Athletics 1, Blue Jays 0 – 12 innings

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I spent my 4th of July in Oakland, watching the best American Major League baseball team (by record) take on the best non-American Major League baseball team (by default… although the Blue Jays are no slouches this year).  In a sign of true patriotism, MLB teams were all wearing special stars and stripes hats.  The big question on my mind was whether or not the Blue Jays would have such a hat, because it seemed possible that MLB might be that dumb, but no, the Toronto team just sported a large maple leaf on their red caps.

After a rousing tailgate, which included many delicious sliders and brisket and tabbouleh and guacamole and bundt cakes, we got to our seats just as the bottom of the 1st was starting.  I flipped open my scorebook and… learned that I am out of pages to keep score in.  I vaguely remember noting this in Detroit a few weeks ago, but hadn’t bought a replacement scorebook in the meantime.  So, this recap comes entirely from memory and not from notes.

Luckily, there wasn’t a lot to remember… for a long time, no body scored.  The A’s turned a number of double plays to keep the Blue Jays from crossing home and Nick Punto appeared in the A’s line-up every nine at-bats to squash any rally the A’s might have had.  In the 10th inning, a member of our group who was bemoaning the fact that he was being “forced” to stay past the 6th inning in a game that wouldn’t end pointed out that Little Nicky Punto had just earned himself a sort of anti-cycle: getting out in four different ways with a strikeout, outfield fly out, infield pop out, and a ground out.  This gave me a chance to fill everyone in on the near mythical status of Nick Punto amongst Twins fans.

When Punto came up again in the 12th, with Derek Norris on 1st, my friend cried, “Oh, great, this guy! What new and exciting way will he find to get out this time?!”  But Punto, always one to disappoint you when you least expect it and always, always getting after it, dropped a weird little blooper into left that Melky Cabrera couldn’t handle.  In fact, not only couldn’t he catch it, but it seemed some weird magic Punto spell had been cast on it and he couldn’t even pick it up and throw it into the infield.  Norris scored, the A’s won, and just as he was approaching third, Punto attempted to tear open his jersey superman style… and failed.

Classic Nick Punto.

Twins 2, Tigers 0

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Twins 2, Tigers 0

Anand recently called me out for not blogging about the game we went to in New York a few weeks ago, and he’s right, and I’ll get to it, but as it’s not the only game I’ve missed out on writing about, I’ll start with the most recent and probably fudge the dates to get these things in chronological order so it doesn’t look like I’ve been the worst blogger in the world.

I spent most of this past weekend (where “weekend” starts on Wednesday) in Lansing, MI for the US Curling Arena Nationals, winning the consolation bracket (and thus a trophy).  However, due to some strangeness of the draw and the fact that we won both games on Thursday, we did not have to play a game on Friday… and the Twins were in Detroit, which was only two hours away.  I was on the fence about making the drive, especially considering that we had to get up early to play on Saturday and that my team insisted we go see Lake Michigan on the western edge of the state — i.e. the wrong direction from Detroit.  But then swalsh‘s team won Friday morning, giving them the evening off and Sarah was determined to join me at this game, as she had never been to Comerica.  And so, my mini-roadtrip across the entire state of Michigan to see the Twins was set.

It had been awhile since I’d been to Comerica and my ability to get there without consulting directions wasn’t quite what I thought it was — but we managed, and with a little detour to see what’s left of Tiger Stadium (a fence and a field).  Sarah commented that Detroit looks a lot like the rougher neighborhoods of Oakland… and then I pointed out that we were in the “good” neighborhood of Detroit.  Eventually, we found a scalper, paid too much money (have to help that Detroit economy?), and entered the stadium… for Polish night, apparently.

Mercifully for our curling schedules, the game itself went quick.  Kyle Gibson was on fire for the Twins, pitching 7 shutout innings on 110 pitches, including getting the always dangerous Miguel Cabrera to ground into an inning ending double play with the bases loaded in the fifth.  Drew Smyly also pitched well for Detroit, but not quite well enough, giving up a homerun early to Eduardo Escobar in the 3rd, which would prove to be all the offense needed to win the game.

It wasn’t the only run scored however.  Late in the game was Twilight Zone time for long time Twins fans.  First, Torii Hunter came in to pinch hit and it’s still bizarre to see him in a Tigers uniform — I had finally gotten used to him being an Angel and not a Twin.  He did no damage, grounding out to third.  Next, former lights out closer for the Twins, Joe Nathan, came in to pitch for the Tigers in the 9th.  I think Joe forgot which team he was supposed to be helping as he actually walked in a run to put the Twins up 2-0.  Glen Perkins, who now holds Joe’s old job as “All-Star Twins closer,” came in in the bottom of ninth and, in classic Glen style, gave up a double to make it interesting, but shut down the Tigers nonetheless to end the game.

And with that, we got back in the car and drove two hours to Lansing to finish off the curling tournament where my team won the aforementioned consolation bracket and Sarah’s won the bronze medal.  The key to taking home hardware from our club is apparently to send your skip to a baseball game.

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Twins 2, Giants 6

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As a thank you for being the director of the incredibly-awesome-if-I-do-say-so-myself Alice Shrugged 2014 Mystery Hunt, our equally awesome-if-I-do-say-so-myself team of editors and testsolving coordinators* bought me a pair of tickets to tonight’s Twins-Giants game at AT&T Park, sitting in the third row right behind first base, which allowed me to stare at Joe Mauer and Buster Posey all night.  I took my Fraggle Rocks** teammate, Jen Perez, who was even willing to wear my spare Twins jersey, despite being a Padres fan from San Diego.

The game started off well for the Twins.  Brian Dozier doubled down the left field line on the first pitch of the game.  But then it went south fast.  Dozier got picked off trying to steal third very quickly and in the bottom of the first, Angel Pagan did not immediately squander his lead off double and the Giants wound up scoring three on a Pablo Sandoval homerun to right.  (There was a challenge early in the inning which resulted in Hunter Pence being safe at first instead of out as the umpire’s originally ruled it.  Yes, it was the right call, but man, oh man, do I hate this new challenge system.)

In the top of the third, it looked like the Twins were going to make a ballgame out of it when Brian Dozier led off with a single and Joe Mauer followed with a deep shot to Triples Alley, which sure enough, wound up being an RBI triple.  Parmelee hit a ground ball to second, which allowed Mauer to score and suddenly the Twins were within one.  Unfortunately, they never scored again, which was not true for the Giants, who piled on an additional three runs throughout the game, including one on a Hicks homerun and later a Hicks sacrifice fly.

Which Hicks, you ask?  This is a fair question as both the Giants and the Twins had a guy named Hicks batting 8th.  And for a brief period, they both were batting .194.  But then Brandon Hicks of the Giants hit his homerun and his average went up to .200, whereas Aaron Hicks of the Twins, well, he’s now batting .192.  In other similarities between the two teams, both feature a first baseman who is a former MVP catcher with at least one batting title and a wife who had twins: Joe Mauer and Buster Posey.

Finally, I’m sure Jen would be disappointed if I left out one of the major sources of entertainment for the evening: the guys behind and to the right of us who, from about the 5th inning through the 8th inning, relentlessly hassled the Twins bullpen catcher to “give the kid a ball.”  Which kid?  Well, I’m not sure they knew or cared, initially, but eventually they picked a pet kid sitting in our section with a Giants hat on.  It seemed pretty clear to me that they were pissing off the bullpen catcher, but eventually — eventually – he gave the kid a ball.  Actually, it was a different kid wearing a Twins jersey, but it did seem to satisfy the guys to the point that they stopped chanting.  That and the usher came over and threatened to kick them out if they didn’t stop now that a kid had a ball.

All in all, a great night… and I’ll be back on Sunday, sitting much farther away from the field, hoping for a different outcome in the score!

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* I believe this includes Jason Juang (who actually purchased the tickets and delivered them to me), Aaron Bader, Brandy Buckingham, Robbie Buckingham, Jamie Clark, Harvey Jones, Dan Katz, Roger Morash, Chieu Nguyen, and David Wilson.  If a non-editor/non-testsolving coordinator also went in on the tickets, someone should tell me.

** Is that not the best name for a curling team you’ve ever heard?

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 6 (10 innings)

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Yesterday, while unrelatedly driving past AT&T Park, I got a text message from a curling teammate offering me free tickets to the evening’s Giants game, as her company was “bleeding free tickets.”  I’m never one to turn down free baseball (and this turned out to be free+ as the tickets came with $12 “SplashTix” credit that I could use to buy food at the park), so I said yes and arranged to meet Paul, another curling buddy, and clot up the bleeding of tickets by two.  Paul, a diehard Dodgers fan, hates the Giants, so I had to agree to not cheer for them if we were going to sit together.  (At least he had the good sense to wear his Expos hat instead of his Dodgers hat so that we wouldn’t be harassed.)

It turned out to be “Farewell to Candlestick” night.  We didn’t make it in time to get the free giveaway — a Croix de Candlestick scarf — and we didn’t even get to our seats until the second inning (had to use those $12 vouchers), but we did get to see the return of the Crazy Crab.  I’m not referring to the sandwich they sell out behind centerfield, which is delicious if very pricey, but the anti-mascot the Giants had at Candlestick in 1984.  True to his origins, he ran around the field and “annoyed” the bullpen and did his best to get booed.  But mostly, the crowd seemed to love him and eat him up — which would still probably be a cheaper meal than the sandwich.

The game itself turned out to be pretty exciting.  The Diamondbacks scored two runs in both the second and the third innings and the Giants scored one back in the bottom half of each of those innings.  Down two, the Giants continued to chip away at the lead until the fifth when a Michael Morse double, his second of the night, scored Pablo “Panda” Sandoval and Buster Posey to put the Giants ahead 5-4.  As the seagulls started to swarm the stadium in the 8th, it looked the Giants were going to walk away with a win, much to Paul’s chagrin, but the Diamondbacks had other plans, tying it up on Sandoval’s throwing error to first which soared over Brandon Belt’s head and sent Gerardo Parra scampering safely home instead of making the third out.  The Giants managed to load the bases in the bottom of the inning, with only one out, but a couple of liners and one inning later and the game went into extras.  The Diamondbacks wasted no time in the 10th, scoring one thanks to Cliff “Good show” Pennington’s deft steal of second, which wound up being all they needed to go back to Arizona with the win.

Oakland Athletics 4, San Francisco Giants 0

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Ah, baseball, you’re back and I’ve missed you.

The annual Bay Bridge pre-season series is happening now and last night, after getting some cheap tickets on StubHub and “stealing” a friend from one of my curling buddies, I went down the street to AT&T Park to catch my first baseball game of the year.  Now that interleague is an everyday occurrence, the Bay Bridge series lacks some of its original novelty, as these teams will face each other again in the regular season.  But it’s still fun to hear the bleachers break out into competing chants of “Let’s Go Giants!” and “Let’s Go Oakland!”

One tradition with these games, at least the ones in San Francisco, is the free grab bag giveaway.  They take all the giveaways that they have leftover from previous seasons and you get one random thing.  It could be a Barry Bonds commemorative pin, a Brian Wilson gnome, or a Giants sombrero.  This year I got a Jeffrey Leonard bobblehead doll.  Only, I’ve never heard of Jeffrey Leonard.  It turns out, he was the MVP of the 1987 NLCS, despite the fact that the Giants lost that series to the Cardinals (which I obviously knew because the Cardinals went on to lose the World Series to the Twins that year).  He’s the last guy to win a post-season MVP award, despite being on the losing team.  So at least I’ve learned a fun bit of trivia.

During the game, we sat in the arcade section, which was a first for me.  Those are the handful of rows high above right field, just in front of the drop off into McCovey Cove.  It’s prime homerun ball territory, and Josh Reddick got us close.  In the sixth inning, he launched a shot that seemed all but destined to splash down behind us, but instead, it hit a flag pole and bounced back towards us, making a resounding thunk on the tin roof just in front of us before bouncing back onto the field.  That put the A’s up 4-0 and they never looked back.

In about the 8th inning, the seagulls, also aware that baseball is back with it’s post-game fine dining options for our avian friends, started hovering and swarming the field.  The game ended, and as if they had been counting the outs, they took over the stadium and we went home.

A Mystery Hunt Design Philosophy

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The night hunt ended, Anand started making slides for wrap-up.  He was going over them with me and I noted a blank slide towards the beginning with just the title “Design Philosophy” and nothing else.

“What is that slide?” I asked him.

“That’s where you’re going to talk about your design philosophy in running this hunt,” he said, as if that explained everything.

“My what?  I don’t have a design philosophy.  I just ran the hunt by the seat of my pants.”

“Yes you do,” he insisted, “and it led you to run the hunt the way you ran it.”  Which led to us having an extended conversation about what this supposed design philosophy might be and what I was supposed to talk about.  And it turns out, he was right — I did have a design philosophy, even if I wasn’t cognizant of it at the time.  It also isn’t solely mine — it’s mostly a shared vision that most members of Alice Shrugged believe in.  I just was granted the ability to make the final decision on things that did or did not facilitate said philosophy.  (And to incorporate more baseball than usual into the hunt, which was a vision mostly shared only by Jason and Harvey.)  Given how well-received our hunt was, I’m writing this down with the hope that One Fish Two Fish Random Fish Blue Fish reads it and considers many of these issues when designing the 2015 hunt.

As a preamble, a lot of this stems from my personal belief that the ballooning team sizes of recent years is a problem.  We did intentionally bottleneck the end of the hunt so that large teams wouldn’t have an advantage solely based on manpower.  Our release rate was designed such that a team should have ~15-20 puzzles open at a given time and no more (and maybe less), but that they should simultaneously advance through the story of the hunt at a faster rate.  (And so puzzle release was done on a round-by-round basis — solving puzzles in the Mock Turtle round would not help you open puzzles in the Tea Party and vice versa.  But once you advanced past the MIT round, you probably had three Wonderland rounds open at any given time… or you were approaching the end of the hunt.)  There were some large teams that complained about this.  To this, Alice shrugs.

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Writing a Mystery Hunt

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As has been obvious, I more or less gave up blogging in 2013.  This was closely related to the fact that in January of 2013, my team won the MIT Mystery Hunt and voted me as director of the 2014 Mystery Hunt.  As a result, all excess creative energy was spent on a project that I couldn’t talk about publicly… until now.  I have many many thoughts, but for now, I’ll start with a list of the individual puzzles that I wrote or co-wrote.  I plan on later writing a post about why we focused on the small teams and how I think that worked or didn’t work, with the hopes that the winners of our hunt, One Fish Two Fish Random Fish Blue Fish, take notes.  But for now here’s what I did…

  • The White Queen Meta (Solution) [with Harvey Jones]: I pulled off a backwards round about baseball and the Beatles.  I consider this a major coup of self-indulgence, and yet it was really well received.  I have but two regrets on this one: the White Sox are involved and the Twins are not and, if we really had had the writing prowess (which I don’t think we did) more of the puzzles would have been like Puzzle With the Answer WILLIAMS and presented as a solution where you actually had to deduce the title, instead of just including the “answer” as a red herring.
  • The Mock Turtle Meta (Solution) [with David Wilson, primary author]: This was dwilson’s idea initially — I just stepped in to help him flesh it out with the addition of GRAPHIN’->GRYPHON, FLEMINGS->FLAMINGO, and the much reviled FISH FOOD CAN->FISH FOOTMAN (which I stand by and still think is great).  There were many many e-mails sent back and forth between the two of us trying to get an answer phrase to fall out relating to fixing table schema (what a pun!).  Eventually, we settled on what we have… but somewhere in the post-production process, an old version of the meta was uploaded to the server and no one noticed.  That included the clue “How _____ keep their hair” instead of “How ‘these _____’ were preserv’d.”  The answer LOCKS fits in the latter, but doesn’t fit in the former — that was intended to be the answer word SIKHS long long ago in a meta puzzle far far away.  I really don’t know how this happened or why it was never fixed.  Mea culpa.
  • The Clubs (Caterpillar) Meta: I don’t have a lot to say about this one.  We needed a third MIT meta and this one came to me in about two hours.  The intent was to make a caterpillar out of the words.  During the running of the hunt, Anand pointed out that “HASH TAG” would have been a much punnier bait than TOBACCO.  Ah well — if I had done that, DON’T WORRY BABY wouldn’t have been an answer and Bumblebee Tune-A never would have happened.
  • The MIT Meta Meta (Card Deck): At some point early on, I decided that we needed a better capstone on the MIT round puzzles so that the puzzles associated with the highly backsolvable metas would serve another purpose and thus be more likely to be solved.  I came up with this idea of actually giving teams a deck of cards and adding the “Your Princess is in another castle” twist with the false beast.  (The beast was always meant to be Alice, but having the Jabberwock as the red herring wasn’t added until later.)  I roped Dan in to write the actual logic puzzle of the cards layout, came up with all the nonce words (MIMSIER… eh, whatever) and designed the cards once Teasha drew me a Jabberwock.
  • Bumblebee Tune-A (Solution) [with Laura Martini, et al]: I spent more hours writing this puzzle than any other by a very wide margin, and thus it is my favorite.  Mostly, I just wanted to sing a bunch of oldies a capella — the bee costume was a bonus.  I knew “Don’t Worry Baby” was sitting around as an answer word and started to brainstorm ways to use it.  When I learned that it was actually a B-side to “I Get Around” (despite being a much better song), I knew I had the angle.  The finance team gave me permission to spend $15 on a bee costume and we were off to the races.  The whole thing got more hilarious once I learned how to distort voices in GarageBand to make me sound more like a bee.  There was a period of about three weeks where I would come home from work and either arrange a song or record myself singing.  Major thanks to Martini for the many, many hours spent editing all the video together.  Amusingly, I heard a few reports of smaller, younger teams struggling with this puzzle because they had never heard of a B-side.
  • Technical Program Committee (Solution) [with Anand Sarwate, Jason Juang et al]: My official credit here is “a little help from” because I only wrote the one anagram/review about communism.  I did, however, talk through the initial idea with Anand.
  • Local Shorts (Solution): This puzzle was inspired by a Sporcle quiz written by Chris Morse.  The whole thing was set up and designed so that the Loons (i.e. one letter off from the Lions) would wind up on Minnesota because it’s the state bird.  Despite my easter egg, I heard no reports of this throwing anyone down a wrong trail.  Also, the Pi Kings are definitely my favorite.  (The Twine nearly made it in, but I was trying to avoid using the final S as a key letter.)
  • I Came Across a Japanese Rose Garden (Solution) [with Jason Juang]: This was actually originally conceived as a back-up puzzle when we made a final puzzle writing push.  When we had to move it to a different answer, Jason ran a bunch of scripts to determine the best Toyota makes that would use existing cartoons I had already drawn.  Yes, I know some of the colors aren’t particularly close.  I don’t have a good defense for that, other than… nail polish is strange.  Fun fact: I originally misread the name of “Here Today, Aragon Tomorrow” as “Here Today, Aragorn Tomorrow” before realizing that my crude sketch of Viggo Mortensen looked nothing like the region in Spain.
  • Now Let’s Create Melodies (Solution) [with Seth Bisen-Hersh, primary author]: Puppets singing parodies of songs done on The Muppet Show is actually all Seth Bisen-Hersh’s brainchild.  I just swooped in to make this an actual puzzle by constructing the unique crossing grids at the bottom of the puzzle to output the answer phrase.
  • A Rose By Any Another (Solution): I conceived of and wrote this puzzle in a 24 hour period while home for Christmas when another puzzle was failing to get any reasonable testsolves.  (Although yes, the fact that GTA is the genetic code for V is a great observation; the puzzle just failed to come together, unfortunately.)  As soon as I finished it, I pinged Jason and asked him to testsolve it.  Once he pointed out two bugs, I fixed it and sent it to a half dozen other people and the puzzle that went from idea to fully fact checked in the fastest amount of time was complete.
  • Round Tripper (Solution) [with Jason Juang and Harvey Jones]: Yes, I wrote one backwards meta puzzle about the Red Sox with an “answer” WILLIAMS standing in for Ted Williams.  I wrote another meta and purposefully included TED WILLIAMS as an answer so that I could write a proper baseball puzzle with Jason and Harvey.  I do not apologize for this.  I tried very hard to get more Twins players in this, but Puckett and Hrbek only faced people in All-Star games that they also faced in the regular season or World Series.  Carew and Killebrew are better for the pie chart identification anyway.
  • Puzzle With the Answer LYNN (Solution) [with Anand Sarwate]: A few people commented on how similar this puzzle was to Stage Lines from 2012.  That’s because Stage Lines was one of my favorite puzzles from that hunt.  So, I flipped through the Guide to the Enigma, found a flat type (backswitches) that would work for this puzzle structure, pinged Anand about co-authoring it with me, and after much work with some python scripts, we had a puzzle.
  • Puzzle With the Answer LOVE ME DO (Solution) [with Elaina Present]: This was originally Elaina’s idea, but given the many instruments I own, I kind of took it over.  I even bought and taught myself how to play the toy accordion.
  • Puzzle With the Answer I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND (Solution): Inspired by ARML relays, this is the only puzzle I wrote that got a 1 for fun.  But it also got a 5 for fun from another team.  I think this is closely correlated to how much you know about MIT Course Numbers and your willingness to run up and down the Infinite Corridor a few times.  I don’t really apologize for an event on MIT’s campus being more fun and accessible to those who are of college age and/or actually attended MIT.  If you’re going to participate in the MIT Mystery Hunt, you’re going to have to accept that the event is primarily for MIT students and that you might be at a disadvantage if this doesn’t describe you.
  • Puzzle With the Answer A HARD DAY’S NIGHT (Solution): I wrote a curling puzzle.  Are you surprised?  Thanks to Feldmeier for being the other skip’s voice.  I showed him some footage of the Brier to demonstrate what he should try and sound like and the response was: “yeah, i can do this, although watching the video, i really couldnt tell what the hell they are yelling.  should i just put my nuts in a vice and record the ensuing sounds?  with a canadian accent of course, eh.”
  • Puzzle With the Answer GARCIAPARRA (Solution) [with Chris "Scooby" Lyon and Laura Martini]: Martini wanted to do a State Fair based bring-us-food puzzle.  Editors were non-plussed and I came up with the GeoGuessr tie in.  And then somehow I was responsible for hacking the GeoGuessr interface to generate challenges that only drew from major US cities, exactly one per state with no repeats.  Omnigraffle is a godsend for generating that map — and Scooby, who came up with the list of foods, swears that green Jell-O is the state dish of Utah.  Setec (my money’s on Ann) won the best food award for the wild rice pudding.
  • Thank Heaven For Little Girls (Solution) [with Anand Sarwate]: When I was in Chicago filming the Yuki Nagato puzzle, Aaron Bader, Anand, and myself were lamenting that an answer word like BABY WIPE was never going to get assigned.  Somehow, walking through the Art Institute of Chicago, Anand and I came up with the idea of basing a puzzle around popular baby names.  At one point, it was going to involve diapers, but that fell through.
  • Hole Wizard (Solution) [with Harrison Bralower, primary author]: Using drill bit sizes and generating a Solidworks file that overlays on a crossword grid was all Harrison’s idea.  But a crossword grid was needed and with the addition of Kevin Der on our team, I hadn’t had a chance to flex those puzzle writing muscles yet, so I volunteered to write a hole themed grid for him.
  • Magic Mushrooms (Solution) [with Brandy Buckingham (primary author), Dan Katz, and Jason Juang]: My authorship on this one was pretty minimal — I wrote the slitherlink.  Oh, and I guess I generated all the pdfs and designed the mushrooms.
  • The White Queen’s Record/The Duchess portion of the final runaround: This isn’t online yet, but soon-ish, I’ll have the audio track from the record and some photos of Codex playing the record uploaded.  In the meantime, you can see Lucky solving the record in the highlight video we link to.  And a major shout out to Mike Dixon of LatheCuts.com for producing the records for us at a reasonable cost.  It looks like he’s not taking orders at this time, which is a shame, because they turned out great!
  • The Walker puzzle and Killian Court puzzle in the MIT runaround: These aren’t online yet, but I’m working on it.

And finally, here are some puzzles I didn’t actually write, but played a role in producing:

  • The Humpty Dumpty Meta (Solution): I lent Hanna a pile of random objects to use in the photo, including my curling broom, the skull from 2004, and an ostrich eggshell that was decorated to be Humpty, which later broke.  I foolishly attempted to super glue the egg back together and let me tell you — nursery rhymes don’t lie.
  • A Mad Cocktail Party (Solution): The brainchild of Usman and Anand, I played the Butterfly with a think Sarah Palin-esque accent.  When a California group testsolved it, krobinso didn’t recognize that it was me.
  • Stalk Us Maybe (Solution): Primarily Jenelle’s baby, I am someone to be stalked in this puzzle.  You can actually find my fact in an old post on this blog.
  • The Revenge of Yuki Nagato Episode 00 (Solution): This puzzle is almost all Chieu.  I was in the movie and I still don’t understand the references to the source material.  But I am far too amused by the scene of Anand and Karen sitting on the bench swing.  Once you see what I’m referring to, you won’t be able to unsee it.
  • Cruciform Heraldry (Solution): I came up with the rather punny clue phrase for this one.  That’s all I did.
  • The Circle of Life (Solution): This was originally my idea on the day we got together to write quick back-up puzzles, but I outsourced the construction to Chris Lyon.  It was supposed to be a back up to A Mad Cocktail Party, where it had a much more fitting answer word.  However, once Anand and Usman finished their puzzle, this one sat on the back burner, despite being adored by testsolvers, until it was revived when another puzzle went down.  I found Queenie Leonard for Chris so that it would be doable with the new answer word and painstakingly watched the scene in 101 Dalmatians with the cows multiple times until I was certain I had screenshot Princess correctly.