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

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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!

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

Last Friday’s Letter Banks solution

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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?

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Puzzle 28: Freestyle 17. Always the master of my domain.

Last week’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 71
Mean word length: 5.80

High mean word length for this puzzle, as you might notice. Of course, as with all of my 16×15 freestyles, the expanded size is due to the entry running across the middle. (It proved a little more unwieldy to clue than I had originally anticipated when jotting down the answer for my seed list.) The semi-compartmental nature of this grid, though, made for a slightly less painful construction for a 16×15 grid. It also allowed me to fit in two more entries from the seed list, which were 1-Across and 56-Across.

If you haven’t quite believed me now about my willingness to add cheaters, NOW do you believe me? I needed the two cheaters on the top and bottom row, but I added the third pair just because I like the “triangle” look as opposed to the “L”-shaped look.

My favorite thing that I learned from this puzzle is the tidbit at 41-Across… and it originally cost the company $35. (The student was later very generously compensated.)

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? Who’s that casting devious stares in my direction? Don’t you think we should have a “Law and Order: Jaywalking Unit”? Did Jesus Christ stay fit by going to Pontius Pilates classes?

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

Puzzle 27: Letter Banks. These banks will hold your interest.

Last Friday’s Anagram Crossword solution

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Will Shortz introduced an interesting concept at the 1980 convention of the National Puzzlers League. The “letter bank” is the set of letters that comprise a particular word. In the example I gave “inside”, TENNESSEE consists of only the letters T, E, N, and S, so the letter bank for TENNESSEE is the word TENS (or SENT, etc.). What this puzzle is all about is determining the original words given the letter bank word and the length of the original word.

It was very fun to come up with these examples for you to solve; it took quite a lot of mental gymnastics. As you may infer from this website, I am enthralled with the ways letters can interact with each other to make words, and the ways words can interact with each other and can be manipulated to make other words. I presume you are too, if you’re doing the puzzles on this website.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to  Freestyle Puzzle 15 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 deny the obvious child? Where do nudists keep their handkerchiefs when they’re not using them? What is a picture of a thousand words worth?

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Puzzle 26: Freestyle 16. Don’t hurt yourself!

Last week’s freestyle solution

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Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 72
Mean word length: 5.36

The inspiration for this one, oddly enough, came from an episode of an Anthony Bourdain show (I watch any show he does on TV, by the by). The episode took place in the city referred to in the clue for 8-Down, and the slogan was mentioned somewhere in the episode. I immediately started to construct this puzzle while still watching the show. That, 17-Across, and 68-Across were the seeds for this one. 37-Across came from a scroll through the database for a fifteen with that particular middle letter, so I can’t really call it a seed. A mini-seed, perhaps. You could call 11-Down and 24-Down mini-seeds as well.

Because I didn’t want to just let it go without discussion, you might notice a small dupe in the puzzle. After I put the fifteens and the other seeds in place to start, I started from the top left (feeling like that would be the place with the most potential constraints) and worked basically counterclockwise around the whole puzzle. When I got to the answer in question, I found that the best entry that fit the pattern had a short dupe with one of the answers already in the puzzle. However, I felt that the entry was too valuable not to put in the puzzle and it wasn’t worth tearing out the other entry. So I left both in there. (Hey, I don’t want to just not talk about it and pretend I didn’t see it.)

My favorite thing I learned from this puzzle is the factoid in 23-Across, mostly because I FOUND ANOTHER UNIQUE CLUING ANGLE FOR THIS WORD! You have no idea how excited that made me feel.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? Honey, please, can’t you see you saved me? Wouldn’t you love to see a mosh pit form at a symphony concert? Do you ever look strangely at faces with beards and try to erase the facial hair in your mind to see what they’d look like without them?

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Puzzle 25: Anagram Crossword. Order… I need order in this grid!

Last Friday’s Split Decisions Two Ways solution

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This is the rare puzzle that gets both the “crosswords” and “variety puzzles” category! Now, I’m not one to tell you how to do your puzzle, but the colleague to whom I gave this puzzle said, “Wow, this is definitely gonna be a pencil puzzle.” The object of this puzzle is to solve it like a regular crossword, except the corresponding entry in the grid will be the anagram of the answer to the clue. (No, I didn’t keep this one under 72 words.)

Don’t be surprised or frustrated if you find some clues more difficult than others… there is a definite reason to the degree of difficulty of particular clues as opposed to others. I’m not going to give away quite what it is, but see if you can discern what I was thinking during the cluing process.

I’ll be back with another crossword puzzle, of course, on Tuesday. The answer to  Freestyle Puzzle 15 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? Are you waiting for something… tell me, would you wait all night? Don’t you find the word “gumption” fun to say? Would a one-way intersection indicate a wormhole in space-time?

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Puzzle 24: Freestyle 15. It’s all the rage.

Last week’s freestyle solution

Get the PDF here!

Get the PUZ here!

Word count: 70
Mean word length: 5.54

As I showed you a few posts ago, I have a standard shape that I start with when I want to construct a regular stacks-in-the-corners formation. I usually end up deviating greatly from that formation because, well, that’s how the vagaries of construction go. But the formation I started with actually remained intact this time: I wanted to go with a 70-word structure for this one, and all I ended up doing was adding the two pairs of cheaters.

Obviously, the genesis for this one, the only seed I started with, is at 1-Across. I did have a couple of mini-seeds: 48-Across and 56-Down. 38-Across, I guess you could say, was also a mini-seed.

I constructed this one about a month and a half ago… so this one is antediluvian as far as independent crosswords go. The way I go with this site is that I just pick the one I feel like running to match whatever mood strikes me. (I always have several to select from.) I don’t know why this one lasted that long in the pile before making its way to the top, because I really like this one, but that’s the way it worked out.

After solving, the intrepid solver in you may have noticed that I could have easily taken out the cheater squares above 56-Down and below 10-Down and easily still had a valid fill. I noticed that too (obviously), but 56-Down was one of my mini-seeds, so I decided I’d rather have that entry with the cheaters than not have that entry and not have the cheaters.

My favorite thing I learned from this puzzle is that 57-Across came up with the idea of the “zipper” first, but his “zipping” method didn’t really work out as well as the zipper we’re familiar with today. He did OK for himself with another one of his inventions, anyway.

As always, I’d like to know, folks… comment is welcome! Come say hello! What did you like? What could I do better? ¿Yo me frío o lo soplo? If there were a Quantum Physicists’ Club, would it only theoretically exist? What is the reason for there being a reason for everything?

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