How do you get your hands on more of these old The Nation cryptics? There is an online digital archive of The Nation, going back all the way to its founding, but it’s text-only, so you won’t find the puzzle there. Unless you have an uncle with boxes and boxes of magazines in his garage, it’s likely the only place is the microforms section of a university library (which I conveniently have three blocks from my office).
|Microfilm: it's not just for Soviet spies!|
If you went to college during the internet age, you probably have never used or even seen a microfilm reader. But if you like crosswords, it’s a skill you should learn. Old New York Times, New York magazine (Sondheim originals), the New Yorker (the wonderful 8 x 10s that helped get me hooked on cryptics), and more are all there for you to explore.
The latest microfilm readers work in conjunction with a computer, so you can scan pages right to disk or print them out. That’s a lot more convenient than the photostatic copies that the microfilm reader made back when I was in college thirty-some years ago, though I missed the characteristic smell. The picture quality on the computer monitor is much better than the bluish (and often dirty) projection screen of the film reader.
At least you still have the sounds: the squeak of the reel drives, the whisshh of film sliding through the glass plates, and the flip-flip-flip-flip-flip if you weren’t careful to slow down and stop rewinding when the film got back to the beginning. If you’ve never used a microfilm reader, why not try it today? Pick a newspaper or magazine from the day you (or your parents) were born, or some big day in history.
But if you want to solve a 45-year-old cryptic first, here is The Nation puzzle no. 1,303 (below the fold). Click on this link for a printable version.