Monday, April 1, 2024

Puzzle #224: Left-Brained (+ Word Cloud solution)

This is the first time I've published a puzzle here on April Fools' Day. But I didn't plan ahead for it at all - no shenanigans in this one (pdf, puz, pdf solution), aside from my usual ones. Below the grid, after a spoiler space: the solution to the meta from a few weeks ago, Word Cloud.









The Word Cloud meta featured two grids that were placed back-to-back. Here's the solution to Grid A:

And Grid B:

Something that might jump out at you is that the top row of Grid A has no letters other than A and B, which suggests that that row is a guide as to which columns you should flip over. But there are also black squares in the top row, so how can the A's and B's uniquely specify which set of columns to flip? One way is if they correspond to their symmetrical counterparts in the bottom row, so the B in column 1 tells you that you need to flip over column 15. If you do that, the bottom row will spell out the meta answer, which is Joni Mitchell's BOTH SIDES, NOW. (It's also quite intuitive to just flip over the columns that have a B in the top row - since the top row is nearly palindromic, that will get you almost all of the way there too.) The answer is displayed beautifully in this picture courtesy of Kate Chin Park:

But I couldn't resist including this picture too:

Karen Spencer's assistants helping with the meta

Randomly chosen from the correct submissions was Russ Kale, who wins a crossword subscription!

Monday, March 11, 2024

Puzzle #223: Word Cloud

Yet again, today's puzzle (PDF only) is really a pair of puzzles. It's PDF-only for a specific reason - it has assembly instructions!

There are two puzzles, labeled A and B. You can either print out the PDF double-sided, or print it single-sided, and then glue the pages together so that grid B is directly behind grid A. Then, after solving the puzzles, cut out the grids and cut them into 15 strips, one for each column, making sure to keep them in the same order. Then you'll be able to solve the meta, whose answer is the song that partially inspired this puzzle. (The puzzle also has a non-meta-related theme, involving the circled letters - those circled letters have nothing to do with the meta.) If you email me the meta answer (at by March 31, you'll be entered in a draw to win a crossword subscription.

If you want your name to be entered in the draw not once but twice, you can go the extra mile in a way I'll describe below! You see, the main inspiration for this puzzle was the Clouds series by an artist whose name I'll redact here, since it's an answer to one of the clues. As a crossword constructor, I'm naturally drawn to art that uses grid patterns, and in particular I've long loved Canada's own Agnes Martin, the acknowledged master of the grid form.

Agnes Martin, Untitled (1965)

But it was only recently that I learned about Redacted Artist, who was a close friend (and possible lover) of Martin. Martin's influence on her is clear, but in her Clouds series, Redacted Artist thrusts Martin's grid forms into the third dimension by dangling threads from suspended grid structures. These works use the rigidity of the grid structure as a jumping-off point, but because of their form, they're beautifully fluid and responsive. Below is her Cloud Labyrinth - if you want to get a better sense of what it would look like in three dimensions, I recommend the 1979 short film Cloud Dance, which you can find on YouTube.

Cloud Labyrinth

To really achieve that effect, you'd have to attach the aforementioned 15 strips (still keeping them in the same order) to a fixed object, like a strip of wood or cardboard, so that they dangle and you can rotate them at will. (String and safety pins might work nicely.) Totally optional, but it might help you solve the meta, and if you send a photo of your completed creation with your meta answer, you'll double your chances of winning the prize. Good luck! 

Monday, February 19, 2024

Monday, January 29, 2024