PROGRAM: [Across Lite]
What's been fascinating to me is that some of these puzzles are 20 years old, and yet they're still very entertaining to solve. In fact, there's really nothing about them that feels that, dare I say, ancient? Compare any one of the puzzles from the first issue of Tough Cryptics (set the WABAC Machine to "May 1992"), and a regular crossword from 1992. A couple of things stand out with the regular puzzle: namely, there's not nearly as much thematic material as with today's puzzles and the older puzzles grids weren't nearly as ambitious. Other more obvious reasons include the dated answers/clues/trivia/slang/etc. Whereas with cryptics, the grid construction is essentially the same today as it is back then (there's only so many words that lend themselves to cryptic cluing). Oh yeah, and the clues are still riddles. And try as we might to forget "why'd the chicken cross the road," I'm afraid to report it, like any other riddle, is immortal. So perhaps cryptic puzzles really are for the ages.
R.I.P., Adam Yauch. I made this puzzle right when it was announced he was battling cancer.
Share the puzzle. New one on Thursday.
UPDATE: ACPT champion Dan Feyer chimed in on Tough Cryptics last night. He emailed me the following:
I can also highly recommend Tough Cryptics. There are actually more variety puzzles than block grids - the ratio gets better after the first couple issues. Never thought about how 20-year-old cryptics are basically indistinguishable from today's, whereas straight crosswords from that era seem so musty...