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Staring Me in the Face

April 15, 2013 Leave a comment

coneyisland

This post is about a stunning failure on my part to make a connection between visual and verbal data. Or, a failure to see what was staring me in the face.

Eight days ago, we boarded a flight from LaGuardia to Atlanta. Once the cabin door was shut and I had to put away my Kindle, I pulled out the Delta flight magazine. Paging through, I came to the crossword and saw that it was edited by Will Shortz, which meant maybe it wouldn’t be overly easy and hence was worth a try.

I borrowed Gail’s pen and began. Soon I came to this clue: “New York’s _______ Island.” Hmm. Governor’s? Roosevelt? No. Too long. The answer was five letters. Ellis? No, the fourth letter was an ‘e’. I moved on.

In a few minutes, we took off, northeast over Long Island Sound, then turning sharply to the left until we were heading west toward New Jersey, with all of New York City laid out below our window. There was Manhattan, Roosevelt Island, the Queensborough Bridge. Farther down, the bridges to Brooklyn. Ahead, Newark and the Giants-Jets football stadium. South again, the Hudson. Oh, there’s the Statue of Liberty. And another island, which even though I had named it five minutes earlier in trying to fill in the crossword puzzle, I couldn’t identify now. (Ellis). And still farther south, Staten Island, with the Bayonne Bridge crossing south to it from New Jersey. And the Narrows, crossed by the Verrazano Bridge. Now we were turning southward and on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, there was Coney Island, which I pointed out to Gail.

Then I returned to the crossword. Still couldn’t figure out that island. A few minutes later, Gail drew my attention to the view once more and I said that that’s the Delaware River flowing into Delaware Bay. But what happened to Philadelphia? We couldn’t find it. We had come too far. Or was I confused. Then more water. The Chesapeake, Gail suggested. Yes, of course, for there was the Susquehanna River flowing into it from the west near its north end, with the bridges crossing the river, familiar from many a train trip over one of them. Soon we looked down on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

It was getting hazy now. I thought we should be able to spot Annapolis, or at least the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. We couldn’t.

Back to the crossword.

I was nearly done now. That island, though. Oh, first letter ‘C’, which gave me the partial answer “New York’s C _ _ e _ Island.”

And now it was obvious. Coney Island.

Can you imagine how stupid I felt? It had never occurred to me as we flew over the city to connect the islands I was naming to the crossword. I had even pointed Coney Island out to Gail, yet thought nothing of it.

The mysteries of the brain.

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Categories: Crosswords, Travel

On Ice

April 15, 2013 Leave a comment
Yale scores over Quinnipiac

Yale scores over Quinnipiac

[Gene Puskar/Associated Press]

It’s been a while since I’ve written about college hockey. I’ve explained before that I used to be a big fan. That happens when your older brother goes to school at one of the great hockey powers out west (which wins the NCAA title his junior and senior years), and then you head to school at one of Boston’s four great hockey powers—ranked #1 frequently during your time there—only to watch another of the Boston powers win two titles in a row, with the championship games played in Boston three consecutive years.

Starting sophomore year, I never missed a home game or a game in that best of all Boston sporting traditions, the annual midseason Beanpot tournament. Boston schools continue to dominate, BC having won three championships in the five years prior to this one and BU another. Harvard, though, has fallen on hard times, with former doormat Yale becoming the best Ivy team of late.

Well, none of this is germane to the point of this silly post, which I’ll soon get to.

In recent years, I haven’t followed college hockey so closely. There was a bit of a revival of interest when Joel attended one of Boston’s big four schools. I followed their hockey fortunes more closely than he did. And at the same time, a good friend of mine became president of a new hockey power, Miami University in Ohio, which lost the championship game way too painfully four years ago after leading BU 3-1 with just under a minute left.

So I keep up. A little. Enough to have learned that the NCAA tournament has come to be run in two parts. Sixteen teams are selected. On the same weekend that the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments reach their sweet sixteen and elite eight stages, hockey’s first two rounds are played, producing the four teams that go to the Frozen Four. (Get it? Frozen Four, not Final Four?)

Then something incredibly annoying happens. The four finalists are in top shape and eager to go at it. But the next weekend, what does the NCAA do? Okay, get ready. This post is not about hockey. It’s about a pun, one I used in explaining the situation to Gail two weekends ago, when basketball was on but not hockey. Here’s what happens:

The NCAA puts their hockey tournament on ice!

Yes, they put it on ice! Instead of letting hockey get lost amid the basketball, they postpone the Frozen Four a week, as if delaying will focus more attention on the hockey games. I just don’t get it.

But how about that pun? I was proud of it, as you can see, proud enough to devote an entire post to it.

As for this year’s tournament, the championship game was played two days ago, Yale playing another hockey upstart, Qunnipiac. (Imagine that! Suddenly Boston isn’t the epicenter of college hockey. Greater New Haven is, with two schools just six miles apart, though much farther apart in their histories.) Quinnipiac was ranked #1 in the country and had beaten Yale three times already this season. Through almost two periods, the game was scoreless. With seconds to go in the second period, Yale scored, adding three more goals in the third to shock Quinnipiac 4-0. Yale, national champions of hockey. I never would have expected the day to come.

Categories: Hockey, Language, Sports