Saturday, October 19, 2013

Left-handed cronuts (Sunday brunch: October 20, 2013)

I had a split doubleheader last Sunday: you heard about the morning game, and the afternoon game was better in several ways.  Next age group up, the ice felt a little less dead, the coaches had a better grasp of things, and a decent partner: not only is he pretty focused and conscientious for a high school kid, he’s also left-handed, which is rare among referees.

Because of my bad shoulder (the injury that got me into refereeing), I keep my whistle on my right hand and signal with my left.  When you’re signaling a delayed penalty, your arm should be right against the earhole of your helmet, and I can’t raise my right arm that high.  In other sports, this doesn't matter too much, but in hockey, you have to pass the puck to your partner after you pick it up and he establishes the face-off location.

Now stop and think of what would happen if I skated up to my partner holding the puck in my left (non-whistle) hand while he was holding his right (non-whistle) hand out to receive it.  We’d crash into each other, one of us would probably end up on our butt, and everyone in the rink would have a laugh at our expense.  So in most cases, before I pick up the puck for my partner, my whistle goes into my pocket, and I hold the puck in my right hand so we can pass right to right.  When I work with Joe, we get to pass left to left, and I appreciate every one of those passes.

So even though it was just another day at the rink, gamewise, I was feeling pretty good after the second game: a blend of tired and satisfied.  This is the rink on the way down to the city, and just down the road is a gigantic Korean supermarket.  We needed more chopsticks (Bangle likes to use them for rice, and I find them very convenient for cheese curls (no orange powder clinging to my fingers) and I felt like getting some noodles and dumplings, so I went down there after the game.

In the mini-mall there is a pastry shop, of French and Indochinese influence.  The perfect place for a light post-game snack, and they had a batch of cronuts there.  Now I’d heard of cronuts and how they were the big thing in New York; now I could see what all the hype was about.

A cronut is a pastry made out of croissant pastry, cut and fried like a donut.  That would be pretty good for starters, but a cronut needs more: specifically some kind of cream filling (in this case lemon) and a bit of compllentary flavoring on the outside.

Verdict?  Darned good.  Decadent but not deadly.  Over the top, but not overpowering.  A fine reward for two hours plus of skating.

Puzzles?  Yes.  This week they were just as tasty.

It’s a two-acrostic weekend.  Mike Shenk has a seasonally-appropriate puzzle in the Wall Street Journal: pretty easy, especially if you know it’s themed and Shenk is a good constructor.  Hex have their regular acrostic in the New York Times (paywall) and commentary on Deb Amlen’s blog (spoiler warning)

Want cryptics?  There’s Hex in the National Post with a puzzle less easy than usual; and Xanthippe with her brit-cryptic with a nice central answer.  And we learn that Nathan Curtis 1--merits having Kevin Wald construct a birthday puzzle in his honor and 2--is remarkably humble about the honor.  You know you’re someone in puzzledom if you can get such a fine constructor to come to your potluck.  Hooray for both of you.

Nathan didn’t let the honor go to his head: he kept up with his commitment (hint: someone give him a regular gig) and provides us with a Snake Charmer this weekend (very easy, I thought).

We should also note that Puzzazz has updated their app for iOS 7.  I had a long wait for the train this week during which it was a real pleasure to have cryptics I could pull up and solve on my Pod.  The latest edition of Puzzazz is a significant improvement: saving you taps and time by bringing you back to where you left off instead of making you find and open the virtual book.  And the Touchwrite feature is feeling more and more natural: to the point where this Luddite is ready to dispense with a keyboard.

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