It's so hard to believe that 2008 is here. Those of you of a certain age may remember your parents talking about how quickly time passed...and now we're seeing it. The realization that my life is more than half over is sobering.
But it's a new year! And Adam Perl has the privilege of constructing the first New York Times puzzle of 2008. The theme is revealed at 38A: Kind of club that's a hint to this puzzle's theme (Four H)...and the theme answers are:
17A: Daydreamer's state (head in the clouds). A nice place to be sometimes.
25A: Joseph Conrad novella (Heart of Darkness).
43A: Vocational school instruction (hands-on training).
57A: Common employment benefit (health insurance). I'm thankful for that every day of my life, even though I'm in good health. I would actually work for no salary, just to have health insurance...but I don't tell my employer that.
Those of you who didn't have a clue what 4-H stood for...you're starting the year with valuable information under your belt. Once I had head and heart, though, I thought the next one would also begin with HEA. When I skipped to the last one, I was convinced of it, but I couldn't think of a kind of training that began with those letters. I initially thought we were looking at a club that had something to do with body parts...but it didn't take long for it all to come together.
For some reason, my computer and Blogger are both incredibly slow this morning...too much partying for them last night? I couldn't change the link to the syndicated blog, couldn't even shut down the computer when I tried. It seems better after a reboot, but it's still slow enough that I won't attempt to pull in pictures today...just the grid.
As I looked over the grid (while waiting for the reboot that took forever), I discovered my New Year's resolutions hiding in there. In puzzle order, rather than by priority...
I resolve to drive (5A: Play chaffeur) less in 2008, with one no-driving day every week. We've done that in the past, and it's very rewarding. We live far enough out that public transportation isn't an option...nor is walking.
I have made my last loan (10A: Money to help one through a tight spot) to a person who will remain unnamed. I will continue to be charitable to those in need..but not to those who make more money than I do and can't manage to live on it.
I have eaten (15A: All gone, as dinner) my last restaurant leftovers, which may have been the culprit for my recent visit to the E.R.
I will protect every asset (22A: Good thing) that we have, in preparation for our retirement...adding to them, rather than making the aforementioned loans.
I will not obsess about being old (46A: Superannuated). Rather, I will be grateful for the good health I have...high blood pressure, high cholesterol and wacky hormones notwithstanding...as well as for the medications that are available to help with those minor (as long as they're treated) ailments. I won't complain about every ache (1D: Suffer from a charley horse) and pain.
I will be less harsh (25D: Hard on the ears) when speaking to my loved ones. I will not become irate (18D: Really hot under the collar) when speaking with them...that doesn't help the relationships or the blood pressure.
I resolve to eat better food (38D: Victuals)...more vegetarian meals and less meat. When eating out, I will choose an appropriate side (51D: Slaw or fries, e.g.)...which means fries far less often.
And last, but not least, I will attempt to undo (52D: Reverse, on a PC) what I've done to my body this last year because of the inability to exercise. I ended up doing nothing, instead of doing what I could...with the resulting untoned muscles and lack of flexibility.
A quick review of some of my favorite answers...then I'm hitting the treadmill.
1A: "Mamma Mia" group (Abba).
14A: Either of two directing brothers (Coen)...needed crosses to pull that one to the forefront of my brain.
16A: Mayberry boy (Opie). Ron Howard will never get past that.
34A: Edward who wrote the play "The Goat, or Who is Sylvia" (Albee). If it's a playwright and it's five letters, it's probably Albee.
35A: Pastor's flock (laity).
42A: Bobby Orr, notably (Bruin). I didn't have to resolve to know more about sports...I got this one.
51A: Room plus, in a hotel (suite). Sweet...when you have one.
63A: "The World of Suzie __" (Wong).
64A: Sierra __, Africa (Leone).
2D: Transvaal trekker (Boer). That's its third appearance in just a few weeks. If it has four letters and is clued similarly, Boer is always my first guess.
5D: "Meet the Fockers" co-star, 2004 (DeNiro). It took me forever to accept him as anything other than a sinister character. But he is a funny man.
11D: Berkeley Breathed comic strip (Opus). Haven't seen it in years.
26D: "Maria __" (Dorsey tune) (Elena).
29D: Intimidate (daunt).
31D: The blahs (ennui). What a good word.
41D: Letter-shaped opening for a bolt (T-slot). Never saw the clue until I was finished...wouldn't have gotten it.
45D: Bring into harmony (attune).
That's it for today. If you have the day off, enjoy it. I made spaghetti sauce yesterday in preparation for today's lasagne...which means a long time on the treadmill.
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.