As hinted at previously, here is the second of my paired Pathfinders. As a form, the Pathfinder is rather interesting to me. When I set out to write a Pathfinder, it usually comes together fairly quickly, at least as far as variety crosswords of this complexity go. And yet, I still feel like I'm stuck in the learning curve. I have a hard time filling the outer edges of the grid in interesting (to me) ways, and I seem to fall into similar patterns of overlapping 5- and 6-letter words. It would be nice if I can show some improvement in the future. At any rate, I hope you enjoy the puzzle.
This might just be my last spiral. I seem to be getting into the same sorts of "crossings" over and over, and I'm running out of new words to fit these crossings. But never fear, for I will be introducing a new puzzle type soon, one that I picked up from Mike Selinker and Thomas Snyder's excellent book Puzzlecraft. Even if you have read their column in Games magazine, I highly recommend this book, which walks you through the process of constructing more puzzle types than you can shake a stick at.
I actualy had another Pathfinder puzzle that I finished before this one, but noticed that a couple of entries suggested a natural progression from this puzzle to the other. In the case of what will be the second puzzle, it was my seed entry, but not in this case, although it was an immediate consequence of the seed. Enjoy!
I neglected to announce that I'm back to posting a new puzzle each week. Hopefully I can maintain this pace for a good while. If you've only been stopping by every fortnight, be sure to check out last week's Rows Garden as well. Acknowledgements to Patrick Berry for the puzzle type.
Here's a puzzle I had lined up before my winter hiatus. Given how difficult Rows Garden puzzles are for me to write, I'm pretty happy with this one. I'm a bit disappointed that I had to resort to a pluralized surname in one of the Bloom entries, but the alternative would have necessitated a clue starting with "type of fortification," and that's never a good sign. Maybe next time I'll get those little wrinkles ironed out. Acknowledgements to Patrick Berry for the puzzle type.
Well, well, another DIY Criss-Cross? I haven't done one of these in quite a while. I'm not sure about the difficulty level on this one, so I included a second version with one entry filled in to get you started. Acknowledgements to Trip Payne for the puzzle type.
Each year, one of the highlights of my puzzling activities is the MIT Mystery Hunt. I have been hunting since 2003, and this year I hunted with my fourth team, having made the switch from Just for the Halibut to Immoral, Illegal, & Fattening. I intend to write a bit about my Mystery Hunt experiences in the future, but not just yet. For now, I wish to share one of the warm-up puzzles I wrote for this year's Hunt. Since 2007, I have often (but not always) chosen to write a warm-up extravaganza to give my teammates more practice at solving puzzles. Also, it's fun. I was particularly pleased with the extravaganza I wrote this year, and I will be sharing the whole thing in a few weeks after I make some minor tweaks to a couple puzzles, but for now you get a sneak peek at one of the puzzles. This is a variety cryptic called "What Do You Do With a B.A. in English?" and like any good Mystery Hunt-style puzzle, it leads to a single word or phrase as an answer. Frequently Mystery Hunt puzzles lack any sort of instructions, but I think you'll find this one pretty accessible. The picture of a chair at the bottom of the puzzle page is simply a logo used to signifiy the "round" that this puzzle came from, and is only relevant if you are solving the whole extravaganza. I hope to be back in later weeks to share the rest of the extravaganza with you, as well as more brand-new puzzles. Enjoy!
ETA (2013-02-28): There is an additional "thematic" answer that I hadn't originally considered, which may affect the answer extraction. I intend to post a corrected version soon, but for now, ignore any "thematic" answers involving unchecked letters. Thanks to solver Alan for catching the error.
ETA (2013-03-02): I have uploaded a corrected version of the puzzle and solution, which eliminates the extraneous "thematic" answer found above. Again, thanks to solver Alan for bringing the error to my attention.
Unfortunately, I think I'm going to have to cut back to one puzzle every two weeks for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, here's a Marching Bands for your solving pleasure. And if you're going to be in the New York City area next weekend, you might be interested in the Museum of Mathematics' inaugural puzzle hunt, for which I contributed three puzzles and did some test-solving. Even if you can't make it that weekend, the hunt will subsequently be available for museum visitors to solve at their leisure. The museum looks like it's going to be a fantastic place, so I recommend checking it out.
I apologize in advance for the last Outward entry, which may be obscure for most folks. But he was a major figure in classical music, prolific throughout his life (he composed over a dozen works after the age of 100), and his name made such a great seed that I couldn't pass it up.
At long last, another cryptic. I decided to reprise the Ringmaster form that I used several months ago, and I think it turned out well. It turns out that the format is not as original as I thought; it is topologically identical to the "Crazy Eights" puzzle from the Big Game Hunt extravaganza presented by Mike Shenk at the 2011 NPL Convention. But while I participated in that extravaganza I did not see that particular puzzle, so I can at least claim to have come up with the idea independently.