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.

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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).

erik: showoff

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?

erik: kenny

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?

erik: once

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!

  1. just remember, the people in white coats are your friends, erik.


  2. bananarchy said:

    I miss Neville’s blog. I still fondly remember a lot of his themes, including this one, three years on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andy said:

      We all miss Neville’s blog. I occasionally go back and solve some old puzzles and weep at how clean the fill is.

      Liked by 1 person

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