Forum > State Puzzle Project

I'd like to represent opposing counsel...

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Todd G:
Yeah, me again.

Andy Harrison's message gave me a chance to make a point.  While I agree at some point all this needs to be addressed, we are still in the starting stages and not even sure how well this will work as a book.

My suggestion: let people work on puzzles as offered.  When someone is ready, they come back to the group and ask for test solvers.  At that point, the rest of you can see if the basic idea will work, and make adjustments.

I don't think you/we have to be setting up a formal business model just yet.  Three or four puzzles in hand should give you/us all a better sense of how well this will work.

I'm looking forward to seeing the first puzzle myself.


Roy Leban:
I'm just going to say two things:

1) I think somebody needs to step up to be the (0) and/or (1) coordinator in my list.

2) I will not be checking this forum. I have enough to do. If there's anything of interest going on, please email me. Or if someone wants to set up a mailing list ....


As a solver, I would not pay money for a random collection of puzzles about the states. It's all very nice to have first-timers offer puzzles, but you'll need a professional editor (or an organized system of peer review) to accept/reject and then edit the submissions. Then someone needs to copy edit and proofread to assure consistency of style (you don't want one puzzle italicizing titles and another using quotes, blank spaces of varying lengths, bestseller and best-seller, etc.)

I'm not offering to do any of this.  Just saying...

I am going to very honest here, and I realize that I am probably going to get myself in trouble with some of you folks, but the reason I started making puzzles was because I got fed up with the ones being published. I can tell you the precise moment: I was doing a Sunday, and I filled in "oleo" for about the millionth time in my life, and I thought, this is stupid. I can do better.

And since I've started making puzzles, I've found more to gripe about. I know y'all are very attached to your breakfast test, but I don't quite get why the proclivities of one Victorian lady at the beginning of this century has to determine what the rest of us do for all time. I would like something a little more lively, a little more relevant to my life than, I don't know, "ecru."

So, I volunteered because I thought this was an opportunity for some great established puzzlemakers and some not-so-great newer puzzle makers to escape for a moment some of those restrictions and offer up what we'd really like to see. I thought the target audience was serious solvers, people who might also be a little tired of "oleo."

Y'all can get mad at me and tell me I don't want to fill in "urine" while I'm eating breakfast, and maybe you're right. Maybe I don't want to do it with my newspaper. But maybe I wouldn't mind a puzzle book that was a little looser, a little more fun. Now, I'm not necessarily suggesting that we allow bodily fluids. But it bothers me that the first instinct seem to be to set a bunch of rules about what the puzzles can contain before we've even gotten anywhere. What would be so awful about variety--about one puzzle that uses the name of the state in one way, and another in a different way? (Of course, there has to be standardization as to titles and caps and itals, and all that.)

And I don't think I'm alone in this either. I ride the public transportation systems in this city all the time, and younger people are not the ones doing puzzles. (Even in the free versions of the newspaper.) I've gotten into the habit of asking younger people about them when I have the opportunity, and they look at me like I have two heads. They shrug and say "I do Sudoku." Of course: If I'm bored with the puzzles in the paper, how can they not be?

I mean, I used to love doing puzzles, and I've drifted away from them, even as I've begun making them. So, if this puzzle book is going to be just more of the same, I don't quite see the value in doing it. Yeah, sure, we'll "own" our work. But the chances of this making any money are almost zero, at least at first. 

Mike Peluso:
Well, a full day of pros and cons, inputs, suggestions, caveats, nay-saying and enthusiastic approval has come to an end. I usually don't get involved in the spirited discussions on the Cru, but this one really struck my fancy. I was the one to offer to make the first state puzzle (WA) and issue the challenge to others to do the same, and ....well, you all saw the response. I'll be glad to make a database of who has offered to do what. I'll get it out in a day or two.

As to the various postings, there were several that cannot be ignored: Making this work without a leader to organize and delegate would be impossible. However, identifying and selecting a leader by e-mail interaction among all of us would be, as was aptly stated, "like herding cats". So, the first task at hand is not "who" shall be the leader and spearhead of this project, but rather, "how" is this leader to be selected. I wish I had an easy answer. Any workable suggestions?

The other unavoidable issue that must be addressed is the financial considerations. I saw this as a two-pronged discussion: 1) Where do we get the money to have the project printed and distributed and, 2) how are the various contributors going to the equitably paid. Here is a far-flung suggestion: What if AAA were to be approached and asked to fund the project, get the copyright, and give the book away at all the AAA offices around the country? Have you seen the books and materials they give away now??? You can walk into an AAA office and walk out of there with an armful of books that cost them upwards of $100 to print. Anyway, I'm digressing, but AAA might be a starting point. Included in their funding and rights to the copyright could be money paid to the contributors...........

...........which brings me to a more personal take on this issue. I'm not sure how well I read into the Cru's collective opinion about the money-making aspect of this project. I think I heard some say that there's no way in hell they'd do it without being paid, and I got the impression that others would be happy to just do it as a project born out of the love of making puzzles. I have to say, I'm in that second group. I have a feeling I speak for a lot of constructors in saying that payment vs. non-payment for contributing to this project really wouldn't make a terribly big difference in their standard of living. Personally, constructing for me is a great hobby, a great way to exercise my brain (which at my age needs all it can get!!), and lends itself to deep sense of personal satisfaction. I can honestly say that the check I get at the end of the month after a puzzle is published is nothing compared to the satisfaction I get seeing my work in print and having been validated by an experienced and scrutinizing editor. (Thanks, Rich!!!) And there's nothing quite like sitting in Starbucks watching the person next to you working on YOUR puzzle, not having a clue that the constructor is sitting right next to him or her.....which, of course, I'd never let on to.

OK, so much for philosophizing. Let the input continue. I've got a gut feeling we can make this thing work.


Mike Peluso


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