Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Wednesday, August, 19, 2020, Brandon Koppy


The last time it was my week to blog, I got a puzzle with a lot of this "With 5-Across"-type cluing, and I did not like it much. That time, a lot of entries were just left with a dash instead of a real clue, but this time each answer has a clue, and the whole thing is held together nicely. It's a LIFE CYCLE that runs around the perimeter - two paths starting in the top left, ending in the bottom right, with a revealer in the very center. Not bad, really. It didn't make me love the cross-referenced clues, but once I was finished with the puzzle, I could appreciate the lovely construction. And the bold repetition of the word LIFE also made me smile. So although I am surprising myself by saying this, I liked it. :)


That said, the fill had to be sacrificed a bit for this stunt. ENOS and ANOS, ORANG, STENO, and ENLISTER... none of that is great. And AFTERBIRTH may indeed be called the "third stage of labor," but it's also something that I am surprised passed the "breakfast table test." 

On the other hand, I liked the freshness of EMAILBLAST (Message with many bcc's), and BOSTONACCENT (What may be tested by parking a car in Harvard Yard?) was fun. My bike is pahked in the yahd right now!

And I loved seeing AMBIENTNOISE (It's created by wind, rain and traffic) in the grid, because it's a topic, and a phenomenon, that I've become more acutely aware of recently. When we were in more of a total shutdown here in the Boston area, I felt the lack of cars and trucks almost all the time. The streets were empty, and the ambient noise changed from engines and the terrible beeping of trucks backing up, to leaves rustling in the trees and birds chirping. Today, the quote on my "page-a-day" calendar is this: "Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation." - Jean Arp. Of course, John Cage's quote "There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot." is also true. There is always AMBIENTNOISE. Sometimes it's pleasant, sometimes it's not. I prefer it to be pleasant.

Wow. I'm not sure that last paragraph went where I wanted it to when I started it, but I hope it at least will make you stop somewhere, sometime, during your travels today and just listen for a minute. Just hear what there is to hear. 

Yesterday, I saw a dead body on the street under a sheet. A man about my age was killed by a truck as he bicycled on pavement I ride every day on my way home from work. I got up this morning and went for a bike ride, and I tried to get over it, but it's not easy. Things like that do, however, make life more evident, more immediate, more raw. And I think that can be a good thing. Be aware of it. We all get just one LIFE. Only a crossword puzzle can have two.

- Horace


  1. Beautiful puzzle.

    Life is a gift.

    Requiescat in pace to the cyclist.

  2. 13:24
    Nice trick today, but ARENDT the path (CYCLE) run around the grid clockwise, starting and ending in the same place (the NW)? Or am I missing something, which wouldn't be unusual? Nice retro answer with STARSKY. I was in a place once with no AMBIENTNOISE: a lava tube in western Iceland. No animals, no air movement, no light at any level and rough walls. These human ears and eyes were not at all accustomed to that SHOW. Cage's 4'33" would be fully realized down there. Unfortunately, it would be difficult to get a concert grand in place and tuned for the performance.

    1. I love this comment. Also, you're right. They do just run clockwise, beginning and ending with life. And then, I guess, going back counter-clockwise for a split second before jumping to the middle.

      Also, I read somewhere once that Cage went to Harvard or MIT to be in a room - probably not unlike your lava tube - that was so acoustically perfect and anechoic that it could be made completely sound-proof. Cage stood in there for a while, then asked why he still heard two continuous tones, one high frequency, one low. The engineer said to him, "The high tone is your nervous system, the low is your blood in circulation."

    2. 4:33 was composed partly in response to that visit. It is said.

    3. You're not missing a thing, in my opinion, Huygens. Life. Yep, it tends to go on. Thank you all so much for this blog. Horace, I've been praying for the cyclist and all of his loved ones and family members all afternoon...and for you and all those effected. I don't know -- or care! :-) -- if you're a person who prays or's a joy, though, for me to do so.

      BOSTON ACCENT and all :-)

  3. 7:06
    Odd, but lovable. I am sorry for your witnessing mortality so brutally.

  4. I wanted "rhotic accent" although I guess the clue is for "non-rhotic accent" now that I think about it. Not that it matters as neither fits the grid.