Monday, December 26, 2016

Flash Short/Short Flash (a crossword in the form of an experimental film)

For the second time in two weeks, I'm posting two crosswords in the same day, but this time's a little bit different - this isn't the sort of crossword that you can solve. The crossword was inspired an experimental film from 1960 called Arnulf Rainer, by the Austrian filmmaker Peter Kubelka. Arnulf Rainer consists of only two different images (a completely black screen, and a completely white screen), which alternate in a complicated pattern, with the images lasting sometimes as short as a single frame, and sometimes for seconds on end. The result is a disorienting experience (you can watch it here, as long as you're not prone to seizures), and it even inaugurated a miniature genre in the experimental film world, called the "flicker film."

I got to thinking about what the cruciverbal equivalent of something like Arnulf Rainer would be, and what I came up with was a crossword where a single arrangement of letters can lead to two completely distinct solutions, depending on where you overlay the black squares. This turns out to be very difficult to construct - in a normal crossword, each letter is used in exactly two words, but here, most letters are used in four words (two in each solution), which makes things exponentially trickier. I tried doing a standard 15 by 15 grid, but it turned out to be a herculean task, so I shrunk it down to 8 by 8.

The result is an experimental short called Flash Short/Short Flash, which you can watch on Vimeo here. It uses precisely the same flickering pattern as Arnulf Rainer, except that it's slightly shorter because I used the equivalent of 25 frames per second instead of 24 frames per second, to make things easier. It's also silent, whereas Arnulf Rainer uses flickering sound similarly to how it uses images. The effect ends up being pretty significantly different, since the images have some content beyond just black and white - it doesn't mess with your visual perception at such a fundamental level, but hopefully the flicker alters how you perceive the patterns of letters in the grid. 

Puzzle #8: Noel

Happy holidays! Your present this week is a brand-new crossword (pdf, puz, pdf solution) - happy solving!

Enjoy/share, as usual.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Puzzle #6: Freestyle 1 & Puzzle #7: The Times They Are A Changin'

We've got our first freestyle puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) on the blog this week, but it's miniature-sized, so you get a themed puzzle too (pdf, puz, pdf solution).

Enjoy the puzzles, and please share!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Puzzle #5: Double Back (and Mystery Theme solution)

Last week's meta asked you to figure out the identity of the item that had been stolen from the crossword. Well, the theme entries were about Edgar Allan Poe's story "The Purloined Letter," suggesting that a letter had been stolen. But the crossword is a pangram, so where'd the letter go? In the Poe story, C. Auguste Dupin figures out that the purloined letter is actually hiding in plain sight, which suggests that the letter that's been stolen from the crossword is actually still there. The answer is the W at the intersection of TWIT and WHERE (the only W in the crossword) - if you remove the W, both of the clues still work: you get TIT for [Foolish person, in Britain] and HERE for [The stolen item is ___???]. Congrats to everyone who figured it out!

No meta this week, but you get a new puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution). Enjoy, and please share!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Puzzle #4: Mystery Theme

An item has been stolen from this week's crossword (pdf, puz, pdf solution). The problem is, not only do we not know where it is, we don't even know what has been stolen. So, your task is to figure out the identity of the stolen item.

The solution to the meta-puzzle will be posted next week, but in the meantime, you can hit me up at if you want a hint/think you have the solution/etc.

Enjoy the puzzle, and please share!