- Brits use colours and tyres, and it takes me a while to realise they do that.
- Typically there's like one or two stunningly funny jokes about an MP or a Premiership player in the surface meaning of one of the clues and/or the answer. Stunningly funny only if you know who they're talking about.
- They occassionally ignore the basic rules of cryptic clue writing altogether. I'm talking having extra words in the clue or just not cluing the answer straight at all.
And, of course, I solve substantially more American-style puzzles than cryptics. Don't get me wrong, American cryptics are out there: Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon pretty much own the market on these puzzles. Their work is so amazingly clean and funny and, well, effortless, it just looks like they just happened. (Click here for just a sampling of their Atlantic Monthly Puzzler). Trip Payne also makes some fantastic cryptics as well.
I think the notion for me to make a cryptic came about a couple New Year's Eves ago, when Liz and I were in New York City. We just randomly picked some Italian restaurant to have dinner on the West Side, and it wasn't too long into the dinner that Liz realized that the couple to the table immediately next to us were from England. And from their accents, sounded like they were from York as well. We struck up a conversation with them and found a few overlaps: they were indeed from York, both women were psychologists, they were also planning a wedding, and that our new friend's father constructed puzzles for the London Times. (This gentlemen would be Smokey for those who pay attention to British puzzles).
Since that chance encounter, I've had the notion to try and make a cryptic, but never really got around to it. It seemed like the blog would be a good format to give it a shot. This was damn hard to make. I wanted to make sure 1-Across really zinged. I also spent way too long filling and refilling the grid to try and make it full of fun stuff (and with entries that could be clued). As with all cryptics, the artistry is in the clues, and I resisted the temptation to rely too heavily on anagrams. I think it's inevitable, though. I want to take the time to thank Nancy Schuster who helped me tighten up the clues. Although some of the clues were fine, I made a lot of rookie mistakes with verb tenses and false indicators. She helped immensely. Also, thanks to Trip for giving it another quick polish. Just for kicks, I sent it off to Patrick Berry (as well as my other test solvers), and when Patrick sill offered suggestions, I realized that pretty much no two people were going to agree whether a cryptic clue works or not.Okay, hope you enjoyed it. Share the puzzle, folks. New one on Friday.