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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Waiter's cryptic hobby a puzzler

A knack for writing cryptic crosswords

Our Wellington newspaper, the Dominion Post, has a daily page called CAPITAL DAY, "the Insider's Guide to Wellington," in which titdits of local gossip feature, along with notices of local events, many of them free.

Saturday's was the usual page of such trivia, along with a few comments about the ongoing saga of the "Wellywood" sign the airport is threatening to post on their land.  (Comment: it does seem ironic that the sign should be mooted the same season that the local TV studios at Avalon, in the Upper Hutt, have been axed, along with local crew.)

Reporter Kerry McBride evidently keeps her notebook at hand, even when in the pub.  Hence, she was able to produce an interesting story about her waiter, Max Hollander-Eberly (picture above, lifted off his Facebook page).

As he confided to her, he likes doing cryptic crosswords.  He has a knack for them.  He penetrates the meaning behind even the most obscure clues with ease.  So, one day, while whiling away a leisure hour in his Mt Victoria flat, he decided to have a go at creating one of his own.

Three hours later, as Kerry McBride relates, he had written his very own cryptic crossword.

"I just have a very abstract sense of the world and can make connections where lots of people don't see them," he modestly remarked.  The hardest part, apparently, is thinking up the words.  Making up the clues is easy.

Mr. Hollander-Eberly plans to start submitting his puzzles for publication.  Good luck to him.

Why Cats Paint: A Theory of Feline AestheticsWellington has a good record of producing wordsmiths with a knack for originality.  

There is Burton Silver, who with another New Zealander, Heather Busch, has produced a stream of whimsical bestsellers about cats, starting with Why Cats Paint.

And there is Simon Shuker,  of "Code Cracker" and "Take 5" fame.  The originator of both puzzles, he contributes to The Listener, Dominion Post, Otago Daily Times, and Britain's Daily Mail.

So popular is the code cracker puzzle with British readers, that a few US puzzle-merchants have pinched the idea.

2 comments:

linda collison said...

My husband loves these kind of puzzles and I always tell him, why don't you make them up instead of doing other people's puzzles. Me, I don't do puzzles, my life has been puzzle enough and I'm finally getting the knack of it.

Joan Druett said...

Glad you are getting the measure of your cryptic life, Linda!