Saturday, November 23, 2013

Positively speaking (Sunday brunch: November 24, 2013)

It happens a lot in a hockey game: a winger gaining the puck along the boards and skating over the blue line with the defense in pursuit.  If you’re the ref, you’re watching the play closely, maybe thinking: “don’t hook, don’t hook, keep skating, don’t hook” because the natural inclination of the players is to try and go for the puck as soon as they think it’s in reach.  Then that leaves us officials with a marginal call one way or the other: was it a clean play for the puck or was it hooking or holding?

This time, the defender tipped the puck off the winger’s stick and down into the corner, giving her teammates time to get back into position while the two chased the puck.  Smart hockey. 

After the game, I spotted the player and said: “you’re number 15?”  She nodded.  I continued: “the play where you were chasing the puck carrier and tipped the puck down into the corner?  Good idea.”  I added that I had been a defenseman in my playing days and one of the most satisfying parts of the game was learning tricks like that.  It’s best to play defense with your skates and your brain first. 

And in that same vein, I’ve learned that it’s best to officiate with positive reinforcement first rather than starting from a hostile or antagonistic position with the players.  You don’t want to be like NFL umpire Roy Ellison, who’s been given a week off after he lost his temper and cursed at Washington lineman Trent Williams.  Even though Williams (who himself is black) reportedly directed a racial slur at Ellison, Ellison’s actions reflected poorly on the league and on our profession.  

On the field or online, it’s always best to conduct yourself as though you’re miked up and other people will hear everything you say.

Puzzle-wise, it's definitely a weekend for variety.  The New York Times puzzle (behind the paywall) is a diagramless by Paula Gamache.  Look for the solution here Sunday afternoon.

This week’s puzzle from Nathan Curtis is a cool new hexagonal Pathfinder.  Give it a try and share your thoughts on it with Nathan.

The Wall Street Journal has a Patrick Berry Rows Garden for us this weekend.  If you’re having trouble with it, I have the enumerations for you in an earlier post.  If you’re stuck on the last dark bloom, just trust the force, Luke.  One thing I noticed about this puzzle was that the row answers were all about the same length, so there wasn’t much interlock between the left and right halves of the puzzle, making it harder.  If you you have a couple of longer (13-14 letter) answers in consecutive rows, then the one you get can help you with the intersecting blooms, which in turn help with the long answer in the next row.  But nearly all these were 10s and 11s.  

Don’t expect a Thanksgiving theme in this weekend’s National Post puzzle by Hex.  The NP is a Canadian paper, and Falcon and our other neighbors to the north celebrated Thanksgiving a month ago.  I found part of it easy and part hard.

If you want a suitably themed cryptic to solve while the turkey is in the oven, try this 2008 puzzle by Ucaoimhu.

LizR’s promised Doctor Who extravaganza isn’t up yet.   I’ll keep an eye out.  If you’re a fan of the show, this might be your perfect introduction to Brit cryptics, since you’ll get more answers from definitions and intersecting letters.  When you get them, you can then try to sort out the wordplay.

Finally, when you’re ready to put down your pencil, enjoy this article about constructing in the old days.

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