anderson's Puzzle Blog

Favorite music of 2021

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Normally I make this post on Facebook, but WordPress seems a lot better for these things, so woooo here’s the first post on this blog in 4 years. (I guess I never finished my Mystery Hunt recap post, oh well)

Best albums

I’ll link to each album and give a short description and favorite tracks if you want to check it out.

10. Terminal 11 – Eyes Pressed Against the Glass

Link: opaltapes.com/album/eyes-pressed-against-the-glass

I’d highly recommend this if you like Aphex Twin/Autechre/other “experimental” electronic music of that sort. Lots of crazy sounds/effects everywhere but the tracks still have a nice groove.

Favorite tracks: “Until It Couldn’t Recognize A Face”

9. Mega Bog – Life, and Another

Link: https://megabog.bandcamp.com/album/life-and-another

This record is very hard to categorize – the songs are sorta “pop”, but each one feels weird/original in its own way. I really like albums that sound unique in some way, and this one has a lot of that (and I’ll probably be saying the same thing for many of the albums below).

Favorite tracks: “Weight of the Earth, on Paper”, “Crumb Back”

8. Matt Sweeney & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Superwolves

Link: https://mattsweeneybonnieprincebilly.bandcamp.com/album/superwolves

Maybe not as original-sounding as some of the other albums here, but this album just has a ton of excellently-written folky rock songs. The sound is very stripped-down (the instrumentation is mostly guitar with occasional percussion), giving it a very personal/heartfelt feeling.

Favorite tracks: “My Popsicle”, “Not Fooling”

7. Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET1tap3679M&list=OLAK5uy_ms0fMr00m9R2qSFd0HUrp-Q-PI2g6Vrk8

This record just has a ton of catchy pop/rock songs, with a lot of variety in style and pretty much no filler.

Favorite tracks: “The Beach”, “Smile”

6. Portico Quartet – Terrain

Link: https://porticoquartet.bandcamp.com/album/terrain

This is a somewhat minimal/ambient album, so it’s definitely more background music than the others, but I love the overall sound and harmonies and there are very beautiful moments throughout.

Favorite tracks: “Terrain: I”

5. Richard Dawson & Circle – Henki

Link: https://richardmichaeldawson.bandcamp.com/album/henki

(These top 5 albums I think are all REALLY good)

This album is also hard to categorize – it has some metal, rock, and folk. There are long, epic songs, and as usual, Richard Dawson’s vocals and lyrics are excellent.

Favorite tracks: “Ivy”,”Silphium”, “Lily”

4. Tropical Fuck Storm – Deep States

Link: https://tropicalfstorm.bandcamp.com/album/deep-states-2

This album has my favorite lyrics out of all of the records here (though they are kind of depressing), and the sound is totally wild, with very weird chord progressions and effects all over the place. In terms of genre, I guess I would say rock, but there’s a lot of other things going on.

Favorite tracks: “G.A.F.F.”, “Reporting of a Failed Campaign”, “Legal Ghost”

3. Goat Girl – On All Fours

Link: https://goatgirl.bandcamp.com/album/on-all-fours

This album has rock/punk elements, but like many others on this list, also has plenty of unusual sounds and a lot of variety. I especially like the overall dark and mellow mood (much like in Goat Girl’s first album) that kinda “unifies” the tracks, which are a good mix of bangers and more “groovy” songs.

Favorite tracks: “Pest”, “Sad Cowboy”, “Bang”

2. Shame – Drunk Tank Pink

Link: https://shamebanduk.bandcamp.com/album/drunk-tank-pink

Man, this album is just banger after banger. Almost all the songs make me want to move around awkwardly and sing along when I listen to them. Very energetic, noisy, punk/post-punk.

Favorite tracks: “Born in Luton”, “March Day”, “Water in the Well”, “Snow Day”

1. Spirit of the Beehive – ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH

Link: https://spiritofthebeehive.bandcamp.com/album/entertainment-death

In a list full of innovative albums, this one has to take the cake in terms of all the crazy sounds, harmonies, and progressions it has. I just love the sheer variety on this, and how the songs still manage to be catchy despite how weird they sound.

Favorite tracks: “There’s Nothing You Can’t Do”, “Bad Son”, “The Server is Immersed”, “Wake Up (In Rotation)”

Best songs

My favorite songs from albums that came out this year. I’ll just provide a link for these since writing descriptions takes too long, but I assure you these are all good.

10. Kero Kero Bonito – “The Princess and the Clock”

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncBPcx4RdbE

9. Silk Sonic – “Smokin Out the Window”

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GG7fLOmlhYg

8. CHVRCHES – “How Not to Drown” (with Robert Smith)

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U_LhzgwJ4U

7. Sufjan Stevens & Angelo de Augustine – “Reach Out”

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltH3rI-G4n8

6. Tropical Fuck Storm – “G.A.F.F.”

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SI-tBJI0qhU

5. Magdalena Bay – “You Lose!”

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQPXX_eZZAk

4. Shame – “Born in Luton”

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znPLrc2Qigo

3. The Armed – “Real Folk Blues”

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLmd4wT-E6A

2. The Weather Station – “Robber”

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJ9SYLVaIUI

1. Squid – “Pamphlets”

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv35ffaxFj4

Other good music

VR SEX – Cyber Crimes EP

Link: https://vrsex.bandcamp.com/album/cyber-crimes-ep

I didn’t include this on the albums list since it’s a short EP, but the songs here are all bangers.

Kero Kero Bonito – Civilisation II EP

Link: https://kerokerobonito.bandcamp.com/album/civilisation-ii

Also a short EP, but the songs here are all very catchy.

Various Artists – Through the Soil

Link: https://throughthesoil.bandcamp.com/album/through-the-soil

This was a project where a bunch of artists all contributed to an album with proceeds going to charity – this thing is really long (67 tracks), but it’s very good overall.

zan-zan-zawa-veia – Diggin’ It OST

Link: https://zan-zan-zawa-veia.bandcamp.com/album/diggin-it-ost

I haven’t listened to that many video game soundtracks this year, but this one was my favorite (even though it was made in a week as part of a game jam). Some awesome chiptunes.

Written by qzqxq

December 30, 2021 at 3:00 am

Posted in Not a Puzzle

Puzzle 26: Falling Letters

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Rules (from the WPC 2017 instruction booklet): “Place letters into some cells in the grid. Same letters cannot share a side, and blank cells cannot share a side. Each outlined region must be filled in alphabetical order, starting with ‘A’, from left to right and top to bottom. Each outlined region contains at least one blank cell. Cells with the letters form a single connected area.” There is also an example in the instruction booklet, which can be found here; it’s the first puzzle in round 18, PIC.

This was made as part of WPC preparation, and I do plan on posting a recap on my blog at some point, so you can look forward to hearing about my multiple one-cell errors and other misadventures. Overall, this was one of my favorite puzzle types in the Puzzle Innovation Contest; there are a lot of rules and they feel somewhat arbitrary, but they work together surprisingly well.

The break-in for this puzzle might be very hard and I think the solving path is fairly narrow (at least based on Palmer’s solving experience), so here is a ROT13’d hint for the first step if you’re stuck: Gur oernx-va vf fbzrjurer nebhaq gur zvqqyr bs gur gbc srj ebjf.

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November 3, 2017 at 10:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Puzzle 25: Oasis

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Rules (from the WPC 2016 instruction booklet): “Shade some cells in the grid. Shaded cells cannot touch each other orthogonally. All unshaded cells must be orthogonally interconnected. Unshaded cells cannot form a 2×2 square. Cells with circles cannot be shaded. A number indicates how many other numbers or circles can be reached from that cell by passing only orthogonally through empty unshaded cells (it cannot pass a shaded cell nor a cell with a number / circle).”

Notes: I think Oasis is the best new puzzle type introduced at the 2016 WPC. It feels very original, the rules are intuitive and relatively simple, and there’s tons of potential for interesting local and global logic (as demonstrated in the GP round 2 Oasis puzzles, which I highly recommend). I’d love to see others construct this type; let me know if there are other examples out there (the only other one I know of is on Walker’s blog).

Also, this was indeed the 25th WPC.

Written by qzqxq

July 7, 2017 at 3:15 am

Posted in Misc. Shading, Puzzles!

DASH 9 recap

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I participated in DASH 9 today in Fremont. First off, thanks to all of the organizers for a very smoothly-run event and for the great puzzles, as well as to Albert, Ben, Nathan, and Patrick for being great teammates.

Our team name was “)(()” (the joke is that it’s a palindrome, although no one believes it at first). We ended up getting 2nd place, which was certainly a pleasant surprise. Other teams with Galactic Trendsetters members got 3rd, 13th, 14th, and 16th, and our sister team “())(” got 55th, so it was a pretty good showing overall. Congratulations to everyone!

I’ll briefly discuss some puzzles now, so spoiler warning. Also, I’ll edit this post to include a link to the puzzles whenever they get posted (edit: here are the puzzles)

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Written by qzqxq

May 7, 2017 at 3:52 am

Galactic Puzzle Hunt 2017 recap: the puzzles

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The Galactic Puzzle Hunt took place about two six weeks ago, and overall, I had a great time helping create and run it and I’m really proud of everyone who contributed. There’s quite a lot of things I want to talk about, so this post will be dedicated to going over some of the specific puzzles; there will be another post for organization and other notes. There will be lots of spoilers, so be warned.

Before I get into the details, here are some personal puzzle recommendations if you haven’t seen them yet and want to try them out before being spoiled:

Now, for some specific puzzle commentary:

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May 1, 2017 at 6:32 am

Puzzle 24: Trimino Divide

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This puzzle was made for WPC 2016 practice. Rules (from the IB): “Divide the grid along the given lines into triminoes. Each trimino is formed by three orthogonally adjacent cells. When there is a cross between two triminoes, they must be of a different shape. When there is a triangle between two triminoes, they must be of the same shape, but different orientation. When there is a dot between two triminoes, they must be of the same shape and the same orientation. Symbols always lie on a trimino border, not inside a trimino.”

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April 1, 2017 at 5:44 pm

Posted in Misc. Division, Puzzles!

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2017 Mystery Hunt recap

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The MIT Mystery Hunt happened two weekends two months ago, so here’s a (very belated) recap. It was my 9th hunt, and 4th with ✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈.

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March 29, 2017 at 4:02 am

Puzzle 23: Black Hole Tapa

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Rules (copied from the TVC instruction book): Follow regular Tapa rules. Additionally, each row/column must contain N Black Holes. Black Holes must be placed on the Tapa wall. For the purposes of surrounding clues, a cell with a Black Hole counts as M consecutive shaded cells instead of 1. Black Holes may touch each other. N and M will be given in Puzzle Booklet.

Also, in this puzzle, one of the clues has a 0 in it. I think the meaning of this should be natural, but just to be precise, the 0 must correspond to a non-empty group of black cells whose total length (adjusted for black holes) is 0.

Edited to add one more clarification: Even though the black holes count as 0 for clue purposes, they still count as black squares for everything else (black holes count for connectivity, you can’t have a 2×2 square of black holes, etc.)

blackholetapa

Notes: Well, I suppose I’m still alive. 😛

After going to the WPC (I’m currently writing a recap and hope to have it finished at some point), I’ve been motivated to get back into making puzzles after I basically had no time at all the past year due to school/burnout. So, have some TVC practice! Although I’m not sure whether this puzzle is representative of a typical Black Hole Tapa, as M=0 is a little unusual heh.

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December 1, 2016 at 11:51 pm

Posted in Puzzles!, Tapa, Variations

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Puzzle 22: Nurikabe (pairs)

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Rules from MellowMelon’s blog: This is a Nurikabe puzzle, with a twist. Every region of unfilled cells must contain exactly two numbers (instead of one) and have total size equal to the sum of the two numbers.

nurikabepairs

Notes: After a 3 month break, and thanks to a 2-hour long physics class, we’re back. 😀 Also, there’s no hidden valentine’s day theme or anything (I didn’t even know that it was valentine’s day until I saw students carrying around flowers today, heh). The 2s are, well, for puzzle 22, and feel free to count how many 2s there are.

On another note, I might post a more detailed mystery hunt recap sometime. Out of the logic puzzles I remember, Portals was amazing, Agricultural Operations was cool, A Regular Crossword was cute, and Random Walk was okay but had lots of trial and error. Palindrome was an awesome team to solve with, as usual!

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February 15, 2013 at 2:35 am

Puzzle 21: Skyscrapers Fillomino

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Rules (from the Fillomino-Fillia 2 booklet): In addition to the usual rules, the numbers in the grid should be treated as building heights. Numbers on the outside of the grid tell how many buildings are visible when looking from that direction. A building obscures all buildings behind it whose height is equal to or smaller than itself.

Notes: This puzzle is brought to you by the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

If you haven’t done Fillomino-Fillia 2 yet, there’s still time! You can still start the test any time in the next 3 hours or so. And even if you don’t plan on competing, you should definitely do the puzzles afterwards, because they are amazing.

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October 29, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Posted in Fillomino, Puzzles!, Variations

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