Tuesday 7 February 2012

If only my moustache filled in so well

I never thought the day would come when I made a quote theme puzzle. I don't like leaving things up to chance, and constructing one is all about chance. First you have to find a short quote that, when combined with its author's name, splits up symmetrically into not too many 3-15 letter chunks. Then, you've got to pray that you can fill around those chunks, because you can't really rearrange them in the grid. If you manage to get past those hurdles and actually construct the puzzle, chances are good that solvers will find it unremarkable anyway. The constraints on the grid tend to force fugly fill, and you don't get quite the same "aha" experience, since you know exactly what the theme is going in. So what compels a constructor to attempt a quote puzzle? Well, there was some discussion about quote themes last week at Crossword Fiend, incited by Stu Ockman's Thursday NYT, and I posed that very question. To my delight, the inimitable Henry Hook responded with this pearl: "In my case, a deadline and lack of a better idea [compels me to construct one]." Realizing that I was in the exact same position, I started toying with the notion myself. In an amazing stroke of luck, the very first quote that came to mind happened to be one that splits into 2 15-letter chunks, and its speaker into 2 5-letter chunks. Not only that, but both quote and speaker are among my all time faves in their respective domains. However, with only 40 theme squares, I was worried that the puzzle wouldn't be strong enough. So, I threw in a fun visual element, gave it a sly title, and voila! I had myself a half-decent puzzle (admittedly, the visual element will be a give-away for fans. I wonder if any die-hard fans will be able to guess the quote as well, from just the grid design, title, and length of theme entries?). The fill turned out surprisingly clean, to boot. Not thrilled about the abundance of 3-letter entries and abbrevs., but I am thrilled about the 38-Across/38-Down/39-Down crossing. If you're not up on your slang, I apologize in advance. To make the puzzle fun and gettable (especially with those corners - only one way in!), I tried to make it super easy.

In other news, I've been hemming and hawing for months but I finally booked off a few days in March to go to the ACPT. It's a hell of a long way to travel for just a weekend, but I'm stoked. I'll compete, but I expect to get destroyed. Really, I'm just after the schmoozing. The big names in puzzling are like rock stars to me, and an opportunity to meet some of them is unmissable. Also, if you're a cross nerd fan, come find me there and we'll have a drink. I'm really nice, I swear.

Enjoy the puzzle, tell your friends, and don't forget to register to vote (fans of 4/62-Across will know what I mean)

Puzzles: Play That Funky Music
Rating: XW-14A
Download the PDF and PUZ files here, or solve or download the Across Lite puzzle and/or software from the Java app below.

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