Sunday, October 13, 2019

puzzle 132: "going back to square one?"

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first, an announcement: queer qrosswords 2 has just been released; as with the first iteration, i have a pair of puzzles (one a solo freestyle, the other a themed collaboration). i'm looking forward to solving these, but everything i've heard about them so far indicates that i'm going to be in for a treat. so i highly encourage you to get support queer charities and donate and get this collection and enjoy this goodness as well.

also: forgot to link to these in weeks past, but both sid sivakumar and brian thomas have started their own puzzles sites recently, and both have posted some good puzzles that i've enjoyed. so definitely check those out as well.

finally: w/r/t this week's puzzle, i highly encourage solving on paper, as every circle in this puzzle will contain a different letter in the across and down directions. it's certainly solvable on your computer, but be aware that the files are coded to take the across letters as correct, and that it'll be a lot harder to keep track of the different letters. still, either way, should be a fun puzzle.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

puzzle 131: "ghostwritten (freestyle 122)"

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a freestyle that's been in the works for a bit; turns out that no matter how hard it is to make one big corner, it's always harder to make the opposite corner, since you're already locked in somewhat by symmetry and whatever you've done in the first corner. and then you have to make sure the stuff connects together, etc. anyway, lots of longer answers in this one, and as always, hope you enjoy!

Sunday, September 29, 2019

puzzle 130: "l functions"

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and we're back with yet another puzzle inspired by math stuff, although you certainly don't need to know anything about math to, you know, actually solve this. that said, i suspect some of the things in this puzzle might be on the unknown side of things, but hopefully everything adds up in the end.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

puzzle 129: "arrr you ready?"

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guest puzzle this week from brian herrick, a constructor who lives in brooklyn and who i've had the pleasure of working with on a couple of puzzles (including an upcoming new york times puzzle) after being introduced via the crossword puzzle collaboration directory. nowadays, brian writes puzzles for current, among other outlets, and he notes that inspiration for his puzzles comes from a variety of places—including what he calls a "d-list holiday". otherwise, we think you'll enjoy this puzzle, though for optimal solving pleasure, we recommend solving on paper.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

puzzle 128: "it'll be alright"

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not much to say other than that the next puzzle will be on thursday, and will be a guest puzzle. i think it's a good one and i'm happy to have it here on the blog; i think you'll like it as well. in the meantime, enjoy this puzzle!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

puzzle 127: "missed it by that much (freestyle 120)"

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solution to the previous meta finally posted; both that and this puzzle were delayed by traveling home from new york city after a few days of fun. got to see mitski play in central park, randall munroe on his book tour, and a walkoff win for the mets (only the second time i've ever seen them win, in about a dozen or so games). and there was also the bryant park crossword tournament, which i came about a quarter second short of defeating defending champion glen ryan in. i'll be sure to link the puzzles when they're up for sale; they're definitely worth solving.

Monday, September 2, 2019

puzzle 126: "on the clock"

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smaller puzzle for the holiday today; hopefully you enjoy both this puzzle and the day off.

reminder that there's still one more week until i post the solution to last week's meta. not that there's a prize or anything, but i've already gotten fifteen answers, and it's always good to hear from solvers; if nothing else, it helps me gauge the meta difficulty better. otherwise, straightforward theme this week, and some interesting stuff coming up in the near future, including a guest puzzle! (speaking of which: feel free to hit me up if you want to collaborate on a puzzle, or just want some feedback on puzzles in progress, even if they're just ideas. always happy to help.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

puzzle 125: "best two out of three (meta)"

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meta puzzle! the answer to this puzzle is a drink; the solution will not go up before september 6th. good luck! [edited to add: the solution was posted september 10th.]

also, many thanks to all the people who have recently joined the google group and/or sent in emails; your kind words are always welcome and always appreciated. and, if you haven't joined the group yet, consider doing so—puzzles straight to your inbox whenever they come out, so you don't have to worry about missing puzzles or anything.

Monday, August 26, 2019

puzzle 124: "chopped vegetables"

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late night posting because i spent a couple hours chopping vegetables and then got too distracted by both solving and constructing other crossword puzzles to actually finish cluing this. kinda wish i had some more vegetables to chop, because it's incredibly calming and relaxing. in any case, hope you enjoy this; meta puzzle coming soon.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

puzzle 123: "terrible twos"

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happy birthday to the blog, which just turned two years old, and which just hit six digits in terms of page visits. couldn't have done it without solvers like you. many thanks, and here's to many more puzzles in the future.

Monday, August 12, 2019

puzzle 122: "rock climbing"

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apologies, as usual, for not getting this up on the weekend; this is, i think, the fourth different puzzle i started for this weekend. just could not get any of the rest to finish satisfactorily, even though some of them did get finished. fingers crossed i can finish up some of those soon; will try to have puzzles distributed at lollapuzzoola this next weekend. sadly, i won't be there myself, but i should be around for the bryant park tournament shortly thereafter.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

puzzle 121: "a day at the roxbury (freestyle 115)"

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unsurprisingly, the seed entry in this one (61A) came from something i saw while in boston for boswords. resulted in one of my favorite stacks in awhile, and then i had fun finding a stack to match it at the top (and then figuring out how to connect the two). perhaps a bit too many names, but i think all the crossings are fair. some good clues, too—19A and 32D are my favorites, but there's good ones throughout.

as for boswords: this absolutely counts as burying the lede, but yours truly finished second! some excellent puzzles throughout the day, including a wonderful final by finn vigeland; you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't get the puzzles and solve them. as for me? i'll probably be busy doing all the puzzles i printed off to do on the train (which, sadly, wasn't an acela) up to boston...and then didn't solve at all. so much for preparation, i guess.

me, boswords champion andy kravis, ken stern, and finals puzzle constructor finn vigeland

Saturday, July 27, 2019

puzzle 120: "squarefree 4"

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been busy finishing up some custom puzzles, as well as visiting friends on the east coast while i made my way to boston for boswords, so i didn't quite finish a new puzzle before today. wanted to have something new up before the sunday new york times puzzle (by yours truly) goes live, though, so here's another puzzle from the squarefree suite. this one was selected by will nediger as one of his favorite indie puzzles of may, so it was a natural choice to share; if you haven't bought it yet, the complete suite (and more info) can be bought here.

outside chance i do finish a new puzzle before boswords starts tomorrow; if so, i'll print copies and bring them along. if not, well, i'll still print puzzles and bring them along; haven't decided yet which one, but we'll see. and i'll see you, hopefully, if you're there; really looking forward to that, since i haven't been to a tournament in quite some time.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

puzzle 119: "big time"

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personal milestone today, new york times sunday crossword by your truly and boswords in eleven days. i'm still figuring out what puzzles to bring, but looking forward to seeing y'all there, and hope you enjoy this one.

also: this link contains spoilers, but is a song well worth listening to after you solve the puzzle.


Sunday, July 14, 2019

puzzle 118: "blades of glory"

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themed? freestyle? both? neither? kinda weird layout from stacking all three theme answers in the center and then trying to make the crossings fair. hopefully this puzzle works for you, whether or not you've heard of any of these blades of glory. otherwise, boswords in two weeks, as well as the new york times sunday puzzle by yours truly.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

puzzle 117: "lost in translation"

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another puzzle for this weekend, which came from me wanting to get the last theme answer into a puzzle, especially after recent events. as always, hope you enjoy! and, again, hit me up if you wanna collab before boswords, which is july 28th. i'll be there, i'll be bringing puzzles, and i'd love to have puzzles that aren't just by yours truly.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

puzzle 116: "recycle (freestyle 73)"

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apologies for not having a puzzle last week; those of you who follow me on twitter will know the trials and tribulations (and the effect that those had on me) trying to get to new york city and getting rerouted to hell newark airport, which is not at all the same. anyway, lack of energy and writer's block ensued. the good news, at least, is that there's a few puzzles now on deck, so there shouldn't be any interruption in the near future (barring any other temporospatial detours into hell newark airport).

in other news, boswords is happening july 28th, and i will actually be there (and, given that i will be taken the train to boston, i don't think i'll end up rerouted into hell newark airport). come say hi and/or commiserate with me about stupid errors and/or talk to me about that day's new york times puzzle.

otherwise, hit me up if you wanna collab on a puzzle; i expect to have copies of my puzzles present and would love to feature other constructors as well.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

puzzle 115: "colorful characters (freestyle 114)"

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apologies for being late on this; have been busy sleeping at incredibly odd hours, debating what exactly a martini is, and finishing up a bunch of time-sensitive revisions for custom puzzles (and non-time-sensitive revisions for deadtree media). next weekend's puzzle should, however, actually be on the weekend.

also: many thanks to brian herrick for testing this and providing some nice cluing suggestions; brian also makes puzzles for current, including one that dropped today, and is worth solving. speaking of puzzles that dropped today, i wrote today's universal puzzle, which is themed. i also wrote this saturday's la times puzzle, which is a freestyle.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

puzzle 114: "us open"

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absolutely no points for guessing what i've been watching all weekend as i've been making this puzzle. thought i'd have some fun by opening it up; turns out that's like preparing a course for the us open, in that that makes it a lot harder. still, a lot of good long answers, and i hope you enjoy this.

finally got around to figuring out the winner of the meta from last month; amusingly, there were 36 correct entries for a meta titled "squarefree". of those, christopher sparks was the lucky recipient of a copy of the squarefree suite, which can still be purchased at the preceding link. many thanks to everybody who's already purchased, as well as those who submitted an answer (right or wrong) for the meta. (in case you're curious, the solution is now posted on the original puzzle's page; commentary is included with the solution, but suffice it to say that the next meta will be a little nicer and will have a better "click" at the end.)

Saturday, June 8, 2019

puzzle 113: "will they or won't they (freestyle 113)"

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freestyle this week; it should be absolutely no surprise what the seed entry was, though finding the other fifteen was a bit serendipitous. still, i like how all of these corners turned out; there's a good number of entries that i was pleased to work in without sacrificing fill quality. some pretty good clues too, i think.

also, still one day left to solve the meta and enter the contest for a free copy of the squarefree suite. and, again, many thanks to everybody who's already submitted a meta answer and/or purchased the suite.

Monday, June 3, 2019

puzzle 112: "mini marching bands 1-4"

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i've recently started making mini marching bands by hand in my spare time. they're usually not too hard to finish, and i'm sure this will be good practice for when i start making full-size marching bands.

if you haven't solved them before, instructions are at the bottom of the pdf. for those of you who like to solve on your computer, you can solve the jpz files via this site.

finally, one week left to solve the meta and enter the contest for a free copy of the squarefree suite. and, again, many thanks to everybody who's already submitted a meta answer and/or purchased the suite.

 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

puzzle 111: "squarefree 1"

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good luck to everybody at the indie 500 this weekend! may your solves be fast and your grids be clean! (chris king: if you're reading this, disregard that advice and make your grid messy and hard to read; i have money on you winning worst handwriting again.)

this puzzle is the first of the squarefree suite, announced yesterday; i guess it's the equivalent of the lead single from an album. in any case, there's still two weeks to solve the meta and enter the contest for a free copy of the suite. and thanks to everybody who's already submitted a meta answer and/or purchased the suite; it's greatly appreciated.

Monday, May 27, 2019

puzzle 110: "squarefree (meta)"

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major announcement: i am very pleased to announce squarefree, a suit of eight freestyle puzzles, most of which have been under construction for the last year, and none of which are square. more information, as well as a link to purchase, can be found at the above link; a sample puzzle from the suite will be posted shortly. both the sample puzzle and today's puzzle will be available at the indie 500 next weekend as well.

as for this week's meta, it's appropriately not square, and the meta answer is a composite squarefree integer; that is, it has no repeated prime factors. send in your answers via email before june 9th for a chance to win the meta prize, which is, unsurprisingly, one copy of squarefree. if you happen to have already purchased it before winning, i'll refund your cost and/or work something else out with you. otherwise, the deadline should give plenty of time to solve, even with travel to washington dc and such.

Monday, May 20, 2019

puzzle 109: "circulating air"

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many thanks to brendan for both the title and the clue for 18-across; otherwise, apologies for this being a bit late. also, some good and bad news. the bad: i've decided to join carla sacramento for a life of crime and thus won't be at the indie 500 in two weeks, though my puzzles will be. the good: next week's puzzle will be a meta, accompanied with an announcement that may or may not be related to the meta.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

puzzle 108: "winning records (freestyle 76)"

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busy week here, and not helped at all by the fact that none of the puzzles in progress cooperated with me. so i dug into my old files and found a puzzle i finished but didn't like the fill in. redid half of it, and now i like it a lot more; here's hoping you like it too. (and here's hoping those other puzzles cooperate with me soon; definitely excited to share those with y'all if and when they do.)

Saturday, May 4, 2019

puzzle 107: "hoofing it"

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kentucky derby today, so whether you're backing horses or just have horses in the back, relax and enjoy a mint julep or three while you play the ponies and/or lil nas x and/or this crossword puzzle.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

puzzle 106: "short waves"

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warning: this puzzle's grid contains elements that cannot be reproduced electronically. i strongly recommend solving on paper for the best experience. at the very least, look at the pdf or read the notepad before solving the puz file.

next: if you want a real challenge, solve this puzzle downs only; i've even provided puz and pdf files with across clues missing for your convenience, if for some reason you enjoy solving puzzles like that.

otherwise, as always, enjoy!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

puzzle 105: "counting stars (freestyle 75)"

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not much to say except that i hope y'all are having a great easter / passover / 420 weekend / whatever you're celebrating, even if (like me) it's just (finally) really good, warm, sunny weather. and, of course, as always, enjoy.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

puzzle 104: "game breakers"

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always fun to try to work in some longer down answers with a straightforward theme, and always fun to try to work in some fresher entries. there was also the aim to, as usual, use as few three letter words as possible; predictably, there's now a lot of four letter words, and i'm finding that the more i do this, the more four becomes the new three. i doubt i'll see myself shunning three and four letter words as much as possible, though, but the balance and feel of it is something to keep in mind for future constructions, i think.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

puzzle 103: "beer money (freestyle 108)"

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was not intending to end up with the giant three by three blocks in the middle of this grid; that's just what happened. a fill existed with fewer squares in those blocks, but i didn't like it as much, and it was much less aesthetically pleasing than this grid.

in any case, some interesting ones in this, including the two seed in opposite corners. as always, enjoy!

Monday, April 1, 2019

puzzle 102: "jestin' time (freestyle 102)"

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this puzzle's seeds were a pair of entries that were cut (and replaced with equally interesting, though slightly less niche answers) from today's universal crossword, which is a collaboration with dallas fletcher as part of the ucerp project. many thanks to david steinberg for starting this project and having me on board; i had a lot of fun collaborating with dallas, and i'm hoping that the project continues to be a thing. i'd certainly love to help out again, and i'd certainly love to collaborate with y'all if you have ideas. in fact, i'd say that some of the best puzzles i've worked on in the last month or so have been collaborations—not just this puzzle, but a collab for queer qrosswords 2, as well as a couple of puzzles that (fingers crossed) will appear in dead tree media in the not too distant future.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

puzzle 101: "chris folds five"

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sorry for the absence of a puzzle last week--between acpt fomo, march madness, and a bunch of other stuff, forgot about it, and by the time i realized it, didn't have time to get a puzzle finished. but making up for it this with with an oversized puzzle, plus another tomorrow to accompany the collaboration that's running via universal crosswords.

this puzzle is being offered in two versions; the clues are identical, but the easy version has some circles that make the theme more obvious to figure out. to avoid spoilers, the version shown below does not contain circles.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

puzzle 100: "los borrachos (freestyle 100)"

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triple digits! feels weird to be typing it out, but hey, i'll take it. and not all of the puzzles have been bad, either. in any case, felt i should celebrate with an oversized puzzle with an appropriate mini-theme; it started at 17x17 before ballooning to 19x19 to accommodate both the stacked seed entries and the nice, longer fill throughout the puzzle.

also: thank you for solving! no matter whether you've been here from the beginning, or this is your first puzzle, it's appreciated. can't do this without you all; i'm looking forward to a lot more puzzles here, and i hope you are too.

other puzzle news: i am looking into all the logistics and legal stuff behind starting a puzzle subscription service strictly for freestyle puzzles. if you have any helpful information, or if you know anybody who does, that'd be greatly appreciated. i would also absolutely love to have collaborators / co-editors for this project; if you're interested in helping out, drop me a line. and, finally, any suggestions for naming this would be appreciated as well.

also: i regret to say that i will not be at acpt this year, but my puzzles will be; feel free to spread the word. in addition, i have some upcoming puzzles in places that aren't this site: nyt on 3/21, minneapolis star tribune and universal on 3/24 (both collabs w/ george barany), and universal on 4/1 (a collab w/ dallas fletcher as part of the ucerp project). really excited for all of these puzzles, and to the other ones with dates to be determined.


Monday, March 11, 2019

puzzle 99: "turn around"

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apologies for the late posting; was out of town all weekend and spent most of it driving. not much to say about this one, other than that the seed entry wasn't the center spanner (as one might think) but actually the last one, though the center one was the one that made me fully commit to finishing this puzzle. as always, enjoy!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

puzzle 98: "heartlifting"

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smaller puzzle for a smaller theme this week; as always, hope you enjoy!

in other crossword news, erik agard dropped a nice freestyle yesterday, and will nediger posted his recap of the best indie puzzles from february. proud to have gotten a nod (for winding numbers) and can say that the rest of the puzzles are just as good (if not better) and well worth solving.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

puzzle 97: "seven and seven (freestyle 53)"

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had some fun making some giant corners with this, though there's also the struggle of finding corners that work opposite the ones you built the grid around. still, lots of sevens here, and hopefully you enjoy a few (or seven) of them. there's quite a few that i like, and a handful of pairs that i find amusing, but i don't want to spoil anything.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

puzzle 96: "winding numbers"

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special solving instructions that are very important: some squares in this grid will be filled with different letters in the across and down directions. when read in the appropriate order, the across letters will spell out an apt shape, as will the down letters. i strongly advocate printing this puzzle out and solving it on paper; the puz file works, but be aware that it is programmed to accept the across answers only, and not the down answers, so it'll be harder to keep track of things, etc.

with that warning out of the way, i'd like to thank everybody who tested this puzzle. as i suspected, it had the potential to be a bit buggy, and indeed there were a few accidental traps due to the possibility of multiple answers. thanks to the test solvers, i cleared some up, but any remaining traps remain accidental, and are all my fault anyhow. but hopefully once you get to the end it's clear which squares are (or are not) part of this puzzle's theme.

otherwise: if it helps, this puzzle was made for the university of iowa's math department newsletter (which, for the first time in over three years, is not run by yrs truly).

Saturday, February 9, 2019

puzzle 95: "time out (freestyle 98)"

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not much to say about this one, other than that i had to include the relevant quote from rex parker after it showed up in the nyt crossword recently. to be fair, the puzzle was constructed and (mostly) clued before that happened; just one of those weird coincidences. still, the quote was too good not to use.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

puzzle 94: "making up ground"

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yet another puzzle inspired by recent(ish) pop culture, though admittedly i haven't seen the series in question yet. not that that will ever stop me from these sorts of puzzles. and, though it doesn't look it, it's certainly got one of the higher average word lengths i've had in awhile. part of that is the fact that only two answers ended up with three letters, and part of that is the theme; still, pleased to work in a few interesting bits of fill, both short and long.

in other crossword news: i recently wrote a detailed description of how i made one of my old puzzles (specifically, this one, in case you want to solve it first, since the description is naturally full of spoilers). i can't claim to speak for all constructors, but i think it's a nice look behind the curtain, especially for newer constructors, and the advice there should hopefully be of use.

also, crossword tournaments are coming up soon: acpt, of course, but the indie 500 and boswords have recently announced their dates as well, with registration to come soon. for various reasons, i almost certainly won't be at acpt this year, but i'd love to have a presence via puzzles. and i'd love to have these puzzles be collaborations—if you have an idea you'd love to work on, hit me up.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

puzzle 93: "ffs"

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the intention was to just make a normal sized puzzle with two seed entries...but once i stumbled across the intersection that's now in the middle of the grid, and realized i had enough entries, sunday(ish) sized it was, even though it ended up as basically two normal sized puzzle stacked on top of each other.

anyway, this puzzle also contains one of my favorite clues that i've written in a long time (and which is most of the reason why that entry was one of the seeds; the other shouldn't be too difficult to figure out).

Saturday, January 19, 2019

puzzle 92: "cutting corners (freestyle 96)"

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you may notice that two corners are cut off from the rest of the puzzle. the short explanation is that that's just what happened after putting in the two seeds and then building around them in the middle. you may also notice that the fill in those two isolated corners is, perhaps, a bit below my usual standards. and you would be absolutely correct, but at the same time there's a mini-theme there. (it's not the first time i've used isolated parts of the puzzle for mini-themes.) could i have done better? probably, but i really wanted to get the first two down answers in there. i wholeheartedly support anybody's attempts to improve it; best revision wins...something. idk. haven't thought that far ahead yet. open to (reasonable) suggestions on that front as well.

all that aside, i'm reasonably pleased with how the main part of the puzzle turned out. i especially like the top stack of tens, though the bottom stack is no slouch either.

finally: does it count as a gratuitous car seat headrest reference if it's a seed entry? key word here being gratuitous; if so, i guess i'm resetting that sign.

Monday, January 14, 2019

puzzle 91: "animal house"

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much like the puzzle from two weeks ago, this one was inspired by current(ish) netflix media and memes and things and what have you. and, for some reason, i felt the need to intersect everything. when will i ever learn that that makes things way harder than they need to be? (don't answer that: we all know that i'll never stop doing that.)

Sunday, January 6, 2019

puzzle 90: "twist and shout"

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more of a freestyle than a themed puzzle today, though i continue to be a sucker for intersecting entries, as the three main ones in this one do.

in other crossword news: erik agard just dropped an amazing freestyle the other day; definitely solve it asap. and: queer qrosswords 2 is happening! more details (and contact info) at the link, but suffice it to say that i'm very excited for this, and have no doubt that the puzzles will be just as fun and inventive as they were last year.

and, finally: the first spyscape puzzle has just come out. it's by david steinberg and edited by yours truly. puzzles will be weekly, which means there will be plenty of opportunities for constructors to be published. if you're interested in contributing, or just want to offer feedback and comments, email me at this link.