Saturday, February 23, 2013

Is it a word? (Sunday brunch: February 24, 2013)

Several times this week (both with the The Nation puzzle and with the WSJ puzzle), I found myself asking myself "is this a word"?  I checked online to see if it was and to learn the meaning, and each time it was.  Not surprising, since I was pretty confident that I had the wordplay figured out, and good constructors try and balance obscure words with clear wordplay, and employ shifty wordplay only when the defined word is not unfairly hard to work out.

That may be one thing that makes cryptics particularly satisfying.  You might also find words you've never seen before in a straight crossword, but there they are as much of an annoyance as a revelation.  They get in the way of solving.  Whereas in a cryptic, they're easier to solve so you aren't as angry at the word.

Have confidence!

The kitchen at Hex-plex has been pretty busy (wonder what their menus are like?  Maybe someone could dedicate a crossword meal to them) with three different courses to serve this weekend.

If you feel like paying for an appetizer, they have an acrostic in the New York Times (behind the paywall).  Deb Amlen reviews for us, and interviews the chefs as well.

If you come for the party, you can play Musical Chairs: a novel variety cryptic in the Wall Street Journal: no hat tip to The Listener or some other forerunner, so this must be an entirely new arrangement.  Reminding myself about the above principle, I got all but two words without even looking at the chairs, so it might be on the easy side.

And dessert is comfort food: the straight cryptic in the National Post.  Falcon will tell us more about it.

Enjoy your meal, and maybe go out for an extra skate afterwards--I am...

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