Thursday, May 23, 2013

Congratulations, Erica! (Puzzle No. 3,285)

Well, now we know where Erica was last week when we were expecting her to post her solution and snark on this month's Harpers': she was off on a toot celebrating her being a winner of their monthly contest!    Maybe she'll tell us next month about all the barflies in all the gin mills of Chicago who toasted her success, or maybe put a reference to the victory in the next episode of Blogjob.

I never bothered to put a stamp on a solution and mail it in since I already have access to the magazine at Penn, but now we learn that not only do winners get a one-year subscription to Harpers', they also get a note from Richard Maltby himself!  Or at least I think that's Maltby's signature there... with that kind of penmanship, I can't really be sure.

It makes you wonder what the handwriting of other constructors is like.  Do any of them write one letter on top of another hoping for serendipitous acrostics?  Do they look for opportunities to write a whole note without the use of the letter 'a'?  Which leads to the more philosophical question: are constructors the same in person as they are in a grid, or is the grid their alter ego?

Muse more in the comments if you like: here's 3,285.  It's not the easiest puzzle The Nation has published recently, but I didn't find any stumpers here.  Started it on the El going off to lunch, and finished it just before going back to the office.  I hopped and skipped around rather than knocking out a whole quadrant at a time.

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): Easy to moderate

Hozom's comment: "Definitely!" in which Hot and Trazom debate how specific the definition part of a clue ought to be, and share some of the things that go through their minds as they construct their clues.  Since they try to balance tricky definitions with easier wordplay and vice versa, I'd like to know how often they start with the definition and how often they start with the wordplay.  I think a memorable definition can redeem a mushy piece of fill.

Solution and annotation published Monday—join us this weekend for Sunday brunch!

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