I think it was Terry Pratchett in his introduction to one edition of Brewer’s who pointed out that the book was one of those where you open it to look up one thing, find a cross-reference which intrigues, which leads to another and another, and before you know it, the day’s gone. Wikipedia can do that too. It was Wikipedia that led me to discover that Batman’s opponent The Penguin was called Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot. At this distance in time, I have no idea how I fetched up there.
Once you discover a name like OCC you have to do something with it, and it seemed reasonable to use it in a penguin-themed crossword. Driving around Wellington you do occasionally find signs warning you to look out for them crossing the road (I haven’t taken a picture but here’s a nice one from Flickr), so they’re something I have in mind. In the end I didn’t get the little blue (or fairy) penguin into the grid. But I was pleased that I could work it so that the name was unclued in across entries, and the penguins (and Batman) were unclued down entries.
I then noted that 3 across had a rather nasty run of unchecked letters, so I had to leave myself a note about making that clue easy. I don’t know whether I succeeded in that – I can never tell which clues will be easy and which hard, to be honest – but I did try.
I then wondered what I could do to point up the theme further, by means of some hidden message or other. Stumbling on Sphenisciformes as the Latin name for the order of birds that comprises the penguins was a nice final touch – so often it’s a phrase one has to discover, and the idea of a single fifteen letter word being a thematic element felt like a pleasant change.
Nothing much else to mention – this was a puzzle idea that didn’t come as a blinding inspiration, nor one that I set out specifically to construct because I had nothing in mind, but somewhere between the two.
Right, that’s my pizza delivered. Another setter’s blog is due next week – keep reading.