Puzzle 254: Freestyle 219. Crack before using.

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.46

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Nothing much to say about this one, really. Never quite had to use a zigzag block pattern in the middle of a grid like I did here… obviously, I had to do some crazy things to get the upper left corner to work without having to rely on some ugly stuff. Eh, whatever makes it work, I don’t care.

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.

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Puzzle 253: Freestyle 218. I’m giving you the option.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.33

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Welcome to Friday! This is a case of real life manifesting itself in the crossword grid yet again. At a family Easter party, several of my family, including my wife, discovered (trust me, this isn’t spoiling anything in the grid) the entry at 12-Down and became extremely entertained by them. So, isn’t it obvious what I was going to do when that was going on? Put it in a grid, of course. Believe it or not (well, believe it… what, do you think I’d lie to you?), it actually wasn’t the starting point of the grid — 16-Across was. But I was going to find a spot for 12-Down in this grid no matter what.

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 252: Freestyle 217. Back to the grind.

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 68
Mean word length: 5.50

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I had an 11-letter entry that I wanted to use as a seed, but I didn’t want yet another 11-stack-in-the-corners grid. Solution? Stagger some 11s stairstep-style in the middle. 30-Across was the seed, but I was pleasantly surprised that 33-Across, my secondary seed, actually worked stacked underneath it. Usually when you get two entries that you’re surprised can stack, the third entry below it ends up blah, but that wasn’t the case either.

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 251: Freestyle 216. It’s a watershed moment.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.33

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 admit I got pretty lucky in a little section of this grid. After I did the lower left, which was where I started to construct, I had the 8-stack in the upper left formed and had continued around to the upper right corner when I had an “uh-oh” moment. I typically get all the stacks done in formations like this grid before I descend upon the middle, but I realized that, with the first four letters of 29-Across fixed, I didn’t have a fill that worked for the left-center section! A moment of panic ensued where I thought I might have had to rework the whole upper half I’d just redone when I uncovered another entry that fit that pattern and, thankfully, worked in context. Relief suddenly washed over me. (Maybe I take things too seriously sometimes around here?)

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 250: Freestyle 215. Level with me, will you?

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.54

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 don’t usually do this type of thing on this site, but an entry in one of last week’s New York Times crosswords — at 1-Across — reminded me of something I want to talk about. Namely, the entry was “man up”. Right off the bat, I want to make it clear that I’m not saying that this entry shouldn’t be in the New York Times grid, or any other publicly published grid, or any independent grid; I’m just telling you why it’s not in my word list and why you’ll never see it in any of my grids.

I honestly cringe whenever I read it or hear anyone say “man up!” Men are dying earlier than women on average, much earlier, and no small part of that is that societal attitude summed up in the motto “man up”. It equates being a man with growing thick skin, putting up a “tough” exterior and dealing with pain — any kind of pain — stoically, without complaint. But that attitude does more harm than good. For physical pain, men are not going to the doctor as much because of that “man up” attitude; thus, their ailments tend to go undetected before it’s too late and (a) they die from those ailments, or (b) those ailments debilitate them to the point where their quality of life is considerably less than average. You see it all the time in sports… it took how long before concussions were taken seriously in pro sports? “Just shake it off! This is a man’s game!”

The mental pain is an equally serious concern, though. Men die by suicide three (or more, depending on in what area) times as often as women in the western world, even though women, by all accounts, have suicidal thoughts more than men do. Why? Because “man up” means that you’ve got to be tough, you’ve got to power through, it’s “unmanly” to show any weakness or vulnerability of emotion. Getting help for mental illness, when you constantly hear “man up”, belies that image, whether that’s the intention or not. It’s “weak” to seek mental help, because that would be admitting that your emotional state isn’t up to where it should be. Mental health issues aren’t a matter of pride. And that’s all unfortunate and very, very wrong. Don’t ever feel that it’s not okay to seek help, don’t ever feel too proud to ask for help, because it could save your life.

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 249: Freestyle 214. It’s a tall order.

Last Friday’s freestyle solution

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Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.33

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!

This is another great example of the great benefit of test solving. I was wishy-washy about an original entry at 33-Across but was willing to keep it. A couple of comments from the test solvers, however, gently nudged me over the edge to change it. It ended up changing 17 entries in the grid in all, but it was worth it to me. That entry, which will go unnamed, has also been expunged from the word list. I ended up feeling a lot better that that entry was gone from the grid.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate!

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 248: Freestyle 213. I’ve got nothing to hide.

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!

If I triple-stack entries 8 letters long or longer, I don’t usually have an answer directly adjacent to it that’s longer than half the grid. But that’s what I had to do here out of necessity. I started at the bottom, with what’s now 51-Across split into two and what’s now 28/44-Down all one. But I’m stubborn — I liked that stack too much to scrap it. I got a little lucky that the downs in the middle that intersected the stack worked out.

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!