Saturday, December 14, 2013

Norfolk Island Pine (Sunday brunch: December 15, 2013)

Here is the official Christmas tree of crossworders, the Norfolk Island Pine.  Why for crossworders?  It’s the most popular (at least here in the US) member of the araucaria family: the “Monkey Puzzle Tree” that John Graham adopted for a pen name.

Araucaria heterophylla isn’t the true Monkey Puzzle Tree: that one is Araucaria araucaria.  But the Norfolk Island Pine is more common and quite appealing to the eye.  I had one for a while while I was in grad school.  

As I was researching the post about Araucaria the constructor a few weeks ago, I learned a couple of things about Araucaria the tree.  First of all, while they’re commonly called “pines” (such as the Chile Pine, another name for Araucaria araucana and the source of Graham’s FT alias: Cinephile), they aren’t actually in the pine family.  And I had mistakenly thought the Norfolk Island they were referring to was somewhere off the Virginia coast.  Actually it’s off the Pacific coast of Australia.

Once your favorite tree is decorated, here are some puzzles to solve.

The National Post cryptic by Hex starts with a Christmas theme.  Falcon has it solved and annotated for you.

The new Harper’s is out, and this month’s Richard Maltby cryptic is titled “Cross-Purposes.”  I thought was a piece of pi^H^H cake: I needed only six answers before I figured out the theme and solved the big long answer across the middle.

The Wall Street Journal puzzle is an acrostic by Mike Shenk.  It’s also acrostic weekend in the New York Times (puzzle behind the paywall): Deb thought it was an easy one. She also has a post up listing some of the TV shows her boss Will Shortz is on, talking about crosswords on their 100th anniversary.

some more links coming later: I have to get to bed for an early game tomorrow.

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