Thursday, October 29, 2009


I was paroozing some crossword-related discussion boards, specifically wondering if the fact that I only ever do Richard Maltby's puzzles in Harper's means I'm really just a fan of Maltby's rather than cryptics in general.

I have definitely been completely frustrated trying to solve English cryptics (which require quite a bit of general knowledge), and also found the clues in Frank Lewis's Nation offerings to follow the cryptic "rules" much less strictly than I was used to, though maybe they were just going over my head.

In any case, someone mentioned that Maltby started setting puzzles for Harper's in January 1976, and he prefaced the first one with a nice little introduction to cryptics (subscribers-only link, images posted below) that even includes his "mental repunctiation" refrain. So I'm going to try that one and see whether he had that style from the beginning.

Also! it appears that Stephen Sondheim wrote puzzles for New York! Weird! They did a blog post with his first three. Apparently he is credited with developing the "US style" of cryptic. I am going to try those out as well.

Introduction to cryptics
Introduction to cryptics page 2
Cryptic puzzle

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


By Travis Scholtens

Eight answers from the Across clues must first be altered before they can be entered in the diagram. Naturally, word lengths are omitted for these clues.

When the diagram is completed, the entry at 15A will be a familiar slogan describing the alteration.

Altered entries are common words and contain no proper nouns. Clued answers include one proper noun. 27A is an alternate spelling. As always, mental repunctuation of a clue is the key to its solution. The solution to the last puzzle appears after the jump.

   1.  After being fixed, paler cat is calmer
   5.  Shows are inside: second-rate, front of stage (5)
   9.  Sounds likely to be grounds for a lawsuit (5)
10.  Bordeaux cartel broken up
11.  World government players regarded to be intact
13.  Speaker czar
14.  Ovation less enthusiastic, initially: bravo! (3)
15.  See instructions (3,4,3)
18.  Frolicked in reversible scarlet cloak
20.  Old pie goes bad, becomes water molecule, e.g. (6)
22.  Chats about gym class, love, urges (6)
24.  Sweet drink from bar at center thrown back
25.  Pains leave shore with fore moved aft (4)
26.  Alarming contents of NASCAR in German
27.  Sore on eyelid in crust (yellow) (4)
28.  Put into concrete form, a nice rant goes off the rails

   2.  Beginning of novel buried amidst property claim sheets (5)
   3.  Core shown in bas-relief (3)
   4.  Overjoyed to be part of a family with no head (6)
   5.  Buffets for smokes (5)
   6.  Audible shaft moisture to perform again (4)
   7.  Everybody else up late? (2,2)
   8.  Convenience store blends test puree (9)
10.  Lions missing a thousand toy bricks (4)
11.  Great places mix up oxtail soup with no lox (7)
12.  Until death preserves Iberian diacritic (5)
13.  Thoroughly hinder packaging record with missing note (6)
16.  Not pro game: without me, it's a Cuban line dance (5)
17.  Wide awake right after beer (5)
19.  Project beginnings of each movie in theater (4)
21.  Write new leader (leader of English colony) (4)
23.  Tails-up nickels are evil (3)

Friday, October 23, 2009

I Wonder

When Microsoft named the ThreadPool.QueueUserWorkItem method, did they name it that way so it would sound like you were talking about something involving a "pool cue" when you said it aloud?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


This is by my house:

Bodega called 'Food Inc.'

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Privatized" Utilities

Love it: phone companies still cater to the needs of shareholders rather than those of the public, but when it comes to their communications with the government, well that's a state secret or something. State capitalism's privatization of public services once again gives ordinary citizens the worst of both worlds.

I also love love love the argument that any sort of conversation should remain private in the context of defending the telecoms from charges of eavesdropping on their customers.