Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Last Word (Sunday brunch: April 7, 2013)

If there's been one common element to my solving this past week, it's the one word at the end that I just couldn't get.  They were especially plentiful in the block cryptics in Patrick Berry's "The Crypt" but 3,278 was like that too (13d had me stumped for a while).

What to do when that happens?  It depends on the situation.  With a block cryptic, I'll put it aside and hope the word comes to me the next time I pick up the puzzle.  With the FT, I won't bother unless I'm only a word or two from finishing: for me they are just too hard to be enjoyable.

The time I'm most likely to resort to Google is when the missing answer is a pop culture reference, like the Rhianna (wasn't that a Fleetwood Mac record?) album in Nathan Curtis's new Pathfinder (*).  I have no hope at those, and I'm not good at movies and TV shows either.  Composers and jazz artists? No problem.  And I'm OK on classic rock and soul.  I might also go to the computer to check a pop culture reference when I think I have it but I'm not sure.

The weekend puzzles didn't give me such problems though.  The Hex acrostic in the Wall Street Journal was a breeze, even though I hadn't seen the quote before.  I got a word in the quote that indicated a timely theme, and then it was off to the races: figuring out all the related words I had partials on, and the bonus of many related words in the clue answers.  Quality construction is what you get from Hex.

Hex also have an acrostic in the New York Times: it's behind the paywall as usual, but their comments over at Deb Amlen's blog are worth reading anyway.  I might even go get the print paper to do the puzzle.

And the Hex cryptic at the National Post has a classical theme: so I'd better be able to get those all in one go like Falcon did.

That Pathfinder was great.  Maybe I'll post some tips later on if that will encourage you to try it.

*--There's also a nice easy Snake Charmer over at Nathan's site

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