Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Monday, January 14, 2008

My Insanity, Your Cryptic Crossword Benefit

NOTE: If you don't know what cryptic crosswords are, feel free to ignore this whole post. It's pretty inside to the puzzler community. Better yet, find out what they are, get hooked, and come back here ready to play!

It's happened again. As some of you know, I have found--going back (gasp!) fourteen years to when I first found myself unemployed--that when I'm left with a lot of free time, some part of me instantly starts making cryptic crossword puzzles. It's like lexical quilting or mental scrimshaw. For some reason, nothing soothes me more than constructing something that I personally would find challenging. When I was out of work in 1994, just graduated, and waiting for Hallmark to call, I assembled a dozen unusually hard variety cryptics and put them into a one-page newsletter I called The Vexing Yank. (Normally I would have submitted them to the National Puzzlers League's Enigma magazine, but that was more than even it could absorb.) That was the worst and weirdest example, but when I went back to school I found myself doing it again during Spring Break here and there. But for the past few years things have been pretty quiet, what with the nine-to-fiving and the struggle to make rent.

The past few weeks, starting with Christmas break, raised this temptation again, and I've succumbed at least twice, putting together unusually difficult cryptics, employing rather obscure words and deliberately abstruse themes. Again, these would normally be bound for The Enigma, but I've started also thinking that it might be nice to create an online version of The Vexing Yank, called perhaps The Electronic Yank. I could post all my old Yank puzzles, and it would be a place where people who want a higher-end puzzle, but who don't quite need the balls-to-the-wall obscurity of The Listener, can find a home.

The problem: I don't know how to upload puzzles. I know tons of people who say, "There's a new puzle on my website! Come take a look!" And there's a link, and you click it, and a PDF magically dowloads. I don't know how to do that. (And I don't have Abode to PDF files into, and I doubt it would be a wise use of my money just now.)

So until this problem is solved, I deliberately came up with the following puzzle, a Yank-style variety cryptic crossword that requires no visual because there's no grid. Enjoy, if you can.


Fill a standard 12 x 12 grid using the following cryptic clues. The grid uses 180-degree symmetry, and it also contains two unclued longer entries--synonyms--that solvers will find appropriate. Enumeration has been withheld for obvious reasons.

All words are to be found in 11C [Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary], except for 15 Across, which is NI2+ [that is, it's in Merriam-Webster's New International Second Edition as a foreign, obsolete, or variantly-spelled word] and a few that are not MW [meaning non-dictionary words and phrases, like "iTunes," "Britney," or "ran for," or common foreign phrases like "chez nous"]. The wordplay of two clues involve technically non-11C words that are extremely common in crossword puzzles. In general, it would be crazy to try to solve this without an 11C right next to you. But maybe that's just me.

Answers will follow in a separate post. I apologize in advance for any typos. And note that I suspect that comments on this post will tend to be spoiler-y (I'm predicting a few clue-tweaking suggestions), so don't look at any comments until you've solved the puzzle; that's my suggestion.

1. Rat east of California doing pre-heist research
5. Where Derek has badly-directed role!
9. Fleece wrappers' lock was so twisted
11. Horrified by Turkish officer's psych exam [two words]
12. Room to throw food overboard
13. Reptile smut is reported
15. Harmon White, star of Pegasus
17. Pack of dogs in gutter
18. John obtains copper and sulfur from a lake
19. Vehicle to turn upside-down, not from Texas city
23. Collection includes the goddess
24. A rock tour I make fresh [two words]
27. Reportedly, a male raccoon stood
28. Istanbul native exposing part of the arm
29. Wander around a river in Asia long ago
30. Scary gale disturbs mint
31. Russian Mountain Teen Magazine picked up by tree nut
32. Solicitude is followed by short kiss

1. Baboon is flipping over Mad Men's network after tea
2. Unfinished burial place in marble creates anger
3. Group of fish replacing orange with red tourmaline
4. I don't know Spanish for "proboscis"
6. Beat set without leadership
7. Urchins' selection from speech in Italy
8. Bit of pressure circles burrowing mammal
10. Titters uncontrollably in musical passages
14. Creditors have to make certain they use strong language
16. Saving fork, a Stooge goes back to take in study
19. Canadian is able to avoid losing face
20. Rocky Harlin's on the nose?
21. Gander--crazy old one
22. Isaac and Howard's ends?
25. Support outspoken novelist Joyce
26. Write jokes for Ace and Dotty



Blogger Joshua Kosman said...

OK, one for the blog. But the next one's ours, beyotch.

1/14/2008 11:40 AM  
Blogger Rhu/nmHz said...

I'd be happy to create AcrossLite and/or PDF files for you on occasion.

1/14/2008 12:17 PM  
Blogger Sneb said...

I use CutePDF Writer. It's free:

1/14/2008 9:14 PM  

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