Puzzle 192: Freestyle 160. Hold on, I’m having a moment.

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.31

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The perils of tunnel vision. The last corner to fall into the grid was the upper right. I was SO fixated on including a particular answer in that corner that I considered making various concessions that I would never ordinarily consider (like partials and obscure words) simply to make that entry fit.  I think I was so frustrated because I had the vertical 9-letter stack in place (with that aforesaid entry) and couldn’t believe that there was no fill I could muster up in the horizontal stack. In retrospect, I can’t believe that I spent so long on that before I abandoned that idea; it was a pretty nice entry, but, honestly, it wasn’t one that should have merited breaking my “cruciverbal morals” to include.

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Puzzle 191: Freestyle 159. What a buncha nonsense!

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.39

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The main consternation in the building of this grid occurred in the upper left. Namely, it was the intersection of two entries that I amazingly didn’t notice were dupes. I had gotten well into the cluing when I had the dreaded “uh-oh” moment. How was I ever going to fix this. Unbelievably, the existence of what is now one of the down answers miraculously rescued me from having to tear out a giant section of the grid — probably the entire upper-left stack — after I thought I had completed the whole thing. The crossword gods were on my side, to be sure.

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Puzzle 190: Freestyle 158. So what’s the holdup?

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.42

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Whenever I can interlock more than two entries that are colloquial expressions (i.e. things that people say to each other as complete sayings) like 6-Across, 16-Across, and the seed, 7-Down, I’m happy with myself. Those are my favorite kinds of entries. For some reason, I feel like this grid may play a bit easier than normal, but I think it was because I was in more of a forgiving mood when I clued this. Your mileage may vary, of course — that’s the main reason I generally don’t put any difficulty ratings on these grids.

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Puzzle 189: Freestyle 157. Take it on a case-by-case basis.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.49

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Whenever I have a standard “four-corners” freestyle grid like I do here, I have a hard time letting a section go without including one seed list entry in each section. I mean, there’s no reason not to, right? And, just when I say in the last post that I rarely seed grids at 1-Across or otherwise on the first row, well, here I go with a seed entry at 1-Across! Truth be told, I actually tried that entry in the second row and the third row before I (somewhat reluctantly, actually) put it in the first row. You might notice also that I could have made this 72 very easily — this is the rare time that I had the opportunity to do it and didn’t.

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Puzzle 188: Freestyle 156. Throwing it all into the mix.

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.39

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Consider the unfortunate life of the 14-letter entry. Its mere presence causes entire grids to look odd or out of whack. It forces unwanted three-letter entries. Unless you want an odd-shaped grid, a wide-open grid, and/or weird symmetry, you’re forced to either deal with those issues or not consider 14s at all… or find more creative ways to include them in the grid. You’ll see what I did when you open this grid — stacks of 14-14-15. Yes, it’s an odd look, but it’s the least intrusive, in my opinion, way to get 14-letter entries into 15×15 grid. My 14-letter list in my seed entry list was getting a little long and neglected, so I figured I’d give it a little love.

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Puzzle 187: Freestyle 155. There’s nothing else to say.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.44

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Another example of seeding a stack not at the edge of a grid. I think the numbers would bear it out, but I’d bet that the majority of my seeds don’t occur at the part of the stack along the edge of the grid (here, it’d be 1-Across or 66-Across). The seeds here were at 16-Across and 60-Across. I literally had the upper right section done and the cluing started when I completely changed that section. I’m not usually bothered by this, but it was a down answer repeating a prefix, of all things. Normally, I wouldn’t be really bothered by that, but my eyes kept moving back to that pair of words, so something in my subconscious was telling me to yank one of them out. So I did. I should always trust my subconscious because it turned out that I made that corner a lot better.

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Puzzle 186: Freestyle 154. Get your head around this.

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.39

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My fondness for (well, more like “willingness to use”… not like I long to employ them every chance I get) helper squares is shining through here with the inclusion of three (gasp!) pairs, including (gasp again!) one pair in corners of the grid. That pair was to enable the inclusion of an entry that’s been on my seed list about as long as I’ve had a seed list (1-Down). I know it’s not a debut, but I liked it enough that I made it a point to build a section around it.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better?

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