hi! i’m e.a., and welcome to the first installment of BRINGIN UP OLD STUFF, where we’ll be reviewing indie puzzles that dropped before there was a cool blog around to cover them – a sort of pre-NGOTBian puzzle project, if you will.
i felt like i hadn’t solved a neville fogarty puzzle in a while, so i hopped in my time machine, set the dial for three years, and landed right on a contest puzzle. it’s called “Costume Party,” and it’s a halloween-themed puzzle from october 26, 2012. you can and should solve it here.
i wanted to match the conversational style of blogging that’s done so well by ben/lena/michael on the daily posts here, so i called on a friend: today, i’ll be chatting with erik agard, an indie puzzler whose work can be found at glutton for pun dot blogspot dot com. an edited transcript of our conversation follows.
e.a.: so, what’s your costume this year?
erik: probably just gonna stay home and eat snacks
e.a.: well, i tried. let’s talk about the puzzle.
erik: good puzzle
e.a.: right? i finished in 4:16, so it was definitely on the harder side of things – especially for one of neville’s puzzles, which i tend to think of as easy & breezy on the whole (in a good way).
e.a.: what? i’m not gonna lie to the people.
e.a.: ok, so the flavortext reads, Four friends went out trick-or-treating, but only three of them made it to the costume party afterwards. Goodness knows what evil has befallen the fourth friend! What is the missing friend’s name?
e.a.: i… yes. it’s kenny. would you like to explain how you got there?
erik: that’s all you
e.a.: of course it is. so there are four themers in this puzzle; for the first three, there are four squares each where the across clue doesn’t match up with the down clues. for example, 17A [Place for a face-off] wants to be CENTER ICE, but going by the downs gets you the funky-looking CENTMASKE.
erik: it’s eric wearing a mask
e.a.: yes. very good. it’s eric wearing a mask. the revealer is UNMASKING (60A: [Discovering a true identity, as you’ll be doing three times in this puzzle]). along with ERIC, the other identities that get unmasked are (luc) KYLE (tters) and (fa) STAN (dloose).
erik: so kenny
e.a.: ERIC, KYLE, and STAN are three out of a foursome of characters from the show south park, which makes the poor lost soul that we’re looking for the fourth one, KENNY – aptly, the one who’s always getting killed on the show. ever seen south park, erik?
e.a.: fantastic. anyway, a relatively easy meta after a relatively hard puzzle, for me at least. what did we think of the grid?
erik: barbra streisand was in it
e.a.: in the grid? where?
erik: but i think she was a robot or something
e.a.: interestingly, outside of the themers, the longest entries are a pair of 8s (PRETESTS and ODDHOURS). but there’s a lot of pleasing stuff in the medium-length fill – DR SEUSS, VLASIC next to ABSCAM, and that nice and open bottom-left corner is fairly juicy.
erik: never heard of MIKA
e.a.: that’s because you’re a rube. there was also a lot of fun pop culture stuff in the clues: we had a good wife reference (which feels very au courant in 2015), a viral youtube reference (is epic meal time still a thing?), a joe pesci singing reference (always clutch), some glee, some book of mormon, and a shoutout to ryan north’s dog.
erik: tell them about the costumes
e.a.: you tell them about the costumes!
erik: neville gave bonus contest entries to people who sent in pictures of their halloween costumes
e.a.: (you can check out some of those pictures here.) the meta was cool on its own, but this is the kind of thing that really elevates the contest experience to a level that very few puzzles have reached. what’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done for a meta contest, erik?
erik: one time i posted the solution to the meta so people would know what the solution was and they wouldn’t all ask me
e.a.: i rest my case.
that’s all for this edition of BRINGIN UP OLD STUFF! i hope you enjoyed both the puzzle and the write-up; thanks as always to neville for providing us with years of puzzly crates to dig through. let’s do this again sometime!