Saturday, August 11, 2012

At the carnival (Sunday brunch: August 11, 2012)

Well if you keep guessing the same thing, eventually you'll be right.  Hex got their "Finish Line" variety cryptic format back into training, and it qualified for the Wall Street Journal Saturday puzzle.  They also contribute an appropriate acrostic to your weekend's puzzling, over at the New York Times.   Don't miss the extended quotes Hex shared with Deb Amlen.  No Olympic theme in Hex's block cryptic for the National Post: Falcon will tell you more at his blog.

The title of this week's brunch came to mind since I spent the last couple of days at Hersheypark where Bangle was in a skating competition (she won her compulsory moves event and was sixth in the free skate).  If you're a Mac user, that title might bring back great memories.  "At the Carnival" was the second of Cliff Johnson's word game/puzzle packages designed for the Macintosh, following the groundbreaking "The Fool's Errand" and preceding "3 in Three."

At the Carnival was released in 1989, at a time when computing power was limited, and graphics bit-mapped.  Johnson had a unique style with those graphics, and combined it with a variety of cryptograms and other word puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, and action games.  We learn that Johnson worked at amusement parks as a teenager, and looks back at those days with a rather cynical eye (like I look at working public sessions on Saturday nights at the Penn rink, where all the boys were named Vinny and the girls were talented enough to smoke and chew gum at the same time).   So we see rides with names like "The Rabid Rat," and it helps to know the spelling of various agents that can cause food poisoning.  

At the Carnival and The Fool's Errand are available for free download at Cliff Johnson's site, as a means of promoting his long-in-gestation sequel "The Fool and His Money."  For that fame, Johnson  is now promising a release date of September 24.  (I checked, and it's 2012, not 2011 or 2013).  The old games are really old.  You'll need a Mac running Classic Mode (system 10.4 or earlier on PowerPC, not Intel) and/or an emulator to visit Hazard Park or go on The Fool's Errand; but once you get in, plan on spending a whole weekend there!

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