A trio of snapshots from the American Crossword Puzzle Championship. I took blurred photos, then made adjustments in Photoshop, including the addition of a watercolor effect (it shows up more when the photos are enlarged). The last shot is a rare photo of Don Christensen, the man who takes pictures of everyone else over the weekend. Don is about to capture Will Shortz and Mike Shenk, the final-puzzle constructor, for posterity … and hopefully not fall off the stage.
The work of Randall Rosenthal is pretty darn amazing. The photo shown below (click to enlarge) isn’t a stack of real newspapers. It’s a sculpture carved from a single piece of wood, then painted in exacting detail.
I got an added surprise when I realized the crossword lying atop the pile is one of mine, appearing in The New York Times on December, 18, 2011. CLICK HERE for an article showing how Rosenthal works, and to see more of his sculptures.
And CLICK HERE to see another Rosenthal sculpture that features Randy Ross’s October 2, 2005 NYT crossword (thanks to Jeff Chen for identifying the puzzle).
Last Thursday I caught a showing of If You Build It, a new documentary by director Patrick Creadon.
In it, a pair of designer-activists sets up shop in North Carolina’s poorest county. They teach a group of high school students with no previous architectural skills how to design and build a structure for the town. The program is called Studio H.
It had a bit of added interest for me. In a book due out in May, I wrote an article about an experimental architecture program at Auburn University called Rural Studio. The college students move into a struggling Alabama town and create buildings, often using recycled materials, for its poor residents.
Rural Studio and Studio H have a fair amount in common, including an innovative sense of design. But Studio H adds an intriguing twist, involving the townspeople directly in the process so that they’re both client and creator.
Will that personal investment make a difference? And what effect will the program have on the students involved?
See showtimes for the movie HERE.
Free. An original 15×15 crossword puzzle of mediumish difficulty.
By chance, about five years ago, I heard that Will Shortz would be hosting a small get-together at his house for a few puzzle friends. That didn’t involve me, but an annual crossword tournament Will holds in his hometown the week before — that would. The event is always followed by a trek of the puzzling faithful to stately Shortz manor for snacks and drinks and hobnobbing.
After the tournament, while clogs of puzzlers were clustered in Will’s kitchen, dining room, and living room, I planted a small puzzle hunt around the house. There were three clues. Each was a 4-line poem on a small piece of paper giving a hint as to the location of the next clue.
On the day of Will’s party, I sent him an email explaining what I’d done. At the end of the email was another 4-line poem to start the hunt.
The first clue was hidden in a vase on his mantel, not far from a Rotten Tomatoes award for the best-reviewed documentary of the year, Wordplay. Where was the second clue? I’m not remembering. But the third one was inside a fake can of Coca-Cola in a kitchen cupboard otherwise filled with cans of Campbell’s Chunky soup. Its message led to the “prize” I’d squirreled away in the back of his freezer, a small container of mustache antifreeze for use during the upcoming winter.
I’ve never asked if he’s used it, but I suspect not.
Here’s a “fun” puzzle, adapted from one that appears in iFlush: Hurtling thru History. Click on the image to download a PDF.