Monday, December 17, 2012

"Christmas Crackers"

A Christmas cracker is a bit of cardboard tube, wrapped in colorful paper to resemble a big piece of candy. It's pulled apart by two people (just like a "wishbone"), and the one who gets the larger piece gets to keep the prize inside.

If mini-explosions aren't your thing, maybe you'd rather have the other kind of Christmas cracker: Ritz snowflakes.

Or perhaps some Christmas crackers in the form of holiday puns? Happy solving!

"Christmas Crackers"

Click here to solve interactively.

Click here for a print-friendly version.

Click here for a list of clues.

Click here to see the answer grid.* Check back on Friday, December 21 for the answers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12: At 12:12, I'm going to make the most epic wish ever.

If for no other reason than it's an easy date to remember, today is a great day to get married or have a baby, or if you're lucky enough, to celebrate a birthday, especially a twelfth birthday.

The number twelve holds a special type of magic for many people--from Christianity's Twelve Apostles, to Judaism's Twelve Tribes of Israel, to the ancient Greek pantheon's Twelve Olympians to Mohammed's Twelve Imams, .not to mention the twelve signs of both Western and Chinese zodiac.

Even "The Dirty Dozen" know that "12 Monkeys" come "Cheaper by the Dozen." Reginald Rose wrote about "12 Angry Men," William Shakespeare wrote "Twelfth Night," and "Battlestar Galactica" featured the Twelve Colonies of Kobol.

Twelve people have walked on the surface of the Moon. King Arthur's Round Table had 12 knights, plus Arthur. Alcoholics Anonymous boasts a 12-Step Program. Most people have 12 pairs of ribs. There are 12 ounces in a troy pound, 12 inches in a foot, 12 months in a year, 12 hours on a clock face, 12 strikes in a perfect bowling game, 12 people on a jury, and 12 face cards in a deck of playing cards. 

And let us not forget the Twelve Days of Christmas!

If you happened to be up late last night, say at 1:21:02 am, you may have celebrated the palindromic date/time: 2012.12.12.1:21:02 = 201212-1-212102. If you missed it, you'll get a chance at a sixer this afternoon at 12:12:12 ( And at that time, there will 12 days until Christmas.

In Chinese numerology, the number 1 represents yang, while the number 2 represents yin: put them together and you get harmony.

Whether you're superstitious or not, you can still celebrate this once-in-a-century event in style. If you're near the NYC area, you could attend the Bruce Springsteen et al. concert to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy. In Auckland, New Zealand, they'll be meditating for world peace. Fort Myers, Florida, is hosting a mass wedding, set to climax at 12:12.

Of course, if you're a die-hard fan of the number 12, you know that the real celebration will be in 2016 (counting in base 12, decimal year 2016 is dozenal year 1200). 

And if you missed all the fun this year, you can try again on 11.12.13.

As for me, I'm celebrating today with a crossword puzzle, of course: "12/12/12"

12/12/12: At 12:12:12, I'm going to make the most epic wish ever.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy 80th Birthday, Dad!

Today, my dad would have been 80 years old. In honor of his birthday, I made up a crossword puzzle, just for him.

For My Dad
Can you guess my Dad's name? Tweet me when you know the answer:

This is a picture of my Dad.
His name was Joe.

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Solving the Broken Crossword Puzzle Economy" by Ben Tausig

If you love crossword puzzles the way I love crossword puzzles, you'll want to read Ben Tausig's take on the crossword puzzle economy.

He makes many good points, among them the pittance crossword constructors are paid, the lag time between submission and publication, and the income streams that are drying up. 

Personally, I think there's room for the New York Times crossword, the PennyPress/Dell crowd, and pop culture/dumb sex jokes puzzles for which The Onion is so famous.

And you'll want to support the American Values Club crossword at Kickstarter.

Happy solving!

Angry Birds

Happy Birdday!

It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since the Angry Birds first flung themselves into the mainstream. Rovio is celebrating with a Happy Birthday update, which unlocks all episodes and adds an extra fifteen levels.

I’m celebrating with an Angry Birds crossword puzzle. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Diagramless Puzzles on Twitter

Here's a link to the diagramless puzzles I tweeted. You can solve them online, or print to solve later.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Favorite Cookie Recipe: It's a crossword puzzle

I just posted "My Favorite Cookie."

It's a cookie recipe within a crossword puzzle.

My Favorite Cookie Recipe: Solve the puzzle, then bake the cookies.

Solve it interactively, print to solve later, or print only the clues list to solve as a diagramless.

The answer grid is included, and here's the recipe, in case you only want to make the cookies:

Chocolate Mocha Cocoa Cookies

In a large mixing bow, cream together 2 cups unsalted butter and 3/4 cups powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in 2 egg yolks. In a separate bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon instant coffee in 1 teaspoon of very hot water. Stir until completely dissolved. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, then add the flavorings to the butter/sugar mixture.

Stir in 2-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a prepared cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes at 375F (190C).

While still warm, roll cookies in a mixture of 3/4 cup powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons cocoa powder.

Let cook on a wire rack.