Thursday, September 13, 2007

I can't remember exactly when I started doing crossword puzzles, but it was probably around the third grade. Every Sunday after church we'd stop at Newell's drug store in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina and while I was spending my allowance on the new issues of Mad Magazine or Cracked or Spider-Man, I'd also pick up the latest Dell Crossword Puzzles. (Yeah, I know Dell's crossword magazines today are nothing to write home about, but back in 1967, before Will Shortz and Games Magazine and the whole new wave of crosswords, Dell was by far the best thing going -- and I was quite the little snob about it too, refusing to sully my hands with any other crossword publications.) Then came that awful day when I realized that Newell's had missed an issue of my favorite crossword magazine and shortly after that I had my first magazine subscription -- to Dell Crossword Puzzles Magazine.

Crosswords were what I loved the most, but I still remember some of the other puzzles Dell ran back in those days -- they had the Bowl-A-Score Challenger, where you had to anagram 9 or 10 letters into one word for a strike and/or two words to pick up a spare. I remember how proud I was when I "bowled" my first perfect 300-point game. There was Solicross, which was like a solitaire Scrabble where you tried to get close to Dell's top score, and acrostics, which Dell for some reason called "anacrostics" and cryptograms and all kinds of neat stuff -- including word ladders where you had to change a word like "black" to another word like "white" by changing one letter at a time. You had to do it in as few a steps as possible and I remember how excited I was one day when I actually did a word ladder in fewer steps than those genius editors at Dell. I ran to show my mom and she burst my bubble right off the bat, pointing out that I used "rold" as one of my steps and that was not a word. I told her it sure as heck was, and to prove my point I went and got a bag of Rold Gold pretzels and showed her how vocabulary was sadly lacking.

This charming childhood reminiscence is brought to you by Patrick Berry's "Color Change" puzzle, where we change the word "black" to the word "white" one letter at a time. It takes 14 steps of course. This is not a classic word ladder or word-chain or whatever you want to call it, since most of the circled "words" are actually part of larger words. But come to think of it, I guess it is because all the words can stand alone.

Here they are:

BLANK verse
SWINE fever
TWICE a year

Not bad, but I can do better (albeit without having to work my ladder into a crossword grid)


9 steps. And there's probably a shorter way.

Not too many other entries stand out, although I love the clue for GHOSTWRITE (54A: Take cash but not credit).

That's all for today. It's been a rough day -- rain, traffic jam, flooded home office, broken chair -- and I'm going to start the weekend a little early with my new favorite beer -- Lienenkugel's Sunset Wheat.


Linda G said...

I took one look at the puzzle, then came here for the answers. It was brilliant, but I just wasn't up for the challenge.

On another note, as far as I'm concerned, any kind of wheat beer is good. Be sure to try it with a slice of orange if you haven't already.

Norrin2 said...

Linda, I would have thought this would be right up your alley. You like puzzles with circled letters, right? Well, here's 75 of them.
: 0
And hey, your comment was posted 12:34!

Anonymous said...


Howard B said...

This was a fun challenge after getting turned into tapioca pudding by the Times puzzle today.

Twisty, original, and it even included a not-as-famous-as-Bobby-Orr present-day hockey player (Patrice Bergeron)! I imagine opera lovers get the same feeling when the name of a soprano they're fond of pops up in a puzzle.

Orange said...

Ah, the old Dell puzzle magazines! Those logic problems? Garnered me a perfect score on the easy-logic-problems section the GRE used to have.

It's Leinenkugel Red for me—I never met a wheat beer I liked.

Norrin2 said...

I would love to try more of Leinenkugel's beers, but up until recently they were not available at all in my neck of the woods, and right now Sunset Wheat is the only one you can get around here. I did try some other "Leinies" when we went to Wisconsin and Minnesota last year.