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

Last Friday’s Anagram Crossword 2 solution

Get the PDF here!

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!

Advertisements

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

Last week’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!

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!

Puzzle 33: Anagram Crossword 2. All mixed up with somewhere to go.

Last Friday’s Word Worms solution

Get the PDF here!

Get the PUZ here!

Since there was some good positive feedback about my first Anagram Crossword (try it if you’ve missed it!), I decided to bring back the concept for another go-around. Since that last one, I’ve added quite a bit of words to the anagram wordlist, so I worked with a more expanded vocabulary that certainly made it easier for me to construct. I constructed this puzzle to have a little better flow than the last one (the 5×3 corners in the upper right and lower left are a little closed off, but that’s it) to make it less likely that solvers would get stuck.

You’ll see that I included a couple of longer — 11-letter, to be exact — entries here. Honestly, it was an excuse to throw in a longer anagram that amused me more than mildly (not because it’s apt — at least I don’t think it’s apt — just that it was funny that the anagrams worked out). I also threw in a few more “tricky” clues than in the last one, but I still think I’ve kept it fair and eminently solvable.

I’ll be back with another freestyle crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to  Freestyle Puzzle 19 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? Have you seen your mother, baby, standing in the shadow? Would a parrot start to stutter if you kept it in an echo chamber? Wouldn’t it be fun to see downhill slalom skating at the Olympics?

As always, share this link! Pass it around!

Puzzle 32: Freestyle 19. Things are piling up.

Last week’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!

Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.57

A triple stack puzzle, finally! Many of my published late-week New York Times puzzles have been triple stacks, so I figured it was about time for one on the website. I started on the bottom, because that’s the easiest way, I find, to construct a triple stack with manual fill. Once I had a stack that worked, I jumped to the top to take care of the top stack. The middle was a bit tricky to fill — you can tell partly because I threw in a pair of “cheater” squares (I hate that term, but that’s the term we use, so…) — in fact, I actually had a harder time with the middle than the triple stacks.

I’m particularly happy with the clues I came up with for 16-Across, 34-Across, 1-Down, 29-Down, and 32-Down. I had a fun time cluing this grid… well, I always have fun cluing, but this was particularly so. The issue has come up before with words in answers duplicating words in clues, and I don’t think it’s such a big deal to do it. Some may consider it inelegant, and that’s fine, but it’s my philosophy that if I like a clue, and it’s original, I’m using it no matter what. As long as the answer and the clue are not right next to each other, I don’t see it as a problem.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is the fact in 24-Down; I’m not a big fan of history, but I even had to admit just how neat it is that a manuscript can survive for that long and still be at all legible, never mind be able to be interpreted.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? Do you remember the face… the face of such graceful invention? When you’re testing Scotchgard on a “hidden place”, does your armpit qualify as a “hidden place”? Wouldn’t it be cool to open a restaurant where the waiters and waitresses serve you your food hopping on Pogo sticks? (And what would you call this restaurant?)

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

Puzzle 31: Word Worms. Vermicular verbiage!

Last Friday’s Wordominoes 2 solution

Get the color PDF here!

Get the black-and-white PDF here!

You’re probably wondering what the heck this thing is with a “color” and “black-and-white” version. Well, these are Word Worms, of course! You’ll see a ten-by-ten grid in which the words read across, down, and around irregularly-shaped compartments called “worms” wending around the grid. (I’m getting fascinated by crossword-style grids in which each letter is a part of more than just two answers, as you can see from the Wordominoes puzzles and now this one.) It’s hard to explain without showing you, so the easiest thing to do is just to click on the link, right? These compartments are one block wide and are fit together into the grid like jigsaw pieces (don’t worry, you don’t have to put the pieces together). You’ll see it explained visually in the PDF.

The reason I have “color” and “black-and-white” versions is purely a preference. If you’d rather not spend color ink, or if you only have a black-and-white printer, print out the black-and-white version, but I highly recommend the color version: the “worms” are much easier to distinguish from one another in the color version. The grids in the black-and-white version simply have the worms separated by thick black lines… it’s doable, but it’s much less visually striking and much harder to follow.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to Freestyle Puzzle 18 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? Why don’t we do it in the road? If there were a Procrastinators’ Club, would they ever hold a meeting? Do you think the medieval folks got all freaked out that their sundials and astrolabes wouldn’t work for Y1K?

As always, share this link! Pass it around!

Puzzle 30: Freestyle 18. Hopefully not a tall order.


(That spelling mistake in the title really grinds my gears, but I guess I’ll just deal.)

Last week’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!

Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.44

Fairly standard 9×3 formation. Even though 1-Across has appeared in a major publication before, I was drawn so much to that word that I had to make it a seed of this puzzle. The compartmental nature of this grid allowed me to get a few other seed entries in there that I really wanted: no less than six. This time, 1-Across is all I’ll tell you: bonus points to figure out what the other ones are (OK, so they won’t be that hard to spot). Some are debuts, some are not.

In the “so glad I found a new cluing angle for that” department: 47-Across. One of my general goals with any crossword is to include as few entries as possible that can only be clued one way or very few ways (i.e. more unusual names, words that are only found as a part of certain phrases), so I wasn’t overly thrilled in having to include it. But I was fairly surprised not to have seen this angle in cluing this name before. Also in that same department is 18-Across. I really, really didn’t want to include that entry at first, but I did some research and happened upon this fairly commonly used usage. Once I discovered that, it went from “no way I’ll use it” to “I’m definitely using it”. Funny how that happens.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is the history involved in the answer to 5-Down: more than I ever would care to know, but interesting enough to make a clue out of it.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? Did Mother Nature tell you, “Boy, you come and go as you please”? When the watchmaker finished his dinner, did he ask for seconds? Isn’t it ironic when people at antiwar protests get arrested for disturbing the peace?

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

Puzzle 29: Wordominoes 2. Coming back for another go-around.

Last Friday’s Letter Banks solution

Get the PDF here!

I had so much fun making the first Wordominoes puzzle, and I got some positive feedback on it, so I’m back with another one! (That’s what it’s all about, no? If you enjoy it most of all, and if I enjoy creating it second of all, it was a success.) Click on the link if you missed the first one or if you don’t remember how it works. Essentially, each letter is a part of three answers in the grid: one going across, one going down, and one going clockwise in a “cage”.

Though this isn’t a normal crossword puzzle, the construction process is pretty similar to one. I started with a blank grid, drew the cages in, manipulated them a little (the 12-letter entry was originally two 6-letter entries until I figured, “What the hell, I’ll erase the bar in the middle”), and started with the longest entry (in cage 6). Everything stemmed from that original cage, and I worked from right to left to construct this. Owing to the nature of this puzzle, I had to make the words in the cages the focus of my construction, while keeping in mind the constraint of keeping the sequences of letters in rows and columns to be actual words. I had to keep reminding myself that each letter was triply checked; a couple of times during construction, I had a word that fit perfectly in a cage and in the rows, but noticed (luckily not too late) that — oops — the column didn’t make a word.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to Freestyle Puzzle 17 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? Should I give up, or should I just keep chasing pavements? Do you think that an image of Mary Magdalene in a chicken salad sandwich would sell on eBay? If I need to rest and recharge, would a bath filled with battery acid do the trick?

As always, share this link! Pass it around!