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Cross-eyed over Crossword

I don't know it for a fact, but I believe the crossword puzzle that appears every day in the Austin American-Statesman has a new author.

Others around Wimberley, among them some of the ladies at Hair Magic beauty salon where my wife gets her weekly do-update, have come to the same conclusion.

We know someone new is producing the puzzle, not because there has been any change in appearance, but because this new creator thinks very differently than the one she/he has replaced.

People who do the puzzle every day come to understand the way the puzzler thinks. The previous author, for example, often used the term "oater" for a cowboy movie, something I've never heard in real life.

I bring this up, not to berate the Statesman, but because the timing is kind of weird.

Turns out that on Dec. 21, the crossword puzzle turned 100 years of age. That's according to Publishers Weekly. Arthur Wynne worked for the New York World when he put together the first puzzler, and it was not square as it is today. It was a diamon-shaped grid.

Wynne was unsure of what the reaction would be, and was pleasantly surprised to receive what PW calls bags of fan mail.

I'm a fan, so I'll adapt to the Statesman's new creation.

Travis picking with van Ronk

Can't wait to see the much-loved movie "Inside Llewyn Davis."

A two-page ad in The New York Times this morning boils down a dozen or so rave reviews.

The Coen brothers based the movie in part on the life of Dave van Ronk, who my friends and I discovered about the time the film is set to explore -- 1961. We were all budding "folk" musicians, some much better than others. And van Ronk had a very original style that captured the essence of that pre-Dylan era.

I spent a lot of time trying to learn Travis picking, the guitar-playing technique that van Ronk perfected. I could do it moderately well, sometimes.

I have long since forgotten how to  Travis pick, and I'm so old and shaky that I doubt I could re-learn it.

But, I sure do want to hear that sound again coming out of monster speakers at a good theater in Austin.

Late to an argument

I must have been snoozing these last dozen or so years as a battle raged on campuses and in certain publications and in online venues about the value of being honest.

Maureen Dowd, in her Sunday column in The New York Times, traces the fight that pits nasty versus nice.

Seems it goes all the way back to 2000, when someone I never heard of encouraged a group of students not to be critics in the same vein as the hold saying, if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all.

Apparently, this camp has grown and, according to Dowd, threatens to stifle the nastiness that makes life online and even offline so, well, exciting.

Since I am unfamiliar with these folks, and they have yet to make any inroads in any of the places I regularly visit, I kind of liken them in my mind to those people who believe that it's important for all children to make A's or at least make the first team, the people who worry about damaging the precious egos of others.

Maureen and her camp needn't worry.

As long as there are teen-age girls, there will be snark aplenty.

New email addresses at library

By the end of today all of us at the library will have new email addresses.

Until now, we have some staff members with one email suffix, and other staffers with a different one. We are all going to have the same suffix. It will be wimberleylibrary.org.

Carolyn Manning, our library director, will have an email address of This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

My prefix will be circ. Linda Eagleton's prefix will be reference. Monica Rasco's will be youth. Kristina Minor will have youngadult. Sarah Davis will have circ2. Nori Larson will have onsiteit. Kathleen Goodson will have programs. And Deanna Crow will have bookkeeping.

For awhile, both the old and the new addresses will be in use, but the old address will sooner than later go away.

Singular performances

Since I have not seen all the contenders it's probably not fair for me to spout off on who should win what in the Golden Globes and Academy Awards competitions.

But ...

How could anyone be better than Sandra Bullock was in "Gravity?" I saw it at a big screen, 3-D moviehouse in Austin and was completely blown away.

And the movie itself? It was like having a heart attack for an hour and a half.

I've read some screenplays in my life, and I'd love to read "Gravity," and also the Redford boat movie script.

Such talent should be rewarded.