Sunday, February 28, 2010

P&A Progress Report, Weekend One Edition

The front half looks like a good set of puzzles; my black ink cartridge is mostly gone, so I'm trying not to print very much (until I get back to work on Monday, of course). As much as possible, I'm trying to solve in my electronic whiteboard software (which is a lot easier when I have my drawing tablet, but I've discovered that I can type on top of the screen-captured puzzle and it won't erase the lines in the grids, so it's still feasible), but the full-page puzzles are an awkward size for that. So I've just been doing the suite, and leaving the front half for later.

My initial reaction when looking over this issue's extravaganza was "oh no". Not that it is going to be physically possible to defend my "20th place" finish from last issue (unless Foggy makes the extended leaderboard a permanent addition, meaning no it's not possible), but I had hoped to finish the suite anyway. So I resigned myself to not finishing and got started. Now, after a weekend, I will concede that there is a small, but positive, chance that I might finish this one.

SCUBA: I see "fill-in puzzles where we've given you all the vowels, of which there's only one in the puzzle anyway" a lot. Apparently they're more interesting and/or fun and/or easy than I think they are. I don't refuse to do them, like I refuse to do puzzles that require me to cut the puzzle out, so I may end up doing this at some point.

Tropical Drinks: Still not a good start. Would knowing the ingredients of more than 2 (I think) of these cocktails help? I don't know. I was kind of hoping that I would be able to relate the given ingredients to the given names in some way, but that doesn't appear to do anything for me.

Archery: I think I see how this is going to work out, and I expect this to be an interesting twist on Marching Bands. This is all still somewhat hypothetical, for awkward size-related reasons, but it should be doable.

Golf (ding!): This is the one puzzle I printed. It also features in the on-going "Andrew sends an e-mail to the editor, wondering about an error in the puzzle, and gets a 'You idiot, that's not the right answer' e-mail in response" saga that I've been building up for a while. I swear, Foggy, no matter what, I'm not going to send such an e-mail next issue. I only literally just now figured out the clue in the flavortext, going strictly off training to figure out the last step (although I did fill in the scantron bubbles exactly backward the first time).

Sightseeing (ding!): I have never done Akari except in the applet, so this was a little interesting. Fortunately my electronic whiteboard software has both an automatic circle-drawing tool and a highliter that can "snap" to drawing straight lines (and ditto for an arrow-drawing tool that I used to work out the camera angles), so it worked out neatly. I correctly guessed the answer extraction mechanism, so I feel pretty good right now.

Horseback Riding: This seems like a lot of work. I should probably figure out what all the moves are first (and really: horseshoes?)

Volleyball (ding!): Nice and easy and actually where I started. I read far too much into the flavortext, so the puzzle was actually even easier than I expected.

Tanning (ding!): A cool little concept. In terms of figuring out where to put the words in the grid, I expected all the 1-2-3 to spell out T-A-N. That belief lasted exactly one word, since the first word in the grid couldn't fit under such a constraint. But the correct method was readily apparent, and apart from mis-transcribing four of the 1-2-3 sets when building the answer (and also not really knowing right away what the result phrase could possibly mean) it was all downhill from there.

Spa Treatments: This looks like it will be the best puzzle of the issue. I have made very little progress with it yet, though.

Luau (ding!): Once I managed to dig up a complete set to see exactly how the puzzle fit together, it was a very smooth ride.

Sailing: I guess I have most of the clues. Not sure about all those sailboats in the middle of the page, though.

Waterskiing (ding!): I remember telling R&B after one of their podcasts about the sampler that sometimes you just have to start the puzzle and the right thing to do will become clear once you have the first group of answers (I think the example I gave was "What's Black and White and Read All Over?"). This was one of those puzzles (using a highlighter again really helped). Training kicked in again to get the very last step.

So hey that's 6/12. I have a theory for what's going to happen with the meta, but it doesn't account for all those ... pieces of flint? arrows? ... objects in the answer boxes for each puzzle. I'm pretty sure it's going to take at least the first set of hints to get further (even if I get some more answer words), unless my theory is just amazingly correct.

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