Monday, May 29, 2023

Puzzle #208: Composition with Red Blue and Yellow

It feels like a while since I've posted a straight themeless here. This one's (pdf, jpz, pdf solution) got a gimmick - the grid is based on Piet Mondrian's painting Composition with Red Blue and Yellow and I didn't allow myself to use the letter R outside of the red section, B outside of the blue section, or Y outside of the yellow section - but otherwise it's a regular old themeless.

Also! If you're befuddled by Puzzle #207 from two weeks ago, check below the grid here for the answer.

Puzzle #207 solution: The puzzle asked for the theme entry in a hypothetical "TV shows without any writers" crossword that could already be found in the posted grid, which had no letters or clues. The intended answer is the number 15, which is the TV show PEN15 without its "pen." But one solver suggested "writer's block," in reference to the black square in the middle of the grid, which I think works just as well!

Monday, May 15, 2023

Puzzle #207: Disappearing Ink

I came up with a "TV shows without any writers" theme, but in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America strike, I didn't write any fill or clues for it. But I'd only thought of one decent theme entry anyway, and conveniently, it's already in the grid! Maybe you can spot it?

Monday, May 8, 2023

Puzzle #206: Southern Comforters

Another new themed puzzle this week (pdf, puz, pdf solution)! Also, I had yesterday's NYT puzzle - check that out if you haven't had a chance yet.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Indie puzzle highlights: April 2023

I was sick for most of April and fell behind on solving/jotting down which puzzles I wanted to feature, so I've got an extra short roundup this month. (Also, a new charity crossword pack was very rudely released at the end of the month so I haven't had time to solve it yet.)

April 11: Translation for Abuelita (Nancy Serrano-Wu, Lil AVC X)

April 17: Talking in Circles (Brandon Koppy, See 17-Across)

April 27: themeless xxxiii ("soup or salad?") (Brooke Husic, xwords by a ladee)

April 29: Untitled (Juliana Pache, Black Crossword)

April 30: Schoolmates (Ross Trudeau, Rossword Puzzles)









Translation for Abuelita (Nancy Serrano-Wu)

Richard Blanco's poem "Translation for Mamรก" inspired this puzzle, a tribute to Nancy's grandmother, who used wordsearch puzzles to learn English. It's a lovely bilingual puzzle (with English entries clued in English and Spanish entries clued in Spanish), expertly crafted so that there are no pairs of intersecting Spanish entries and the puzzle can be solved by a monolingual English speaker. (But for those who do know Spanish, there are some nice clues, including [Palabra que se encuentra en "casaron," apropiadamente] for ARO.

Talking in Circles (Brandon Koppy)

A really tight theme - O's are added to either side of words and phrases with wacky results (O GOD, SPEEDO, OLIVE CAMO, OPINE SOLO, and OMEGA LITHO), justified by the revealer LOVE HANDLES. I also appreciate that both the title and revealer are perfect encapsulations of the theme - oftentimes, it's one or the other, but not both. Lots of lovely fill, too, including BIGWIG, PREREQ, QUAHOG, REBEL REBEL, TOSTADAS, and ZIPLINE.

themeless xxxiii ("soup or salad?") (Brooke Husic)

As usual, there are lots of long assets with ingenious clues - [Squeaky toys] for BALLOON ANIMALS, [Going out plan] for SLEEP SCHEDULE, [Wife guy?] for BRIDESMAN, [Come with us!] for VIBRATORS. But for the experimental puzzles, Brooke also goes the extra mile with innovative clues for common short entries - [Bonus level?] for CEO, [Name that's always part of the nice list] for ELI, [Be in the lead, say] for ACT, [Tribute opener] for DIS, [PRNG initiator] for SEED, etc.

Untitled (Juliana Pache)

A smooth grid and cluing that's approachable for any solver but especially likely to resonate with Black solvers, the main reason being the clue [Card game that you may be teased over if you don't know how to play it] for SPADES. As a non-Black person, that clue would be totally over my head if I didn't happen to have read Hanif Abdurraqib's A Little Devil in America, which has a (delightful) chapter on spades.

Schoolmates (Ross Trudeau)

A characteristically ambitious theme from Ross, complete with a two-part stacked revealer in the middle (THERE ARE PLENTY/OF FISH IN THE SEA) and some dense grid art (four C-shaped regions of black squares in the grid, each of which has two hidden fish names - TUNA, for example, is hidden in O FORTUNA). Impressive and entertaining in equal parts. (The SEA/C pun also reminds me of Brooke Husic's excellent Modern Crossword joint from the same weekend, which reinterpreted NOTHING TO SEE HERE as an instruction to replace O's with C's in the theme entries.)

Puzzle #205: Half-Time Show

It's been a few weeks since my last puzzle, but I'm back with a new one (pdf, puz, pdf solution) - happy solving!