At the Xword Info blog, New York Times crossword editor Will Shortzwrites that today’s Times puzzle was written four years ago (!):
I accepted this puzzle in 2009, but held it for so long because I’d run similar themes in 2004, 2002, and 1997.
This is not unusual for the Times; constructors regularly mention to me that an NYT puzzle of theirs has been sitting around for years before seeing the light of day. Such a lag is frustrating for constructors and suboptimal for solvers since the grid won’t contain any entries fresher than four (or however many) years old.
One big advantage that independent, web-only constructors have over the newspapers is their extremely quick publication schedules, so an indie puzzle you solve has almost certainly been written in the past couple of weeks (or even days).
As you might guess, quick publication gives a puzzle a much snappier feel than long-delayed publication.
It’s a well-known fact that crossword solvers are an extremely sexually alluring group of people.
Case in point: in a new Billboard interview, Katy Perry swoons over boyfriend John Mayer‘s speed-solving ability:
“He literally is a genius, as is evident from his songwriting. I always tell him, ‘Darling, you know I’m going to have to give your mind to science after you’ve passed, because we’re going to have to understand how all these sparks work.’ We’ll be in bed, and he’ll be doing the crossword puzzle. Every night, he tries to finish it in under 10 minutes. When he puts his mind to something, he really gets it done very well. I always ask for his help.”
“Hey Matt” is going to be a regular feature on this blog, starting today. It’s simple: a solver asks a question about crosswords, and I answer it.
What’s the one entry you never want to see in a crossword again?
AMEBA. The microscopic organism is spelled AMOEBA, as everyone knows. “Ameba” is a variant spelling that dictionaries find acceptable, but it irks me every time!
Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone could find that I’d used it once or twice over the years…but still.
Got a crossword question for me? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Hey Matt” in the subject line. If I use your question you’ll receive a “Gaffney on Crosswords” pen & pencil set as a prize.
The new comedy Last Vegas opens Nov. 1, starring a bunch of guys you’ve never heard of: Kevin Kline, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Michael Douglas.
Why am I telling you this? Because one of my books may appear in the film. Its producers bought rights from Sterling Publishing to use up to 10 puzzle books in the movie, including several of mine, as well as volumes by puzzle greats Stan Newman and Frank Longo.
If you see the movie before I do, shoot me an e-mail and tell me what puzzle books you spotted (if any; all those grids could always end up on the cutting room floor).
Neville Fogarty is running a crossword contest at his site this week. It’s free to enter and the deadline is 6 AM Eastern Time on Thursday, October 17th.
Crossword contests have experienced a boomlet in popularity over the past few years; even the New York Times runs one every autumn now. Unlike live crossword tournaments, where contestants are ranked by how quickly and accurately they fill the puzzle grid, online contests instead feature what’s called a “metapuzzle.”
The metapuzzle (or just the “meta”) is a secondary puzzle of some kind you have to figure out after solving. Instructions tell you what you’re looking for, usually a word or phrase such as a city, movie title, or celebrity’s name. E-mail it in and you’re entered in the contest.
Solvers like metas because of the “aha moment” you get when the meta emerges. It’s an adrenaline rush of a kind you don’t often experience in a regular crossword.
If you’ve never solved a meta before, read my article explaining how it’s done. Then give Neville’s contest a shot.