Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bruise (Sunday brunch: July 27, 2014)

I just got to a fencing exhibition in Allentown when I got a message from my assigner: can you skate two games tonight?  They were part of a charity event and not league, so I figured they wouldn’t be difficult.  Good chance to see what kind of shape I was in.

So I fenced in front of a lot of onlookers, won one bout, and didn’t look out of place. The event was outdoors: it wasn’t as hot as last year, but I was still sweating profusely under the mask. Lost in the quarterfinal as expected, got changed, and hustled home.  Then I had a whole 15 minutes to put down the fencing bag, grab the hockey bag and ref briefcase, make sure (twice) that my sports glasses were in the bag, and leave for the rink (with time enroute to grab something to eat).  When I got to the rink, I exchanged pleasantries with a group of players and wives/girlfriends tailgating in the parking lot, which had me looking forward to a nice friendly skate. 

Not so.  About five minutes in, we had our first scuffle of the night.  Several more ensued, each one more heated than the last.  The last three I managed to get in between the combatants before any punches were thrown, but my partner had had enough.  He called the two captains over to the referee’s crease and read them the riot act.  “You guys are acting like a bunch of five-year-olds arguing ‘he started it.’  This is a charity tournament: we’re here for something more important than the final score… and if we have to break up one more fight I’m calling the game and sending you home!”

That got us through the second period with no more incidents, and by the third, the players were too tired to fight.  They weren’t too tired to play though, and the white team took a 3-0 lead.  Halfway through the third, with the white team shorthanded, one of their good defensemen wound up a slap shot to clear the puck out of the zone.  Instead of aiming up the middle of the ice, he aimed for the boards, right where I was standing.  The puck hit me on the top of the hip, so hard it almost drew blood even though it hit me on the padded girdle I wear. 

Fortunately the second game was much more what we expected: C teams playing for fun and only one or two minor tussles.  I got a bag of ice from the snack bar and stuffed it under the girdle while I skated.  The bruise has been a beauty.  Sunday there was a red diamond with a white center where the puck hit, Monday and Tuesday it turned deep black and blue; a splotch about as big as your fist.  The end of the week was a rainbow of colors; who needs tattoos?  And today there’s still a puck-sized mark more violet than purple, with a knot where I was hit.

So far no pencils have suffered any injuries as I work my way through these puzzles:

Two acrostics this weekend: by Mike Shenk in the Wall Street Journal and by Hex in the New York Times (puzzle behind the paywall,  comments and spoilers at Wordplay).

Block cryptics in the Canadian papers: by Hex in the National Post (blogged by Falcon) and syndicated (Hot informs us it is not Fraser Simpson constructing these) in the Globe and Mail.  Easy and hard respectively.  

Catching up with Kevin Wald, I solved Bachelor Party this week: another example of his amazing ability to hide themes in clues as well as the grid.  

BEQ reminds us that Lollapuzzoola is going on two weeks from now in New York, but you are invited to play from home too.    The ever-useful BEQ also points us to an article in The Atlantic expressing concern about the future of crosswords in an age when fewer and fewer people read printed newspapers and magazines.  BEQ catches the irony of seeing this in a publication that is “covered in Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's blood.”  

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