Beguiling number puzzles that offer a change of pace from sudoku.
Benedek, an Israeli computer scientist and game inventor, offers another passel of hidato puzzles of widely varying difficulty. He starts with a bare-bones rundown of the rules: each hidato is a grid, with some of the boxes filled in with numbers; the object of the puzzle is to fill in the rest of the boxes with numbers that connect in numerical order with two of their neighbors vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. The starting number (always 1) and ending number (the same as the total number of boxes in the grid) are given, and when the puzzle is finished, the numbered boxes form a continuous, meandering pathway of consecutive numbers leading from the first box to the last. Instead of the arithmetical deduction of sudoku, hidato (from the Hebrew word for “riddle”), is more of a workout for spatial reasoning skills; the trick is to figure out the right path through points on the grid from among all the possible pathways. The solution requires imagining how chains of boxes might spread and curve across the page to connect the boxes already filled-in and pruning the many possibilities; the resulting tangle of geometric strategy has something of the feel of a game of go. Benedek includes easy puzzles that will gratify beginners and proceeds to “Medium,” “Hard,” and “Very Hard” levels (solutions are included in the back), ending with two fiendish puzzles labeled “I dare U.” These last are torturous epics that can absorb a puzzler for hours: the experience starts with a baffled search for a foothold; then, a time of exhilaration as numbers come more readily; anxiety and growing frustration as the last, most difficult regions of the grid resist all efforts; a profound exhaustion; rage at the world and all its snares; and finally, a numbed despondency that doesn’t long suppress the hunger for more puzzles.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)