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As I have often stated, I consider myself somewhat of a crossword puzzle aficionado. I believe this aficionadoship provides me with an inoculation which some noted gerontologists purport postpones the inevitability of the onset of geriatric senility (what did he just say?). It also helps me speak and write in clear, simple, and easily understood terms — thereby enhancing my capacity to communicate and interact with my fellow man (or The Little Woman).
I often wonder what kind of a person becomes a crossword puzzle author. He or she has to have a sadistic streak a mile long and probably has a collection of motivational speeches by Dr. Jack Kevorkian. You know the type of person I’m talking about — someone who would eat Oreo cookies in the dentist office waiting room just before having his teeth cleaned. Yuk! He/she composes clues in such a snarky, sneaky, and misleading way, it makes one suspect the aliens forgot to remove his/her anal probe.
Last Wednesday’s New York Times daily crossword puzzle had a very helpful hint for solving the puzzle and I quote: “When this puzzle is done, the answers to the six starred clues will form a word ladder, starting with 4-Across, whose record of 33-/42-Across was broken by 68-Across.” That clue is about as clear as a Lindsay Lohan urine test. In case anyone is interested, the answer was that Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s career home run record. I still have no idea what the “word ladder” was.
These puzzles truly can be very educational as evidenced by yesterday’s puzzle. For instance, what would you suppose is “an annual holiday with an ‘airing of grievances?’” Of course, the answer is “Festivus,” a secular Dec. 23rd holiday originated by one Dan O’Keefe and family to commemorate the holiday without “participating in its pressures and commercialism.” The holiday was popularized by a 1997 episode of “Seinfeld.” Gee, I missed that one.
Do you know what the “Largest living rodent” is? Ta-dahh! It is the lovable capybara. These critters inhabit the savannas and dense forests of South America and, to me, they look like a cross between a wild hog and a miniature hippopotamus. Adults will be 20-25 inches tall, up to four feet in length, and weight up to 150 pounds. I mean this is one squat, ugly creature that only a mamma capybara could love.
Another clue that threw me off for a while was, “Queen with a prominent bust.” Like most of you, I immediately thought of Queen Latifah. She is an accomplished singer, rapper, model, and actress who definitely has a prominent bust — and a prominent bootie also! Wrong, Bucko! In this case, we are talking about “The Bust of Nefertiti,” which is a 3,300-year-old painted limestone bust of the “Great Royal Wife” of Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. It is a truly beautiful depiction of a truly beautiful woman and is world-famous. The bust was discovered in 1912 by a German archaeologist who spirited it back to Germany and it has resided in German museums ever since. There has been a long-standing bitter argument between Egypt and Germany over demands by Egypt for its repatriation. Once again, as has been the case throughout history, a truly beautiful woman is trouble!
Well, the Ides of September brought ill tidings to the House of Platt — or maybe it was the fact that Friday the 13th fell on Thursday this month. Anyway, TLW and I were both suffering with nasty summer colds and chest congestion this week with each of us claiming to be sicker than the other. She finally won that argument as I had to take her to the emergency room early on Thursday morning and she has been sequestered in the Doctor Place ever since with pneumonia. Some people will do anything to prove a point.
When I last left her yesterday, the poor thing was just miserable. She had tubes, probes, monitors, and sundry insidious medical stuff dangling everywhere. She is in a corner room that is all angles and getting up to go to the litter box with all that plumbing attached is a monumental chore for her. And, on top of all of the suffering from her infirmity, she lost her voice on Friday. This was particularly infuriating to her as she couldn’t chew my butt for what I forgot to bring in or did wrong during our visits. Her voice is now pretty much all back, which is good for her and bad for me. If the creeks don’t rise, we hope to get her home on Monday where I will play the saintly nurse role that so becomes me.
I guess I’ll close this rant for now and go pay my respects to that sweet housemate of mine. It is Sunday afternoon so we will probably watch half of the Cowboy game together and then I’ll come back and watch the second half with Annie the Cat. Oh yes, while I am there at the Doctor Place, I will have her check this rant for typos before I ship it off to Editor Bob.
One thing I’ve learned from this ordeal — change is inevitable, except from a hospital vending machine.
Dick Platt is a Daily Sun columnist. His column appears on Tuesdays. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org