Sunday, January 28, 2024

#47: Sizzlin'


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"Hot" off the presses - ha ha ha. This puzzle is 72 words, lightly themed, and slightly tricky (in the fill department, not the theme department). It'll probably get trickier if you're solving this after 49-Across loses its relevance - so, in about a week? Joking, joking.

Lots of great puzzles out there these days, especially in the past month. I don't know if I want to do roundup posts anymore, since the crew at Daily Crossword Links have so kindly been putting their own "puzzles to check out" posts every week, and my recommendations couldn't possibly compare to Matt, Rich, and Shannon's. But while I'm here, I might as well give a shout-out to friend-of-the-blog and regular human streamer rogo, who started a crossword blog last week and whose puzzles feel like they're straight out of the golden age of indie crosswords. (Remind me to update my blogroll along with the rest of the QVXwordz theme overhaul I'm supposed to be doing.) Hey, and just for the hell of it, why don't I shout out the puzzle I made for Crossword Club this past Tuesday? I thought it was pretty good, that one.

Anyway, applet under the cut, as usual. See y'all soon.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

#46: Turn That S#!% Up! (Themeless #21)

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This here puzzle is a 70-word themeless, one that I'd say is perhaps on par with a NYT Friday, difficulty-wise - and as the title maybe implies, it's a bit on the vulgar side.

I don't have too much to say about this one, other than to thank Brian Thomas and Aimee Lucido for giving it a test spin. Brian uploaded a massive themeless grid on his blog earlier today, which is definitely worth your time imo. (I'm not just saying this because he called my puzzle "fun, clean, wonderful," although the flattery was appreciated.)

Looking for more QVX content elsewhere? I felt pretty good about the Crossword Club midi puzzle I had this past Thursday, with its weird shape and nice 5x8 stack at its bottom. (The shape makes me think of pinball.) Maybe you're just checking this site via the Daily Crossword Links newsletter, in which case you likely missed the mini I posted Friday and the Alex Boisvert collab that it was meant to advertise. All three of those grids are definitely worth checking out, imo.

Anyway, applet under the cut; enjoy!

Friday, January 19, 2024

BONUS PUZZLE: Ahoy! Or; A Mini to be Read to the Tune of the Theme From "Gilligan's Island"

Over at Crossword Nexus, Alex Boisvert and I made a very cool grid together titled "Hold Them at Bay" - in its honor, here's a little bonus mini to celebrate. It's, erm, ever-so-slightly themed, insofar as any grid of this size can have a theme. Give it a spin, and then try the (even better!) aforementioned Q-and-Alex collab. 

See you again on Sunday!

Saturday, January 13, 2024

#45: Baby Movies


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Ah, the triumphant return of everyone's favorite QVXwordz running gag - this time in the form of a somewhat difficult 72-word themed puzzle. (It's about as hard as a trickier NYT Wednesday, I'm told.) I was going to make a joke about how the grid shape on this one was brought to you by the letter S, but - and forgive me if this gets too inside baseball - then I checked the stats on this one and was surprised to find that there were very, very, very few instances of the letter "S" in the grid, relative to most other puzzles. E.g., Themeless 17 on this blog has as its final four across entries TENETS, CASTLES, OP-EDS, and KISSERS. And those are crossing JARS, CUTS, and HURTS. That's seven plural entries in just the final two rows! This is quite typical of crosswords - you hardly notice the surplus of plural entries unless you're solving a themeless where the final entry is SEERESSES or whatever. But this grid only has three plurals in the entire grid (and one is a theme entry so it doesn't count). S is only the third-most common consonant in the puzzle! Quite weird. Anyway, shout-out once again to John K. (who has today's NYT, incidentally) for test solving, as well as to Will Nediger, plus Louie and try_kach from Crosscord who were also very helpful with their feedback on which clues needed a polish pass.

It looks like we're settling into me posting grids every Sunday this year, which means I'll have to update the top header on this site... and the whole theme, honestly. (It's been four years! About time for a remake, I think.) People really hate the color scheme on this site, although I have to say I kind of like it. But I also like the terrible MacPaint-ass theme on my personal website, so what do I know?

Applet, as always under the cut. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 6, 2024

#44: I Was Never Book Smart. I'm Money Smart. (Themeless #20)


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If you saw the title of this post and the image attached to it and felt a guilty little twinge of recognition, perhaps this 68-word themeless is up your alley! If you didn't, well... I guess there might be something in it for you anyway, although you might need to look up 31-Across on Know Your Meme afterwards. Suffice it to say that this puzzle conforms to every single QVXwordz stereotype: Scrabbly, packed with pop culture garbage, and rather difficult. But it's a fun puzzle anyway. Give it a spin!

Although, of course, no one is saying you have to do my puzzle. (Well, I'm saying it, but no one else is saying it.) So many good puzzles come out these days! I was recently flabbergasted by a pair of themelesses from old pros: Brendan Emmett Quigley's first blog puzzle of the year is a stellar super-low-word-count grid, and over at the New Yorker Erik Agard casually dropped a gorgeous puzzle that looks like a butterfly and solves like a bee, so to speak. (Actually, it's a wildly clean fill of a wildly open grid shape - as if he saw one of those grids where two stagger stacks cross and said "hold my beer.") And did you hear that there's a new charity pack out there? Puzzles for Palestine dropped over the weekend! A small donation to the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund will get you 22 puzzles by an all-star team of constructors - what a steal! I test-solved some of these grids and they are, in fact, quite worth your money.

Applet under the cut, as usual. No one test solved this, so there is one somewhat obvious typo in the PDF that will not affect your solving experience. Have fun!

Saturday, December 30, 2023

#43: Back Me Up Here, Y'all (Themeless #19)


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This puzzle is a 68-word themeless, with a bunch of things about it that are impressive in the XWordInfo sense - yes, as that thumbnail shows, there's a triple stack of 15s in its center, and also, without giving anything away, let's just say that this puzzle is an equal opportunity employer of consonants and vowels. It is also a fairly difficult puzzle, particularly if you're not on my wavelength - I packed this one full of references to popular culture that I like, some of which are not particularly mainstream. (Tragically for 34-Down, winning the Record of the Year Latin Grammy does not make you "white famous," nor does it make you "crossworthy," and, yes, I am pretending that the latter is not code for the former.) But I think the songs and records name-dropped here are worth a listen - hence why once you solve the puzzle there'll be links to all the songs I namedropped. Maybe someday I'll make a Spotify playlist with all the songs I namedropped in these puzzles? Would require me to have a Spotify account, so probably not. (Now, a playlist... haha, just kidding. Or am I?)

Incredibly, I have gone something like 15 months without posting a themeless on this blog. Weirdly, this is not because 2023 was a fallow year for me puzzle-wise, since I made at least fifty midis for Crossword Club alone. (I like the one I did from this Tuesday, incidentally.) Oh, and I got a grid published in the New York Times, finally. Twice, actually! Really, 2023 was a banner year for me in puzzles. I got to work behind the scenes at ACPT! I was (briefly) in the top 5 at Boswords and Lollapuzzoola!! Robyn Weintraub hugged me like, a dozen times!!!

But yes, QVXwordz has been sadly neglected over the past couple months. That's why my lofty goal for 2024 is to go "fifty-fifty" - by which I mean, I'm aiming to get fifty full-sized puzzles on the blog this year, and to sell fifty full-sized puzzles to various outlets. And you can help with that - I'm looking to collaborate with as many constructors as is feasible this year. So why don't you (is she gonna say the thing? is she gonna say the thing?) back me up here, y'all? Shoot me an e-mail and say "hey, Q, let's make a puzzle together!" and we'll work something out.

Anyway, hope you all like this puzzle. Big ups to John Kugelman and RandomSaucepan for testing this one. I'm still working out a schedule for weekly-ish posting - when I started the blog the only indie site that regularly posted on Thursdays was BEQ's, but now I'm wondering whether I should start posting on the weekend? We'll see.

Friday, June 2, 2023

#42: Toy Story


(insert sid's grids joke here)
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difficulty: medium

Pretty self-explanatory why this puzzle's theme was a no-go everywhere I sent it - and no, I don't mean because it's a... well, you'll see. Lyle Broughton, champion of reality TV and Bananagrams variants, did due diligence test solving this one (and confirmed for me the title on this one isn't too dupe-y).

I have a couple puzzles coming out in very exciting places this month, so keep your eyes peeled for those. Also, maybe check out my weekly midi for Crossword Club? I usually have the Thursday grid there; I like this puzzle I did for them today. Will Nediger discontinued his indie highlights series, irritatingly, which means I'll have to pick up the slack on those going forward, so I guess I'll post that this weekend. And then... maybe back to regular posting on this here site? Why not.

Anyway, applet under the cut. Enjoy.