puzzle ... maybe 2 minutes?
this week's installment of the matt gaffney weekly crossword contest, titled "Eight Isn't Enough," was a combination of an outstanding crossword and a really clever puzzle idea. it might have been my favorite of the series. each half of the four long theme answers is the name of one of santa's reindeer anagrammed, plus one more letter (circled in the solution diagram at right):
so who's missing? it's none other than DONDER, the best friend of BLITZEN (german for "thunder" and "lightning"). sometimes DONDER is known as DONNER. why? well, the poem "a visit from st. nicholas" (better known as "'twas the night before christmas") is the original source of the names of santa's reindeer (sans RUDOLPH, who was invented by a montgomery ward employee in the 1930s). the poem, which is ascribed to clement clarke moore in 1844, was actually written by someone else (nobody is quite sure whom) in the 1820s. the version that ran in an 1823 albany newspaper had "dunder and blixem" (!), which are again thunder and lightning... in dutch. the 1844 moore version had donder and blitzen. nowadays, the german word for thunder is DONNER, not DONDER, but there is some confusion as to the name of that ninth reindeer. i prefer DONDER.
anyway, the theme was only a small part of what made this puzzle so much fun. the fill clocks in at an ambitious 64 words, and is chock full o' gaffnish goodness. it more than makes up for any style points matt might have lost for anagramming DANCER to PRANCED, which is uncomfortably close to the name of another reindeer. highlights:
tricky/tough stuff included:
that's all for me this week. great puzzle. see you guys in the comment box. happy christmas to all, and to all a good night!
December 23, 2008