- “Slumdog Millionaire” got a couple Oscar nominations, which as far as I'm concerned is a good thing. Aside from the fact that either that or “Milk” were the best two I saw last year. (Okay, technically I saw “There Will Be Blood” in January and, hoo-boy, that is legitimate film-making. But it really came out in 2007). It's a good thing that they're both getting the recognition they deserve as they were great.
So how does this apply to puzzlemaking? Glad you should ask. The song that was played over the fantastic Bollywood dance sequence "Jai Ho" was nominated for Best Song. Don't you realize the ramifications we've got here! This opens up a whole new opportunity to clue the repeater JAI! It's a crying shame that none of the main characters were named Ali.
- I continue to get quizzical e-mails about the Monday puzzle. I figure it's time to just point out a couple tiny things about that one. First off, in the odd chance you weren't aware of the phenomenon, read all about it here. Secondly, there was at least a little bit of “artistry” to the puzzle. The phony clues I wrote in the Acrosses define the first five words of the chorus, and the Downs are the second five.
Inspiration for this puzzle came from an awe-inspiring April Fool's Day puzzle Will Shortz made for “GAMES” wherein all 62 clues for an insanely wide-open grid defined the answer NOTHING. Literally, you put nothing in the grid and it was correctly solved.
- Last week, Pat Blindauer came over for a visit. It was good to see him and all, talked a little shop, had a couple brews. Actually, check that. We talked a ton of shop. Liz was a good sport and chimed in, but man were the boys nerding it up. Sometimes I get a little lonely while I'm puzzlemaking. There are times I want to grab Liz and show her the latest WTFF tour-de-force construction I've made, and she greets it with enthusiasm because she's supportive. But, to be fair, Liz isn't a puzzle person, so sometimes the work goes over her head.
Anyway, Pat came up to Boston to meet with other titans of the puzzle solving (including one of my test solvers Tyler Hinman) and creating world (two favorites of mine: Francis Heaney and Trip Payne) to do the MIT Mystery Hunt. For those who don't know, this is an annual event wherein some of the greatest minds in puzzles convene in Cambridge to solve some of the most diabolical games that somehow line up together to form a bigger puzzle. Okay, so what's the hitch? They do this in teams and solve round-the-clock for over 48 hours. Wow! I plan on (finally) attending it next year, but I gotta just say I'm in awe of that stamina.
- I know I have used this platform to talk a little bit too much about music lately, but bear with me. Depending on what day of the week, I'm likely to say that either Pavement or Guided By Voices is my favorite band. Okay, big whoop. Pavement, as we've already discussed, are well-documented crossword fans. Guided By Voices was a blue-collar drinking club turned rock band from Dayton Ohio. An amazing band lead by a charismatic lead singer-songwriter who had a serious British Invasion/prog rock jones. During their unfuckwithable stage of 1994-1996, they only released three instant classic albums, seven EPs, and one box set with five discs. And that's just a 24 month stretch in their nearly two decade run.
What's astonishing to me is that almost all of that material is worth listening to again and again. I can only hope that during this insane stretch of construction that my work is as good. Please chime in on the comments section and let me know how things are going. (And if you like what you see, refer a friend.)