Category Archives: Crosswords

Puzzle 389: Freestyle 349. I’m not far behind.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.51


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Sometimes the source of a clue stems from personal ignorance of the clue writer themself. That was the case with 7-Down. I myself wondered what that title meant and never was curious enough to look it up until I had occasion to. The fact that “I need a crossword clue” is the only occasion that would trigger that thought in this case is funny enough as far as I’m concerned…


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 388: Freestyle 348. It’s good enough for me…


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 68
Mean word length: 5.71


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For some reason, it tickles me when I get to use a bit of hoary old crosswordese in a clue (not that I’d ever try to use one in a grid). Believe me, I look for opportunities to do it, too. I don’t force them in, but I’ll seize the opportunity whenever it arises. In this grid, I got to use the old standby Atli in the clue for 22-Across.

This grid has a 68-word count, but it didn’t feel like 68 constructing it. I guess that’s good news because I feel like that’s just more confirmation that construction went unusually smoothly. I could have put in two pairs of blocks that would have made construction ridiculously smooth, but it wouldn’t have been as snappy of a result.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 387: Freestyle 347. Pick a side, will you?


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.36


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Another unusual instance of interlocking long answers and having triple stacks in the same grid. This wasn’t too bad, because the long answers came after the stacks this time, I confess. It’s a little unusual for the longest answers not to be the seed answers… not that there isn’t a sparkle to the long answers because of that, though. Don’t worry about that.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 386: Freestyle 346. Won’t you stay for a little while?


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 66
Mean word length: 5.67


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Another one where I actually found it easier to remove a pair of black squares and increase the word count by two. The pair was in the lower right and upper left, splitting 18- and 53-Across in half. It wasn’t working in the lower right corner, and sometimes you have to try to make it work by giving the counterintuitive way a shot. To my mild surprise, and relief (I wasn’t about to take out the whole right-hand stack), it worked.


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 385: Freestyle 345. You’ve got to focus.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.44


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!


If I’m interlocking a few long answers, as I am with two 15s, two 11s, and two 10s in this grid, I don’t usually include stacks on top of all that. And I could have even avoided it by shortening what are now 29- and 49-Across by two letters and taking out a pair of black squares elsewhere. But it all worked out and I even got to leave in a couple of nods, one to my favorite TV show (“Seinfeld” at 29-Down) and one to my favorite band (it’s one of the other long answers… do you know which answer and what band?).


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Thanks as always to the test solvers for their input.


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Puzzle 384: Freestyle 344. I’m guilty as charged.


Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.39


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Can I just go on a little non-grid-related bit of discourse here on modern language? This is a good place to talk about language, isn’t it?

I don’t know why people take issue with “No problem” in response to “Thank you”. Well, I do know why, actually… I’ve read the opinion pieces about it, and I remain frankly unconvinced. When you say “Thank you”, you mean, “I know it was a (however slight or significant) inconvenience and I appreciate your going out of your way to do me a favor.” And when the response comes “No problem”, it means “It was no problem”, as in “No, it was actually not an inconvenience and I was happy to help you.” It doesn’t mean, “Your request was problematic, but I dealt with it anyway.” The “problem” in “no problem” refers to the potential inconvenience that the requester was concerned about, not to the request itself.

This is typical in today’s culture of looking way too much into people’s words at the expense of their intentions. “No problem” has the same intention and conveys the same message as “You’re welcome”: “I was happy to do it for you.” It is a formula of politeness… nothing more. That “no problem” is an expression used mainly by the millennial generation and younger just makes this whole attitude seem like another petty way to complain needlessly about something else those annoying millennials do, another little sneering “this is why my generation is better than your generation” potshot.

I don’t care if someone replies to my “Thanks” with “You’re welcome”, “No problem”, “No worries”, “Sure”, “You got it”, “Don’t sweat it”, “Any time”… or even with a thumbs-up, a tongue click, a wink, or a smile and nod! Each one of those responses is a genuine acceptance of thanks. Complaining about how someone acknowledges your thanks smacks of being picky and — fancy the irony — ungrateful.

Language evolves. End of story. I thought that’s why we’re all here doing these puzzles, no?


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Puzzle 383: Freestyle 343. Don’t kill the messenger.


Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.57


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Without giving too much away, I intentionally selected these two intersecting grid spanners with an unusual feature. It’ll be obvious once you solve it, I think, and it’s not that great of a construction feat per se, but it’s definitely unusual.


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 Tuesday!