Friday, July 19, 2013

Project Wins Davidson Institute Award, Interview with Metaleska First Prize Winner Jeffrey Harris, Approaching 10,500 and In 1965, and Mark Diehl Tops 3,000

This week I have some very big news:  The Davidson Institute for Talent Development just awarded me a $25,000 Davidson Fellows Scholarship for the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project!  This is a huge honor and is especially gratifying because it shows that other people, not just those in the crossword community, understand and appreciate the project's value.  I will be traveling to Washington, D.C., to accept the award in September—thanks so much to my advisory board and everyone else who has helped make this monumental undertaking a success!

I'm also delighted to present an interview this week with Metaleska First Prize Winner Jeffrey Harris, who zipped through the metapuzzle in record time!  Here are his comments:

You correctly solved Metaleska in just 1 hour and 32 minutes, which is amazing!  Which component of the metapuzzle took you the longest?

Far and away the most time-consuming portion was matching up the new theme answers to the old puzzles.

Was there anything you weren't sure about?

I was pretty sure that the SPORTS CAR answer corresponded to the "Stand-Ins" puzzle—none of the other puzzles from that year even came close to allowing something that bizarre—but even knowing the gimmick, I had no idea how to get from {Large scale cover-up} to SPORTS CAR in two steps.  I just assumed I missed the roll-out of the Toyota Watergate or the Chevrolet Conspiracy or something.

What were your favorite and least favorite parts about Metaleska?

I got a kick out of the STEP/QUOTE Easter egg.  My least favorite part was that despite having written down SUNKEN (and apparently mis-writing the remaining letters), my brain was stuck on the Magi-gift-that-didn't-make-it FUNKENCENSE and I ended up using an anagram generator to help me see the final clue.  Shame on me, shame, shame.

What was the most interesting pre-Shortzian Sunday puzzle you encountered while solving?

I don't really remember any of them, they were all a blur!

Which aspect of the eventual database of pre-Shortzian puzzles are you most excited about?  As a constructor and editor, how do you think it will come in handy?

I'm not sure how useful the database will be as a puzzlemaker, but for posterity purposes it is invaluable.

Thanks so much, Jeffrey!  If anyone else has thoughts about Metaleska, feel free to comment below.

Meanwhile, we've now litzed nearly 10,500 puzzles!  On Friday afternoon last week, Denny Baker sent in 7 puzzles.  Then at midnight, Stephen Edward Anderson sent in another 7.  Sunday morning, Jeffrey Krasnick sent in 7, followed by 35 a few hours later from Mark Diehl.  Later that night, Mark sent in 14 more, putting us over the 10,400 mark!  On Tuesday afternoon, Denny sent in 7 more puzzles, and that evening, Mike Buckley sent in another 7.  Later on, Mark sent 14 more puzzles, making his personal litzing total more than 3,000 (3,014, to be exact—congratulations, Mark, on this amazing achievement!).  Thursday night, Mark sent in another 28 puzzles, putting us at 10,475 on the litzing thermometer!  It's been a great week—thanks so much, everyone, for all the litzed puzzles!  Thanks, too, to Todd Gross, who sent in another 10 proofread puzzles on Wednesday!

All this litzing has put us into a new year—we're now in 1965!  This year was notable for many things, but one of the best was the August 15 Beatles concert at Shea Stadium in New York.  According to Wikipedia, it was "the first stadium concert in the history of rock."  Here's a picture of the concert's poster:

Image courtesy of Amoeba Music.

1 comment:

  1. FYI, that poster is almost certainly not genuine. A genuine poster for concerts, baseball games and the like would be highly unlikely to have the year along with the date.