On A Roll

New York Times, Dec. 5

Holy crap(s)! Will Shortz really took a gamble on this one — asking us to cut up the puzzle?! To turn it into a die? Awesome. I loved it. Best grid since “Flag Day” back in June.

The empty grid was a little intimidating, with bold and dotted lines that you knew were going to end up at least being folded. (That they happened to be in the shape of a cross reminded me of this week’s Yuletide fracas in Philly.) But the solving was fairly easy, including the four theme clues that told you what the puzzle was about: CUT ON BOLD LINES (23 Across); SHADE THE CIRCLES (56 Across); FOLD ALONG DASHES (77 Across); and USE TAPE ON EDGES (115 Across).

“Shade the circles” was the only iffy part for me; I assumed they meant all the letter Os but wasn’t really sure until about the fifth one — that’s when I realized I was “on a roll” and creating a die. As you can see from the pictures, this was quite the arts-and-crafts project, made a little more difficult by the flimsy magazine paper. But, quibbles aside, it was sheer genius. Kudos to constructor Ben Pall, who gave me one of those rare how-the-hell-did-they-do-that? moments.

I might add that Will Shortz and Ben Pall were lucky they didn’t have to add a fifth instruction — READ THE ARTICLE ON THE BACK OF THIS PAGE BEFORE YOU CUT IT UP. Turns out there was a full page ad on the reverse side of the puzzle. I wonder if they knew that ahead of time? Or made a special request?

Random Philly Reference Dept.: Veterans Stadium, a concrete donut of a park affectionately known as the VET (“Old Philadelphia stadium, informally, with ‘the,'” 65 Across), was imploded several years ago to make way for two new homes for the Phillies and Eagles (Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field, respectively). It so happens that the Spectrum arena — the Vet’s basketball/hockey counterpart, where the 76ers and Flyers played for decades — met the wrecking ball last week. Here’s a video.

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4 thoughts on “On A Roll”

  1. Hi Kathy, just wondering whether you knew that the constructor of the “On a Roll” puzzle is only 15 years old and a sophomore in High School. Pretty cool.

  2. @James Thanks! For some reason this comment is appearing under the “On a Roll” entry instead of “A Shining Moment,” where another kind reader has already helped me out … although I will add (for your own future solving purposes!) that I believe it’s Allan, not Allen. 🙂

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