207. If You Build It

January 15, 2014

builditLast 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. Read the rest of this entry »


206. 2014 Calendar

December 28, 2013

2014calDates, holidays, mice.

Download a PDF in
two convenient sizes:

Click here for LARGE
Click here for NOT SO LARGE (2/sheet)

Click on the image at right for a preview of the large calendar.


205. Up, Up and (when I catch my breath) Away

December 20, 2013

Free. An original 15×15 crossword puzzle of mediumish difficulty.

If you like it, consider it a Christmas or belated Hanukkah gift, even though the theme has nothing to do with either holiday.
geezerbowIf you don’t like it, demand a refund!

Click to download:
PDF  • PDF solution
Solve online (super smooth)
Across Lite


204. Puzzling Thoughts: House Hunt

December 9, 2013

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.

cokeThe 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.


203. Wynne Win

December 5, 2013

Here’s a “fun” puzzle, adapted from one that appears in iFlush: Hurtling thru History. Click on the image to download a PDF.

puzwynne3


203. Cape Town Comes to New York

November 11, 2013

madLast Tuesday morning, I met up with Chaeli Mycroft (2011 winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize) and her mother Zelda in New York City.

These two women (Chaeli is now 19) are the core of the Chaeli Campaign, an organization based in Cape Town, South Africa, that works to help children with disabilities. Chaeli was born with cerebral palsy but has turned that into an asset, raising money and awareness and speaking up for those who can’t.

dcI came to know Chaeli while writing about her for an upcoming book, iFlush: Hunting for Heroes. She certainly qualifies as a hero (here’s a four-minute video that tells her story) and, after our meeting, I now know her mother qualifies as well! She’s a strong force and voice for the cause … and someone who won’t let anyone depart without a big bear hug.

Chaeli is a magnet for important awards, and she was in town to receive the 2013 World of Children Award. But she had a few extra days, so I arranged a change of pace from the hoity-toity world of important awards and fund-raising charities — a visit to MAD magazine.

madboardWe met up just south of Grand Central Station to grab a round of coffees at Starbucks, then hopped in a cab — NYC has a fleet of 233 cabs with wheelchair lifts — and made our way over to MAD headquarters at 1700 Broadway.

I think the MAD crew got as much a kick out of it as Chaeli and Zelda did.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge. TOP: Editor Dave Croatto, Art Director Sam Viviano, Chaeli, me, and Associate Art Director Ryan Flanders. MIDDLE: Chaeli and Zelda in the DC Comics reception area. BOTTOM: Chaeli’s photo now graces MAD‘s “Celebrity Board.” (The two MAD photos by Lana Limón.)


202. Inside Mad

October 29, 2013

Available today: Inside MAD, a behind-the-scenes look at MAD magazine, $29.95 cheap $19.97 cheaper.

MAD’s “Usual Gang of Idiots” chimes in, as do celebrities and MAD editor John Ficarra, who has this to say in his foreword: “Inside MAD offers a rare look into the twisted minds of the writers and artists who have produced the magazine for the past 61 years. I would like to say it’s illuminating and insightful, but unfortunately I can’t — I’ve read it.”


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