The Week In Crosswords

Puzzlehunt-makers are rolling out some special projects to get the drop on the new year. Andrew J. Ries has announced a crossword-heavy “Metapuzzle 2012″ on his site, but its release schedule says 2013 to me. If you like your puzzlehunts a little more varied, then you may want to support the Kickstarter for Puzzazz’s Unique Puzzles for a Yankee Echo Alfa Romeo. And P&A Magazine is now offering gift subscriptions for the last-minute shopper.

Footnote: the AV Club Crossword just wrapped up its Kickstarter with a very healthy $26,000 total.

Longtime readers of this blog have a pretty good idea what words and themes are considered crosswordese cliches in America. But what about British cryptic crossword culture? As usual, The Guardian is on the case, with results of the opinion poll mentioned last week. The highlight is probably the observation that certain clues can expose class and race divisions, just by making certain assumptions about accents.

And speaking of accents, here’s a tip for Wheel of Fortune contestants: don’t be droppin’ your Gs. It could cost you a victory.

The Score created a snarky sports activity book with the crossword below as the first page. The answer to every clue is PRACTICE.

The timing of this feature means that it’s probably too late to advise you on snail-mailed Christmas gifts, but this T-shirt is a fun “secret handshake” between crossword-lovers in any time or place. (Hat tip: Tim Croce, via Facebook.)

In his twin roles as crossword historian and editor, David Steinberg has posted a piece on classic constructor Alfio Micci and submission guidelines for the puzzle he edits at The Orange County Register. (One major departure from Will Shortz’s policies: “only e-mail submissions will be considered.” Will only considers print ones.)

This feature’s reports of famous and semi-famous people saying “Yay, I’m in a crossword” are getting a little monotonous, aren’t they? This week’s ego-solver: Ashton Eaton.

This announcement by Red Bluff Daily News editor Chip Thompson is a mature apology but still leaves vexing questions. How did the paper’s advertising department get the authority, even temporarily, to replace the photo in the middle of the crossword puzzle with a sponsor’s logo? Was the photo the only thing changed, rendering the puzzle unsolvable, as the early part of the announcement implies, or was the entire puzzle changed so that it was designed around the logo, as the later part of the announcement implies? And if the latter, how is it any kind of challenge to spell out a logo that’s already spelled out for you (iconic logos like the McDonald’s “M” are the exception, not the rule)? At any rate, it all seems well and good, until Thompson adds that he isn’t sure whether he’ll scrap the puzzle altogether for the offense of being in the way of advertising space that shouldn’t have been sold.

Finally, do crosswords’ black-and-white patterns encourage black-and-white thinking?

About T Campbell

T Campbell is a crossword constructor and comics scriptwriter. Among his cruciverbal accomplishments are the Ubercross C-Spot (the largest puzzle to follow New York Times standard rules), Crossworlds, a collection of 50 science-fiction-themed puzzles, and the forthcoming On Crosswords: Callin' Out Them Squares.
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