July 10, 2012

July 10, 2012

One Across

A few weeks ago, during a summer-induced Hulu binge (did you know they just added millions of hours of Cooking Channel programming?), I watched the documentary “Wordplay,” about New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz, and the cult of the NYT crossword.

Utterly. Transfixed.

I haven’t gotten that level of chills during a film much since…since…since the titular talk in The King’s Speech. I was roused, I was prepared for action, I was open equally to defeating the Nazis or attacking a grid of squares with a sharpened number 2 pencil.

Since Hitler’s already dead,* I went with the crossword. With the best of intentions, I planned to do each weekday’s puzzle during my lunch hour. (Which is actually a lunch 45 minutes.) But then I forgot. Or had to work through lunch. Or what-have-you. With the end result that three weeks later, I’d done about a puzzle and a half.

But yesterday, I pledged to make a fresh start. It helps that the Monday puzzle is always the easiest. I may be smart (okay, really smart), but I am certainly no pro when it comes to crosswords. Lo and behold, though!

Finished in 11 minutes.

Then, I caught the daily Jeopardy tweet question:

On a roll!

If only all of life were as immediately intellectually rewarding.

* Have you ever considered when you’d go if you had a time machine? People ask me this all the time (okay, once in a while), and I always say that I would save the Titanic.** People are shocked because you are apparently supposed to say that you’d kill Hitler. But *I* say that we obviously eventually found a way to kill Hitler, whereas we did NOT find a way to keep the Titanic from sinking. So there.
** I would then go back to Victorian England and dissemble the machine because HELLO MOTHERSHIP.

2 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke:

Alright, this is a story about how if I had a DeLorean, I'd change the world by stopping a guy from eating a sandwich:

SO. Franz Ferdinand. Crappy band, pretty famous archduke. Pretty much the reason we had World War I, right? Everyone knows this. (We did not have World War I because of a crappy band. I know that's how I made it sound, but come on. COMMON SENSE.)
But here's the thing. The archduke was not assassinated how he was originally intended to be assassinated, and actually stood a good chance of not having been assassinated at all. Gavrilo Princip was a Bosnian student, guerrilla, member of the Black Hand, pretty much everything a mother wouldn't want her daughter dating. Anyway. He and his Black Hand buddies hated the archduke, and were pretty set on the idea of trying to kill him.
So there's a motorcade, the Black Hand lobs a grenade to blow up the archduke's car, the flippin' TEN SECOND fuse pretty much means that the intended target is way past the grenade and you know, doesn't blow up. (Ten seconds is a dang long time. Especially when you're trying to blow stuff up. This happens every 4th of July when we light the fuse to the fireworks and run away like little girls, then stand there, saying, "is it going to go off? are you sure it's really lit? maybe one of us should go ba-OH SHIT THERE IT GOES")
Back to the point. Failed assassination attempt. Grenade lobber knows he's screwed, takes a cyanide pill (which fails to kill him), then attempts to "drown" himself in a 3-foot deep "river." Franz, clearly, has nothing to fear from this band of motley fools.
Gavrilo, meanwhile, is in some dinky Sarajevo cafe enjoying a post-failed assassination attempt sandwich, when who should pass by? You can guess: the car carrying the archduke, because he wants to go to the hospital to visit his recently-blown up buddies, but his driver, like a moron with no GPS, is driving all over Sarajevo trying to find the blasted hospital. Gavrilo grabs his pistol, and the rest is history.

Namely, WWI breaks out, which caused the postwar failure of Germany, which caused a certain mustachioed dingbat to get elected, who caused WWII, which ended with a nuclear explosion, which resulted in the cold war, in turn had a hand in causing Vietnam, which gave us hippies.

If only Gavrilo Princip hadn't eaten that stupid sandwich while Franz Ferdinand was cavorting all over Sarajevo. Nobody has to kill him. Just, you know, give him a good working over. I'd probably go back in time and mug him or something.

This intersection of food and history is fascinating. While I hate the idea of keeping someone from a meal, I'm intrigued what ramifications other instances of this butterfly (pork chop) effect might have had. I'd guess we'd have to start with Eve.