Thursday, December 27, 2012

Old Time Hockey

Some weeks, The Nation doesn't publish.  And some weeks, both the Times and the Wall Street Journal publish acrostics or word puzzles instead of cryptic crosswords.  So for weeks we don't have a puzzle from Hot and Trazom to feature on Thursdays, or when the Sunday brunch menu is not so appetizing, I'm launching a new feature called "Old Time Hockey."  Those sacred words, made famous in the movie Slap Shot, have a special meaning to hockey players (and officials).  Old time hockey is back to basics: no razzle-dazzle, no trash talk; just skating, shooting, and hitting (and some surreptitious holding and interference too).

We'll pick a puzzle from the archives of one publication or another, and solve it together.  This week, I did Spoonerfest, by Hex, from the September 2003 issue of The Atlantic.  This was definitely a tough one.  Like some other variety cryptics Hex have created, and others in the NPL book that Hot and Trazom edited, one-third of the clues are altered, one-third of the answers have to have a matching alteration before they go into the grid, and the last one-third are normal.  So as the title indicates, we have spoonerisms in this puzzle.  None of them were particularly funny ones, but Hex were pretty sneaky: some of the clues you're sure at first are straight actually need to be altered.

If there are some old favorites you want to see in a future edition of this column, send me an e-mail.

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