Saturday, March 9, 2013

Acrostic weekend (Sunday brunch: March 10, 2013)

Hope you like acrostics, since both the Times and the Wall Street Journal have them this week.  The Times puzzle is behind the paywall, but Deb Amlen's blog post with Hex's comments aren't.  Deb is also blogging from the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament this weekend.

The Wall Street Journal acrostic is by Mike Shenk.  I haven't solved it yet since the Java version was missing.  They use a weird publishing service for the acrostics, so you may find the PDF easier to work with.

So since we have those acrostics, let's look at another source: LyrAcrostics by Dr. Awkward.  The good doctor has been constructing since 2004.  Puzzles come out on an irregular schedule, about ten a year, but with that much of a backfile, you could spend a good amount of time solving them.  The feature is that the quotes are song lyrics, so you might find yourself humming along.

Two things about these puzzles prevent me from giving them top marks, even if there were a Java version available.  First, knowing that the quotes are from song lyrics make them easy to get, even if they're from a genre that you're not big on.  The world of books from which most acrostic quotes are taken is much bigger and less predictable.  Too often, it's like the Wheel of Fortune TV game show, where you're trying to see how few letters you need to solve the puzzle.  Second, Dr. Awkward favors one-word clues.  While that makes the puzzle less easy to solve, it takes out room for cleverness.

By contrast, Shenk's puzzle has fewer, longer word answers, with some of them being interesting littl bits of trivia (Hex do that in their acrostics) rather than just vocabulary exercises.  They're a steady solve rather than the alternate racing and head-scratching of the LyrAcrostics.

At least there's one cryptic to solve this weekend thanks to Hex and the National Post.  Savor it to the core.  If you need more cryptics, there's the Trip Payne archive we visited about a couple of weeks ago.

Elsewhere in the catching-up department, Patrick Berry's Kickstarter project: The Crypt, has reached its goal so Patrick is finalizing the puzzles to send out next month.  There's still time for you to contribute, and now you know the project is a go, so stop by and join it.

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