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Showing posts from January, 2024

Puzzle #126 - Themeless #91 (feelin' 22)

Howdy! Here with a jumbo themeless puzzle today - a 22x19 rectangle of wonderfulness! Started off as a normal-sized stagger stack...then I noticed I could run a pair of fun 17s through them...and then it was more fun to make it even wider...and here we are! Thanks to Quiara and Kelsey for testing!

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Puzzle #125 - Themeless #90 (Russia's Greatest Love Machine)'s been a little while. Part of that is just because of life and parenting and my dwindling free time. But, part of it is also because I'm wildly superstitious when it comes to sports. I love pretty much any sport out there, whether I'm rolling out of bed watching whatever random Premier League game is on at 6 AM snuggled with the boys on the couch, or curling (fun fact I curled for a few years after college! It's awesome!), or when I used to stream Australian Rules Football while up late doing my homework in college. But, there are two teams that I hold that love, that deep emotional attachment to, that can be wonderful, heartbreaking, and everywhere in between. One of those is the Seattle Mariners, and in particular their magical 1995 team, that five year old me stayed up to watch their magical Division Series, and rewatched the season highlight VHS over and over and over and over again. And the other is the Washington Huskies, my alma mater, and because this is America, particularly the UW football team.

This season has been the most incredible, thrilling, wonderful season to enjoy as a fan. If you'd like little music video snapshots of the season, head on over to UW Animal's YouTube page - the four of us have cackled with joy watching these over the past four months. We watched ten straight wins by 10 points or less, which has not been done in at least a century! Nearly every game was nerve-wracking and intense. We got to watch one of the most explosive offenses ... ever. We got to watch an oft-maligned defense improve and improve and make plays when it mattered. We got to watch a game-winning pick six against ASU, we got to beat 0regon in the first ever top 10 matchup between us...and then do it again in the final Pac-12 title game! First team to go undefeated in the Pac-12, in the final season (which really sucks as a fan). We got to be there, in Husky Stadium, for the final real Apple Cup. Fourth and 1, from our OWN 29 in a tie game with 1:30 to go. We run what looks like a dive that is stuffed, and my WSU-grad brother sitting next to me stands up cheering...and then turns out it was an end-around for 20+ yards that nobody saw coming, to set up the game-winning field goal. Absolutely insane. We got to watch UW beat Texas in "big-boy football", and I got to (friendly) shit-talk my Texas coworker after a month of back and forth. We got to play in the national championship game, and fought back after a pretty disastrous first 10 minutes. Within 7 for 2 and a half more quarters but couldn't quite close the gap. Michigan was a hell of a team this year and absolutely deserved the win. And for the cherry on top, while I don't know any of the players, or coaching staff, everything coming out of Montlake sounded like a team playing with love for each other, with hard work day in and day out, led by people that (again, you don't really know) seem to be genuine, authentic, good people.

And there's a version of me, not too many years ago, that would have sulked and been pissed for weeks after the loss. But, seven and a half years ago, a miniature version of me came into the world, and that young man also fell in love hard with this year's Husky team. (sidebar - this love has been tough to see as we aren't going to let the boys play football w/ so much evidence around the brain damage it can cause...but they like soccer/basketball more anyways so whew!) Which meant last night, and this morning, and I'm sure in the coming weeks we got some more practice dealing with disappointment, and building up our emotional and coping skills, and just being humans and allowing yourselves to truly feel both the agony and disappointment of coming so close and fall just a bit short, simultaneously reminiscing over the utter elation we felt jumping off the couch to give giant family high fives, giggling throughout the week at the UW Animal videos, and screaming our heads off with 70,000 new friends the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We're humans, we have these big brains (which as I was reminded last night, are way bigger than T-Rex brains), and we can handle multiple feelings at once. He's doing a lot better than I would have been at 7, so I'm chalking that one up as a win.

Anyways, you might be wondering how this actually relates to crossword puzzles. Well...this guy was all gridded, and mostly clued, back at the end of November. However, on December 1st, the Huskies beat 0regon for the second time this season, and were still undefeated, and superstitious me didn't want to rock the boat. I kept the same clothes I wore that night, unwashed (can't wash the luck off!) I have a 95% finished Husky Stadium knockoff-Lego build...but might be bad luck to finish it. Haircut? No way. And it paid off! Maybe. We won the Sugar one more week. Either way, I took today off of work, to just...level out emotionally, read, run, chill, and finish this puzzle. Still haven't finished the Lego build though. Somehow writing this up has kinda kept going and taken up a lot more time than I thought it would. Ah well.

Go Dawgs!

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