Monday, December 25, 2017

Puzzle #62: Quartet

Last week's meta, "Short Time," asked you for a French city that I might have alternatively hidden in the grid. The words that were hidden in the grid were the names of seasons, missing a letter: SPRI(N)G, SUM(M)ER, (F)ALL, and (W)INTER. If I had called it AUTUMN instead of FALL, then I could have hidden Autun in the grid instead. (That would have given the theme a pleasing consistency of having all the hidden words be five letters, but there's the minor problem of there being no common words with AUTUN hidden in them.)

Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate! My present to you is a puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution). For those of you who don't celebrate, my present to you is the fact that the theme has nothing whatsoever do to with Christmas.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Puzzle #61: Short Time

This week's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) is a meta, but it's (hopefully) much easier than most of the previous metas I've posted here. The meta answer is a French city I might alternatively have hidden in the grid. Enjoy!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Puzzle #60: Giving Directions

Alas, only one puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) this week, but I hope you enjoy it nevertheless. If you're coming here from the profile on Crossword Fiend last week, welcome!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Puzzle #58 and #59: Forgive Me, and a mini bonus puzzle

I have posted
the puz
that was in
the Dropbox

(also the pdf and the pdf solution)

Also, Paolo Pasco's excellent puzzle from yesterday reminded me of a mini crossword I wrote a few months ago. It's only 6 by 3, so not enough for a full-blown post, but it should make a nice aperitif or chaser for the main attraction. Check out the puz here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Puzzle #57: Rarin' to Go

Last week's meta, "Three in a Row," asked you to identify a game you might play on your phone. Hopefully, the title plus the instructions pointed you towards games like Bejeweled and Candy Crush, where you have to swap two adjacent things to get a row/column of three things of the same color. As it happens, there are seven spots in the grid where you can swap two adjacent letters to get three of the same letter in a row:

After you switch the letters, the pairs (top to bottom) spell out CANDY CRUSH SAGA, which is your meta answer.

Regular puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) this week, no meta. Enjoy!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Puzzle #56: Three in a Row (meta)

This week's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) happens to share a title with one of my subscriber puzzles from a few weeks back, but it's totally unrelated. This one's a meta, and the answer we're looking for is a game you might play on your phone. As always, solution next week, and hit me up by email beforehand with answers, requests for hints, etc.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Puzzle #55: Observe and Report

This week's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) is another one of those themes where, if you solve it in Across Lite or the embedded version, you might want to check out the PDF solution afterwards. Enjoy!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Puzzle #54: Spread Out

This week's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) is one of those themes where there are really only three workable theme entries, which probably wouldn't fly in the NYT - luckily on this blog there are no rules, so it's a slightly mini grid this week. Enjoy!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Puzzle #53: Monster Mash

Yep, today's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) has the exact same title as Evan Birnholz's WaPo puzzle from yesterday. But rest assured, the theme is completely different!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Puzzle #52: Screen Debuts

I had a perfect title lined up for this week's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution), but then the grid ended up duplicating both of the words in the title. Oh well! "Screen Debuts" works just fine as a title too.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Puzzle #51: A Puzzle

Last week's meta asked you to solve a mystery. As a bunch of solvers noticed, the grid is shaped like a Clue board, and the names of the six suspects are scattered throughout the rooms. Only one of the suspects is in the same room as a weapon, though, so the solution is Mr. Green in the study with the rope.

This week's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) is a bit of a hybrid. I wouldn't quite describe it as a freestyle, but I also wouldn't quite describe it as a themed crossword, so I'm just calling it "A Puzzle." Enjoy!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Puzzle #50: Mystery Theme 2

The very first meta I posted on this here site was called "Mystery Theme," so it seemed appropriate to call this one "Mystery Theme 2." All I'll tell you is that the meta answer is the solution to the mystery. I highly recommend solving the pdf (pdf solution), because the exact shape of the grid doesn't show up in the puz. (I'm including the puz just for convenience's sake, but if you solve it, please do take a look at the pdf too.)

As always, shoot me an email with answers/requests for hints/etc.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Monday, September 25, 2017

Puzzle #48: But Wait, There's More

If you subscribe to Outside the Box Puzzles, you'll be getting a double dose of me today, since I've got a variety puzzle there which should be going out soon. In the meantime, enjoy this non-variety puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution). No embedded version of this week, because of special characters that don't play nice with the applet.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Puzzle #47: Spelling Out

Last week's meta asked you for an alliterative phrase. The four theme entries (TEOTIHUACAN, SALAMANCA, JAMESCAAN, MAJORARCANA) all ended with various permutations of the letters NCAA. There are actually a bunch of alliterative phrases associated with the NCAA, but the most appropriate one is Final Four, since NCAA are the final four letters of each theme entry. (I also took Sweet Sixteen, since there are four sets of four letters in total.)

No meta this week, just a good old-fashioned themed puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution). Enjoy!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Puzzle #46: Endgame

Most of the metas I've posted here have been pretty tricky, but I do like to do a straightforward meta from time to time too! This week's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) is called "Endgame," and the meta answer is an alliterative phrase. As always, feel free to email me with solutions, to ask for hints, etc.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Puzzle #45: Pivot to Video

It seems to be the thing to do these days, so I've fired some of my clue writers and I'm pivoting to video.

(I'm including the pdf, puz, and pdf solution, but I highly recommend solving in the browser if you can - you can change the settings by clicking the picture of the gear at the top right, if you'd like. All clips are copyright their respective owners.)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Puzzle #44: The Days Are Getting Shorter

Despite the title, this puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) is completely unrelated to my "The Times They Are A Changin'" puzzle from back in December. Enjoy!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

Puzzle #42: Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture

Last week's puzzle, Rack Your Brains, asked you to identify an apt compound word. One seven-letter entry, ABDLORS, was simply clued as [Your rack], which suggests you're playing a game of Scrabble. If the circled letters in the grid represent the words on a Scrabble board, then your best play (and your only bingo) is SHUFFLEBOARD through HUFF and E, forming SHAWL - a compound word made up of two Scrabble-related words. Congrats to everyone who solved it!

Regular non-meta puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) this week - enjoy!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Puzzle #41: Rack Your Brains

Last week's meta asked you to identify a phrase with the name of a video game character in it. The key to the meta is the KONAMICODE (one of the two longest across entries), which is the sequence of ten buttons "up up down down left right left right B A." If you take the other 10-letter across entry, SIKHTEMPLE, and replace each letter with the letter in the corresponding direction from the Konami Code (with the last two letters being replaced with B and A), you get the phrase PEACHMELBA, containing the name of Princess Peach.

At least, that's what you would get had I not mistranscribed the Konami Code as "up down up down left right left right B A" while writing the puzzle, so that you actually get PHECHMELBA. I wish I could say I did it on purpose as some sort of "your princess is in another castle" reference, but alas no. Congrats to the solvers who figured it out despite my mistake!

Anyway, this week you get another meta (pdf, puz, pdf solution) to make up for it. The meta answer is an apt compound word. As always, my email's on the sidebar if you want to submit a solution, ask for hints, etc.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Puzzle #40 erratum

Solver Yossi Fendel alerted me to a bone-headed mistake I made while constructing this week's puzzle, which renders the meta unsolvable! (Though Yossi impressively managed to figure out the solution I was going for anyway.) So if the meta has you stumped, it's not your fault.

I'll explain the intended answer next Monday, but in the meantime you can either just treat the puzzle as a themeless, or try to figure out the meta anyway. If you do, you'll have to switch two directions in order to correct for my mistake.

A thousand apologies! I'll post another meta next week, this time one that actually works, to make up for it.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Puzzle #40: Side-Scroller (meta)

Today's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) is a meta - the answer is a phrase containing the name of a video game character. Email me with answers, requests for hints, etc.!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Puzzle #39: Freestyle 6

Another freestyle offering this week (pdf, puz, pdf solution) - enjoy! (No embedded version, I'm afraid, but the embedding will be back next week.)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Puzzle #38: Up

Last week's puzzle asked you for the title of a movie - there were no clues, but all of the grid was filled in except for the top entry, so you had to do some constructing yourself and figure out what word fit there. The answer, of course, was Clueless.

This week's offering (pdf, puz, pdf solution) has, I should warn you, an extremely lowbrow theme, but the fill and cluing is pretty highbrow, so we'll call it a wash overall. (I'd say it's NSFW, except I doubt your boss would look closely enough at a crossword you're solving to figure out the theme). Enjoy!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Puzzle #37: Untitled

This week's puzzle (pdf only) is extra easy: not only is the grid much smaller than usual, I've already filled in most of it for you! The answer is the title of a movie.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Puzzle #36: Canada 150

My home country turned 150 years old this weekend, so I thought I'd get patriotic with this week's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution). Theme entries should be a breeze for Canadians, hopefully educational for others.

In other news, thanks to the folks at Amuse Labs, I'm testing out embedding the puzzle so you don't have to download anything if you're not so inclined. Of course, the pdf and puz options will still be available. Let me know what you think!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Puzzle #35: When Life Gives You Lemons

A more straightforward offering this week (pdf, puz, pdf solution), in between last week's stream-of-consciousness puzzle and the asymmetrical one I've got for you next week. Enjoy!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Puzzle #34: Stream of Consciousness

No .puz file today, because we've got a variety puzzle-esque grid inspired by Bloomsday (pdf, pdf solution). Because of the tricky format, I made the cluing pretty straightforward and gave answer lengths, but let me know if it's too easy! I might ratchet up the difficulty a bit if I end up doing more puzzles of the same type.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017

Puzzle #31: Lobos, Los

Today's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) is a sequel of sorts to Puzzle #20 (Los Lobos). Enjoy!

Also, just a reminder that subscriber puzzles start going out this Thursday. You can sign up any time, but be sure to sign up by Thursday if you want to get the very first puzzle!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Puzzle #30: You Gotta Have Faith (Plus Meta Answer, and an Announcement)

New puzzle this week as usual (pdf, puz, pdf solution), but also a couple of other orders of business.

First, the answer to last week's meta. The instructions told you "The meta answer is a three-word phrase," and the theme entries were all clued in a self-referential manner. This suggests that you should look at the instructions in a self-referential manner too: "the meta answer" is a three-word phrase. And indeed, you can spell out the phrase "the meta answer" by taking letters from the theme entries, using the numbers in brackets after the theme clues:


A tricky meta, so congrats if you figured it out!

Finally, a special announcement. Starting June 1, I'll be adding a Thursday puzzle to the rotation. It'll be subscription-based, so just sign up using the widget on the right, and you'll start receiving puzzles by email. Don't worry, there'll still be a free crossword every Monday, but there'll be some more out-there stuff on Thursdays now too. I'm really excited about the puzzles I've got lined up, so I hope you all sign up! It's just $25 (Canadian) a year.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Puzzle #29: That's So Meta

As you might guess from the title, it's a meta puzzle this week (pdf, puz, pdf solution). The meta answer is a three-word phrase. Good luck! Answer next week, but feel free to send in your answer by email.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Puzzle #28: Alternate Answers

Two solutions to this one (pdf, puz, pdf solution), so check out the PDF solution if you solve it in Across Lite and are confused. Enjoy!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Puzzle #26: Affairs of State

Pretty straightforward one this week (pdf, puz, pdf solution). The clues skew pretty academic, since this was originally submitted to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Enjoy!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Puzzle #25: Freestyle 4

Freestyle puzzle this week (pdf, puz, pdf solution). I think this is the first crossword with triple-stacked 15s I've ever made - they're not usually my style, but I really like how this one turned out.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Puzzle #24: What Are the Odds?

This week's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) is bite-sized, but it's still tricky enough to give you a lot to chew on, I think. Enjoy!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Puzzle #23: Another Rebus Puzzle

That's right, it's another rebus puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) this week!

Strangely, both this week and last week, something went wrong in exporting to .puz format - all but one of the rebus squares exported fine. If you're solving the .puz, everything should be normal if you just enter the first letter of the rebus squares, but not if you try to enter the whole thing.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Puzzle #22: A Rebus Puzzle

Congrats to Dan Feyer on his 7th victory at the ACPT! It was exciting to follow along from home.

Here's this week's crossword (pdf, puz, pdf solution). Enjoy!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Puzzle #21: Hand-Me-Downs

Trickier theme this week, but the cluing's fairly forgiving, so it shouldn't be too hard (pdf, puz, pdf solution). Enjoy the puzzle!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Monday, March 6, 2017

Monday, February 27, 2017

Puzzle #18: Ooae Oo

Something a little different week this. You may have solved vowelless crosswords (or vwllss crsswrds) before, where you have to remove all the vowels from the answer before putting it in the grid. This is the exact same thing, except you have to remove all the consonants, so the only letters in the grid will be A, E, I, O and U. (To keep things simple, none of the answers will have the letter Y in them.) I've provided enumerations, because I have a suspicion it might be nigh-impossible without them.

Here's the puzzle: pdf, puz, pdf solution. The solution PDF also lists the answers with consonants included, in case you solve the crossword but still aren't sure about what some of the entries are. Happy solving!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Puzzle #17: The Last Shall Be First

You might suspect that a certain theme entry from this week's puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) was inspired by the same Twitter conversation that inspired Chris King's latest crossword, but in fact it's a total coincidence. All credit for the inspiration for this theme goes to this Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword. Enjoy!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Puzzle #16: Greek Life

New themed puzzle this week (pdf, puz, pdf solution). Fair warning: 40-Across might just be the silliest theme entry I've ever written. Enjoy!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Puzzle #15: Freestyle 3

Another freestyle this week (pdf, puz, pdf solution). I wrote this a few months ago, but a few of the entries might have some extra resonance given recent events. Enjoy/share the puzzle!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Puzzle #14: A Link to the Past (meta)

Meta-puzzle today (pdf, puz, pdf solution)! No instructions on what I'm looking for - you'll have to get those from the puzzle itself. As before, feel free to send me an email ( if you've got it.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Puzzle #13: File a Complaint

I like to think I don't shy away from taking a stand on hot-button issues on this here blog. But the theme of today's crossword (pdf, puz, pdf solution) is so controversial, so divisive that I feel I must remain neutral. That means that wherever you happen to stand on this particular issue, you'll probably be infuriated by exactly half of the theme entries - but hopefully you enjoy it anyway.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Puzzle #12: Fight For Your Right 2: Fight Harder

If you're in America, you can enjoy this puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) on your long weekend! If you're not in America, hopefully you can enjoy it anyway.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Puzzle #11: Bases Loaded

Bonus puzzle today! I wrote this a while ago, but now seems like an appropriate time to publish it: pdf, puz, pdf solution.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Puzzle #10: Freestyle 2

Another freestyle joint this week (pdf, puz, pdf solution). And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that a friend of mine recently started a politics podcast called 58-Across - if you're looking for smart, cogent analysis of politics in the age of Trump, google it once you're done solving.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Puzzle #9: Circular Reasoning

Happy New Year, everyone! Here's your first puzzle of 2017 (pdf, puz, pdf solution), which has a bit of an unusual grid.