Puzzle people, here's a challenge - what should my dear ol' dad get for Christmas?
December 13, 2008 6:33 PM   Subscribe

Puzzle people, here's a challenge - what should my dear ol' dad get for Christmas?

My father's hard to shop for and I've already bought everything I know he would want - or he got it for himself. He has done every Martin Gardner puzzle known to man. All the available Harper's Magazine Acrostics. He does the Atlantic puzzles online as soon they appear so he doesn't have to "read that commie rag." Does NYT puzzles in books so he doesn't have to read that "liberal propaganda." Also does puzzles online and has zillions of books of grille blanche and other word puzzles I can't keep track of. Don't ask me about the math puzzle stockpile as they are way to far over my head.

Problem is, I'm not bright. Don't do puzzles. Are these wooden boxes challenging? Do those of you smart people who enjoy Martin Gardener puzzles like them? Should I try for some Erich Fried puzzles? They look like they might be kind of simple to someone who understood the concepts...

The Panda magazine from this thread seems to be defunct.

Help. Tell me what, on the list of stuff my dad likes, that you do like, and then tell me something you think he might also like.

Help. Otherwise, the old man gets socks.

Why, yes, yes he does have The Complete Far Side and the boxed set of Calvin and Hobbes and all the Bullwinkle DVDs.
posted by Lesser Shrew to Shopping (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I am assuming that he also likes logic puzzles, though he clearly is a fan of word puzzles, because you've mentioned a store of math puzzles.

I've enjoyed (computer logic games):
Simon Tatham's Puzzles (free)
Everett Kaser's puzzles (pay)
Kris Pixton's Puzzles (pay), especially Loopical
The two last have reasonably large demo versions available, so he can test them out.

I'm not a huge fan of word games except some crosswords; I prefer computer games which have almost infinite variations than books which don't; I don't enjoy manipulation puzzles like wooden boxes. I do enjoy things like Sudoku and the zillion possible variations (many books available), those Dell magazine logic puzzles.

For more bits of everything, try Games magazine.

Raymond Smullyan's books are also very good, and similar to puzzles written by Gardner.
posted by jeather at 6:58 PM on December 13, 2008

Martin Gardner's The Annotated Alice.
posted by SPrintF at 7:21 PM on December 13, 2008

Blatant plug for a friend's (great!) mechanical puzzles: http://www.pavelspuzzles.com/
posted by girlhacker at 10:59 PM on December 13, 2008

Panda Magazine still exists, but it looks like you need a www that you didn't used to.

If he's not already a member of the National Puzzler's League a membership might be a good gift. Every month you get The Enigma, a 24 page printed pamphlet thing, which has a few dozen short little one-shot puzzles/riddles, and then a cryptic crossword and maybe a couple other larger word puzzles.

The guy who does Panda Magazine is an NPL guy ("Foggy" is his NPL nom), so there's some similarity, but I would say NPL puzzles tend to be more along the lines of fitting standard types (many of which will be novel for a new member) while Panda Magazine has a more creative puzzles and only a moderate emphasis on word puzzles. (The Enigma is all word puzzles).

Once a year the NPL have a conference which is basically a weekend of nonstop puzzles. I haven't been, but I hear it's pretty fun.
posted by aubilenon at 12:26 AM on December 14, 2008

There have been some excellent suggestions so far, some of which I know I'll benefit from. Thanks.

Here are some other ideas:
  • The documentary Word Play (about crossword solvers) and the accompanying book
  • A small hand-held device so he always has puzzles to solve (one model)
  • I'm a fan of innovative puzzler Roy Leban, who is privately selling a clever word game he invented, Wim, which I've played and ordered; he also has a book, Whoduko, that I haven't tried but sounds interesting
  • Commission a cryptic crossword for him. My impression is that magazines pay poorly for puzzles, so you might be able to commission one relatively inexpensively (~$100 would be my guess). One person I'd ask is Kegler, who puts a lot of cryptics online for free and has answered my fan mail.
  • This isn't puzzle-related, but you could commission a cartoon about him very inexpensively ($20) and get him a signed framed print. I did this for my husband's birthday. He seemed to like it, and many of our friends were so impressed they followed suit.
Good luck! It sounds like getting him a present is a puzzle in itself!
posted by espertus at 9:58 AM on December 14, 2008

Thanks so much! My Christmas is solved through 2010.

Thanks for the new Panda link, aubilenon, the Google machine kept sending me to WWF links.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:33 AM on December 14, 2008

I love the Einstein downloadable puzzle from Flowix, and play it pretty much every day. Plus? Free!
posted by taz at 4:08 AM on December 15, 2008

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