The Nerd Potluck Looms Large!

Aloha, fellow puzzlers and solvers galore!

Last week, I mentioned that I’d be attending a Nerd Potluck this coming weekend. It’s a celebration of all things puzzle, game, and nerd-centric, and I’ve been working on a new word puzzle to challenge my fellow attendees.

And as promised, you’re getting the first peek at it. I call the puzzle “Word Personals.”

Word Personals is based on the singular parlance of personal ads and dating slang.

Your standard personal ad looks something like this:

SWM, 31, brown hair, brown eyes, calf muscles of a Roman gladiator, enjoys full contact rock-paper-scissors and the films of Ben Stiller…

The breakdown is pretty simple.

–SWM is short for single white male in standard personal ad jargon. SWF would be single white female. (SBF would be single black female, MWM would be married white male, etc.)
–That’s followed by the person’s age and a brief description.

So my idea was to employ this format, but make the ads themselves word puzzles to be decoded by a solver.

Here’s an example:

SWF, 6, one letter once, one letter twice, and one letter three times, enjoys hanging out and giving people the slip.

Again, the breakdown is pretty simple.

–SW stands for “single word.” (If it was “MW,” it would be “multiple words,” indicating a phrase.)
–The next letter, F, stands for “features,” indicating that characteristics of the word will follow. (If it was “M,” it would be “means,” indicating a definition, synonym, or hint toward the definition would follow.)
–The number that follows is the number of letters in the word or phrase.
–Finally, there’s the description, which is in two parts. The first part, as indicated by “F,” gives some characteristics of the word. The second part is a jokey clue to provide further information.

And there you have it, Word Personals. I’m sure you’ve solved the example one already, so how about we check out a few more?

1) SWM, 8, power or vigor, enjoys vowel conservation and Herculean qualities.

2) MWF, 11, can read backwards and forwards, enjoys formal greetings and the days before holidays.

3) SWF, 4, goes from one syllable to three by adding a letter, enjoys taking car trips in the past tense.

4) MWM, 9, stutter-stop way of talking, enjoys frequent breaks and a certain British inspector.

I admit, It’s a bit esoteric, but I like the concept quite a bit, and I think it’ll be a hit.

Naturally, your thoughts are welcome. What’s confusing? What works? Is it too prone to alternates? Too easy? Too difficult? Your input would be very much appreciated.

In the meantime, I hope Word Personals provided you with a bit of brain-teasing today. So keep calm, puzzle on, and I’ll catch you next time. Wish me luck!

Warming up for a Nerd Potluck

Greetings, fellow puzzlers and enigma enthusiasts!

I’m attending a Nerd Potluck next weekend, and I could use your input.

Now, for the uninitiated, a Nerd Potluck is a party where everyone brings something suitably nerdy. It could be a game, a puzzle, a brain teaser, or something else that fits the nerd party aesthetic.

This is a natural extension of other parties my friends and I used to throw. We’re all gamers, RPG fans, and puzzle nerds.

No matter what the occasion — birthday, homecoming, reunion, Thursday — I can’t remember a party that didn’t include a few rounds of Mafia or a spirited game of the trivia/Truth-or-Dare hybrid my friend Dan invented, Who Wants to Eat a Millionnaire?

Last time we threw a Nerd Potluck, my contribution was a handful of Politos, jokey off-kilter summaries of movie plots.

(I based the idea on the writings of Rick Polito, a writer for the Marin Independent Journal in California, who is known for his sharp single-sentence summaries of films.)

Example: Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.

Answer: The Wizard of Oz

How great is that?! The answer is very. Very great.

So, I opted to come up with some of my own to challenge my fellow puzzle-loving movie buff pals. Here’s a sampling of them:

–A suicidal man has an intense hallucinatory psychotic episode, then is saved by a timely family-organized intervention.

–The minds and opinions of a group of prisoners are gradually changed by a charismatic knife-wielding stranger.

–An improperly supervised gang of miscreants, when left to their own devices, commit acts of trespassing, property damage, assault, consort with known criminals and pillage historical artifacts for their own gain.

–A group of friends scatters and licks their wounds after bullies wreck their secret snow fort.

(Feel free to leave guesses in the comments section. I’ll follow Eric’s example, and ask you for one answer per person. I’ll post the answers in the comment section later!)

It was a fairly popular exercise in outside-the-box thinking, but it feels a bit “been-there, done-that.”

This time around, I’m working on something new, more brain teaserish than anything else.

It’s not quite ready; I’m still ironing out a few kinks stylewise. (If I have the chance, I’ll post it here next week, a few days before the Nerd Potluck. I’m sure your input would be helpful.)

But a ladyfriend of mine will be attending, and she has a different challenge in mind.

She wants to make a puzzle-themed dessert.

Naturally, I suggested strawberry shortzcake, but she was considering tiramisudoku. (I know, a puzzle fan with a sweet tooth. She’s awesome.)

So, any suggestions for puzzly dishes? Cryptograham crackers could be fun, but who wants to do all that writing in icing?

Oh well, if not, no worries. I’m sure she’ll come up with something. (Hopefully I will too!)

But in the meantime, thanks for reading. Keep calm and puzzle on, gentle readers!