Sunday, June 17, 2018

puzzle 60: "fifty-fifty"

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between father's day, the u.s. open, and the world cup, i hope y'all are enjoying your weekend. also hope y'all enjoy this puzzle, which is, quite frankly, a bit out there. just look at it. it certainly wasn't my intention for it to end up that weird, but that's one of the perks of running my own site--if that happens, it happens. started with the central reveal and decided to triple stack it, similar to this andrew ries puzzle from a few years back. really put an emphasis on clean and interesting fill through that area, and that ended up expanding the grid a fair bit. at that point, the only real way to fit in theme answers would be with intersecting pairs in each corner, so i went all out. way too many cheater squares, and quite a bit of long fill that's as long as (or longer than) theme entries. both of these are, to some degree, frowned upon, but i think the end result stands up, even if it's a bit out there.

Monday, June 11, 2018

puzzle 59: "home at last (freestyle 29)"

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finally home from the indie 500, which was a lot of fun. saw a lot of old crossword friends, made some new crossword friends, had a stupid error on the fifth puzzle that knocked me out of the finals, and overall had a lot of fun. if you haven't already solved the puzzles, ten dollars will get you a lot of fun. for what it's worth, my favorites were the final puzzle, by lily silverstein and erik agard, and puzzle three, mall shook up, by laura braunstein.

speaking of laura, she blogged my fireball meta from last week, which i'm pretty sure i forgot to plug last week. if you're a fireball subscriber, i'd love to hear what you thought of the puzzle, good or bad; if you're not, you should be.

now, for some thoughts on this puzzle, which was a long time in the constructing. as you can probably guess, the center stack was the seed for this. the main problem with building around themed stacks is that there is no flexibility in switching out words, so you have to work with all the letter combinations that you're given. and odds are, with two long entries, that they won't all be nice. in this case, the first pair constrained a lot of things, and quite a few of the rest had few options given the length + two letters already present. (as a side note: i had the same challenges in my themeless in the queer qrosswords pack.)

and i'll be honest: i did not expect this grid to work at first. it didn't work when i had triple eights in the upper right and lower left corners (fun challenge: figure out what that first down entry in the lower left would've been), and making hard corners bigger rarely works. usually you change the square pattern: move them around, add in more, or both. but, somehow, going to triple nines worked, and the rest came together, and here we are. i hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

puzzle 58: "fudge factor (with jesse lansner)"

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proud to present this puzzle in collaboration with jesse lansner, who is also here at the indie 500, and who will probably finish ahead of me. this is partially because he's pretty fast, but also because i'm pretty error-prone and don't really solve crosswords on paper that often. that said, i'm still going to enjoy the day and have lots of fun, and i hope to see some of y'all there.

Friday, June 1, 2018

puzzle 57: "three-peats"

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apologies for not having a puzzle up last weekend--was in chicago for memorial day weekend, then busy with prep and travel for this weekend's indie 500 tournament. this puzzle was going to run last weekend, except i didn't have it clued before chicago, and it turns out a puzzle with a similar theme has run in a major paper recently. which, you know, things happen. it's not the first time puzzles with similar themes have come out in different outlets close to each other, and it won't be the last. i hope you enjoy this puzzle anyway.

as a side note: if, like me, you're at indie 500, there will be paper copies available, so don't worry about tracking down a printer or anything. (there will also be another new puzzle, of which more tomorrow.)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

puzzle 56: "working blue"

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warning: as the title implies, there's some slightly indelicate language in this puzzle; apologies in advance if this bothers you. i certainly don't intend to do this very often, but i thought the idea was amusing enough to not pass up.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

puzzle 55: "it's all greek to me"

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i have always found the article behind this puzzle's theme amusing; i hope you do too (spoilers and more info here).

also: a very fun (but spoiler filled) puzzle from chris king that you should definitely check out.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

puzzle 54: "tubthumping (freestyle 39)"

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first off: if you haven't already, get women of letters, which i've finally started working through, and which is good

secondly: i have today's psc crossword, which is available online for the next little while. also a freestyle

thirdly: i promise i will have an actual, honest to god themed puzzle here soon. it's been a busy and stressful semester, but it's almost over, and things should be slightly less busy and stressful. fingers crossed, at least

fourthly: if you're going to be at the indie 500 and / or want to collaborate, hit me up and let me know

fifthly: if your company is hiring and you think i'd be a good fit, definitely hit me up and let me know