FIRST (3-5) / SECOND (4 4)
Stephen Bannon, who feels sitcoms lack
A FIRST viewpoint, will bring SECOND back.
To play Donald and Ann,
Trump and Coulter’s the plan.
It’s a black-and-white show (minus black).
Comments contain the answer to Rice Milk #25 and may contain other spoilers. For information on solving transposals and other “flat” (verse puzzle) types, visit the National Puzzlers’ League’s Online Guide to the Enigma.
DOWNLOADABLE PUZZLE: Unthemely #91 (PUZ) (PDF)
Sheesh, it’s been a long time since I worked on a crossword puzzle. To give you an idea of how long this themeless grid has been sitting on my desktop, the original seed entry at 1-Across was the hip, trending term POKESTOP. The seed, along with a majority of the grid’s top half, was replaced due to a partial dupe discovered after the first fill attempt.
Michael Sharp’s crossword-themed podcast On the Grid, which has apparently and unfortunately petered out after a single episode (ETA: Lena Webb reports, in the comments, that a new On the Grid episode will soon be posted.), included a discussion on terms with an E- (for electronic) prefix, such as EMAIL, EZINE, EFILE, and ECIG. Michael asked guests which of these terms are still in common use and which are passe, and should therefore be removed from crossword fill consideration. I thought about that discussion when cluing 44-Across. The entry has a few approaches and the one I chose seems to have rapidly declining relevance among younger generations.
On the topic of blogs and podcasts, I’ve added Dan Katz’s blog Puzzlevaria to my links list. Dan’s posts focus on long-form puzzle periodicals and events such as P&A Magazine and MIT Mystery Hunt. The blogosphere boasts numerous analysis and review sites for crossword puzzles, and I’m glad that a similar site has now been created for hunt puzzles.
Finally, I want to plug a new puzzle book by friend and occasional LaaP commenter Roger Barkan. Colossal Cave Collection, published by Grandmaster Puzzles, is a book of Cave puzzles. Jeffrey Schwartz describes this abstract logic puzzle type as “Paint by Numbers on steroids.” The page linked above includes a free donwloadable sampler. I’m still getting my sea legs with this puzzle type but I did manage to solve the first puzzle using a hint, indexed in the back of the book, and a fair amount of erasing.
DOWNLOADABLE PUZZLE: Unthemely #90 (PUZ) (PDF)
For the past eight months all of my income has been derived from the puzzle industry, with the exception of some monthly contributions to the household-expenses kitty made by my mother and condo-mate Sybil. I’ve had aspirations to be a full-time “professional puzzler” for decades but I don’t feel like I’ve made deliberate efforts to attain that particular status. It’s a life that I fell into by serendipity. The responsibilities of puzzle room development for Puzzah!, crossword construction for professional outlets, and program coordination for the National Puzzlers’ League drain my creativity. Working on the Unthemely crossword series is something of a busman’s holiday. The grid for Unthemely #90 sat half-filled on my desktop for over two months. Over the last two weeks I finally got around to finishing the grid and writing the clues.
On the subject of Unthemely crosswords, I want to remind you that my book Fresh Freestyle Crosswords will be released later this year. I recently received the first review copy and am very pleased with
FIRST (6 6) / SECOND (4 2 6)
“For your Mother’s Day breakfast in bed,
I’ve beat eggs for a FIRST,” cried King Oed.
“As you eat, I will sing
‘SECOND‘ just like the King.”
“Too much ham,” was what Jocasta said.
Comments contain the answer to Rice Milk #24 and may contain other spoilers. For information on solving transposals and other “flat” (verse puzzle) types, visit the National Puzzlers’ League’s Online Guide to the Enigma.
DOWNLOADABLE PUZZLE: Unthemely #89 (PUZ) (PDF)
The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament is about two months away. One of the highlights of this year’s evening entertainments is an Escape Room designed by Eric Berlin. I won’t be attending the tournament and I’m curious to see what Eric comes up with for this activity. Escape rooms are trendy at the moment and the label offers commercial value for a range of puzzle and game tie-in enterprises. Puzzle books based on escape rooms are being planned (Christopher Manson’s Maze could be a prototype of the genre) and “Host a Murder Mystery” box games are being re-branded as “Host an Escape Room.” Among business that offer escape rooms, there is a great variety in the level of theme, and by “theme” I mean physical and sensory immersive detail. This variety introduces an interesting question: what is the difference between an escape room and a puzzle activity that is inspired by the concept of an escape room? Different people would have different answers to the question based on experience and expectations. Participants of Eric’s ACPT activity may describe their experiences in various terms but I’m sure they will all have a great time.
UNO (10) / DOS (4-6)
I’m an UNO in Cuba. My plan is
To hire farmers to make DOS Havanas.
To increase cigar yields,
They can train in my fields
By repeeling uneaten bananas!
Comments contain the answer to Rice Milk #23 and may contain other spoilers. For information on solving transposals and other “flat” (verse puzzle) types, visit the National Puzzlers’ League’s Online Guide to the Enigma.
DOWNLOADABLE PUZZLE: Unthemely #88 (PUZ) (PDF)
I’m posting this puzzle in between the release of an issue of P&A Magazine and the MIT Mystery Hunt so I won’t be surprised if the puzzle-hunt fans won’t get around to the crossword puzzle for a while. For the rest of you, enjoy the first Unthemely puzzle of 2016!