Monday, July 25, 2022

Puzzle #181: You Are Here

Back with a new puzzle (pdf, puz, pdf solution) that is quasi-themed? Quasi-themeless? Not sure, but the important thing is that it has exactly 69 words.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Puzzle #180: Clashing Colors

It's been a few weeks since my last puzzle, so here's a new one (pdf, jpz, pdf solution)! No .puz file this time, so there's a .jpz instead (and the PDFs are less pretty because I couldn't use Nam Jin Yoon's beautiful PDF generator).

Friday, July 1, 2022

Indie puzzle highlights: June 2022

June 2: THE MINION PUZZLE (meatdaddy69420, crosstina aquafina, and kate schmate, crosstina aquafina)

June 4: Colorado (Patrick Blindauer, Vox)

June 5: An Escalating Challenge (Ryan Patrick Smith, Real Puzzling Stuff)

June 17: Chasm No 12 (Themeless) (Ryan McCarty, McGrids)

June 27: themeless xxiii ("summer breeze #2") (Brooke Husic, xwords by a ladee)









THE MINION PUZZLE (meatdaddy69420, crosstina aquafina, and kate schmate)

I, a 32-year-old man, unironically love the Minions, so a puzzle shaped like a Minion is a shoo-in for my writeups. But this puzzle happens to be very entertaining to boot, as you'd expect when it's created by a Triforce consisting of three of crossworld's most chaotic and funniest clue-writers. I can't even quote some of the clues here because the formatting is too zany (check out the clues for WALLS OF TEXT and ATE, for two examples).

Colorado (Patrick Blindauer)

It's not often that you come across a totally original theme that's nonetheless simple and elegant, but this is such a theme. As the title hints, you have to color the letters A, D, and O when they appear in the grid, and if you do so, you'll get a rectangle in the shape of the state of Colorado. Naturally, this involves two grid spanners that consist entirely of those letters - the Rolling Stones song DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO and DAD DAD DAD DAD DAD, clued as [Repetitive cry to a male parent]. That latter one might be faintly ridiculous, but of course it's needed to make the theme work, and as a dad myself, it's a cry I've heard many a time.

The really impressive thing about this puzzle is that by necessity it avoids A, D, and O in the rest of the grid. It's hard to enough to avoid a single vowel outside of the theme entries, so avoiding two vowels must have been exceptionally difficult.

An Escalating Challenge (Ryan Patrick Smith)

An auspicious start to Ryan's new blog! This one's got a wide-open grid, the kind of grid where there's nowhere for the constructor to hide, and yet it's both extremely smooth and packed with good stuff. I like the stack of CAPTCHA/SAMESIES/GURU NANAK intersecting CINEPHILE, but there's interesting stuff in every section, even the little 5x5 corners (SAHEL, T-POSE). It might be the stair-stacks of 6s that are hardest to pull off - it's easy to rely heavily on suffixes like -S and -ED when making those, and much harder to work in more varied fill like MEDLEY, FIDDLY, and HOT TIP.

Chasm No 12 (Themeless) (Ryan McCarty)

Another classic wide-open center from Ryan, with colorful stuff like ZAZIE BEETZ, LOCAVORE, CHATBOTS, FANFESTS, and TINDER DATE. Though Ryan's chasm grids are always impressive, the cluing in this one is equally impressive: [Word often seen before art in old manuscripts] is a clever way of cluing THOU, and I also love [Cannes cans] for DERRIERES, [Where you may meet your match?] for TINDER DATE, [Crypt keeper?] for URN, and [Takes a lighter course load?] for DIETS.

themeless xxiii ("summer breeze #2") (Brooke Husic)

For the summer, Brooke is taking a vacation from experimental clues, so we get a relatively breezy themeless this month. But her easy puzzles show just as care as her ultra-hard ones. There's very little wasted space here, with lots of great long entries like BEYCHELLA, IS IT THOUGH, FLAMING COCKTAIL, PARASOCIAL, ARE WE CLEAR, NOTES APP, and WHO IS SHE. And even though there are few super hard clues, there are plenty of excellent clues, including [Vibrator in bed, maybe] for PHONE ALARM and [Phrase that's legally concerning?] for IN RE.