Saturday, January 12, 2013

Starting Here, Starting Now (Sunday brunch: January 13, 2013)

Thursday’s post about Richard Maltby and Stephen Sondheim only scratched the surface of their contributions to cryptic crosswords and to musical theatre.  I kept exploring, and discovered that while Sondheim’s book of New York magazine puzzles is long out of print (this is the book with the dodecahedron on the cover), Sondheim’s first three puzzles are posted online for posterity.  I'm going to try one of them this weekend.

Elsewhere around the puzzling scene, it’s one of those two-acrostic weeks.  The Times puzzle (by Hex as usual, with their comments over at the Wordplay blog) is behind the paywall, while the Wall Street Journal’s acrostic is a particularly literary endeavor (update 1/13" I forgot to credit Mike Shenk for constructing that puzzle).  Note that there've been issues with Java security, so you may need to reload the page or re-enable Java in order for the interactive version to work.  But do so: that applet takes all the drudgery out of acrostics.  

For cryptics, this week we’ve only got The Nation from Thursday (solution posted here Monday: hints always available in comments if you need them--and don't miss this week's installment of Word Salad) and the National Post from Saturday, which this week has a mystery constructor.  Solution and commentary on that puzzle is over at Falcon’s site.  Harpers’ for February wasn’t out yet, last I checked.

I spend a good chunk of my week going back over a Kevin Wald puzzle: "I Scrambled Here" that I’d printed out a few months ago and found while cleaning up around the house.  This one has a four-stage meta to taunt you, in case working out two-part clues or clues with anagrams inside them isn’t hard enough already.  I’ve filled the grid and solved the first two metas, but there’s a final anagram I haven’t got yet, along with a final bit of wordplay. Want to try and help? If you ask in the comments, I’ll give hints on the parts I’ve gotten so far. Then you might be able to figure out where I’ve gone wrong.


  1. Good one from Kevin Wald (I Scrambled Here). Had to use Google for the final anagram, but don't feel bad because I figured it had to be some kind of variation of my first guess and I had never heard of the actual answer.

    Can't parse 2D - hint?

    Also, is there an answer to the cryptic clue from the anagrams? Don't want to strain my brain looking for something that isn't there.

    Thanks for a good solve.

  2. 2d in "I Scrambled Here:" "Staves off" is the definition. But I'm also stuck on the wordplay "say vacuous trancendentalists." Maybe "overts"? Hot? You have any idea?

    I did eventually get that anagram though. Kept having to lengthen the word I was using for the shaded-in figure.

  3. Got 2D last night just as the brain was powering down. "Say" is the first part of the wordplay, and the word "transcendentalists" is vacuous. And using "off" as a fake anagram indicator is really clever given the actual answer.

    Don't get how you can lengthen the word for the shaded-in figure, but maybe I'm not clear on what you mean.


If you're responding to a hint request, please remember not to give more information than necessary. More direct hints are allowed after Monday.