Archive for December, 2010

Cross(word) flags

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Seems as though when one is anticipating having a new child, there are new-born babies everywhere. Looking to buy a new car? The very same model seems to drive by incessantly. For us, of course, it’s flags. They’re everywhere!

NYT Crossword No. 1119

Enjoying some well-earned (well, earned possibly) time off, the wife and I settled into a tricky little crossword puzzle at brunch on Christmas Day. (For you crossword cognoscenti, this was the syndicated version – of tNYT Crossword 1119 detailhe crossword, not the brunch.) We were stumbling along pretty well down to the bottom right corner when we discovered #55 Across: 5 letters – “Place for a small flag”. Well, that should be easy we thought: we considered “GRAVE”, “TABLE”, “ALTAR”; shoot, I even tried misspelling “ARIAL”. But no, Victor Fleming, the author/designer of this puzzle wanted “LAPEL”. [Side note: our Canadian friends (and doubtless others) pronounce this with the emphasis on the first syllable; most swimmers in our local linguistic pool emphasize the second.]

Now of course we realize that the lapel of a jacket is certainly one place for a small flag. Heck, we sell lots of them.Friendship Lapel Pin of US and Norway Lapel Pins crossed with the US flag or just the single flag of every country and state. But enough of the commercial; that’s not why you read this fascinating text – right? It’s for the amusing content – of course.

So what amused me whilst writing all of this for you is the blog I found written by one William Ernest Butler who, after giving us all that name, enjoins us to call him “Bill”. Well “Bill” seems to be what one might call a crossword “nut”. His blog site not only shows us his solution (including how long it took him to solve the puzzle – “24m 04s” – we must trust him I guess; it doesn’t appear to be independently verified), but he also gives enormous detail about the answers – complete with photos, examples, history, etc. – for ‘most every answer except #55 Across.

What? He couldn’t think of anything edifying about “LAPEL”. Heck, here I’ve written an entire blog just about that item which he ignominiously skips over. C’mon, “Bill”. Flags, Lapel Pins. What could be more deserving of attention?

Ah well, different strokes …

A flag made of Turbans?

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010
Funk and Wagnalls 1935 Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge

Funk and Wagnalls 1935 Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge

And there we were, minding our own business in the local used book store, when this beauty practically jumped off the shelf as we walked by; and what an impressive title: an “Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge”! Fighting all temptations, we left this one-of-a-kind treasure available for you to purchase by contacting the book store.

What a Deal!

Naturally, Dear Reader, our eyes fell upon Volume XII:  Fichte – Franklin which included entries beginning with “Flag”. (You knew it was going to get around to this, didn’t you?) Lo and behold, we discovered an entry entitled, “Flag of the Prophet”.

We did take a picture of the text for you (hoping the copyrights from 1935 had expired), but this may be a bit small for you to read. So, just for the love of the game, we have painstakingly transcribed the text for you by hand (so to speak). So here, for your entertainment pleasure and edification, is that transcription:

Flag of the Prophet text

Tiny huh?

Flag of the Prophet, the sacred banner of the Mohammedans. It was originally of a white color, and was composed of the turbans of the Koreish, captured by Mohammed. A black flag was, however, soon substituted in its place, consisting of the curtain that hung before the door of Ayesha, the favorite wife of the Prophet.

This flag, regarded by the Mohammedans as their most sacred relic, was first held by the successors of Omar at Camascus; it afterward fell into the hands of the Abbassides, caliphs of Bagdad, and at a later period was brought into Europe by Amurath III. It was covered with 42 wrappings of silk, deposited in a costly casket, and preserved in a chapel in the interior of the seraglio, where it is guarded by several emirs, with constant prayers. The banner unfolded at the commencement of a war, and likewise carefully preserved, is not the same, altho it is believed by the people to be so.

Fascinating, eh? There are a (very) few references to the “Flag of the Prophet” on the Internet, but none so quaintly concise as this. We just thought we’d share. Let us know what you think.