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Saturday, September 18, 2010


As you know, I love making puzzles. But not everybody loves word puzzles. So this one's of a more visual nature. I've taken ten well known movie posters and removed the title from each film. Can you identify the following ten movies from their posters alone? To help you out, all of the movies have something in common.

I know. Too easy, right? Well if you didn't think so, don't worry. I'll have the answers posted this upcoming Wednesday.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Care Package of Love

So yesterday afternoon I received a care package from my best friend. She's a student in Washington D.C. and so sadly we don't see enough of each other as we'd like. This summer was particularly tough because she spent the entirety of it in Kenya doing Good Works. So I was particularly delighted when I received these awesome gifts in the mail!

Kenyan teas! Kenyan cards! This awesome hand made journal! And especially this gorgeous African (almost quilted?) apron! Now you might be saying to yourself, "An apron? That doesn't sound too exciting..." But there are two things you must understand:

1) I do an awful lot of baking. I've really gotten into baking bread over the last year. It's a very calming (though time intensive) hobby, that is also very very messy. By the time I've finished my first proof, the kitchen looks like a flour bomb exploded everywhere. If I'm stupid enough to have forgotten to wear an apron my clothes (usually work pants for some god-forsaken reason) also look like I got a big bear hug from the Pillsbury Doughboy. In other words, an apron is the perfect gift that only someone who knows me very well would even think of getting me.

My Apron is a zillion times better than this one.
2) This thing is gorgeous. It is now, without a doubt, the most attractive possession I own. Very vibrant, African patterns, lush greens, reds, etc. I tried to find a facsimile image online but I couldn't find one that replicates the vibrancy. All I found were bland aprons with a flag attached (see photo).

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!! She also sent two C.D.'s. One with authentic Kenyan music (which I haven't listened to yet...) and an incredible mixed C.D. that despite a Lady Gaga or two, had just the perfect kind of music to drive to, which I've been doing a lot lately since I've become more involved with theater down in Colorado. There's the Bird and the Bee, the Decemberists, Wombats, and more! Don't believe me? Check out my new favorite song from Scottish songstress Amy MacDonald:

Yes, Amy MacDonald. This is the life. With friends like these, who needs anything else?.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tale of an NPR Geek-Out

Local NPR DJ and Geek Celebrity, Kyle Dyas
So last night I went took part in this reading of a screenplay at Wendy's house. It was a fun time, and unlike the other actors who either left right after the reading or stood quietly on the sidelines, I took a very active part in the workshop discussion afterwards. I may have even found a new writing group to belong to!

But that's not the reason for this post. Because, there was someone else at the reading. Someone, who I'm sure wouldn't turn the heads of most people, but for me it was a total celebrity geek out moment.

Now I live in Cheyenne, Wyoming where we get two NPR stations. We get Wyoming Public Radio and we also get KUNC. I listen to both pretty much all the time. I flip back and forth. If I don't like the programming on WPR, I usually like the programming on KUNC, and vice versa. For instance, WPR carries Talk of the Nation, whereas KUNC carries Market Place and the Splendid Table. They play This American Life at different times. What I'm trying to say is that I listen to an awful lot of KUNC, and there's this voice who DJ's the music selection, Kyle Dyas who I've listened to for the past three years and last night HE WAS AT THE PARTY!!

Garrison Keillor, a face for the radio if there ever was one
I know that for most people meeting a spindly local public radio personality wouldn't be much to write about, but for me it was like meeting an honest to God celebrity. I sort of freaked out, and babbled on and on about how much liked NPR and what an honor it was meeting him. I don't think he really understood. I think he just thought it was weird putting a face to the voice (which was a little disconcerting (ever seen a picture of Garrison Keillor?)) But I was in honest-to-god celebri-shock.

I have a good friend who lives in New York, and he's seen/met many celebrities. For him, it's like walking across the street. "Oh, Hi Gweneth". Me? Not so much. And honestly if I were to meet, say, a famous actor, I don't think that would even have the same effect on me as meeting someone whose voice I've been listening to almost every single day for the past three years. I know this makes me a huge NPR geek. I know that I need help. But if loving NPR and geeking out at the appearance of local DJs is a disease, then I don't want the cure.

The Wednesday Cheat Sheet - September 14 2010

So it's been slightly over a week since I started this blog and you know what? It's been pretty awesome. I've started drawing cartoons again, I get to publish puzzles, life is good. What else was going on in the world? Well... according to the Weekly Review from Harpers: 

In Amarillo, Texas, 23-year-old skateboarder Jacob Isom stole a Koran from David Grisham, director of Repent Amarillo, before Grisham could burn the book. “I snuck up behind and told him, ‘Dude, you have no Koran,’ and took off,” Isom said. 3 Religious leaders held an emergency summit in Washington, D.C., to denounce the “anti-Muslim frenzy.” “We know what it is like when people have attacked us physically, have attacked us verbally, and others have remained silent,“ said Rabbi David Saperstein. ”It cannot happen here in America in 2010.”4 The House of Representatives was evacuated after an unidentified white powder was found in the chamber. Some thought the substance was yellow.5 Tea Party activists rallied in front of the Capitol. “When we got here last year, at Union Station we could hear the roar,“ said Tea Party supporter Rob Pittman, who traveled from Long Island. ”I’m not hearing the roar this year." 6 An invasive species of predatory shrimp, which often leaves its prey uneaten after killing it, was found in the waters off England. 
And more!  But enough of that depressing crap! Click on the jump for the answers to last week's puzzles!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Heart Belle and Sebastian

A few years back I was in a pretty dark place in my life. I was stuck in a cold house in the middle of winter all by myself for months on end. No car, no friends. It was pretty bleak. But whenever I'd feel really depressed there'd always be one way to get myself out of the funk (besides drinking a quart of cheap wine): I'd put on a Belle and Sebastian C.D. and instantly I'd start to feel better. Led my lead singer Stuart Murdoch, Belle and Sebastian has the kind of peppy calming melodies that instantly make you feel better. This is a new(ish?) video I found on their website, celebrating the release of their new album: "Write About Love".

The second half of the video after the jump...

Remember to Put on a Condiment

In this puzzle, each line holds three five-letter words, each going from left to right, and running into each other. Once you've answered all of the clues, there will be three related words running down the gray stripes. Have fun! I'll post the solution, along with the answers to last weeks puzzles tomorrow!

1. Bay city of Florida
2. Half of a 60's quartet
3. Sideways
4. Give the slip
5. Belief system of Benjamin Franklin
6. Scent
7. Puccini opera
8. Prickly plants
9. Give 10% to, say
10. Persian Gulf country
11. "Little Miss Sunshine" Oscar winner
12. Early Peruvian
13. Yellow tropical fruit
14. Gentleman's gentleman
15. Old-time anesthetic
16. Synagogue scroll
17. In the lead
18. Grown up
19. Nether world
20. County near London
21. An American in Paris, maybe

Why I'm Going To Watch "Top Chef: Just Desserts" (and Why You Should Too!)

The "Chef-testants" on Top Chef: Just Desserts
Anyone who knows me, knows that I like television. Anyone who knows that I like television, knows that I love Top Chef. Top Chef, for those of you who don't know, is a cooking competition on Bravo, a network devoted to producing trashy reality television shows about rich assholes (see here, here, here, and here), when they're not producing great competition shows (see here, and here). Unlike Hell's Kitchen (where they get a bunch of mediocre line-cooks and Gordon Ramsey screams at the top of his lungs at them for the entire hour), Top Chef prides itself on casting their show with talented and promising chefs. Many of the contestants have been James Beard award winners or finalists, and in general, they all know how to cook their pants off. (not literally but that might be a show worth watching...), and mostly the show is not about watching people out of their depth fail and fail again, but about watching professional craftsman performing feats of creative genius under ridiculous pressure. Previous challenges have included making gourmet meals from ingredients purchased in a vending machine, creating a healthy and fancy meal for a ton of school children using school's restricted budgets, and producing fine tasting courses using "offal" ingredients, like tripe, kangaroo, and duck tongues. It's an amazing show, and if you haven't been watching it you should. It deserved the Emmy, especially for its last season which was probably the best of the bunch.
Luckily she owns a restaurant in Vail, Colorado!

Unfortunately, this current season, Washington D.C. hasn't been Top Chef at its A-Game. Since now, it seems as if each season has offered a stronger crop of chefs than the last, but Top Chef D.C. has been sort of a slide in reverse, especially compared to some of the amazing skills shown by the previous season's chefs. (Kevin, I still love you!) And now that my favorite, Kelly Liken's been booted off right before the finale, I don't really have a dog going into the race.

But, none of that matters, because after tomorrow evening, Top Chef D.C. will have officially closed its season of "bleh". With its departure brings a new Top Chef spin off, which instead of focusing on savory chefs, will focus of poultry chefs. Here are a few reasons why I'm looking forward to this new spin-off show:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Title!

Okay, I'm retitling the blog. "Foul Deformity" was a way that I thought I could vaguely describe my asthetic while quoting Shakespeare at the same time! But honestly, I don't think it's going to be a good title for this blog. I was working on a comic (which I'll post tomorrow!) and it occured to me that the types of stuff I'm going to be posting on here (puzzles, comics, reviews, etc.) aren't deformities in any sense, but are instead quiet diversions. They bring to mind opening up the Sunday paper and spending all late morning and afternoon in a quiet entertaining manner. So that's what I'm calling this site: "The Quiet Sunday". I'd like to think of it as a place where people can come and take a small break from the busy week, and replicate the calm and relaxing hedonism of a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Hope the new title is welcome, and as always, let me know what you think!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Three Minute Fiction

After a summer hiatus, one of my favorite writing competitions is back on! NPR's Three Minute Fiction contest has always been fun to listen to and read. I think this year I'm going to submit something myself. I'll post my submission once I've finished. If you want to try your hand, you can find out everything you need to know at the npr website. Check out some of the earlier winners and runner ups. It's a great contest, but what are you doing reading this? Get writing!


My interests in crosswords is somewhat recent, compared to my general love of puzzles. When I was a kid, I got a subscription to Games Magazine and even though I loved the puzzles, I would pretty much entirely avoid the crosswords. Logic puzzles? Check. General word puzzles? Check. I liked those, because they involved less of having to know bits of trivia, and more on being able to see a pattern. And my favorite puzzles were cryptograms, those puzzles where you have a passage or a list, except each letter of the alphabet has been substituted with a different letter. If you'd like a literary example check out one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes stories: The Adventure of the Dancing Men.

So it's really no surprise that my first attempts at crosswords were with "Coded Crosswords", crosswords that didn't have any clues, but where each little white square had a random number between one and twenty-six, and each number corresponded with a letter of the alphabet. They're basically cryptograms crosswords. And I love them. They're still among my favorite puzzles to solve, though, if you're pretty good at cryptograms like I am, they can be a bit too easy.

Anyway, here's a small little cryptogram crossword that I whipped up. I've given you two letters to start out with. Have fun! I'll post the solution sometime soon...ish!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Drowsy Chaperone

Earlier this week I discussed a musical I wasn't very pleased with. So I think it's time I talked about a musical I'm actually really enjoying: The Drowsy Chaperone- music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison. Now, again, I'm not much of a musical fan, but as I've been listening to and re-listening to sound track, I feel just like narrator of the play, becoming increasingly infatuated with the entire production.

The Drowsy Chaperone is bookmarked and continually narrated by a solitary shut-in stuck in his urban apartment with only his record collection of old musical soundtracks to keep him company. And so, he provides an endearingly snarky guide through a fictional 1920's musical called (you guessed it) The Drowsy Chaperone. The musical-within-a-play is constantly being interrupted by knowing asides by the man in his apartment and real life interruptions, like a phone that won't stop ringing. The plot of the musical itself is the kind of fluff marshmallows are made from, but it's this whole-heartedly silly giddy fluff that becomes more and more infectious the longer you're exposed. It's like the chicken pox that way.

I'm not going to go into the "plot",  or try to give context, because the plot of the musical within a musical literally irrelevant. As our narrator says at one point in the play "It's mechanics. It's like pornography.[...] In pornography the story is simplistic --"how do I pay for this pizza?" being the classic example. My point is, as in a musical, the story exists only to connect the longer, more engaging production numbers." Here's one of my favorite musical numbers from the show, which ends "Act 1" (Even though the show itself is a full-length one act play, the musical-within-a-play has two):

In other words, if you aren't familiar with this musical, I highly recommend it. Fun, funny, and catchy as the plague. It's even allowed my curmudgeonly heart to grow three times. Don't worry, it's still shriveled and black, it's just larger than a kidney bean now.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Abbot and Pope Show - Part 1

Yes, there will be more. And that's a threat.

Double Trouble

Okay! It's puzzle time! I spent most of last night watching old Columbo episodes and working on a new puzzle. I think Peter Falk makes me smarter. Anyway, I've decided the nice thing about having a blog is that I can publish things I can't anywhere else. For instance, I've been publishing these crosswords, but the website only allows for regular 15 x 15 crosswords and that's it. Last night, I came up with an idea for a word search and now that I have this blog I can share my work with my adoring fans, all one of you. So without further ado:

Double Trouble

You solve this puzzle much like a regular word search, except for every space where one letter would be in an ordinary word search, in this one there are two. Whenever you find a word, regardless of which direction it's reading, you read the two letters clumped together from left to right. Also, instead of giving you a list of words to find, I'm instead giving you a series of clues, the answers to which are located somewhere in the grid. To assist you on that count, the clues are listed in the alphabetical order of their answer. Furthermore, after each clue, a number in parenthesis will tell you exactly how many letters the answer will be. But be careful, some answers may consist of compound words. One more solving aid: when you solve the puzzle, every two-letter square in the grid will have been circled as part of a larger word at least once. Here's a small sample to give you an idea:


Witticism (8)
Sepulcher (6)
More macabre (6)
IHOP order (8)
What some sculptures start out as (8)
Feral canine (6)
Hypnotic (8)

Aaaaand... Here's the solution:
The words were:


Okay, not too hard, right? What about this bigger one?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Attack of the Christmas Schooner

So I'm on the board of my local community theater, and specifically on the "programming committee", which means that I get to help decide the upcoming seasons. So we're reading plays. Lots of them. Some of them are good. Some of them are not so good. 

In that later category, I'm gonna have to add "The Christmas Schooner", which, as you'll never guess, is about a boat during Christmas. Now close your eyes and imagine yourself in the late 19th century. A family of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation German immigrants is trying to adjust to the American lifestyle. They long for "ein Tannenbaum", and the safe return home of the father figure from his possibly ill-fated voyage to return freshly cut evergreens to the good people of Chicago. If this sounds potentially interesting, just wait! Imagine all that, an intriguing and possibly heartwarming premise, a neglected historical demographic, and songs! Songs about Christmas! What could possibly go wrong?

Well... for starters: What if over half of those songs sounded like Irish funeral dirges? What if the only "joke" in the show was "How can a sailor's nose tell him the weather?... When it's wet, it's raining!" Bad-a-bump! (followed by the sounds of crickets). The show is so unbelievably goddamn earnest it makes me want to roll around in the mud. I mean, maybe I'm missing something (I notoriously am not a fan of musicals), but our Theater Director highly recommended the script and he's not the only one who liked it.

But I think the thing I hate about it, (and believe me, I can make you a list) is that it's obvious that it was written by someone with the same sense of humor as a door stop. Now, again, I'm not so big on the whole "singin' and dancin'" thing, but when you look back on serious, dramatic good plays, one thing a good playwright knows is that you have to leaven tragedy with comedy. This play takes itself so gosh-durned seriously that at least for this reader/listener, it was impossible to enjoy. Avoid, my friends. Avoid this foul deformity like the maudlin piece of treacle it is.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A New Day, A New Blog

Hello! And welcome all to my new blog: "Foul Deformity", which I think is a pretty concise description of myself and my interests. Among those interests will be interactive fiction, cooking, politics, etc. I'm going to try to post some of my crossword puzzles here too, if I can figure out how to post them interactively. I've published quite a few over here, but I have to wait almost ten days for them to publish my puzzles, so I'm thinking of publishing them here instead.

Also, I'm planning on reviewing the upcoming batch of entries from the IF Comp.This will be of interest to the, oh, maybe fifteen people on the planet who are interested in Interactive Fiction. A third of those people are Italian. Why have an interest in an impossibly obscure and some-might-argue obsolete entertainment? Because Interactive Fiction or "IF" for the savvy/nerdy appeals to that strange subsection of literary minds and puzzle solvers. If James Joyce were alive today, you can bet he'd be writing IF. Lengthy byzantine IF. Impossible to read or play, IF. What I'm saying is that Finnegan's Wake is impossible to read and shouldn't be tried by anyone.

Anyway, on the with the show. I might be back later to see if I can publish a crossword or two. Oh, and if you're interesting in playing some IF written by yours truly, you can do so over here.