Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Twelfth Man Puzzle

This blog is barely alive, but it's alive -- turns out having a kid really cuts into one's free time when it comes to things like blogging about crossword puzzles and Scrabble.  Who would have ever imagined?  If only while my wife was pregnant other couples with kids would have warned us about how time consuming having a child would be -- if only they would have said things like "You have no idea!" and "Your life is going to change so much!" -- I could've been more prepared.  Alas.

But I have occasion for this entry because a puzzle of mine will appear in tomorrow's NY Times.  I believe this is my seventh in NYT.  (Spoiler alert) It's a rebus puzzle in which there are 12 squares with the entire word MAN as the correct fill, and then the revealer is "TWELFTH[MAN]".  It's already available online (with a subscription, of course) and has been reviewed by Rex Parker here.  He seems to like it for the most part, I think.  He said it was too pop culture-y, which it might be, but there are two main reason for this:

1) My hand was completely forced in a section that required me to use SAMMI (Sammi "Sweatheart" of "Jersey Shore", whom I only know from Googling "Sammi" and was happy to find as I do know "Jersey Shore" was/is huge, so its cast is fair game as fill) and WINGO (Trey Wingo an ESPN analyst).  I couldn't see any acceptable way to avoid using both of these barely crossworthy, pop-culture people, without completely dismantling the basic structure of the puzzle which I didn't want to do, because I liked the basic structure of the puzzle.

2) I originally wrote this puzzle without the intent of submitting it anywhere, so I wasn't trying to make it broad and balanced, but rather specific to my interests.  It was going to be a sports-themed puzzle that I was going to post on my own puzzle website that didn't exist at the time and still doesn't.  That's why the first long answer is ELI[MAN]NING, a football player.  But then I got rolling on it, liked the way I was able to cram in so many MANs without forcing things too much, and decided the puzzle was worthy of NYT submission.

A few other things about his puzzle.

It was inspired by the Seahawks' upset win over the Saints in the playoffs two years ago.  I was living in Australia at time, and they would show American football live on regular TV at like 4 a.m. Monday morning.  Being the NFL addict I am (especially with the Seahawks, I was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington*) I used to wake up early and watch all the games (much to my wife's dismay -- we were renting a studio), so I was intently watching Seahawks vs. Saints.  Seattle likes to tout its 12th Man (which they have call the 12th Fan on some merchandise for legal reasons, despite the fact 12th Fan makes no sense whatsoever, because Texas A & M has some sort of copyright on 12th Man), and it gave me the idea for a 12th Man rebus puzzle.

I originally had the theme answer [MAN]SSIERE in the puzzle, but Will made me cut it, because he thought an answer based on a gag in a single "Seinfeld" episode wasn't very sporting to the solver (given Rex's critique, I guess he was right).

I have no idea who Armando Iannucci is.  I tried cluing AR[MAN]DO through a "Planet of the Apes" character, which in retrospect is odd considering I've never seen a "Planet of the Apes" movie.  I just assumed Armando was a somewhat main character because he was portrayed by Ricardo Montalban, a name actor.

I fought off the urge to use [MAN]ON[MAN], although it would've been very apropos given the election results of gay marriage referendums in Washington, Maryland, and Maine (which were all good news to me). 

That's it.  Hopefully I will have more puzzles published in the somewhat near future.  I don't have anything on the docket, but I've submitted one recently and have a plethora more ready to go, just waiting to be submitted if I would ever just do it.  As it turns out, I like creating a lot more than I like submitting.

*Technically I was raised in an area of unincorporated Pierce County, Washington which is now a city called University Place.  It's most famous residents include Gary Larson (through whom I tried to clue GARY, but Will changed it), Pat Tillman, and the basketball-playing Isaiah Thomas (not to be confused with the basketball-playing Isiah Thomas).


Elaine said...

I'm leaving a comment for you on the WordPlay blog. Since MY children are 32 and 29 (nyah nyah) I have the longer view. Even things that seem like they will go on forEVER (such as elections) do come to an end; child-rearing is one such. I still miss 'the children' fiercely (a return to the classroom helped somewhat)....but NObody misses the first 4 months (a lot of work and not much fun)...and it all just gets better (and harder) from there on out.
Oh, and on the blog I'm Mean Old Lady.

DJG said...

Hello Mean Old Lady... Thanks for stopping by.

Shantastic said...

I'm also from the Seattle area (just north of Everett) and was so excited to see "Twelfth Man" as the key clue -- and slightly disappointed it didn't reference the Seahawks in some way. However, you reminded me of the Texas A & M thing and I know Will changes the clues sometimes.

But to find out it really was inspired by the Seahawks and written by a fellow fan, it makes me appreciate the puzzle even more. Bravo! It's so well-conceived and this makes it even better.

That game was unforgettable. I remember joking to coworkers that I would be rooting for the Seahawks to not completely embarrass themselves, but that I had a feeling I would be disappointed. We were so into it that our kitten got interested in the movement on the screen and put his paws up on the TV stand to get a better look. So we have a picture of him watching Hasselback throw a TD, which serves as a nice reminder.

Thanks again for an amazing puzzle. I look forward to future ones. Go Seahawks!

Dirigonzo said...

I'm a "syndicated solver" so I did your "Twelfth-Man" puzzle today 12/13/12, and I loved it! Discovering the rebus and finding the hidden men throughout the grid was great fun, challenging and educational too - that's pretty much my definition of a perfect puzzle. Thanks for this pleasant diversion and I'll look forward to your next submission - 5 weeks after it it's initially published.

Children grow up too fast. Take LOTS of video now because you will miss them when they are all grown up.