Puzzle Boats, Hunts, Jobs, Books, and Media Whoredom
My team is stuck on the Puzzle Boat. We got hints from Foggy (and various other people I ran into online) which helped us solve a few more (e.g., we didn't realize there were meta puzzles), but none that opened up any new puzzles. I'm hoping the method of "put it down for a few days and things will magically become clear when you pick it up again" will work. Or else that Jeffurry will get the video game (he's the only one who loaded the thing, I think).
Meanwhile, I only now noticed that EVERY location on the island doesn't contain a puzzle. DUH!! I mean, the site is 20x20 which would mean 400 puzzles instead of 98. So we don't have quite as many more puzzles to do as I thought. We're about 1/3 of the way through, though no one has had huge expanses of time to work on it. We're working remotely and by E-mail (though Jeffurry and I sat down with it for a bit before the party Saturday). I'd eventually like to go back and at least look at the puzzles other teammates got, since the puzzles are pretty amazing.
The difficulty of this shows that the MIT Hunt is probably not for me. To solve a large number of insanely hard puzzles under time constraints with huge teams doesn't seem fun. Plus I feel like I'm just too old for it (don't the actual students resent all these ringers?). And the prize for winning is to WRITE the thing the next year? Yuck, too creative. I also worry about MI-teammates toughing it out to solve for hours and days - and not bathing. Yuck, too smelly.
I agreed to proofread ANOTHER book (Mel Rosen-edited puzzles, coming today, due in 2 weeks). This means 3 jobs besides ongoing work (NYT, LA Times, Uptown puzzles, Dell cross sums) for the next few weeks. This also means I'm completely insane (or at least a workaholic) and nowhere near the semi-retired I claim I want to be.
In case I run out of puzzles, I also printed out the Puzzability Halloween puzzles, and recently received several crossword books from Barnes & Noble. Not to mention older puzzle books still undone, con handouts collected and set aside, and years of Enigmas I haven't looked at.
I did complete Nucky's fantastic Cranium Crushers II. My cranium is duly crushed. I had informally test-solved a handful of puzzles for him, and even that didn't help - one puzzle he had sent in Across Lite was solved in 7-something, while a few months later on paper the same puzzle took over 8 minutes! A few puzzles required peeking at answers to get unstuck. In those cases, I was too impatient to try the "put it down for a few days and things will magically become clear when you pick it up again" method, and too lazy to Google.
The end result: of 72 puzzles, an astonishing 18 had at least 1 error (4 puzzles had 2 errors, and 1 had 4 errors!). I only timed 31 of the puzzles; they averaged 9:23, with a low of 5:59 and high of 15:22. Luckily, these weren't Stamford final puzzles, though I'm not sure I'll ever see a Stamford final puzzle again unless I stay out of the top 10 for 7 years and end up in the B finals.
I recently wrote a piece on how incredible it felt to win Stamford for an unnamed book by Nikki Katz; this now has a name and is due next July. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1593375638/103-7000476-4394250?v=glance&n=283155&n=507846&s=books&v=glance
Matt Gaffney's "Complete Idiot's Guide to Crossword Puzzles and Word Games" is out. I wrote the intro and was technical editor, but the publisher didn't send me any copies; Matt graciously mailed me some himself. And I'm just dying to see the documentary (which now exists in a rough cut), though I may very well come across as ubernerd (with baton). That's OK; I am what I am.