Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Move It On Over

Yikes, only one puzzle left after today!  I'm of course hoping to make it extra special, but then I don't really have any good ideas as to how I'm going to do that yet.  Plus, I'll be moving into my new apartment next weekend, so time will be tight.  Super stoked on that; I've been living in houses with roommates for the last 4+ years, so it will be nice to have my own space for a change.

Just another freestyle this week.  Quite tough, if you ask me.

Parting words, crossed and otherwise, next Tuesday.

Puzzle: Freestyle #23
Rating: XW-PG
Difficulty: Quite tough

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Fortnight nightie-night

Just a pair of weekly puzzles left after this week!  Don't worry, puzzles will continue, though at a slower and less regular rate.  However, there will also be more puzzle-related stuff (ramblings and half-baked ideas, mostly) posted periodically, so I do hope you'll stick around.

But for now:

Every time I write a themed puzzle, I'm convinced that I've used up the last of my cruciverbal creativity and that I'll never be able to think up another theme.  And every time, just when I need a new one the most, one materializes out of thin air (you may have noticed that I pretty much post whatever kinds of puzzles I feel like posting; however, I hate to go too long without a themed puzzle, and every few weeks a new one seems necessary).  Such was the case this week.  I was recording a new album with my band Ink Road, and didn't think I'd have to time to crank out a solid full-sized puzzle, so I figured a 13x13 would have to do.  The challenge was coming up with a theme that felt complete using little grid real estate. Jeffrey Harris said once that "if I solve a puzzle with three theme entries, I want that to be not because there was no room for a fourth entry, but because there is no fourth entry."  Good advice to constructors, I think, and I wanted to heed it.  Miraculously, just this afternoon while running errands and fretting about still having to write a puzzle and get some shut-eye for work in the morning, a theme idea came to me for which I could think of only 3 short entries plus a revealer.  The rest was just the proverbial 10% perspiration (I believe the original quote referred to "genius"; I don't think this puzzle is ingenious, for the record).  Actually, even the third theme entry doesn't quite belong, in a way, but I think it gets the job done.

On a related note, my backup idea was a freestyle with a mini-theme, the gist of which I'll present to you in the form of a puzzle:

I'm thinking of a pair of 2-word terms, both of which have the enumerations (5, 5) (i.e. 2 5-letter words each).  They can both be clued as follows: [It might be listened to as a sleeping aid].  The first words of each can be paired to form a new term clued as [Metaphor-heavy sea beast of literature].  The last two words of each original term can also be paired to form a term clued as [Avant-garde genre for Sonic Youth, at times].  What are the terms?  I have no idea if this is difficult or not, but they were going to be the seed entries because I thought it was neat.

Answer: WHITE NOISE and WHALE MUSIC, which can be repaired as WHITE WHALE and NOISE MUSIC.  (highlight to view)

A more elegant puzzle would have the pair rearranged to form terms related to the originals (the holy grail would be all four terms sharing a single clue), but I couldn't think of any.

More words, crossed and otherwise, next Tuesday.

ps That link to my band above is hilariously dated, as is most of our web presence.  Only 2 of 5 current members were on the last album, and some pictures out there have like 4 extra people in them.

Puzzle: Sack Attack
Rating: XW-PG13
Difficulty: Mild

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Keeping Austin Weird

After a short but action-packed vacay in TeAustxas, I'm back in business.  Hope the double-header from a fortnight ago and the many brilliant puzzles available at the sites listed in the sidebar tided you over.  I was excited to share some stories, but:
a) it's no longer fresh in my mind,
b) the whole trip was kind of a blur while it was happening anyway, and
c) it's 2:37am local time and I have work in the morning.

In lieu of stories proper, here are some miscellaneous highlights: Napalm Death (whose drummer ran offstage to barf, and came back to play the fastest song in the set), Between the Buried and Me, wearing sandals in the mosh pit like a boss, Deerhoof, lots of free beer, feeling oddly like a millionaire riding around downtown in pedicabs, Saul Williams, sticking a dollar bill on a girl's arm with a staplegun (that was her way of busking - Austin's a weird place), travelling across the continent to meet new friends that live in my home town, Deathfix, lots of tacos, and many more.

Today's puzzle went through a number of revisions and one complete rewrite.  Had the grid about half-filled on Sunday.  I jumped on the computer Monday morning to finish it up, but opted to tackle BEQ's themeless first, which I was shocked to discover contained one of the 11-letter entries I had used in one of my stacks.  It's been used before, but it's distinctive enough that I couldn't bring myself to use it only a day after BEQ, and since changing it would have necessitated a nearly complete rewrite, I shelved the puzzle and started anew (in case you hadn't noticed, I'm not dropping the entry in this write-up so that I can use the puzzle for a future post).  

Oh, and you'll see a name you may not recognize in the byline.  That's my buddy Drew, a fellow cruciverbal enthusiast and Cross Nerd solver, who helped with the cluing (and contributed 30-Down, probably the best clue in the puzzle).

More words, crossed and otherwise, next Tuesday.

Puzzle: Freestyle #22
Rating: XW-18A
Difficulty: Fairly torturous