July 13, 2004

What do the puzzle people do?

Rose and I are back from nine days in Boston, where we attended the yearly National Puzzlers' League convention, the largest in NPL history. Some of you will no doubt wonder, what do a bunch of puzzlers do when they get together?

Well, of course, it depends, but I can tell you what we did. On the 3rd, we visited some friends in the Boston outlands (Sharon, to be specific) and watched the local fireworks (which they set off on the 3rd so they don't have to compete with the big show on the 4th). On the 4th we hung out on the Cambridge side of the Charles river with many NPL and MIT cronies and eventually got to goggle at Boston's awesome-as-fuck fireworks show. Boston is apparently very, very into Independence Day. It makes me wonder if Boston played an important part in American history or something. I should look into that.

On the 5th, we joined a like-minded group of fellow NPLers to solve a series of puzzles. Oh, but perhaps I should mention that each puzzle was presented at a different bar, because this was a puzzle pub crawl. We tried many a beer (although by the time we got to Redbones, Rose and I were feeling pretty beered out, and had pecan pie and vanilla custard instead), and even Rose -- who has spent her life not liking beer -- found a few she liked, partly thanks to the careful tutelage of our friend Jenny, who is a both a tireless beer booster and beer brewer. (She brewed two beers especially for the con, both fab.)

On the 6th, Rose mostly hung out and baked goodies for the convention's hospitality suite while I went over the latest set of proofs for my book (which is looking super swell) and read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time", an extremely engrossing book about an autistic child. Then we had dinner and went to a strip club, where a friend of ours was performing. (No, you probably don't know her. But she was very hot.)

Our vacation got slightly less sybaritic after that, though there was still a fair amount of sampling of beers and wines, and gorging ourselves on homemade desserts. And, of course, we played a lot of games.

So, what else...we saw a specially arranged screening of a very good Scrabble documentary, and one of the filmmakers, Eric Chaikin, was on hand for a Q and A...since he was also attending the convention. (His brother Andrew has been a member for a while, and Eric just came aboard recently. Andrew Chaikin, incidentally, may be the coolest person I know. It is a tribute to how much I enjoy his company that he does not fill me with jealousy.)

We also checked out MIT's new Gehry-designed Stata Center. Many MIT students have bitched and moaned about how ugly it is, and how they don't like it, waah waah waah. Rose and I thought it was surpassingly cool (although the trees they planted in the amphitheater-like space in the back are probably too big for the containers they're in). We didn't have our camera on us, so no pictures. Next time.

With everything that was going on, we managed to miss a lot of fun activities, but since we go to Boston all the time, we were savvy enough to pretty much only miss things that we could do on our own later, like a puzzle walking tour of Boston's Freedom Trail (adapted by Eric Albert from a puzzle hunt he had written for the Boston Globe a while back...during the adaptation of which he sadly discovered that many of the sites he had used as landmarks were no longer around, necessitating much rewriting), and an orienteering tour of the Arnold Arboretum.

We had a great time hanging out with friends from all over and solving some remarkable puzzles, and while we're sad the convention is over, we still have our memories.

As well as two beers and a bottle of Pinot Gris.

Posted by Francis at 02:37 AM

I managed to get several nifty (to me) pictures of the Strata Center. I'll let you know when and where they go up.

Posted by: Tablesaw at July 13, 2004 04:18 AM