Meet one of the creators of the New York Times crossword puzzle

Magician David Kwong moonlights (er, daylights?) as a crossword puzzle creator for the New York Times. In the parlance of the craft, he is a "cruciverbalist," one who is adept at making, or solving, crossword puzzles. (Wired) Read the rest

This is what 'going viral' looks like

Sometimes I blog about something and it goes nowhere, much like this girl's domino:

Sometimes I blog about something and it continues to weave its way to the many corners of the internet, much like this:

But, sometimes I blog about something and it starts a chain reaction that looks more like this (I looked for a domino video that featured fireworks and confetti but came up short):

via

In other words, it goes viral. Now, on November 11, I blogged about Tim Klein's "puzzle montages" and I believe it's the most-viral post I've written in my over-seven-year professional blogging career. While I don't have the exact numbers, I have been watching it quickly spread across the planet and I feel certain that it is. Today, I thought it would be fun to pull back the curtain a little to show you what "going viral" looks like from "backstage."

[TL;DR version (and, warning, this post IS entirely TOO LONG): The post I wrote about Tim Klein's puzzle montages went nuts! Media outlets from around the globe picked up the story (digital, print, TV), some linked back to Boing Boing, some didn't. Tim got TONS of fan mail, all of his art sold, and now he's being offered gallery shows. Well... he and I talked and we plan to take it to the next level together (note: we didn't know each other before all of this). We first want to build a community of people who love puzzle mashups. Want to learn more? Read the rest

This artist uses jigsaw puzzles, with the same die cut pattern, to make these terrific mashups

Oh boy, I think I have a new hobby. I've just learned that you can combine puzzles, that have the same die cut, to make really awesome pieces of art. It had never occurred to me that manufacturers of mass-produced puzzles cut different puzzles of theirs in the same way, making the pieces interchangeable. It makes complete sense, of course, but my mind is still blown!

I learned about the art of "puzzle montage" from one of the readers of my inbox zine, Marcia Wiley (she's the gal in Seattle who's fixing up that cool old Checker Cab). She was visiting the Bay Area and we met up for the first time this past Friday. That's when she told me about her friend Tim Klein, who makes incredible puzzle montages. I'm excited to share his work with you.

In an email exchange, Tim told me that he learned about puzzle montages from the man who first made them, art professor Mel Andringa of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, "As far as I know, he and I are the only artists ever to pursue it seriously. And I think he's moved on to other things nowadays, so I may be the sole surviving practitioner."

And this is what Tim shared with me about his process:

...By selecting pieces from two or more compatible puzzles, I assemble a single "puzzle mashup" with surreal imagery that the publisher never imagined.

Sometimes the results are merely chuckle-making, such as my combination of King Tut's burial mask with the front of a truck, which I call "King of the Road".

Read the rest

Self-solving Rubik's Cube

It looks like any other Rubik's cube, but for the little mechanical squeaks it makes as he scrambles it. He puts it down on the table and watches it in silence for a while. Then it moves.

Read the rest

A 1000-piece color-changing jigsaw puzzle

You thought those single color jigsaw puzzles were difficult? Try putting together one where the pieces change colors! That's just what the latest offering from artist Clemens Habicht does:

1000 CHANGING COLOURS is a colour gamut jigsaw puzzle of 1000 pieces in which each individual tile has two distinct colour states from intersecting gradients of colour. Printed in Poland using a lenticular lens, the colours change depending on the angle of view, resulting in a radiant iridescence that shimmers in beautiful colour combinations.

Pre-order it now for $100 plus shipping.

(The Awesomer, Mike Shouts) Read the rest

Watch how to solve this Hanayama level 6 puzzle called NUTCASE

NUTCASE is a deceptively simple cast metal puzzle by legendary puzzlemaker Hanayama. If you're not planning to try it yourself, here's how to solve it. Read the rest

Ugears: beautiful, steampunkular geared wooden puzzle-toys

Ugears makes gorgeous wooden puzzle toys made from laser-cut plywood that snap-fits to create beautiful, retro machines and sculptures with meshing, working geared mechanisms. Read the rest

Watch this guy solve a 17x17x17 Rubik's Cube in under 5 hours

Russian speed-cuber Evgeny Bondarenko decided to tackle the biggest challenge on the market today: solving the 17x17x17 Rubik's Cube. Talk about concentration! Read the rest

Can you solve the wizard standoff riddle?

Math 4 Love founder Dan Finkel writes:

You’ve been chosen as a champion to represent your wizarding house in a deadly duel against two rival magic schools. Your opponents are a powerful sorcerer who wields a wand that can turn people into fish, and a powerful enchantress who wields a wand that turns people into statues. Can you choose a wand and devise a strategy that ensures you will win the duel?

(TEDEd) Read the rest

Charming interlocking wood sculptures

Zenji Funabashi creates colorful animals scultures that lock together in all sorts of fun ways. Imagine the satisfaction of sliding the pieces together. Read the rest

A puzzle expert shows off some of his favorites

Tim at Grand Illusions chose several of his favorite "photogenic" puzzles to share. Some of them he has not solved yet, and even some that he's solved are still quite challenging to replicate. Read the rest

Coin puzzle: How do you make a circle of 6 coins from two rows in only 3 turns?

Here's a fun puzzle explained to us by math writer Alex Bellos (but invented by mathematician Henry Ernest Dudeney) that you can try with six coins. First line them up like this:

Now see if you can arrange them in a circle with only three moves. The two rules: you can slide them but not pick them up, and you must move them to a position where they are touching two other coins.

Here is a video explaining the rules a bit more, but spoiler alert: don't go past 2:37 unless you want to see how it's done.

Read the rest

Watch how to solve a maze hidden inside a metal cylinder

YouTuber Mr. Puzzle demonstrates Revomaze, a maze puzzle hidden inside a metal cylinder. Read the rest

Weird Al Yankovic co-authored today's New York Times crowssword puzzle

Weird Al Yankovic co-authored today's New York Times crossword puzzle. His collaborator was crossword constructor Eric Berlin who writes in the puzzle notes:

We batted around a few theme ideas, some of which seemed worth developing but none of which made it to the finish line. I suggested “The ____ Film Festival,” with that blank to be filled in with whatever struck Al’s fancy. He replied with a long list of cheese/movie puns, and I had no doubt that we had a winner. My very first attempt at the grid included one of my favorites from his list, QUESOBLANCA. I was under the misapprehension that queso is not just the Spanish word for cheese but also a specific kind of cheese. Whoops, not quite. (This was entirely on me, I should note — Al, not knowing during his brainstorming that the end result would be restricted to specific cheeses, had several cheese-adjacent puns in his list, including FONDUE THE RIGHT THING and CHEESY RIDER.)

Download a PDF of the puzzle here. Read the rest

Can you solve the seven planets riddle?

Created by esteemed riddler Edwin F. Meyer, co-author of The Gedanken Institute Book of Puzzles.

(TED-Ed)

Read the rest

Cool magic trick: The Perpetual Puzzle

Tenyo is a Japanese magic trick company that's been around since 1960. They are well known for making clever props. (My friend Richard Kaufman, who often writes for Boing Boing, wrote a 1,400-page two-volume set about the company, called Tenyoism)

Here's a Tenyo puzzle trick called The Perpetual Puzzle (It's available on Amazon). You start by showing a rectangle made from 5 pieces. The rectangle fits snugly in a black plastic frame. Next, you show a sixth piece and combine it to the other five to make a larger rectangle. This rectangle also fits perfectly inside the frame. Finally, you show an even larger seventh piece, add it to the other six to form a rectangle. It, too, fits into the frame. How is it done? (If you know, please don't reveal the secret in the comments.) Read the rest

Absolutely brutal single color jigsaw puzzles

These Japanese single color jigsaw puzzles are appropriately named "Pure Hell." They're available with 1,000 or 2,000 tiny pieces, black or white.

Pure Hell jigsaw puzzles (Amazon via Laughing Squid)

Read the rest

More posts