Sunday, December 21, 2014

Plastic skates (Sunday brunch: Dec. 20, 2014)

Not quite my old skates
When I was in high school and college, it was a time for a lot of new technology to find its way into sports.  I played in a pair of Daoust skates that had boots made of plastic instead of leather.

I can’t find a picture of the Daousts, but Lange (the ski boot maker) made a lot more of them, and they were pretty similar.  A hard outside shell hinged with a rivet at the ankle, and a soft inner liner that was very comfortable.  I think a lot of people bought the skates for their comfort, but were disappointed with their performance. So plastic skates are pretty much gone except for the learn-to-skate, little kids, and rental markets.

One practice from my plastic-skate days persists to this day though: the way I lace my skates.  With the plastic skates, I actually cut my laces in half and laced the tops and bottoms separately, so I could keep the laces tight over my instep and still have some flex in the skate.  Now my laces are one piece, but I put a half-turn in them between the lower and upper parts of the boot, for more control over where the laces are tightest.  I haven’t seen anyone else do it, but I think it helps.

A lot of puzzles to keep you occupied during the holidays.  Just what we needed.

We’ll start with the weekly straight cryptics for a change.  Falcon reports he was seeing double doing Hex’s cryptic in the National Post.  I had a good run through the Stickler earlier this week, but I haven’t had time to get to the Globe and Mail syndicated yet.  Maybe someone can share a comment on it.

Regular weekly non-cryptics: Patrick Berry offers a Candy Canes (his third) at the Wall Street Journal—it’s much harder than the average WSJ variety puzzle.  The New York Times has a Puns and Anagrams by Mel Taub (solution to follow).  Deb Amlen grumbles (note spoilers) at Wordplay, but notes that the PandA are a healthy “gateway drug” to cryptic crosswords, so they are to be encouraged.  I’m fairly satisfied with one of those every few months or so as is current NYT practice.
Speaking of the Times, Willz has a guest post at Wordplay that’s well worth reading.  In it he explains the process of editing a puzzle.  Solvers may be surprised at how many clues are changed in the process; constructors may not be surprised.

On the cryptic front, we have the Kevin Wald variety cryptic I commented on in my Thursday post: go solve it, it’s a nice moderate-difficulty opportunity to experience the depth of his work.   Māyā has another new straight cryptic, which she did as a 13 x 13 for a change.  Let he know what you think. There’s also a new Harper’s that was published last week (an easy one, in my opinion), which means it’s time for Erica to assess the tackiness of the December puzzle.

1 comment:

  1. On Mr. Wald's puzzle, what does "taken in ones and twos" mean in the instructions? I have the grid solved and most of the activities in the second paragraph...


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