Prune and Apricot Hamantaschen
Title: Split Ends
Theme: Two-part common expressions with OR in the middle: _____or _____. In completing the answers, the first part of the phrase is Across, the OR is understood, and the second part of the phrase starts at the beginning of the first part and is completed by hooking Down where the clue is a dash.
1-Across (2-Down): “Everyone who’s anyone is attending!” = Be there (or) be square
8-Across (9-Down): Shoot for the moon = Go big (or) go home
13-Across (15-Down): Much-anthologized Frank R. Stockton short story = The Lady (or) the Tiger
54-Across (57-Down): Proverbial matter of perspective = Half full (or) half empty
60-Across (61-Down): Question asked in classic 1970s ads = Is it live (or) is it Memorex
79-Across (80-Down): Stickup line = Your money (or) your life
115-Across (118-Down): Song by the Clash on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list = Should I Stay (or) Should I Go
I got the theme quite easily. What gave it away for me was “The Lady or the Tiger” because it was always on the curriculum when I taught high school English. It did take me a while to complete the 70s commercial. I knew that Ella Fitzgerald had starred in it, her voice on tape shattering a glass. But for some reason, I had trouble remembering that the tape was Memorex.
As for the “Your money of your life!” expression, I immediately thought of the hilarious short skit on the old Jack Benny t.v. show. Jack had the persona on the show of a notorious skinflint. In that skit, he’s approached by a stickup guy. Too bad there no videos on YouTube because Benny’s timing and facial expressions were priceless. But here’s a recording:
Title: This n’ That
Theme: The word “and” linking two words in common expressions is changed to the “n” sound resulting in a silly phrase based on the clue.
23A. Content of a demand to attend? = Summon substance
32A. Freaky funeral noise? = Coffin wheeze
49A. Dive from a fire-breathing creature? = Dragon drop
71A. Venti, vingt, or zwanzig? = Foreign twenty
93A. Woe for a sunburned sea monster = Kraken peel
110A. Intel products used at a nuclear facility = Fission chips
119A. Overseeing a work crew, e.g.? = Foreman function
Lots of movie-related clues:
44-Across: “Castaways” director. Answer: Roeg (Nicolas)
61-Across: “The Bridge on the River Kwai” director. Answer: David Lean
116-Across: “Argo” setting. Answer: Iran
18-Down: “Life of Pi” director. Answer: Ang Lee
31-Down: Woodard of “Primal Fear.” Answer: Alfre
34-Down: Fay of “King Kong.” Answer: Wray.
Channeling the poet Robbie Burns about the best laid plans….* We were in the city last Sunday excitedly anticipating celebrating Michael’s birthday the next day at EMP. We’d already done some pre-actual birthday-celebrating beginning with a delightful dinner on Friday at Del Posto. We’d been three times for lunch but this was the first dinner. (Photo set here.) On Saturday, we had a sensational dinner at betony, one of our favorite NYC restaurants which we’ve been to numerous times since it opened in May 2013. (Photo set here.)
On Sunday morning, we awoke to find that Mother Nature was about to put the proverbial crimp in our plans. A blizzard** was going to assault the city on Michael’s birthday with a predicted 30 inches of snow! The timing was snow starting in the early evening and then ramping up to blizzard status after midnight. Our reservation was for 8 p.m. We figured we could probably make it to the restaurant, but our fear was because the meal is very long, we’d have trouble making it back to our apartment (three avenue blocks away) through howling winds and drifting snow. So, we did something that we’ve never done before at EMP. We canceled. Yup! We’ve been to EMP more than 100 times, and this was the first time we’ve ever canceled!
After a lovely brunch at another of our favorite spots Union Square Café (Photo set here), we went back to NJ Sunday afternoon and set about preparing for a birthday dinner at home the next night cooked by yours truly. Michael wanted an aged steak. Whole Foods opened near our house last year, and they age steaks in-house. So, we headed over there, chatted with the butcher, and selected a gorgeous ribeye.
This was the only thing we needed to buy, so we were all set.
The Birthday Dinner
Michael uses the Coravin to pour an excellent Bordeaux.
At my suggestion, we started with French Onion Soup Gratinée, one of his favorite soups. So perfect for a wintry evening.
We’re fortunate to have an indoor grill which I used to cook the steak.
To be honest, I always worry about getting the temperature of a steak exactly right. Michael likes it rare though he will accept medium rare. Luckily, I managed perfection!
By the way, my husband is probably the only man in America who does not grill — outdoors or in.
I had asked Michael what sides he wanted. He chose Potato Gratin and Broccoli.
The steak was juicy and had great flavor, the gratin was creamy, and the steamed broccoli with salt, pepper, and lemon butter was tasty.
When I asked Michael if he wanted me to make something fancy for dessert — perhaps, a soufflé? — he said he preferred his favorite Breyer’s Vanilla doused with Kahlua.
It was, if I must say so myself, a delicious meal. To quote another famous poet: “All’s well that ends well.”***
The photo set from this dinner can be viewed on my Flicker here
*The exact lines from the Burns poem are:
“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!”
**Of course, we know now that the blizzard didn’t happen, but we still feel we made the right decision based on the forecast at that time. Better safe than sorry!
***For the literary-challenged, that would be Shakespeare.
Title: Twist Ending
Theme: The last two letters of common expressions are reversed thereby changing the expressions into silly ones.
23A. “Those wreaths all look the same to me!”? = I cannot tell a lei.
39A. Start of an oral listing of African nations, perhaps? = You’ve got Mali.
53A. Showing less cleavage? = Raising the bra.
84A. Cheap roadside assistance? = A quarter to tow.
99A. Knockoff dress labeled “Armani,” say? = Illegal a-line.
116A. Caution to an orphan girl not to leave her wildebeest behind? = Annie get your gnu.
3D. Group of actors who all have stage fright? = Scaredy cast.
70D. Lovely but stupid person? = Obtuse angel.
I figured out the theme quite easily. Two of the clues seem a bit problematical. Raising a bra (53-Across) usually shows more cleavage than less. And instead of “Armani” (99-Across) it should have been Dior because he created the a-line skirt.
A few interesting answers:
8D. French sister. Answer: soeur. Having studied French, I know the word but for some reason spelling it correctly always gives me trouble, i.e., the exact line-up of the vowels.
71D. U.S. city whose name becomes another city’s name if you change both its vowels to A’s. Answer: Tempe (AZ). The other city, of course, is Tampa (FL). Love this clue!
82A. “Whirlybird” source. Answer: Maple tree. This is something I’m too familiar with. We have maple trees and each spring our backyard lawn, beds, and patio become littered with what we call “helicopters” falling from those trees.
96D. Did a 1930’s dance. Answer: Lindied. It was popular in the 1940’s and 50’s. I learned to Lindy as a teenager in the 50’s.
She was born on January 26,* 1915. She was 86 when she died of the rare disease Progressive Supranuclear Palsy on April 10, 2001. I did a blog post about her a few years ago.
This is the last photo of us together.
*Note: She had the same birthday as Michael.
I love beets. I use them often in salads, and during the warm weather months, cold borscht is one of my favorite soups. That’s why it’s really odd that I’ve never made hot borscht before. So, a few days ago, I decided to remedy that. After looking at several recipes, I settled on this one and scaled it down to serve two.
Dinner started with a citrus salad.
Cara Cara Orange, Fennel, Goat Feta, Pine Nuts, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Perfect for a wintry evening, the borscht was hearty and delicious!
Short Rib, Beets, Onions, Carrots, Cabbage, Potatoes, Beef Broth, Sour Cream, Dill