Thursday, December 27, 2001

Dave's Booc Klub!

[Updated 12/28/2001 now that I actually have the book...:)]
Blogger is back after its security breach, and Dave's Booc Klub rides again!

The Crossword Obsession:�The History and Lore of the World's Most Popular Pastime is recommended reading for anyone who is obsessed with filling in little white squares with letters. The book is authored by Coral Amende (herself a crossword constructor), but it reads more like a round table of the cognoscenti of the crossword world, people like Will Shortz (editor of the NY Times crossword), Maura Jacobson (New York Magazine's crossword), Stanley Newman, Trip Payne, Ellen Ripstein (who finally won the Stamford tournament this year!), Merl Reagle (San Francisco Examiner), etc.

There's lots of inside dish about crosswords, including what it was like to work for Dell under the legendary editor Kathleen Rafferty or the New York Times under Eugene T. Maleska, what kinds of words don't belong in crosswords (one constructor says she will never use the word DONUT in a puzzle... go figure), and why two groups of constructors working for the same company were not on friendly terms for a number of years.

For the aspiring constructor, there's generous info on how to get started with an overview of crossword-creation software and contacts at puzzle magazines and newspapers (including the Times), little known crossword mechanical issues such as number of black squares and number of words allowed per puzzle (yes, there are such requirements!), a listing of internet resources (such as Cruciverb-L, info about crossword tournaments, etc.

There are even some puzzles you can solve, including the notorious Election Day 1996 New York Times crossword (under the editorship of Shortz, from a contributor who first floated the idea in 1980 when Shortz was editing Games Magazine) - which featured two consecutive across words at the puzzle's center that could be solved as either CLINTON ELECTED or BOBDOLE ELECTED - with all the crossing words making sense either way!

The only thing that left me with a little tinge of remorse is the revelation of how underpaid the puzzle constructors are for the geniuses that they are. I don't recall the exact amount, but I winced when I found out what Will Shortz pays for the New York Times puzzles. I think it's something like $75 for a daily!

Thursday, December 20, 2001

What Happened To Hela?

As a rabid New Jersey Lottery player, it's hard not to notice the graphics on its web page and television commercials of Ray Charles, who is now the Lottery's celebrity spokesman. Ray even has his own lottery ticket named after the Lottery's slogan: "For Every Dream, There's A Jackpot".

It's funny that the man who sang of the evils of gambling in his 1950's side for Atlantic Records called "Blackjack" is now promoting a state lottery.

On a related matter, I do sense a passing of the torch coming very soon. The Lottery has recently hired a new television hostess named Carmen Delia Torres. As identifiable as Hela Young has been for the last 25 years doing the televised Lottery drawings and being the Lottery's most prolific PR representative (riding the Lottery floats in parades with Lottery director Ginny Haines), I really wonder if the beautiful Carmen is being groomed as her eventual replacement.

Sunday, December 16, 2001

Obit: Conte Candoli

The Los Angeles Times notes the death of trumpeter Conte Candoli of cancer at the age of 74. Candoli appeared in the trumpet section of Doc Severinsen's orchestra on "The Tonight Show" for the twenty years the program originated from Burbank with Johnny Carson as host. Conte followed in older brother Pete's footsteps as a trumpet star in the Woody Herman Orchestra since his teen years.

Thursday, December 13, 2001

Randy Amasia Dies

The world of game shows lost a friend and supporter yesterday. Alan Randy Amasia, 44, died at approximately 2 pm on Wednesday. If you go to USENET and read the memorial messages posted in, you will get pretty much a cross section of what this man meant to a lot of people. A little background: Randy Amasia was a successful contestant on an otherwise-forgotten show called "WHEW!" and parlayed that into a research position with Goodson-Todman Productions. Along the way he also appeared on "Jeopardy!", was rejected for "The Gong Show" and eventually was a regular fixture at game show tapings around Hollywood. When the Internet beckoned, Amasia had another outlet for his mania. He had been having some health problems over the last year which culminated in his final hospitalization with advanced throat cancer. Mercifully, this period of suffering was brief, and now Randy is with angels. And all of us who ever filled in the blanks or solved the puzzle or bid on the showcase from our easy chairs are richer just for having known him.

Saturday, December 08, 2001

Holiday Concert From Manalapan Battleground Symphony

Concert tonight: Manalapan Battleground Symphony and prep orchestras, at Manalapan-Englishtown Middle School, Manalapan, NJ, 7:30 pm. Featured will be Gershwin "Cuban Overture", Prokofiev "Lt. Keiji Suite", and Herbert "March of the Wooden Soldiers". Plus holiday favorites. See the Music page for more information.

Wednesday, December 05, 2001

PSCT Update

Some fixes and new photo files today over at the Public Service Bus pages. We will have quite a few more to come in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

Computer Fixed, Website Now Broken

Everything is back in order on the computer, but I think we may have some problems on the website with broken graphics links. Bear with us as we fix the problems.

Sunday, December 02, 2001

Almost Back At Full Strength

Everything is back up now except Front Page. When that is up, we'll have a few new goodies on the WB cartoon page, and some new serial numbers to report on the NJT Bus side.