Puzzle 303: Freestyle 268. Sounds like big trouble.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.42

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I opted for the pinwheel style in constructing this grid. I usually don’t include more than two stacks of longer than 8 letters in a grid, but not here. I don’t know why, in retrospect, because (a) the other two stacks usually end up being 8 letters long, and I keep running low on 8-letter seed entries (hmm, I wonder why), and (b) it allows for more room for color in the grid. 15-Across was the obvious seed entry, and 60-Across was something of a seed entry too (mostly so I could have that clue). 15-Across is all the more reason to hang out with me… you just never know, what you say might end up in one of my crossword grids! (One of the [many?] perks of being friends with me…)

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

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

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Puzzle 302: Freestyle 267. Don’t take this lying down…

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.43

Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!

I started with 62-Across as the ultimate seed, and, after I got the stack I liked in the lower right, boy, did I get lucky. I don’t normally like 7-letter or longer entries significantly overlapping with the main stacks, but I had to do it to make that southeast corner work. That usually means trouble for the opposite stack, because you have a harder empty canvas now to work with, but that luckily didn’t prove to be too much of an obstacle this time.

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

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

Puzzle 301: Freestyle 266. It’s good to know the value of a dollar.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.31

Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!

Look, a grid without 11-stacks! Sorry, I’ve had a lot of those lately. But grids like these, which I also keep coming back to, are the reason that the 8-letter portion of my seed list is always short. Whenever I get a 7- or 8-letter entry worthy of being a seed, I admit I get inordinately excited for what it is. I have to restrain myself sometimes from letting out a little audible yelp.

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

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

Puzzle 300: Freestyle 265. Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.39

Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!

So this was the grid I was cluing during the New Orleans airport debacle last weekend. Yes, I ran it through the test solvers, so I’m very confident there are no mistakes. But any general wackiness or weirdness you may find, you can blame on my working on these anywhere from midnight to 6:00 am.

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

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

Puzzle 299: Freestyle 264. Why don’t you ask me?

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.39

Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!

There’ve been a lot of 11-stack grids recently, with a few more to come in the near future. And this is coming from someone who once said that 11-stacks would be pretty sparse because of the 3-letter words they create. I guess a lot of the seeds (like 18-Across and 50-Across) that have popped into my head lately just happened to have been 11 letters long. Believe it or not, 16-Across was not a seed — I sheepishly admit that it wasn’t even in my word list as I began that puzzle. I don’t know how I found that that worked as a stack above 18-Across, but I did.

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

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

Puzzle 298: Freestyle 263. Keep your elbows off the table!

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.25

Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!

The other night, we got stuck at New Orleans International Airport on our way back up home from a wedding. Our flight was delayed to the point that we would have missed our connecting flight, so they bumped us to the next morning. I did not sleep a wink, but it was very productive on the crossword front. I got a lot of clues written (not for this particular grid, though). What I also did was keep a running tally of notes from my night in and around the airport…

  1. There are only so many distinct versions of “When the Saints Go Marching In” that one can stand.
  2. Oh good, there’s a flight arriving from Las Vegas at 1:05 am. From one place of serious debauchery to another. It’ll be good to see evidence of life forms every now and again.
  3. The TSA limits containers of liquids, gels, or aerosols to 3.4 ounces or less. I know this because I literally heard this announcement every ten minutes and damn near got it memorized. Did you also know that smoking and vaping are only allowed outside in designated areas?
  4. We were in the same cushy chairs at Gate B4 for so long that surprisingly accurate buttprints formed on the cushions.
  5. Those chairs, I propose, should get plaques on the back of them reading “Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport Southwest Airlines Gate B4 Seats Generously Endowed By Tim and Christine Croce”.
  6. “Buttprint” doesn’t pass spellcheck? Come on.
  7. It’s a bad sign when you see that the TV monitors that display the information for the next departing flight at each gate have all gone into screen saver mode.
  8. Speaking of bad signs… the last gate agent to leave for the night just told us “goodnight, y’all”.
  9. There’s a real website called sleepinginairports.com. Really.
  10. Bad sign (literally) #3: I just walked under the “Welcome to New Orleans” airport sign for the second time in a single visit.
  11. The damn chairs in the airport lobby just had to be all modernistic and curvy, did they? I couldn’t sleep if I tried, because I can’t find a five-foot long stretch of couch to lay on anyway without being forced to manipulate my body into a very uncomfortable shape looking like some Arabic letter.
  12. It’s hard to count the distinct number of steps in a rotating escalator belt. I’m trying though.
  13. I’m so glad that Tanya was able to locate the rest of her party at Baggage Claim 3. I was getting worried there for a second.
  14. There have to be a very specific set of circumstances that come together for one to be able to successfully go streaking in an international airport without being arrested, and I’m hitting, like, 85% of them. That’s probably as close as I’ll ever come.
  15. There’s a 5:50 am flight to Tegucigalpa from here, via Atlanta. This is probably the only time I have ever researched flights from New Orleans to Tegucigalpa. On that note, I wonder if there are any flights from Albuquerque to Tegucigalpa. That’s a lot of letters.
  16. By God, there are! Not direct. Only one stop, though!
  17.  For the record, I checked — Tegucigalpa is the city with the most fun name for which service is offered from this airport. I consider this an objective statistic.
  18. I wonder what the shortest route (time-wise) you could possibly take from one city to another via airports so that the cities you land in, combined, contain all the letters of the alphabet. This is not, however, a calculation to perform at 1:30 am. Any intrepid and/or bored folks out there wanna give it a shot?
  19. I thought that an airport terminal after all flights had left was the most depressing place I could be… until we were sitting at an IHOP across from an airport at 2:00 am. If there were betting on “depressing places” like there were betting at the horse races, I’d’ve hit the exacta.
  20. I wonder what sort of series of life choices has led one to display on the wall of a restaurant a framed “IHOP ‘n GO Program Certificate of Completion”.
  21. Banana and Nutella crepes, since you asked. I assume you asked. Delicious. Not sure if it was 2am delicious or regular delicious, but does it matter at this point?
  22. Airport cops on Segways. So that’s really a thing.
  23. Airport beignets? Hmm… interesting.
  24. So I just saw the same cop pass us on his Segway literally four times in the last five minutes. I’m beginning to think he’s just doing laps around the airport with the Segway for fun because he can. I don’t blame him either… would you?
  25. Am I considering airport beignets? Really? Nnnnnaahhhhh.
  26. So… is it too late for me to enroll in a police academy so I can ride a Segway in an airport for fun?
  27. It’s 4:00 am, and I just passed through the same TSA checkpoint for the second time in twelve hours. Would it have crossed the line to throw a “How’s the wife and kids? Long time, no see” in there? It’s harder to read TSA agents than it is to pull a tooth from an angry lion, and the results of asking a TSA agent a smart-alecky question might be very similar.
  28. Our new flight isn’t going from the beloved Gate B4 (it’s B8, in case you’re keeping score at home), but I walked by B4 and actually checked the seats we were sitting in for 6½ hours. Yup, the buttprint is still there. My legacy is complete.

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

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

Puzzle 297: Freestyle 262. Keeping the flow going.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!

Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.39

Have something you wanna say? Got a question? Want to do a guest freestyle? Want to collaborate on a freestyle? Want to just say hello? Hit me up by email!

No mystery here — 1-Across is where this grid began. I didn’t feel like doing a 7×7, so I put in (gasp!) a helper square and made it a 7-8-8 stack. Not only that, I made the other two stacks 7-8-8 as well by putting in (double gasp!) another pair of helper squares! (Perish the thought…)

As you might have surmised, the entries I tend to favor as fresher are phrases that people say over entries that you can find in the dictionary. I mean, it’s no surprise why, because I get a lot of seed entries, as I’ve said before, by keeping my ears open in conversations.

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

Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.

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