American crosswords (June 30)

So far I’ve found it very difficult to find newsagents and bookstores – the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall had precisely zero, despite a regularly cycling screen advert for books.  But the hotels had free papers, so I picked up the local Arizona paper, and the Wild Horse Pass resort offered the Wall Street Journal on the conference Saturday.

The Arizona Republic puts its crosswords either side of the funnies as shown here:

Arizona Republic

One of the puzzles appear to be syndicated from the Los Angeles Times.

I’ve been following the online WSJ puzzle page for months, perhaps years, now – Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon regularly have a crossword there – so I was keen to see whether there was a paper version.  And there is:

WSJ

Saturday WSJ has a themed American-style puzzle every week, with a ‘variety’ puzzle that cycles through different types.  The monthly cycle is a Cox & Rathvon cryptic, and an Acrostic by Michael Ashley interleaved with two other novelty grids.  This weekend’s slot-filler – Patrick Berry – is a regular to the extent that some cycles he will do both variety puzzles.  He also does cryptics (inter alia) for Games World of Puzzles, but his WSJ puzzles are definitional.  He is a mine of information on popular culture, an area in which I am merely a mild depression (in fact, ‘mild depression’ and ‘popular culture’ do seem to overlap somewhat in my world-view), but he provides interesting twists on his facts.  The interlocking of many of his puzzles is phenomenal, and generally with reasonably familiar words.

One curious feature of both papers is the tall page height.  When stacked for sale they are folded in half (hence the horizontal fold visible in both photos) but they open out to a significant length.  They can’t be very wieldy as such, and it’s rather reminiscent of the American fondness for foolscap over A4.  But they will be very good folded in half to the puzzle for solving.

Since writing that I have found a couple of US crossword magazines – A Games World of Puzzles and a Dell collection of a range of different puzzles (not many of them crosswords, even of the American type).  The Games World of Puzzles is in an odd position.  The issue I picked up in Tempe was the June issue, and I only belatedly realised that I already had it.  This is because I subscribe to the magazine via Zinio, and the latest Zinio edition is for August.  The drawback is that Zinio under Windows 10 does not have a print function, and hence I have maintained an old computer running Windows 7 so as to be able to print off the puzzles I want to solve.  There are usually two blocked cryptics and two variety cryptics in each issue, which is quite a high representation for an American publication.

I’ve flicked through the Dell magazine and I may cover it in a little more detail in another post, as there are some interesting twists on standard ideas.  I’ll look to get another publisher’s magazine as well.

And finally, a snap from the side of Sabre’s pool in Tempe, Arizona.  Many thanks to Andrew Bremner for his hospitality during our visit.  A wonderful coincidence that Marjorie’s conference occurred just down the road from him!

Phibre

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