Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Puzzle Seventy-Nine: Old Flames (themeless)

perennially relevant image

It's the beginning of a new year... or at least it was a month ago. To all the solvers out there, especially the meta solvers, thank you for solving last year's puzzles and for your kind comments. As for 2024, I'm in the position of having a real backlog of finished puzzles, but my life being so complex at the moment -- not in a good way, frankly -- that it's hard even to find the time to upload them and write brief blog posts. I really do want to get them out into the world eventually, though. 

A huge thanks to everyone who sent proof of a charitable donation in order to get my 2023 Puzzle Pack -- I received around $500 in receipts, which is great. Another benefit puzzle pack, for the most important cause imaginable at the moment, launched recently: Puzzles for Palestine. It's available with proof of a donation to one of the four charities identified on their site. 

As the editors note, however:

Your donations are truly appreciated, but right now, monetary support is NOT the most effective way to help Palestine. If you want your donation to have the maximum impact, we first need a permanent ceasefire and end to the bombing to ensure adequate material support can enter Gaza and unfettered access to all parts of the Strip can be provided to effectively distribute humanitarian aid. To that end, we encourage you all to write an email, send a fax, or place a phone call to your local and national Representatives and Senators, urging them to demand a ceasefire in Gaza now

Registration, limited to 150 slots, is now open for the inaugural Westwords Crossword Tournament in Berkeley, CA.on June 23. I'd love to attend in person, but that's a long way from North Carolina, so if my pair of Bay Area friends can't put me up, I'll be competing online (were it not for online tournaments, I wouldn't have gotten into competing in them at all).

I spent a lot of time during the last week of December trying to finish solving the book-length puzzle Cain's Jawbone in time to submit my answer by December 31st, the publisher's final deadline -- no prizes anymore, but correct answers get a confirmation email at the end of January. It's January 30 as I type this... and no email yet. I'm certain I know the right answer, and may just have introduced a typo filling out the form. Then again, if you so much as get two pages reversed -- which would be easy to do -- you're out of luck on the email. Maybe a lot of other people threw the same New Year's Eve Hail Mary as I did...

It's a brilliant, maddening, and entirely unique puzzle. I have some unresolved questions about the literary merit of the revealed novel, putting me in the unique position of having almost no one with whom I can discuss them without showing them the answer first, which would completely at odds with my own reading experience, as well as a serious faux pas given the publisher's request that successful solvers keep the answer secret. So if you too have finished it (or at least come within shouting distance of doing so) and want to chat about it in more detail, feel free to drop me an email. 

New themeless below -- one I'm very fond of. It's also probably very hard. Sometimes you gotta make a hard puzzle, live up to your blog's name and such (why did I give the blog a name that implies all the puzzles are really hard? They're not all really hard. I hope.)

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