211. It’s a Celebrity Funfest!

October 9, 2014

funfestcoverNow available: People Celebrity Puzzler: Holiday Funfest!

Note: Although the title is Holiday Funfest, all of the puzzle themes are apt for any time of the year.

Our extra-snazzy Bonus Section, titled “The 12 Days of Puzzler,” presents themes such as the “A Partridge Family Tree” (the 1st day), “Calling All Birds” (4th day), “Made a Milk Ad” (8th day), “Lords: A Heaping!” (10th) and, of course, “Drummers Drumming” (12th), featuring Ringo Starr and his paradiddling brethren.

funfestoffice The rest of the book includes George (the recently married one and the future English king), theater concession-stand goodies (with photo clues!), Nyong’o, Colbert, Aniston (of course), Strahan, Upton, celebrity-couple portmanteaus, and a crossword tribute to your favorite board games. Over 75 puzzles in all!

Photo, left: my People art directing home-away-from-home.

210. Heroes & Mystery

June 23, 2014

heroesAvailable now:
Hunting for Heroes
Includes 40 unique puzzles, plus full-page articles on the Poison Squad; Sgt. Reckless, the Korean War’s bravest horse; women spies of The Civil War; the Star Trek star Martin Luther King Jr. looked up to; Brooklyn’s unlikely chess whizzes; five amazing super-rodents; a 100-year-old marathoner; hero kids around the world; and tons more! [CLICK for more info]

mysteryPlunging into Mystery
Includes 40 unique puzzles, plus full-page articles on Clever Hans, the four-legged adding machine; Strasbourg’s dancing plague, what do dreams mean?; the White House’s secret defenses; the pea-headed children of Woolpit, England; did a U.S. vice president’s daughter really walk the plank?; a Pacific city built of huge lava logs; and tons more! [CLICK for more info]

209. Final Impressions

March 10, 2014

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.

Click on the titles to enlarge: 1. Easels, 2. Winners, 3. Invisible Man


208. Dead Tree Version

February 2, 2014

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).

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.

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.


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