they say you only get one chance to make a FIRSTIMPRESSION, so i better make this good. well, actually, if you ever read the comments box here (or at a few other crossword blogs), i've probably already made an impression on you. "he's that guy who posts rambling comments with no capitalization!" yep, that's me. anyway, i figure i should formally introduce myself, since i'm subbing in for jim in an "official" capacity. my name's joon pahk. i'm 29, i live in boston, and i teach physics for a living. i got interested in crossword puzzles while in college, but have only been "seriously" puzzling for about four months. probably my favorite thing about solving puzzles is tricky cluing, but i'm also a big fan of the myriad of interesting topics that arise in the solving of any puzzles. when i was in school i participated in quizbowl, which is a form of team academic trivia competition. (kind of like jeopardy with teams.) so i have kind of a curious combination of shallow knowledge about a great many things, and very deep knowledge of some other things. but enough about me--on to today's puzzle.
unless you're new to puzzles, you've probably heard of tyler hinman. he's the four-time defending champ at the ACPT and appears in the movie wordplay (which chronicles his first win in 2005). well, tyler is the author of today's puzzle (answers), and much like adam perl a few weeks ago, he doesn't want you to forget it: the black squares in the grid contain a prominent T and L at the top and H in the middle, and tyler's name in the by-line is listed as Tyler Lewis Hinman (he's been published in the past, but not with his middle name). we can forgive tyler this bit of narcissism because the grid is a beauty, and the puzzle was a very fun solve, full of twisty clues. here were some of my favorites:
- [It contains M.S.G.] is NYC, which contains Madison Square Garden (and also its share of monosodium glutamate, i suspect)
- [Filler for a gun] is CAULK. you couldn't hold up a bank with this kind of gun, although it might be funny to try. maybe if you stuck it in your jacket pocket, but they're a little bulky.
- [Can opener?] is TOILETSEAT. ahem. moving from the bathroom to the living room, we have...
- [Crash pad?] is FUTON--the pad you might crash on when staying at a friend's apartment.
did anybody else find this puzzle easier than most saturdays? i don't know if it was the pressure that i was going to have to blog it, or the fact that i did it friday night instead of saturday morning, but i blazed through it in my fastest saturday time ever (did i mention i'm one of those "obsessive creeps" who meticulously logs solving times for every puzzle? well i am!). many of the long answers were clued at a low difficulty level, making it relatively easy to get a foothold in all areas of the grid. about the only misstep i took was FEATUREARTICLES at 9D, and that was pretty easy to correct. it might just have been a matter of making a lot of guesses that turned out to be right, like ONO for [John Lennon's adopted middle name] and PLATA for [La ___, capital of Buenos Aires province]. i did not know that, but i know there's a rio de la plata in south america somewhere, probably near buenos aires. (buenos aires turns out to be at the mouth of said river.) things i did know included jethro TULL, inventor of the seed drill (and namesake of a UK prog rock band); GAZA, the [Six-Day War battleground]; and UPPSALA, the [Swedish home of Scandinavia's oldest university]. never been there, but i have been to tromsø, norway, home of the world's northernmost university.
if you're anything like me, you love the "quick clues" widget in the upper right corner of this blog. recently i was looking at it and a very strange-looking word came up. usually when that happens, it's a rebus puzzle that jim hadn't noticed yet. not this time. without any further hints, i present to you today's edition of "puzzles from the past": the infuriatingly clever saturday, june 12, 2004 puzzle from henry hook. (yes, it's the very rare beast: a themed saturday.) if you don't feel like solving and just want to admire the solution, jim's got it here.