Puzzle 22: Freestyle 14. En garde!

Last Tuesday’s Freestyle 12 solution

Last Wednesday’s Freestyle 13 solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.31

Before I get to anything else, you might have noticed (and if you didn’t, feel free to notice now) that there’s a new independent crossworder among the ranks. Go now and check out Lena Webb, and I know you will not be disappointed! You’ll find some very interesting reads there to go along with the cruciverbal exploits.

Well, back to the “normal” schedule, I suppose. Not a normal shape to this puzzle, though. But I can explain: this was intended to be a triple-10-stack without longer vertical answers in the corners, but my seeds dictated otherwise. I was fortunate enough to have two 10-letter seeds (13-Across and 17-Across) that I discovered that I could stack, so, instead of forcing anything, I split up the stacks in the upper left and lower right and took out a pair of blocks in the other corners to be able to fit another couple of good entries there. I had to count it several times just to make sure it was at 72 words; it doesn’t really look like it is upon first glance.

Besides 13- and 17-Across, I actually had three other seeds: 44-Across and 60-Across and 10-Down. The mini-seeds at 27-Down, 55-Across, 46-Down, and 24-Across came about during construction. Also, I hope you like the clues for 25-Across and 16-Across, because I particularly liked them myself (if I can toot my own horn for a bit).

Not that I’m particularly concerned with aesthetics, but I think here’s an example of how adding a pair of “cheater” squares can actually enhance the visual look of the grid: it actually looks like a couple of swords pointing into the corners. (There’s a “cross swords”/”crosswords” pun in there somewhere.) I had to add that pair for construction reasons, of course, but that is an extra little thing that pops out to me.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is that 10-Down won a Grammy for that album: I’ve liked this musician’s work for a while now, and I didn’t know that that album, or any in this musician’s discography, won a Grammy.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? One never knows, does one, when love comes along? Do S&M clubs appreciate the song “You Always Hurt the One You Love”? Did you hear the one about the cannibal who passed his brother in the woods?

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

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Puzzle 21: Two For One. Can you arrange this for me?

Last Friday’s Vowelless Word Search solution

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This is an anagram puzzle where the answers are right in front of you… sorta. I’ve composed 25 sentences with two consecutive words missing. Those two consecutive words are, together, an anagram of one of the other words somewhere else in the sentence. I’ve provided an example in the PDF, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

If you like this puzzle, something tells me you’ll like these puzzles from Todd McClary’s website.  Check out all the puzzles, but the ones I’m referring to are called “Rice Milk”. They’re in the form of a limerick (hence the title); you have to find the two missing words/phrases, which are anagrams of each other.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answers to Freestyle Puzzle 12 and Freestyle Puzzle 13 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 do you need, who do you love, when you come undone? If you’re a nudist, is there any place where the sun don’t shine? When you’re writing an essay about craft beer, does it start with the first draft?

As always, share this link! Pass it around!

Puzzle 20: Freestyle 13. Does something stick out to you in this puzzle?

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.43

Perhaps, by now, you’ve figured out why I’m posting another crossword today after the one yesterday. It’s because (spoiler alert if you haven’t done it yet; highlight to read text) I had this puzzle ready to go, but the extraordinary events of the Super Bowl and the way my beloved New England Patriots won, coupled with the realization that SUPER BOWL XLIX and MALCOLM BUTLER had the same number of letters, meant that I just had to create a puzzle to commemorate the occasion (end spoiler alert).

The unusual configuration of this puzzle owes to a couple of 12-letter seed entries that I wanted to put into this puzzle. 12-letter entries sometimes force the constructor into a multitude of 3-letter answers, which I don’t want to do; I don’t think you’ll ever see me put a 12-letter entry in the fourth row or column. But those two 12s were in a list of seed entries that I keep as a note on my phone; I couldn’t just leave them be, right?

This time, I actually had three seed entries from that aforementioned list: the two 12s at 22-Across and 47-Across, as well as 33-Down. There was a mini-seed at 10-Down; it had made its way into my word list while on a OneLook.com excursion (yes, I have some of those from time to time), but I most certainly did not expect it to work when I laid it in there. That was the last section I constructed in this puzzle, and I had already gone through several unsuccessful options in that area. 62-Across was also a mini-seed for the bottom-right corner.

This puzzle comes in at 70 words, but I had a couple of opportunities to make it 72, which you’ll see from the grid; whenever I’m at 70, though, I’m almost always unwilling to make it 72 if the addition of a pair of blocks would add 4 three-letter words to the grid. I’ll only do it when there’s no other option and the fill would get really ugly otherwise.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is the quote at 21-Across (yeah, not much in terms of trivia here, which I suppose may be a good thing)… it obviously amused me such to the point that I had to use it in the clue.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? How come I can’t tell the free world from a living hell? Can a hipster’s car run on coconut oil? Does Mr. Peanut live a double life as a pimp and just forget to take off his costume for his day job?

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

Puzzle 19: Freestyle 12. Dancing sharks not included.

Last week’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.19

You may wonder why I use the term “freestyle” instead of “themeless” to describe my puzzles, and this is a prime example. There is a sort of a theme running through this… not strong enough to make a true themed puzzle, but strong enough that I can’t call this “themeless”. I think it more accurately describes the process of creating this kind of puzzle… “themeless” brings to mind, for me, the image of a rudderless ship out adrift.

I definitely want to mention that there will be another freestyle puzzle posted tomorrow, for reasons that you may see upon solving this puzzle; also, I have a variety offering that I want to post this Friday.

You may notice that there’s a slightly lower mean word length than what I’ve been posting lately — which means more black squares (38) than normal — and there’s a good reason for that, which you’ll find out by doing this puzzle. There was a definite need to place all of those black squares exactly where they are, instead of having a bit of freedom to move a lot of them around.

I definitely don’t have to tell you what the seeds for this puzzle were; I didn’t really have any mini-seeds in the construction process. It’s not at all that the fill was all forced into place, but I had to be just a bit less “freewheeling” with the fill than with my other offerings.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle was definitely the fact in the clue at 6-Down. The natural world is so fascinating to me.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? What do you want from me when I just want to restart? Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? Do you ever get the sinking feeling that all of your friends are beginning to believe that you’re an android?

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

Puzzle 18: Vowelless Word Search. Solve the puzzle, but you can’t buy a vowel.

Last Friday’s Freestyle 16 solution

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To switch it up here, I did a simple word search here. Wait… simple? No, not really. I can’t just do a straightforward word search, can I? Of course not. Behind this link is a word search, but my change-up is that I’ve taken out all of the vowels! I hid 65 world capitals in this word search, but I took out all the vowels beforehand and confined it to only those with four or more consonants and those that didn’t contain a Y. Also, including a word list would have defeated the point; the puzzle is not only to find the disemvoweled capitals, but also to figure out which ones are in the puzzle in the first place.

I know I’ve succeeded in creating a challenging puzzle when I showed it to Christine on the computer screen, and she just sighed one of those “you’re a mad scientist” sighs and shook her head. Yes, I think this ranges on the difficult side. But I hope you find it challenging but fair.  After all, my satisfaction in creating puzzles is not to stump people, but to only provide enough of a resistance so that there is a sense of satisfaction in solving the puzzle when that resistance is overcome.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to Freestyle Puzzle 11 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? Does it ever drive you crazy just how fast the night changes? Why do we drive on a highway, but get high on a driveway? If you eat at an expensive Mexican restaurant, will that make you expel premium gas?

As always, share this link! Pass it around!

Puzzle 17: Freestyle 11. Snow time like the present!

Last Tuesday’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!

Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 71
Mean word length: 5.75

I’d like to express B I G thanks to Sam Ezersky for shouting out my puzzle from last Friday. I highly recommend that you do two things on this page: do his very cool freestyle puzzle, and, when you’re done with it, read his notes on the construction of that puzzle. It’s a very nice anatomy of the thought process that goes into constructing a freestyle puzzle. Well done!

As I’m writing this, there is a travel ban for all non-essential traffic in the state of Massachusetts due to a major winter storm. There is not, thank goodness, a ban on all web traffic in Massachusetts, though… so I feel safe in posting this today without being ticketed.

As you can see by the odd-numbered word count, I stretched this one to 16×15 again to fit the answer in the middle. Constructing a 16×15 while still keeping the word count under 72 is, as I’ve said before, a bit more difficult to do — more difficult than you’d think for just adding one column — so I only do it when there’s a 16 that I really really want to put in a puzzle. It was a little easier, actually, that I had two vertical 15s in this puzzle, because it enabled me to close off the corners a little more and still keep the word count down; I didn’t originally plan on having those 15s, but it worked out better with them than without.

The major seed for this puzzle, obviously, was 37-Across; I didn’t need to tell you that. Other seeds were 1-Across and 16-Across. They were going to go in the upper left stack no matter what, once I discovered that they fit well together. The 15s weren’t really mini-seeds, because they only happened to be one of a few that fit the pattern when I took out the pair of blocks to make them 15s. Same with 34-Across… it was one of only a few that fit in that particular spot as I was constructing it. Yes, 60-Across was a mini-seed… other than that, I didn’t really have any others.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle was that the company in 13-Down made military trucks as well as what I knew them for.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? Is it any wonder I’m tired? Did Dr. Watson ever say, “Wassup, Holmes”? Wouldn’t you like to hear an all-ukulele Nirvana cover band called the Grass Kurts?

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

Puzzle 16: Freestyle 10. Do you feel the pressure?

Last week’s Wordominoes solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.39

I interrupt my regularly-scheduled variety puzzle to bring you this late-breaking crossword. No, seriously, I had a variety puzzle planned out for this week (you’ll see it next week), but events recent to this puzzle prompted me to make this one special. Why? Because… reasons. You’ll see upon doing the puzzle.

The seed for this puzzle was obvious. It’s the reason I broke out of my normality and did an 11-stack… it was because I had to. Heck, it’s the reason I’m posting a crossword puzzle today instead of the usual variety puzzle. This one actually wasn’t too bad to fill manually, considering it was an 11-stack… perhaps it was because I started at the bottom? I felt like the seed entry was better suited as a starting point where it was, so I started there. That actually wasn’t the only seed in this puzzle… 12-Down was as well, because I found it fascinating that those things actually exist now. The mini-seeds were 51-Across and, in turn, 28-Down. 51-Across was the reason I had to break up the stacks in the lower left and upper right; I’d originally planned them as triple 10-stacks, but I constructed the lower right first, which forced me to put that block in to break up the stack. With that kind of answer, tho, I’m happy to break a stack like that.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle was a tie: as I said above, that the thing at 12-Across actually exists, and that 51-Across actually wrote a book… which was called THAT. Just the phrase “mint guy” in a book title is enough to make it hilarious. Plus, I knew the factoid at 22-Down, but I just had to include it as a clue… crazy fact, right?

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses? When you go to the eye doctor’s office, have you ever tried to pronounce the rows in the eye chart as though they were single words? Have you ever been befriended by a rogue band of five-legged squirrels?

As always, share this link! Pass it around! New freestyle, as usual, on Monday!