Ilivetolearn's Blog

March 29, 2012

ACPT time again

Filed under: crossword puzzles,on the road — ilivetolearn @ 7:56 pm

Well, it’s about time I wrote about the actual tournament rather than just my prep for it. The crossword pattern on my nails (last post) has gone the way of all lacquers, long since dissolved in acetone. However, my hands did make it into a few photostreams; go to,  look at the Don Christensen collection titled “Sunday Talent Show and Awards,” and scroll to the end. Tada! The digits, digitalized. May they someday grasp a trophy. Better work on my handwriting as I will never win, place, or show in any other category.

The puzzles were huge fun. I swore that they were harder (or at least trickier) than last year’s, but I see from the ACPT results page that a higher percentage of competitors finished all 7 without errors than in 2011. (37 out of 592 this year and 34 out of 655 last year.) I fear I will *never* join this rarefied group. I only had three perfect puzzles; two had one-letter goofs of which I was not aware until I saw the scanned copies, and two had multi-letter goofs I knew about the minute I handed them in. On the notorious #5, I took it as a victory that this year the judges marked my wrong squares in yellow highlighter rather than my correct squares in blue highlighter. I am definitely gaining on #5.

And I did manage to squeak from Division D (bottom 60%) into Division C by finishing 229th. So my progression is: 428, 315, 269, 229. What’s the next number in this series? We’ll have to wait until 3/10/13 to find out.

Non-puzzle highlights included the traditional walk across the Brooklyn Bridge–this year it happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, so there were hordes of tourists and New Yorkers of ALL ethnic varieties wearing outlandish shades of lime and chartreuse and in various stages of inebriation. Even this year’s bride having a photo shoot on the bridge got into the spirit of the holiday:

I think her bag was probably loaded not only with cosmetics and perhaps a frilly garter or other marital accoutrement, but also with a padlock. It’s a newish trend for people in love to clip a lock onto a random part of the bridge and throw the key into the East River:

Many have names and dates written in permanent marker. The idea originated in Rome, where readers of Federico Moccia’s novel Ho Voglia di Te (I Want You, more literally I Have a Desire for You, or more idiomatically I Fancy You), and I assume also viewers of the 2007 movie made from same, are attaching security hardware to ancient spans like the Ponte Sant’Angelo or the Ponte Milvio:

Somehow the till-the-end-of-time symbolism of a 129-year-old bridge pales in comparison to one built in 207 BC, but local couples have to make do.

Maybe one of the Saturday vendors at the next ACPT can make a killing hawking padlocks with this inscription:



March 16, 2012

this year’s crossword nerdiness

Filed under: crossword puzzles — ilivetolearn @ 12:16 pm

I am about to go back to Brooklyn for my fourth outing at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and I am psyching myself up with…crossword nail art. Yes, I confess to being a nail polish junkie. At last count there were 127 bottles of the stuff cluttering up a shelf in my closet. I have very little use for makeup (used to wear it to make myself look older; time took care of that) because I don’t see it. I’m not catching my reflection as I pass mirrors and thinking, “Yes, the concealer and blusher are doing their jobs and enhancing my appearance!” but I do look at my fingers and think, “What a cheery peach,” or “Isn’t it cool the way that color looks purple from one angle and green from the other?”

Nail lacquer has definitely gotten more interesting in recent years, with a broader spectrum and more iridescent finishes. And with two teenagers sharing my obsession, our in-house collection has branched out into wilder hues. And now decals too! But instead of springing for the set of ready-made crossword decals on eBay (for God’s sake, they were only $2.07), I went for the DIY approach. You can find a YouTube tutorial on anything these days. And the result:

Here’s a close-up:

The really astute observer will even recognize the puzzle (maybe after holding a mirror up to it): NYT, Wednesday, March 14th. Hope the tournament officials don’t think I’m cheating.

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