Category Archives: Reflections

Continuing idle pursuits…

Today’s (Friday, Aug. 8) NY Times crossword puzzle is top notch.  Clues that you have no idea of but would kind of like to.  A clever “resolution” once you get toward the end of the two long acrosses. A couple surprises in the some of the answers.  Worth working one’s way through if you’re into crosswords.

NYT Crossword Hints – Oct. 6 – Toe Tags

The first question to ask in looking at the Sunday puzzle is:  what’s the likely nature of the “trick” of the theme.   The first thing I check is whether the long clues have question marks at the end.  If they do, as they do today, we know that the theme answers are puns in which the title of the puzzle (Toe Tags) this time, figure prominently.

If you know what a pun is, skip this paragraph, but if you’re sometimes thrown by them, read on:  The most common wordplay is to take several common, everyday phrases, do something to them (the same “something” to every answer) and then give a clue that has nothing to do with the common expression, but literally fits the answer.   The most common of these is  adding a couple letters at the beginning, middle or end of the answer, but there have been many clever variants over the years.   If the puzzle designer’s clever, they bring a little smile to your face when you figure them out.

So that’s what we have here.   What makes this puzzle a bit challenging is that you really need to start getting some of the theme answers relatively early in the puzzle.  Keep this in mind:  A few of the clues refer to specifics (e.g. capital of Ecuador).   You can safely bet they’ll be contained in the answers.  If you don’t know Josip Broz’ more common name is, learn it today, you’ll use it many times in future puzzle solving.

10 Specific hints:

1.  5-Across Histoire de… :  The answer word is a name that is the same as French and English.   You do know this name.

2.  14-Down Leave surreptitiously: 2 words

3.  78-Down Orbital decay result:  Think space shuttle

4.  56-Across More than ardent:  Not a state you’d want to run up against

5.  99-Across Tiny pasta:  I always wondered if this stuff was actually a pasta.   Anyway, an alternate definition: “Approximately (spoken in a thick slavic accent)”

6.  55-Across Hands-free microphone place: No not the dashboard of your car.   Think motivational speaker.   Or don’t.  I hate those guys!

7.  84.Down Seinfeld called him the “Picasso of our generation.”   Remember Seinfeld’s profession.   The man he’s talking about had a bit too much burning ambition at some points in his career.

8.  51-Down Sang in the moonlight, maybe:  Think four-legged animal, not Romeo

9.  57-Down Learn fast, say:  The clue is fine, but most of us know that it’s more like trying to learn fast, not necessarily succeeding.

10.  25-Down Sonata segment:  The music, not the car, in case you were wondering.  Boston Celtic fans probably don’t realize this talented guy was also a part of a musical opus.





Life in the universe

We humans often think of life in the universe as though it were the result of a bizarre set of accidental circumstances.   We’ve evolved enough to realize that we aren’t the center of our own solar system, let alone the universe, yet we still think of life, and most of all conscious life, as an incredible and unlikely series of events, rather than being an inevitable element of the universe, permeating it.

So when we imagine the universe, we needn’t wonder whether there are planets full of life:  Of course they are.   Millions upon millions of them.













Catfood Addiction

A brilliant device in the film District 9 is that the overgrown walking-erect shrimps (who have invade Earth and are quarantined in District 9) are addicted to cat food.   It is brilliant because it makes sense:  of course cat food would be addictive to any animal that would eat it.

My cat is now old enough and spoiled enough that she has a preferred packaged cat food that is marketed as a “snack.”  She will stalk away from “normal” cat food.

Are you old enough to remember or have you seen a YouTube video in which doctors advertise cigarettes as “healthy.”   (If you haven’t seen the first half hour of Sleeper, by the way, I strongly recommend it.  If you have seen it, watch it again;  it will make you smile.)   Is it any wonder that our pets become addicted to particular products?    Obviously it’s not the FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) concern.    So god knows what they put in cat food, but mine becomes finickier and finickier every day when it comes to eating “ordinary” cat food.





Ain’t it the truth

“If you’re over 50 and you wake up in the morning with no aches or pains, that’s how you know your dead.” — Old joke

“If I woke up and didn’t have angst one morning, I wouldn’t recognize myself.” — I said that.

“You can be in my dream, if I can be in yours.” — a patient and shrink, both dreaming they’re the only person left alive after WW III, in Bob Dylan’s 115th dream.

Rutchik Rides Again

Thoughts, Wednesday night, May 16

[Note] This is the first time I’ve used the blog to post thoughts. An experiment.

We are at an odd point in history where knowledge from the past is actively being forgotten. I find this when I think of author’s I’ve read that many intelligent people have never heard of, but whose ideas are unique, not incorporated into our normal day-to-day thinking.

Erich Fromm for one. I asked college students to read his books but they couldn’t. They didn’t. It wasn’t like they read a little and couldn’t continue. They got nowhere at all.

Karl Marx is another. Seeing Jerry Levy do Marx in Soho I see that he is a man on a mission and that there is nothing like him in the world. Perhaps there is, but I truly can’t imagine that there could be yet another person walking the planet who so embodies Karl Marx. My closet of an office at Marlboro College was next to his and I always had to check myself before I called him “Karl,” when I said hello to him in the afternoon.

Last of a dying breed, we are, though I’m sure the next couple generations have just as much spunk in them. But they have a different flavor and something very different is going on. The Occupy concept is still very much alive even though it as a tactic, per se, seems to have been counteracted by greater force. Anything to do with correlations of forces is scary shit. But Arab Spring was both essentially Occupy taken a step further: to the point of inciting open fear in those who held power, fear strong enough to let loose of their power and run for the hills.

This has always been the power struggle in demonstrations: there may be a point where ordinary controls fail. But we know, or should know, our own limitations and we must know that there are those who would rather murder than give up power.

We have forgotten or are trying to forget the 1960’s. We do not want to conceive of a post-nuclear war world — something that felt close then, but remains just as close if not closer today. Who can blame us for this piece of repression? But there are other things we learned that we have forgotten. Like seeing “making it,” nearly however defined, as irrelevant. That’s just one thing. There a lot of things a lot of people figured out that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Does every generation think this? Does every generation have to figure it all out for themselves all over again? Apparently. As a kid, I used to sneer at geezers who thought they knew better than their young’uns. Guess the joke’s on me.

We’re a strange race, we homo sapiens.    We always think we know more than our ancestors.  Perhaps we do.  But we sure do leave a lot of good ideas along the wayside .


Added article published in local Vermont paper

After the Tropic Storm devastated the village I live in (specifically South Newfane, but calling ourselves a “village” is a bit of a stretch.  The small area of three villages — South Newfane, Williamsville, and Brookside — were really clobbered by the storm.  The rivers filled to overflowing to the point that trickling brooks became roaring torrents with tens to hundreds of full-grown pines, firs, spruces, and maples came roaring down them.  One house was washed from one side of the road to the other, completely destroying it.  In another place, not only the house but the land under it was taken by the river, leaving nothing but rocks and sand.  A man two houses downriver from me lost a couple acres of wooded land as the river veered right where it used to go straight.  Two bridges were completely destroyed and a third had one end six feet lower than it was before the floods.


Other towns got hit even worse, I’m told.  Some towns were underwater and others were completely isolated from the rest of the world as the only access roads and bridges were destroyed.


The process of responding to all this was an intense community effort.  I’ve just added the online version of the an article I wrote  for the Commons, a weekly free newspaper published in Brattleboro. You’ll find it under the title “A Vermont community struggles to recover from Tropical Storm Irene” in the Community section of the blook.


Release Day Cometh!

Today’s the day – I’ve added my essays on the cult/community (Dreaming of Community), God or Not (Stuck in Reverse), on being lost (Lost in Orleans), and, more importantly, sent emails to my friends telling that the site exists and where to find it.

(If you’re new to my site, this blog is currently solely for where I post info on additions and updates, rather than an ongoing gutter of consciousness.)

To fear or not to fear

Two articles added today. To some extent, they might seem contradictory in that one says there’s “No reason to be afraid” and the other (“Razor’s Edge”) says that fear is, to some extent, inevitable. Also added short article on hope and despair.