Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Brought to you by audacity and poor time management

**Puzzle's up now -- write to follow once I've had some sleep**

Puzzle: Magazine Inserts
Rating: XW-18A
Difficulty: Gentler than usual, but with some trickery

Download the PDF file here and the PUZ file here, or solve or download the Across Lite puzzle and/or software from the embedded app below.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012


My man Parker Lewis has been working with the folks over at Puzzazz on a brand spanking new app for crossword lovers, through which you can solve puzzles from 29 different collections by 17 different constructors. Serious constructors, too: BEQ, Vic Fleming, Parker Lewis, Michael Wiesenberg, T Campbell, David Steinberg, Ian Livengood, Wayne Robert Williams, and Carla Frechette & Marya Doery, as well as cryptics by Mike Selinker, Todd Rew, Brian Greer (from The Guardian), and Wayne Robert Williams. Take a peep at what they've got. Also, if you're a constructor that's been itching to get some of your work into a published collection, hit 'em up for that too.

On to the puzzles. From the feedback I got, it sounds like people dug the weird puzzle last week. Glad to hear it; expect more. This week, though, I have for you a plain ol' freestyle (well, it's 12x17, but nothing special otherwise). Had to rush to fill the grid again this week, though amazingly not due to procrastination. I started a completely different grid with one of the seeds in this one and sunk a solid chunk of time trying to fill it. May have been too ambitious of a grid, though, because in the end there were far too many compromises in the fill for my liking. Scrapped it and whipped this one up in a rush this afternoon. A couple rough spots, but overall it's an improvement. Played it safe with the clues and tried to skew easy, but there may still be a natick-y square or two. Let me know what you think. Oh, and I'm starting to prefer "Freestyle" to "Themeless," so I'm making the switch.

More words, crossed and otherwise, next Tuesday.

Puzzle: Freestyle #19
Rating: XW-14A
Difficulty: On the easier side, for a themeless

**Update: Looks like the PDF download was broken this morning.  Not sure why, but it should be fixed now.

Download the PDF file here and the PUZ file here, or solve or download the Across Lite puzzle and/or software from the embedded app below.


Monday, 10 September 2012

A Couple 6-Packs to Go

Holy moly, we're 40 weeks in already! In case you didn't know, the Cross Nerd series was intended to be a series of 52 weekly puzzles, which means the last scheduled puzzle will run on December 4th. After that, well, I still haven't totally worked that out yet. There will certainly be more puzzles, but it's unlikely that I'll run a new one every week. Rather, I'll probably focus on quality over quantity - posting less often, but offering more interesting, ambitious, and well-crafted puzzles. I instituted the weekly routine to a) force myself to keep at it for practice and b) build up a bit of a solver base. However, now that I'm somewhat more conversant with the nuts and bolts of puzzle making, I'd really like to play around a little more and attempt some more adventurous constructions (like this week's puzzle). The weekly deadline -combined with work, friends, bands, and life in general- leaves little time for experimentation, alas (not only that, but I do this without a net; I have, and have always had, exactly zero puzzles in reserve), and as of late I've been finding myself resorting to the same old tricks and falling back on themelesses rather than trying new approaches/theme types/etc. just to get a new puzzle out each week. I love doing it, but it's nearly time for a change.

Plugs from the cruciverse: if you missed the big unveiling of Erik Agard's Glutton for Pun site last Wednesday, check it now. Great debut puzzle chock-a-block with wit and wordplay; looking forward to see what he serves up tomorrow! You know what else is awesome? Neville Fogarty's puzzle blog is what. He's a couple months in now, and shows no signs of slowing down, thankfully. Last week's had a nifty theme, I thought. Keep 'em comin'!

On to the puzzle. So, remember what I said above about getting stuck in a constructorial rut due to the weekly schedule and wanting to experiment more? Forget all of it; this week's offering is more of an experiment than a puzzle proper, truth be told. It's kind of neat, I think. Maybe you'll hate it, I don't know. Either way, it contains a few things that I've never seen in a puzzle before, and if it inspires another constructor or results in a bit of contemplation and/or discussion then I'll consider it a success. I have no idea how difficult it will be to grok what's going on with the theme, so I erred on the side of too easy with the cluing and obfuscation (especially since it seems I buggered up the difficulty of last week's puzzle a bit). I'm interested to hear your feelings on this one, positive or negative, so don't be shy!

Title is a Will Weng quote, according to Will Shortz.

Oh, and this one would be easier on paper, only because Across Lite won't accept any correct answer you give it. You can solve it but you won't see Mr. Happy Pencil even if your solution is correct. That, and the web app can't seem to fit the whole puzzle without scrollbars. See the "Special Solutions" tab for the full answer and a bit more discussion.

More words, crossed and otherwise, next Tuesday.

Puzzle: Greeting Card -or- "It's your puzzle. Solve it any way you want"
Rating: XW-14A
Difficulty: Easy breezy clues, but theme may be tricky

Download the PDF file here and the PUZ file here, or solve or download the Across Lite puzzle and/or software from the embedded app below.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Strictly Business

Just a 72/30 themeless today, with nothing too fancy in there. This week I was further behind on puzzle making than I've ever been. Didn't really start this one until Monday morning, but it didn't put up too much of a fight, thankfully. A couple hours on the grid, and maybe 5 or 6 for cluing (I'm a slow cluer, mostly because I get easily distracted when I start researching the entries). There are, of course, a few knots that I could've massaged out with a little more time, but I'm not unhappy with how it turned out. I worry that solvers may be stumped by a few Natick-y crossings, but I've tried to make everything as inferrable as possible.

Oh, and the clue and answer at 1-Across were provided by Peter Gwinn, one of the Month of Metas winners.

Lastly, I'm excited about a new indie puzzle series that drops on Wednesday, but I won't say anymore (mostly because I don't know much more) before it does.
***UPDATE: It is here and it is glorious. Congrats to Erik Agard on becoming the latest in the welcome wave of self-publishing indie constructors.

More words, crossed and otherwise, next Tuesday.

Puzzle: Themeless #18
Rating: XW-14A
Difficulty: Moderate, for a themeless

Download the PDF file here and the PUZ file here, or solve or download the Across Lite puzzle and/or software from the embedded app below.