MY DAILY BRAIN EXERCISE. For several decades I have started off my day — six days a week — by working the crossword puzzle in the ‘Texarkana Gazette.’
I didn’t do the ‘Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’ puzzle because it was too hard.
And I only did the puzzle six days a week because the Sunday puzzle in the Texarkana paper was too hard.
A WORTHLESS OLD COWARD!
I am giving you a real good look at my flawed character by admitting this.
So, for 30-something years, Monday thru Saturday, I have worked the crossword puzzle in the ‘Texarkana Gazette.’ The puzzle is apparently created by a man named Thomas Joseph, and it is distributed to newspapers by an outfit called Tribune Media Services.
Got that? In all of those years I never found an error in the crossword puzzle. And I am (he said modestly) an expert on words.
Never found an error until last Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.
The question across was: pigeon’s perch — 5 letters.
The intersecting question down was: co-star of movie ‘The Mule’ — 13 letters.
The third letter of the pigeon’s perch was also the 12th letter of the movie star’s name. Crossword fans will understand.
For the movie star’s name, I wrote CLINTEASTWOOD. (I do the crossword neatly in all-caps.)
For the pigeon’s perch, I tried to write LEDGE. It fit and made sense.
The letters of those two answers were also perfect to make the puzzle’s other answers fit.
EXCEPT that it made the movie star’s name CLINTEASTWODD. Eastwodd? Or, if the star’s name was spelled right, it made the pigeon’s perch LEOGE, not ledge.
I was pretty sure I had finally caught the newspaper’s crossword puzzle in an error but I had to wait until Saturday morning when the paper would carry the solved puzzle from the previous day.
It was raining and cold, and I was standing out on the street in my slippers and bathrobe at about 5:30 a.m, when the newspaper lady came by my house. “Mister, aren’t you getting wet?” she asked.
It was so obvious that I didn’t even bother to answer, but grabbed the newspaper and sprinted inside. I unwrapped it and tore my way to the crossword puzzle page.
There, in all its glory, was the solved puzzle from the previous day
And the answer was: CLINTEASTWODD.
I went online to try to helpfully inform Mr. Thomas Joseph about the mistake. No luck. I finally found Tribune Media Services but they must have known I was bringing bad news because there was no email contact listed.
There was no one I could tell. If I went up to friends or police officers or strangers on the street, and tried to tell them about an error in a crossword puzzle I’m fairly sure they would tell the mayor NOT to deputize me to be the city’s armed J-Turn Enforcement Officer. And the ‘Texarkana Gazette’ blocks all of my calls for no other reason than a practical joke I played on a reporter there. Well, ha ha, it was a pretty good practical joke but it’s a long story and I’m sure you wouldn’t be interested. So there’s nothing I can do except stew in my own juices.
Well, actually, I realized that there were TWO things I could do.
#1. I can tell you that the winner in the annual Burlington Liars Club competition one year won by saying that he had a cousin so smart she could work the crossword puzzle without reading the clues. (Pardon me while I laugh. That’s STILL funny; crossword fans would get it.)
#2. Once near Christmastime, I thought I had caught the newspaper in a crossword error. The clue was ‘pole worker.’ But the answer had only three letter spaces. I thought the answer could have been ‘NIGHTCLUB DANCER.’ The real answer, apparently, was ‘ELF.’ Well, that’s a long story and I’m sure you wouldn’t be interested.
THE GOOD EARTH. When we planted the daffodil (jonquil) bulbs we got from Wye Mountain, my wife and I thought we had picked out the ideal place in our yard. Plenty of sun and no foot traffic. And then a couple of years later we planted a privacy hedge made up of a plant called Eleagnus (spelling?).
Eleagnus has now overgrown enough so that very little sun reaches the daffodils, yet they are in bloom again. Just another pleasure of nature that reminds us that spring is on the way. Also in my side yard the flowering quince bush is a lovely red again.
Wye Mountain, by the way, is a small community west of Little Rock. Each year the little Methodist church there sells jonquils and bulbs as a way of making money for missions. They have an annual weekend festival about this time when the pastures surrounding the church are full of rows of yellow flowers. Go see it sometime.
THINGS I LEARNED from opening (and believing) email: “100 years ago a Twenty Dollar bill and a Twenty Dollar gold piece were interchangeable. Either one would buy a new suit, new shoes, and a night on the town. The Twenty Dollar gold piece will still do that.”
HE SAID: “The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.” Galileo Galilei, astronomer
SHE SAID: “My god is all gods in one. When I see a beautiful sunset, I worship the god of Nature; when I see a hidden action brought to light, I worship the god of Truth; when I see a bad man punished and a good man go free, I worship the god of Justice; when I see a penitent forgiven, I worship the god of Mercy.” Edna St. Vincent Millay, poet and activist
SWEET DREAMS, Baby