Sunday, December 7, 2014

Automatics (Sunday brunch: Dec. 7, 2014)

In our last episode, we learned why refs shouldn’t have rabbit ears.  Today we find out that most refs have one thing or another that will instantly draw a penalty if said to them.  If you have one of the growing number of female referees working your game (Hi, Kate!), you’d better not say anything about her gender, or anything sexual in nature.  Every lady partner I’ve had makes that an automatic.

Me, it’s my glasses.  During my playing days and early in my refereeing career, I wore contact lenses.  But as I got older, I found they dried my eyes out uncomfortably.  More importantly, my astigmatism has grown significantly worse, and the contacts didn’t correct for that.  So I got a pair of Rec-Specs, which  are special glasses made with an elastic strap that fits under a helmet. They had the added bonus of protecting my eyes from stray sticks and pucks in the days before they made us all wear visors.

They’re very effective, but they’re also quite obvious (and ugly, I’ll admit).  So inevitably, some wag who thinks he’s being original makes a remark about my glasses being fogged up or something like that when a call goes against his team.  That’s my automatic: two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.  I don’t care what the score is or whether you’ve been a perfect angel the rest of the game. Then once you’re in the penalty box, I’ll explain: “a referee who wears glasses is a referee who gets his eyes checked every season.”

Put on your solving glasses and have a go at this great variety of puzzles.  The New York Times has a diagramless by Paula Gamache (blogged by Deb Amlen–spoiler warning), while the Wall Street Journal has Patrick Berry’s Cigar Boxes.  Hints for both have been posted elsewhere on the blog.

Variety cryptics?  Two of those, and believe it or not, the one by Kevin Wald is easier.  Tom Toce created another of his three-dimensional puzzles.

Straight cryptics?  A pair of them too.  Hex in the National Post (as blogged by Falcon) and the regular syndicated puzzle from the Globe and Mail.

And variety solvers might enjoy Thursday's New York Times straight crossword (Wordplay link)–it’s not so straight after all.  

So with all that puzzling going on, it’s a good week for Stickler to take a week off and celebrate his daughter’s wedding.  We wish them many blissful years together.  

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