Puzzle 587: Freestyle 529. I really appreciate it.


Last Friday’s Double Shifts solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.19


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You know that I don’t generally care about block placement and how it looks, but this one was all about the block placement and the visual effect from it. The only time I changed any blocks was the pair of singlets in the 4th and 12th row. I moved it back and forth among three spots depending on how the stack I was working on in the upper left was working. The hardest parts to construct by far were the upper right/lower left, which was a byproduct of my not wanting to have a whole boatload of 3-letter entries.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 586: Freestyle 528. Lovely day for a stroll.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.40


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Funny how the tiniest tweaks can make me feel so much better about a grid. There were two entries in this grid that I didn’t have in the original completed grid. Admittedly, they weren’t even in my word list (though they should have been), so I didn’t even think about them. I was ok with the original entries, but changing them was SO much better.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 585: Double Shifts. Shift into another gear.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Happy Fourth to all my American solvers, and Happy Friday to everyone else! You can do lots of interesting stuff with anagrams, as you know, and as you know that I know. The reason this is called “Double Shifts” is because the principle of this puzzle is manipulating words twice. In this case, I’m taking common two-word phrases, anagramming each one of them, and replacing the anagrams with synonyms. The example I gave inside is DIVINITY SPUD: I took “dog treat”, anagrammed the words to “god” and “tater”, and changed them to their respective synonyms “divinity” and “spud”. It was harder than you think to find two-word phrases in which (a) both of the words have anagrams, and (b) the anagrams themselves each have rock-solid synonyms. The difference between the Easier and Harder versions is simple: the Easier version contains the lengths of each word in the object phrases, and the Harder version does not.

I never underestimate my solvers, and I don’t usually arrange by difficulty, but be forewarned: the last few of these are tough as nails. I will be very duly impressed with anyone who gets all of these, but I know you all are up for the challenge.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 584: Freestyle 527. Let’s see some action.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.31


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Outside of the central stack, one of the seed entries is seeing the light of day after being in my seed list for almost as long as I’ve had this site — 59-Across. I’ve probably had opportunity to use it before, but passed over it for some reason or another. I mean, it was in my list because I really liked it, and I obviously still like it enough. Things happen sometimes, I guess.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 583: Freestyle 526. If you want something done, do it yourself.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.22


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Way off-topic, but I feel like I have to say this. Father’s Day was this past Sunday, and it’s been on my mind.

I saw an ad for diapers that showed a dad on the box. My first innate reaction was surprise. It wasn’t surprise that a dad was changing a diaper, it was surprise that an ad was showing a dad changing a diaper. In 2020, surprise should not be the innate reaction in a scenario like that. Advertisers, I know it seems like it’s so hard — you have to hit Ctrl-F to find-and-replace in your scripts, and I know that’s so much effort — but there is no reason that you cannot change “mom” to “parent” in your ads. It is not required that you are a female parent to know what diaper, what cereal, what juice, what frozen premade chicken dinner, what peanut butter, whatever, is best for your kids. All you hear in ads is “moms agree”, “moms know”, “as a mom”, “mom-approved”, “hard-working moms”, but substitute “parent” for “mom” and all those phrases are just as applicable, yes? Dads can do all those things, shockingly enough.

Good dads know just as well as good moms what’s best for their children. Dads can have it all too. Dads’ opinions matter just as much as moms’. It doesn’t make you feel too good when your opinions are disregarded, does it? So why do you do it to millions of good dads everywhere in one fell swoop time after time?

When you deliberately exclude dads from the conversation for anything but “get your dad a drill!” ads around Father’s Day, you are displaying nothing but ignorance. You are making good, conscientious dads like us tune out of your ads immediately. And you are further shaping the untrue but widely held public opinion that dads are the afterthought in raising their own children. You don’t see how that might be frustrating to us?

Sorry I don’t have anything crossword-related to say.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 582: Freestyle 525. Wipe the slate clean.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.36


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It’s no secret that I miss sports. Well, it may have been a secret to you, but if it was, it isn’t anymore. They’re coming back slowly and slowly, thank goodness. I may not have entirely meant from the start to include three sports-related entries among the longest answers in this grid, but they probably slipped into the grid somehow through my subconscious anyway.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 581: Freestyle 524. Don’t get testy with me.


Last Friday’s Wordominoes solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.39


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It’s not often that my seed isn’t a single answer, but a stack of two answers. To my great delight, I worked it out in my head that 1-Across and 14-Across stacked pretty well… and that pretty much shaped the whole grid. Not that this would give anything away, but I did, during construction of the grid, get another seed, 13-Down, from an episode of “Bob’s Burgers” that I was watching. Knowing the show won’t give you a leg up on knowing the answer, so that’s why I’m telling you here.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 580: Freestyle 523. It’s just what I do.


Last week’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.42


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First thing I have to do is to beg for forgiveness here. I lost track of days somehow, and that’s why you don’t see a big staggered stack in the middle even though it’s Tuesday. I hope you’ll forgive me just this once. All these days are blending together anyhow.

I might say that it feels exponentially easier to do a construction when the longest stack is reduced to a double from a triple, like it is here. I say every time that I don’t know why I don’t do it like this every time, but I don’t think it’s really that simple. It’s more like a case-by-case basis.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 579: Wordominoes 9. Give it a whirl!


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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I’ve said it more than once before, and I’ll say it again. These are really fun to construct. They organically develop from a seed entry (cage #2 in this case) more naturally than a regular crossword because there’s nowhere for answers to hide — there are no black squares and each letter, in each square, is a part of three answers. It’s a veritable tapestry made of letters.

If you’re relatively new here, and you like what you solve, you can follow this link here to get all my previous Wordominoes grids.


Thanks so much to all who’ve left a tip! It’s much appreciated, believe me.


Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 578: Freestyle 522. Absolutely fascinating!


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!


Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.25


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I’m learning to love the 13-15-13 stack in the middle, now that I’m not afraid of the long intersecting down answer. Much as I usually don’t care about aesthetics in my grids, I really don’t want the Utah-shaped (three on top of two) or the stairstep chunks of blocks (3/2/1) in these grids. Well, actually, it’s less for aesthetic reasons and more that it takes up a big chunk of my block count in a small space. I’m not going over 39 blocks in a 72-word grid — it may seem like an arbitrary number, but I have to draw the line somewhere. 40 blocks and 72 entries, to me, is where it starts to seem like you’re making too much of a sacrifice.


Thanks so much to all who’ve left a tip! It’s much appreciated, believe me.


Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


As always, share this link! Pass it around! New puzzle on Friday!