More Collusion

Just now finished this week’s Listener puzzle, “More Collusion” by The Magpie. I’m grumbling a bit because I think there’s some ambiguity about the extra letters to be deleted from some of the clues, and I had to backtrack from the finished grid to figure out the exact path I was probably supposed to have taken to get here. However uncertain I am about a couple things along the way, though, I don’t see any ambiguity about the finished grid, so I’ve got my entry ready, and a Friday night finish.

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INSANE CONGRESS DESTROYING NATION!

Good blog post by Tom Toles today.

The fun game of trying to determine which WAY Obama is a a bad president continues without respite. The fact of his badness goes without saying. If he compromises, he’s a sellout. If he doesn’t, he’s no better than Republicans! If there is gridlock, he’s to blame. If there is an imperfect compromise, he’s to blame. Feckless! Insincere! Passive! Ideological! Non-ideological! Partisan! Too non-partisan!

The possibility that he is roadblocked by an absolutely impossible Congress needing two houses and a filibuster-proof majority to tie its shoes in the morning, and they are two right shoes, is not one of the multiple-choice answers. If I were writing the headlines, that’s what I would write every day! INSANE CONGRESS DESTROYING NATION!

Great, great cartoon by him today, too. But I’m unclear on how to link to a specific cartoon, only to whatever that day’s cartoon is. Oh, well, if you see this on a different day it’ll probably still be a great cartoon.

If the Tea Partiers Want to Prove It’s Not True, After All, They Can Just Produce Their Birth Certificates

I’m seeing the exact same word used over and over in the media (including of course multiple pundits from Fox) to describe something John McCain said yesterday, so I assume this is another of those organized Republican stay-on-message talking-point things.

But come on, seriously, since when is calling somebody a hobbit a “smear”?

Weekend Update: Listener Puzzle and Harry Potter 7

I finished this week’s Listener puzzle, “OZ and WR” by Theod, on Friday evening. There’s a Playfair cipher involved in this one: Four answers must be encrypted before being entered, and you don’t know what the keyword for the cipher is, so you have to crack the cipher by comparing the answers for these four clues with what you can get of their encrypted versions from the crossing letters in the grid.

Until you’ve cracked the cipher, then, these four words must be solved without any help from crossing letters. I left these four to work on later after I’d solved the rest.

It didn’t take me all that long to fill the rest of the grid, but I could only figure out two of the four Playfair entries. I figured that that wasn’t going to be nearly enough information to crack the cipher, and that I’d be stuck until I could solve at least one of the other two. But when I finally took a crack at the cipher with the information I had, I was surprised to find that it was enough to give me what were almost certainly the first, fifth, and sixth letters of the keyword and an additional three-letter sequence that was likely to be somewhere in it. That was plenty, and the keyword and the rest of the puzzle fell quickly after that.

Dave and I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 at home Saturday night and then saw Part 2 in a theater Sunday night. It’s a beautiful pair of movies — one gorgeously shot scene after another, terrific acting all around — but as with all the other movies in the series, I was rarely swept up in it. The story is full of exciting sequences, but it also rambles a lot and contains a lot of derivative and predictable elements. I especially kept being reminded of this or that plot element or scene from The Lord of the Rings, both the book and the movie. Characters are thin and mostly defined by their quirks — one apiece for the minor characters, two or three for the major ones — and though many of these quirks are surprising and whimsical, once you know what they are, there’s no more surprise left and you can see well in advance how they will respond to each new situation that arises.

I’m sure the series is magical if you come to it at the right age and without having read or seen a lot of similar stories already, but I am so not in that group.