Sunday, December 31, 2006

Our Weekly Sunday Puzzle Page

The last Sunday of the year is come. If we had still been employed at the unexceptional bookbindery, we would have had to have worked Christmas Eve and today, because B-shifters get no respect whatsoever, save for what might accidentally happen their way, and then only if it's not spotted and stomped flat first. To add injury to insult, we would have been chivvied enthusiastically out the door before the stroke of midnight, lest the company be forced to pay us time-and-a-half. We would have been made to feel lucky that we were allowed to have the actual holiday off, even though the A-shifters would have gotten a 3-day weekend. 

Today we get to kick back, sleep as long and as late as we wish, and enjoy whatever small pleasures the day brings us. Sometimes there is justice.

As it is the last Sunday of the year, today's puzzle will be a special one.

It is technically a J-land puzzle, albeit one with a difference. It includes the name of a journaler, and also a hidden message that rhymes with her name. Those of you who solve the puzzle will need to determine the first letter of the third word of the message to complete it successfully, but it shouldn't be difficult to suss; it is not very subtle.

Happy New Year to all, and to all a good morn.



Friday, December 29, 2006

Grumpy Old People

As the year 2006 winds slowly down to its indisputable end, we pause a moment to ponder what the advent of a new year might mean, and conclude ... not much.

There are some who will insist that aging is grand, that passing a particular age means entering the golden years - a sort of senior paradise where birds sing, the sun always shines, and the soothing sound of trickling water brings serenity to the fevered brain (at least if you believe the commercials.)

We are not among them.

Although in birth years we have not yet attained the privilege of mingling with those of official senior status, we can with some certainty say that physically, we deserve to stand on a pedestal and proclaim "I’m OLD."

This is the first in what may possibly (although we promise nothing) become an occasional series on the possibilities inherent in the act of aging.

Be forewarned - here are some of the joys of watching oneself fall to pieces:

Projectile sneezing - much of this, we suppose, may be attributed to the fact that we both still smoke, but the truth nevertheless remains that a sternutation (we learned a new word!) is, as they say, semi-autonomous, and often results in a glob of mucus being ejected at truly marvelous speeds, made problematic by the near-certainty that a tissue is seldom at hand, resulting in the question "Where did it go?" As it is of an anonymous color and at best translucent, if not immediately located, it can lie in wait for the unsuspecting to randomly encounter it, leading to language much more colorful than the object itself.

The Push - it is a beneficial physical fact that living beings receive, in the form of a particular pressure, an indication that their bowels are in need of evacuation, and we learn at a very young age that there is a generally precise length of time involved by which we may gauge when the probable becomes the inevitable, and take the necessary steps to forestall accidents. Aging does not alter that span, but the exigencies of decrepit bodies make the trip to the bathroom seem longer than it once was, rendering it much more adventuresome. If one makes it to the goal safely, one sometimes discovers that one has been cozened, and a lengthy wait is sure to ensue. Reading materials are highly recommended.

Sitting with Scissors - It is also inevitable that, with advancing age, one’s joints lose the suppleness of youth, and become increasingly immobile. What was once a simple operation of slipping one’s fingers out of the handle’s apertures becomes an increasingly impossible task, as the holes seem to shrink and the painted metal (if you still possess a pair of those quaint, old-fashioned style of scissors - you know, the kind that quickly lose their tightness and sharpness) to cling to one’s knuckles, resulting in a ballet of twirling scissors, locked joints, and more colorful language.

The Light Fantastic - There comes a time in one’s life when the feet, due to the creeping onset of muscular weakness, become increasingly difficult to raise more than a fraction of an inch off the ground, leading to the astonishing discovery that there are hitherto unsuspected invisible objects littering every inch of our floor space, patiently waiting for us to locate and trip over them. They seem to be especially prevalent on rugs, but can be found occasionally even on bare linoleum.

And we don’t even want to speak about extension cords.

To all of you who choose to spend your valuable time dropping by to say hello, we thank you and wish you health and wealth of spirit in the coming year.

Happy New Year and


Bonnie and Walt

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Our Weekly Wednesday Answer Page

As promised, here is the answer to the sudoku that we published (printed? 'ported? who knows or cares?) on December 10th.

As is readily apparent,the list includes all the things that, in one way or another, can be found within the puzzle, or associated with it.

We had a very quiet and enjoyable Christmas day; we hope your celebrations were equally as enjoyable.


Bonnie and Walt

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Our Special Holiday Weekly Sunday Puzzle Page

Okay, so we fibbed. We've decided to begin the CityState series of puzzles after New Year's, and instead present, on Christmas Eve, this special edition sudoku that somehow seems appropriate.

As is our wont, a word appears on the diagonal, and the fill-in features a phrase that shouldn't be too difficult to figure out.

We've decided to begin publishing the puzzle answers on Wednesdays, beginning with the one we printed two Sundays ago, so if you haven't done a particular puzzle, you might want to avoid peeking. 

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy Chanukkah, and blessings for the year to come.

Peace and love.

Bonnie and Walt 

Friday, December 22, 2006

Once Again, 'Tis the Season

We were going to do a piece on how the Christmas holiday has been diverted from its original purpose, and is now an excuse for those of particular faiths to conduct battles in the media against those whom they perceive to be their enemies, or a threat to their way of life.

Instead, we'll simply repeat the phrase that has been around since the beginning, and remains the best delineation of what this Season of Affirmation was meant to be about:

Peace on Earth. Good will to humankind.

Bonnie and Walt


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Reminder

On September 11th, 2001, 2996 Americans died in a concerted attack on our country by members of al-Qaeda. To date, in Iraq, 2954 reported American deaths have occurred.

Peace. Please.

Bonnie and Walt

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bonnie's Catalog Curio Closet - Year-end Edition, Part 2

We love the Christmas holiday, it is so endearingly ... commercial. At few other times of the year can you find brochures, circulars and catalogs filled to overflowing with items that you never knew you needed - indeed, that you probably never considered owning - but there they are, displayed in glorious full color on blindingly glossy pages, absolutely useless trinkets that lead you to shake your head in bewilderment and mutter "What the fuck?"

It's time to finish our tour of the curio closet, that magical container of the inexplicable and the breathtakingly boneheaded, a collection of artifacts that represent the idea that in Corporate America, nothing is too tacky, shoddy or worthless to attract the dollars of the harried shopper.

We begin with the physical embodiment of what has apparently become an actual sport, featured on ESPN and possessed of its own championships -

Yes, it's speedstacking! The erstwhile pastime of bored waitresses and busboys has now become, through the magic of cable television necessity, a sport! Joy! It is not enough that you can go to the supermart and cheaply buy a column of Dixie cups, should you so desire, no! You must have this official collection of plastic cups! Trust us, nothing else will do!

Those of you who, as do we, remember the early days of video games will perhaps recall the advent of the Nintendo Entertainment System and one of its flagship titles, The Legend of Zelda. As time has passed, the legend has grown, and has led to this next marvelous item -

It includes a certificate of authenticity, thereby proclaiming that this is the actual gear that virtual fantasy character Link employed to strike down the evil creatures of Hyrule. We're somewhat surprised that Link has not affixed his autograph to the items.

What can we say about this next toy? 

"Find his "magic" tickle spot!" "Tee-hee hee-hee" "Ages 3-up"

Do we really want to be teaching our 3-year-olds about magic tickle spots? Isn't elementary school soon enough to be teaching them about sex ed? Enough is enough, we say! It's difficult to continue the tour after this outrage, but we must.

This next item is just so over-the-top, we stand in awe. Gone are the days of simple and relatively inexpensive exercise wheels for small pets, they are so ... quaint. These days, we must own something that offers much more entertainment value, thusly -


A track, so the little darling doesn't accidentally go barreling into something. A Dazzle Ball, complete with decals that will serve to obliterate your view of your small pet, and - a checkered flag (!), presumably in case a number of pet owners decide to gather together to conduct a meet. You'll notice that in the illustration, the pet has had the poor grace to face perpendicularly to the track, thereby insuring that its owner will lose the race.

Our next treasure is just so wrong -

The antiquated charm of the original rotary dial is completely destroyed by substituting push buttons for the original holes. Of what possible use is a rotary dial that cannot rotate? Oh, the desecration!

This is another of those bibelots that renders us speechless- where has respect for the office of the President disappeared to?

Do we truly want to be treated to the spectacle of a shimmying Presidential figure?

Our last two items are connected, and are meant to appeal to the budding artists among us - the first one is self-explanatory, and once again words fail us -

And, if that's not enough for you art lovers, there's this accompaniment -

We are moved to wonder if the figurine's left ear is detachable.

Vincent would, we do not doubt, be flattered that this is how we remember him.

The lights go down, the doors swing slowly closed, and the refreshment table awaits, so until next year, the Curio Closet will stand in stately isolation, awaiting the next shipment of detritus, and we will, for now, bid you a fond farewell and a good night.



Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bonnie's Catalog Curio Closet - Year-end Edition, Part 1


No, that is not the sound of the doors to the curio closet. They are well-oiled and swing smoothly and silently open; what you hear is the grating of aging and tired joints as they attempt to perform the function for which they were designed. The light, though ... ah, the light.

Artfully recessed spots flatteringly illuminate each sparkling, shiny object. Crows observing this spectacle might be driven mad with indecision, knowing not which article is most deserving of being spirited away and ensconced in an occult location. You, however, are free to enjoy, and if you see an item that you have always secretly coveted, accept our apologies for viewing these treasures in a vastly different light.

Please accompany us now as we tour the wonderful world of ... of ... well, you'll see.


We begin with the simple cultural notion that certain items are ineluctably identified by a majority of people as being part of a matched set, never to be cloven in twain.

Perhaps it is your fondest desire that your bed linens and sleepwear ought match, just in case that special someone drops by to spend an enjoyable evening. What better way to demonstrate your unspoken wish for a continuing alliance than by sporting this stylish pattern -

Nothing indicates the epitome of togetherness more than trailers and lawn ornaments - specifically, the plastic flamingo - and your dear one will love you the more for this clear implication that you are uniquely suited to each other and that you were meant to spend eternity, in the minds of friends and family, as inextricably conjoined.

(Lest you think that we are in some way denigrating those who have chosen a mobile home as their domicile, please be advised that our home possesses wheels and a hitch.)

Speaking of hitches, that leads us directly to our next item - a true (made in China) American original.

Let us completely ignore the fact that hitch balls are situated behind the vehicle and much lower than eye level, totally obviating the notion that you could possibly view this while sitting in the front seat. It is much more likely that you will annoy and aggrieve the unfortunate who is luckless enough to be driving directly behind you, especially if you happen not to be towing anything that might obscure a clear view of this marvelous tchotchke.

In a similar vein (and from the same catalog) there are these items geared toward the dedicated sportsperson -

Our ursine friends eagerly anticipate the annual appearance of these unobtrusive and classy hunting blinds. Crafty bears have learned that not only do they reliably indicate an excellent source of food, they also ensure that the human prey stays warm and dry by providing protection from the elements and further, offer a means of storage for the bears' future feasting purposes.

Young hunters of the future require extensive training to guarantee that when the time comes, they will be fully prepared to meet the challenges that will come their way. An important part of their education consists of game recognition, so be sure to start them off right with this amazingly comprehensive collection -

And, as the young'uns inevitably tire of their "cute and cuddly" stuffed animals and feel the urge to go out and "kill somethin'", we present the perfect accompaniment -

With these dandy firearms, our armed and dangerous cherubs can begin their lessons in target practice, blowing their un'bear'ably adorable plushes away with gay abandon, learning to take lives with a minimum of suffering (fake blood not included.)

To wrap up this first part of our tour, we present a bauble that requires no further explication than the (we feel certain) unintentionally hilarious ad copy (on point, we have been rendered speechless by our contemplation of the item, and of anyone who finds it attractive) -

"He's jus' a good ol' boy, never meanin' no harm ..."

The non-sportspersonlike part 2 will be along shortly. Until then,


Bonnie and Walt

Our Weekly Sunday Puzzle Page

First of all, congratulations to you, and you, and you. Each of you is now enshrined in Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" Hall of Fame. Are you generating content on the Web? Of course you are. You are therefore entitled to the designation. Hoist a glass of your favorite beverage to yourself; you've earned it.

Now to the puzzle. Next Sunday will herald the advent of the CityState series, but we wanted to let it be known that we have not forgotten the J-land sudokus. They will still appear randomly; we wanted, however, to vary the subject matter a little. We could say that we wanted to demonstrate our versatility, but that would be fatheaded. 

This puzzle, as in previous J-land sudokus, features the name of a journaler somewhere on the diagonal. The fill-in portion features the title of the journaler's original weblog and, contained within, the name of her present aol journal, along with her name.

We have been alerted to an ongoing phishing scam by our friend Kathy, and we include the links to the original releases on the FBI website here and here. If you receive one of these calls, please ignore it. It is totally invalid, although it can appear to be quite intimidating to the uninformed and unwary.

For those who care, the doors of Bonnie's Curio Closet are about to swing open once more for the grand year-end revelation of the risible, the useless, and the truly tacky that manufacturers believe we just cannot live without.

You've been warned.


Bonnie and Walt  

Sunday, December 10, 2006



A puzzle is a gloriously, or hideously, unproductive activity, depending entirely upon your particular point of view. Puzzle solving contributes nothing toward the general welfare of society; it is a leisure pursuit comparable, perhaps, to indulging in the playing of a board game, save that game-playing is most often a communal exercise, whereas solving is a solitary practice, except for the occasional query to a spouse or friend ("Honey, what’s a three-letter word for ‘feline’?")

Nevertheless, puzzles do have a saving grace - they exercise the brain cells in a way that few other things can. In addition, they can teach pattern recognition and, in the case of crosswords, can often convey interesting, if not always useful, information.

Puzzles are an excellent way to amuse oneself while waiting - at doctors’ or dentists’ offices, at the salon or gym, at the airport or in line at the supermarket ("You are going to pay for that publication, aren’t you, sir? And the pen, too?")

For some, puzzles represent infrequent entertainment, something to occupy oneself while waiting for those wretched commercials to end; for others, they border upon an unconquerable addiction.

To those of us who have been lured into the snare of solving, there is something compelling, even gently arrogant, about a puzzle’s pristine, invitingly vacant grid, daring one to have a go at it, to unrasa the tabula, to transform that epitome of emptiness into a cluttered scenery of scrawled letters or numerals. The challenge, alas, can be irresistible, and one can while away hours of frustration in decoding the clues that allow one to claim victory over the fiendish construction, and in cursing the constructor who has so defiantly enticed the piteous solver.

After a number of years spent in enslavement to these ruthless overlords, we solvers sometimes entertain the notion that familiarity may breed competence - that we may, having labored for so many hours over so many puzzles, be able to unravel the inner workings enough to allow us to become creators of these beguiling brainteasers.

What’s all this aimless rambling in aid of? Awhile back, if memory serves, we had instituted the practice of including a weekly Sunday puzzle in the pages of our weblog, little-read but largely enjoyed by a few exceedingly discriminating cognoscenti. (What? We pander? By no means!) Our puzzle joneses having recently returned to gleefully vile life, we feel compelled to begin anew the task of keeping our constructions a carefully guarded secret by publishing them solely in this medium. So, for the foreseeable future (which amounts to about one week) we will offer the doleful products of our diseased minds, in hopes of corrupting for all time those who are the most easily impressionable.

This new entry (our 17th published sudoku) is one that has been often promised but never before seen. It is the puzzle that was fated to be debuted for my birthday early this year before exigent events intervened. It was meant to be Bonnie’s present to me, and now it will be her present to you, our perceptive and knowledgeable visitors. (No! No! We are not pandering! Perish the thought!)

In this puzzle may be found a number of things, if you care to search. Over and above the name that will be found on the diagonal can be discovered the two three-letter names by which we used to be known, along with the initials of the state in which we live, Bonnie’s initials (both real and pseudo-) and, if you remove the two letters that are mirror images of each other (my initials, both real and pseudo-), the remaining 7 letters will spell a word. I humbly bow to Bonnie’s ability to pack so much into one puzzle.

We have begun work on a new series (called CityState) of sudokus incorporating (surprise!) 7-letter cities and their 2-letter USPS state abbreviations, but we have one more in our J-land sudoku series to publish before we take a short hiatus from that particular series. 

We hope those of you who enjoy puzzles derive some divertissement from the reinclusion of puzzles into this space.