Puzzle 40: Freestyle 24. Handcrafted from only the finest letters.

Last Tuesday’s Freestyle 22 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!

This one has a very interesting history to it. The seed for this puzzle, which is the entry you now see at 17-Across, started at 1-Across. I started on my app and put that entry at 1-Across and went to work with manual construction. I had the whole northwest corner down into the west side of the puzzle done, but it just wasn’t coming out like I wanted. I tore it out, went back up into the northwest, tried a few other stacks, but something was just not right. I just wasn’t happy with any of what I came up with. So I did what any rational crossword constructor would do (right…?): I scrapped the app approach and took out a pencil and a sheet of graph paper. The new perspective, as it does in solving, did wonders for my construction. I decided to put the seed answer in the third row, and went to work by hand: I ended up with a completely different block formation and finished the grid by hand in about 3-4 hours.

As will happen with hand construction, the route I took to construct this grid went all over the place. It generally started in the upper left and lower right, and generally ended in the upper right and lower left, but my attention jumped around throughout the construction of the grid. Besides 17-Across, my only other seed was 55-Across. A couple mini-seeds sprang up, of course, as in 11-Down and 60-Across. Also, I gave a couple of shouts to Barcelona, which was my first ever, at 30 years old, trip outside of the United States. (I’d go back again in a heartbeat too.)

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is that 11-Down is actually a trademarked term, not just a widespread nickname.

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!

Puzzle 39: Freestyle 23. Every good puzzle has a definite genesis.

Last week’s Going Numberless solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.46

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!

Why the crossword instead of the variety puzzle today? It’s because I had a seed entry that I really wanted to stick in the puzzle. There’s an unexplainable feeling I get when I see a neat, fresh phrase, whether it be on TV (which was the case here), on a sign, on social media, whatever, realize it’s 15 letters long, then get that subconscious feeling that it just HAS to go into a puzzle right away. This is why I saw it on a Wednesday evening, had the grid and some of the clues done before bed that night, and had the whole thing clued by the next night. However, I didn’t want this puzzle to be a one-entry wonder: I took great care in the corners of this puzzle as well, and I hope that shows through for you, the solver.

After the obvious seed, I started in the bottom right — my original block configuration had just been a straight diagonal from bottom right to upper left with the center square open, but that diagonal morphed into the “plus sign”. Then I discovered the 13-letter entry in my list with the same middle letter as the marquee entry and was ecstatic to be able to make it fit. (This was sort of unusual in that I had the 15 going down the middle and the bottom right done before I even chose the entry across the middle. I still had it as a 15-letter entry going across until I came upon that 13. Usually I’d have the two long entries picked out before I even position the rest of the black squares.) The sequence of construction went bottom right, then upper left, then center entry, then lower left, then upper right.

Do I even have to tell you my favorite thing I learned from this puzzle? Yes, it’s the whole reason I made this puzzle!

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 Tuesday!

Puzzle 38: Freestyle 22. We’re going underground.

Last week’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.39

Before I get to anything else: if you haven’t already, you must, must, must go check out Sam Ezersky’s freestyle offering from 4/6/14. I don’t know how he pulled off the amount of great entries that he did, never mind that it was in a wide-open 66-word grid, never mind that it was all manual filling. This is a gem and I know you will all be as impressed as I am.

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!

From week to week, I usually have a choice of four or five freestyles from my bank to choose from. It’s just whatever strikes my mood that I choose to put up on a week-to-week basis. This time, it was a rather quick turnaround: I just constructed and clued this puzzle, finishing it the day before I’m posting this. There may be some recency bias, I guess you could call it; this came together quickly and I’m very happy with how it came out. There are a lot of clues in this one that I really like, too. I hope you feel the same way after you do this.

The ultimate seed with this one is probably not the one you’d think it is, but 17-Across. Other seeds were 1-Across (obviously), 18-Across, 38-Across, 58-Across, and 32-Down. Obviously the action started in the northwest, went to the middle, then went to the upper right and upper left corners and finished with the lower right. (I could afford to put off the lower right because I had 32-Down and the first 4 letters of 39-Down in place, and thus had a lot of options for 39-Down.)

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is an easy choice: it’s the bit of trivia (well, it’s a little more significant than trivia) at 41-Across. I’m not a history buff by any means, so I didn’t know anything else about the person in the answer besides what most people know about this person. If you didn’t know this about him already, I think you’ll be a little surprised too.

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!

Puzzle 37: Going Numberless 2. We don’t need no stinkin’ clue numbers!

(I know, I know, it’s a misquote of the movie title. I like the way it sounds better, anyway.)

Last week’s Know Your Odds solution

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I’m back with another one of these Going Numberless puzzles. In case you forgot from the first one (it was a while ago), it’s just like a regular crossword with a key difference: the clues aren’t numbered.  I’ve given you two 9×9 grids. In the first one, the clues are in alphabetical order by answer, and in the second one, they’re in alphabetical order by clue. So, I adjusted the difficulty of the clues accordingly from the first puzzle to the second.

As with the first pair of puzzles, I didn’t include any obscure bits of crosswordese or small trivia that no one should reasonably be expected to know. As with all my puzzles, I’m aiming for “tough but fair”, so let me know if you thought it wasn’t one or both of those things.

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

Hit me up by email!

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

Puzzle 36: Freestyle 21. There are no words. (Well, actually, there are a lot of them.)

Last week’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.33

I hope everyone had fun and achieved their goals at the ACPT!

The primary seeds for this puzzle were the two 13-letter entries. 13s and 14s are the neglected lengths mainly because they force your hand with block placement just by virtue of their lengths. They usually force some long downs that have to be stacked together — this puzzle was no exception.

I managed to fit a lot of my originally-intended entries; that’s great for me, because what usually happens is that I get the pipe dream and litter the grid with seed entries, then begrudgingly hold a brief mental funeral for an entry each time I have to take it out. I don’t mind taking out seeds if it just won’t work within the grid, but I’m never happy about having to do it, of course.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is, by far, the whole situation around 38-Down. I learned far, far more about the courtship and mating process of slugs and snails than I ever thought I wanted to know. (It’s actually pretty interesting, I must say.)

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

Hit me up by email!

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

Puzzle 35: Know Your Odds. I’ll BET that you’ll have fun with this one.

Last Friday’s Anagram Crossword 2 solution

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Good luck to all in Stamford competing at the ACPT!

Sometimes, I see a word or a phrase that has a particular strange characteristic, and that’s the impetus for making puzzles like this. For this particular puzzle… that wasn’t the case. I think it just popped into my head — probably in the shower, or something — to see how many long words I could find whose odd-numbered letters also spell a word. (For example, taking every other letter in the word FaLcOnEr, starting at the first letter, spells the word FLOE.) Turns out there were a lot more than I expected, and that was good news to me… that meant that I had a puzzle idea that I could work with.

The puzzle behind the link takes pairs of words like FALCONER and FLOE above and puts them in the context of sentences. I’ve composed 26 such sentences in which two words following the characteristics I’ve described above are missing. Using the contexts of the sentences as clues, the object is to figure out the missing words.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to Freestyle Puzzle 20 will appear there too. But I hope this will tide you over until then.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! Let me know how you did! What did you like? What could I do better? Who knew that she had the goods? If you can get room service in a hotel, do babies get womb service in a uterus? Why was “Titanic” such a high-grossing movie if we all knew how it was going to end?!

As always, share this link! Pass it around!

Puzzle 34: Freestyle 20. Do you know how to Dougie?

Last week’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.60

Before I get into the puzzle, I’d like to wish everyone luck at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford. It is an awesome event by all accounts that I’ve heard. When it was in Stamford before it was in Brooklyn, I actually lived in Stamford — within walking distance of the hotel, actually — for a couple of years. I still live less than three hours’ driving distance away now that it’s back in Stamford. And I’ve told a few people that I might be going. But I have to admit something. I’ll be honest: big social events are not my thing. I can go to a ballgame with someone else, and that’ll be fine for me, because I’m not expected to interact with everyone in the crowd. I can interact one-one or with a small group of people just fine (that’s what I prefer). But a big social event like this one, where everybody’s interacting with everyone else on a big scale, I’m not at all good in those situations. Trust me, it would be one big awkward situation for me. I very much enjoy interacting virtually with all of you through this website, and I have no problem with phone and email conversations and small groups face-to-face; I am, however, very shy by nature and just don’t do well with face-to-face situations with a large number of people. So I know it’ll be a good time (and, let’s be honest, I know who’s gonna win!), but I’m just not cut out for these kinds of events.

OK, on to the puzzle. The primary seed for this puzzle was 17-Across. More often than not, I actually try NOT to put the primary seed entry at 1-Across because, when you’re building a stack or a building, it’s easier to start from the bottom. I say “primary seed”, because I had a few other seeds that I was able to work into this puzzle: 1-Down, 60-Across and 40-Down. 31-Across and 36-Across were not, actually, primary seeds; I got the first three letters in 31-Across, and the last five letters of 36-Across, and decided on those answers only at that point. Construction went from upper left, then through the middle, then to the lower right, and, finally, the upper right and lower left corners I could finish at any time because they were semi-closed off.

A little episode inspired me to include what may seem to you like an innocuous entry at 38-Down: it originated in a text sent by my parents. “Just heard this on the 70’s station. You have to check it out. ‘Crazy Horses’ by the [38-Down].” Well, I did, and, after you solve this puzzle, you should check it out too. SPOILER ALERT: It’s not at all what you’d expect! END SPOILER ALERT

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is the multitude of ways they use to extinguish 37-Downs. I never knew there was such a science to it!

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? What did you think I would do at this moment? Don’t you think radio DJs should be a little more careful that they don’t blend the terminal ‘t’ and the beginning ‘h’ when they say “the biggest hits”? When seasick passengers upchuck over the side of the boat, do you think the fish are all like, “Hey, free food!”?

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