. *Cleaning supply [the Bushes 43] = Spot remover
15D. *”My Fair Lady” co-star [the Reagans] = Rex Harrison
67D. *Singer with the 1964 #2 hit “My Boy Lollipop” [the Bushes 41] = Millie Small
70D. *Egg order [the Obamas] = Sunny side up

I knew the names of the dogs belonging to the Johnsons (their other dog was named Him), the Clintons (who also had a cat named Socks), and the Bushes 41 (Barbara wrote a book called Millie’s Book) but never heard of the singer Millie Small. Even though I had no idea what the other dogs’ names were, the clues made it pretty easy. The Reagans’ dog was the easiest. Who hasn’t heard of Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins? With regard to the Bushes 43 dog, my elementary school first reader Fun with Dick and Jane had a dog named Spot in it: “See Spot. See Spot run. Run Spot! Run! Run! Run!”

Reading the comments on Rex Parker’s site, I discovered something which totally escaped me: the blackened squares in the center represent a dog’s face.

Some interesting answers:

11-Across. “Coffee Cantata” composer. Answer: Bach. Keens Chop House has a delicious dessert called the “Coffee Cantata.”

46-Across. _____prosequi (“proceed no further” court entry). Answer: Nolle

68-Across. Max Peel, for example: Abbr. Answer: Anag. I had no idea what “Anag” was until I read the comments on Rex Parker’s site explaining that “Max Peel” was an anagram for the word “example.”

89-Across. Modern know-it-all? Answer: Siri. The voice on the iPad.

121-Across. Earthy deposit. Answer: Marl

79-Down. Actress nominated for a Golden Globe for “Rhoda.” Answer: Anne Meara. I enjoyed that comedy series.

52-Down. Last song Rodgers and Hammerstein did together (1959). Answer: Edelweiss. In The Sound of Music.

NYT Thursday Puzzle – August 7, 2014

August 7, 2014

NYT Thursday Puzzle - August 7, 2014

Theme: A Wordplay-Related Quip. What makes this type of puzzle difficult – at least, for me — is that since there are no clues, you have to fill in the surrounding answers to figure out the quip. This quip is split on the grid in 4 parts:

20A. Part 1 of a wordplay-related quip = Is it
21A. Quip, part 2 = just me or
35A. Quip, part 3 = are there other
52A. Quip, part 4 = anagrams
55A. End of quip = of em.

So, a play on words: Is it just me or are there other anagrams of em? Cute!

A few other interesting answers:

15A. Figure on a Utah license plate. Answer: Arch.

56A. Bag lady? Answer: Kate Spade.

60A. Site of one of the world’s most famous onion domes. Answer: Agra. Atop the Taj Mahal.

9D. Radiohead frontman Yorke. Answer: Thom.

21D. _____ Löw, coach of Germany’s 2014 World-cup winning team. Answer: Joachim

45D. Wordsmith who wrote “Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.” Answer: Safire (William)

NYT Sunday Puzzle – August 3, 2014

August 4, 2014

NYT Sunday Puzzle - August 3, 2014

Title: Chee Whiz*

Theme: The sound “chee” is at the end of one of the words in the theme answers thereby making familiar phrases silly.

24A. German philosopher with an injury? = Wounded Nietzshe
30A. Guy who’s covered in mud? = Filthy Ritchie
51A. African-American martial art? = Black Tai Chi
64A. Only form that carbohydrates take? = The Lone Starchy State
80A. Unsure answer to “Where were the 2014 Winter Olympics held?”? = I guess Sochi
97A. Actor Stanley’s dinner reservation? = Table for Tucci
107A. Film reviewed by Jughead’s friend? = Archie Rated Movie

*I somehow managed not to notice that my printed hard copy had no title. I only realized it was missing when I checked my finished puzzle with Rex Parker. Based on his comments section, it was only missing in printed hard copies.

I’m giving myself a little proverbial pat on the back for figuring out the theme without knowing the title. Not that it was terribly difficult to figure out. The first theme answer I filled in was 97-Across (Tucci), shortly followed by 107-Across (Archie).

A few other interesting answers:

69A. “Absalom and Achitophel” poet. Answer: Dryden. While I’m familiar with some of Dryden’s works, I don’t know this one.

118A. “Less Than Zero” author. Answer: Ellis (Brett Easton). I’ve heard of him but am not familiar with this novel which (via Wiki) was made into a movie.

47D. Loser to Pierce in 1852. Answer: Scott (Winfield). Scott was the Republican candidate against President Franklin Piece (Democrat) running for a second term.

NYT Thursday Puzzle – July 31, 2014

August 1, 2014

NYT Thursday Puzzle - July 31, 2014

The theme is found at 55-Across: Visual representation of this puzzle’s theme. Answer: Space Bar. A rebus as you have to fill those squares with the word “SPACE” in order to get the correct crossing answers. There are also two other answers in the puzzle related to the “space bar” theme — one straightforward, the other cute.

41D. Areas that may be protected by military jets = Air(spaces)s
36D. You might need a lot of it for your files = Disk (space)
56D. Hit 1996 live-action/animated film = (Space) Jam
57D. We’re living in it = (Space) Age
58D. Name for 55-Across = (Space) bar
37D. It’s far out = Deep (space)
43D. Regions within regions = Sub (space)s

20A. 55-Across, e.g. = Computer key
28A. 55-Across, e.g.? = Star Wars Cantina

NYT Sunday Puzzle – July 27, 2014

July 29, 2014

NYT Sunday Puzzle - July 27, 2014

Title: What’s My Line?

Theme: Answers to the theme questions are the “lines”/familiar phrases the persons would say but related to the question in a funny way.

22A. Telephone line = Sorry wrong number
30A. Cruise line = Show me the money
52A. Story line = Once upon a time
77A. Finish line = That’s all folks
101A. Fault line = It’s not you it’s me
111A. Laugh line = Take my wife please
15D. Date line = May I see you again
39D. Power line = Might makes right

This was one of those “I’ll never get it done” puzzles and a real slog for me. With barely anything filled in at the start and even after I figured out what the theme was all about, it took me two days working on and off to complete it. So, plugging away at it and making a couple of last minute corrections paid off.

I kept thinking that 30-Across had something to do with cruising, as in on the sea. It finally dawned on me that the “Cruise” was Tom, the actor. The “line” is from the movie ”Jerry Maguire.” A commenter on Rex Parker’s site pointed out that it was actually Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s line. I checked a YouTube clip which shows that he spoke it – shouted it, actually – and had Cruise repeat it – shout it – several times.

(And, by the way, “Take my wife, please” was made famous by comedian Henny Youngman.)

There were a boatload of “I have no idea” answers that I got only by filling in surrounding answers. Here are some:

18A. European capital, to natives. Answer: Praha. Aka: Prague.

20A. Jimmy _____ “They’ll do it every time” cartoonist. Answer: Hatlo. Never seen this cartoon nor heard of the cartoonist.

21A. “Le Roi d’Ys” composer. Answer: Lalo. An opera I’ve never heard of though I have heard of Lalo.

70A. Car featured in the “Transformers” movies. Answer: Camero. Never seen these movies. The first letter I filled in was the final “o” and that was enough for me to know which car it was.

96A. Hunt in “Mission Impossible.” Answer: Ethan. Character play by Tom Cruise. I’ve never seen any of the movies. I liked the old t.v. series. This character was not in them.

114A. “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” singer/songwriter. Answer: Ochs (Phil). Never heard this song.

24A. Weeper of myth. Answer: Niobe

31D. College in Atherton, Calif. Answer: Menlo.

41D. Baud measurement. Answer: Data flow.

46D. Birthplace of Pres. Polk. Answer: N. Car.

Dinner at Home on le 14 juillet

July 19, 2014

In 1986 and ’87, Michael, Jen, and I traveled to Europe. Both trips included stays in Paris.

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Jen and me, 1986

(Photo by MKR)

Both times we were there on le 14 juillet. Parisians celebrate French Independence Day with the annual Bastille Day Military Parade down the Champs Elysées including a formation flyover by the French Air Force.

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(Photos by MKR)

In the evening, there were fireworks. Raucous crowds jammed the streets making it difficult to get around.

In New York City, there are celebrations as well, the largest and longest running one being the Alliance Française’s “Bastille Day on 60th Street.” Along the stretch between 5th and Lex, booths offer tastes of French foods and drinks, and there is also entertainment. In the early years, we found it enjoyable. But after not having been for several years, we went again a couple of years ago and found it was not what it once. Food offerings were meager, and many vendors were the same ones who can be found at the ubiquitous street fairs that pop up each weekend on various avenues in Manhattan. Chinese massage, peut=être? Quel dommage!

A great way to celebrate is at a French bistro, many of which have special menus and events. The late Park Bistro was a favorite spot for us to mark the day with a delicious meal. Had we been in the city last weekend, chances are we would have attended the ticketed Bastille Day event on the 13th at Montmartre.* But we were in NJ, so on Bastille Day, I put together a French-themed dinner for the two of us.

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Belgian Endive Salad with Blue Cheese, Pecans, and Vinaigrette

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Basque Seafood Stew with Scallops, Shrimp, and Steamed Red Potatoes**

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Bing Cherry Clafoutis

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Bing Cherry Clafoutis, Homemade Bing Cherry Ice Cream, Blueberries, and Homemade Whipped Cream

*We did have a scrumptious dinner at Montmartre on Friday, the 11th, dining al fresco in their thoroughly charming garden. Photo set here.

** My seafood stew is based on a recipe in Pierre Franey Cooks with His Friends.

NYT Thursday Puzzle – July 17, 2014

July 17, 2014

NYT Thursday Puzzle - July 17, 2014

The theme answers contain the word “back.” The first word of the phrase ends with “back,” the first part of the word is spelled backwards, and the “back” is omitted from the answer.

17A. Singer in the sea, literally = PMUH whale (HumpBACK whale)
27A. Plan B, literally = LLAF position (FallBACK postion)
42A. Gridiron maneuver = RETRAUQ sneak = (QuarterBACK sneak)
57A. Little kid’s lift, literally = YGGIP ride = (PiggyBACK ride)

It took me a while to figure out the clever tricks. Once I did, I was able to complete this puzzle quite easily. However, what almost kept me from finishing without any errors was 52-Across: Stocking stuffer. I filled in “TOY” but eventually realized that the correct answer was “TOE.” Cute clue!

At Home: Celebrating the 4th on the 5th

July 8, 2014

A few weeks ago, Jen suggested that she and Louis come to the house for a July 4th barbecue, a tradition they’d missed last year. July 4th would fall on a Friday, making it a three-day holiday weekend. I suggested that we keep an eye on the weather forecast and pick the best of the three days. While the forecast for Friday, July 4th didn’t bode well — rainy and cool compliments of the outer western edge of Arthur, the season’s first hurricane — Saturday and Sunday were looking very good. They decided on Saturday, the 5th. And the weather couldn’t have been more perfect: sunny, low 80’s, with no humidity.

Jen and I discussed menu basics: franks and burgers for lunch; ribs for dinner. Jen would buy buns for Louis from a gluten-free bakery near their UES apartment, and I would fill in the rest. As for dessert, Jen came up with the idea of a clafoutis. It would, of course, have to be gluten-free so that Louis could eat it. A quick internet search showed that finding such a recipe would not be a problem.

Michael picked them up at Matawan station a little past noon. Twenty minutes later, they were at the house. First order of business: Lunch!

Louis and I had burgers. I had mine without a bun. Michael and Jen had franks with regular buns. Louis also had a frank without a bun.

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Gluten-free Buns

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Burger on Gluten-free Bun

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Hebrew National Frank on Regular Bun

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Busch’s Baked Beans

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Sour Kraut and Pickles

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Watermelon for Dessert

After lunch, Jen and Louis went off for a short walk. We all spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on the patio. Then, dinner!

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Amuse: Watermelon Gazpacho

Baby Back Ribs out of the oven and ready for the grill:
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On the Grill

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Half Rack

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Homemade BBQ Sauce

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New Jersey White Corn

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Homemade “Clairmont Diner Health Salad”

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Gluten-free Blueberry Clafoutis

“Red, White, and Blue”: Gluten-free Blueberry Clafoutis, Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream, and Homemade Whipped Cream

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Michael and I took Jen and Louis back to the station to catch a 9:30 p.m. train. As we were sitting in the car waiting for the train to arrive, we heard the sounds of fireworks. We didn’t know exactly where they were coming from, but turning in our seats, we could see the colorful displays lighting up the sky. A fitting end to our Independence Day celebration.

The photo set of this July 4th celebration can be seen on my Flickr here.


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