Thursday, January 14, 2021

#10: Dummy Thick


difficulty: medium (tuesday/wednesday)

I can actually pinpoint the exact day I met the crossword puzzle that changed my life. It was the start of my senior year of high school; I had been hanging out with friends on the Lower East Side, and I had fished The Onion out of one of those green newspaper boxes to read on my commute back home. Eventually I worked my way to the crossword in the back of the issue. I don't think I actually finished the puzzle - too tricky for my undeveloped adolescent cortex - but I did manage to figure out the entry smack-dab in the center of the grid, and I did a double take.

"What the hell?" 17-year-old Q thought. "You can put CIRCLE JERKS in a crossword puzzle? That's..."

I paused.

"...pretty cool, actually."

Nine years later, when I started writing down ideas for puzzles for my crossword blog, the first one on my list was a tribute to that puzzle which had put me on that path. So imagine my surprise last Thursday when I visited Brendan Emmett Quigley's website and came face to face with the very puzzle that had blown my mind as a teenager. Solving it a decade later, the puzzle is definitely showing its age (remember these guys? no? me neither)... but the impact it had on me as a teen cannot be understated. Certainly you can trace a fairly straight line from that to the fairly risque clues I'm writing now.

Anyway, long prelude to a pretty straightforward (if weirdly-sized) puzzle. Thanks to Steve Mossberg and ckstern for their feedback/test solves - and of course, to Brendan for inspiring not just this QVXword, but all the QVXwordz, now and forever. I hope you all enjoy it.

Applet under the cut.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Sporty Dos (Monday Mini #4)


No PDF this week because I can't figure out how to get the grid shape to export cleanly, sorry. I've wanted to fit 12-Across into a puzzle for ages, incidentally. Applet below the cut.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

#9: Ozone Player (Themeless #4)


difficulty: very hard (Saturday)

Folks, this may be the first Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo-themed puzzle, but... actually, it's probably going to be the last Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo-themed puzzle. To be honest with ya, I didn't realize that 33-Across was such an accomplished guy before I made this puzzle - he was apparently a huge deal in the West Coast hip-hop scene.

Oh, this is a 14-by-14, by the way. But to compensate, it's a really hard 14-by-14. Like, really, really hard. I hope you enjoy it in spite of that. Many thanks to Brooke and Paolo for test solving; applet under the cut.

(P.S.: I also have today's USA Today puzzle, "It's Your Thing.")

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

#8: Atlantic Time (ft. Ryan Fitzgerald)



Surprise: it's a bonus puzzle! This one was made in collaboration with Ryan Fitzgerald of Crosscord to coincide with... something or other. Immediately after making the PDF I realized "50/50 Chance" would be a better title for this one. Not because the work was a 50/50 split, but because... oh, you'll get it when you solve it. (Or not. Maybe that's what the 50/50 chance is - that you'll understand what the hell these themers mean.) Applet under the cut, enjoy.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Baby Hogs (Monday Mini #3)


[PDF] [PUZ] 

The first full week of 2021 is going to be a good one for the #QVhive (please make that trend) - let's kick off this cavalcade of awesome with a perfect 6x6 square. Applet below the cut.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

#7: Countdown to Ecstasy


difficulty: "happy medium" (Wednesday-ish)

So yesterday I looked backwards towards the bright spots in 2020, puzzlewise. Today, we look towards the future. My very bright future, because this puzzle is IMO the best of the themed ones on my site so far, and I definitely feel these puzzles sort of clicking into place in a way they weren't previously. So I have confidence that, with this newfound cruciverbal power under my (elastic pajama) belt, you'll be seeing a lot of me in more major outlets come 2021. Just a hunch. Grey Lady, here we come.

But enough about me. I'm definitely looking forward to Malaika Handa's daily 7x7 puzzles, and I'm not just saying that because this brilliant project of hers was directly inspired by one of my stupid questions (long story). And of course, the promise (some would say "threat") of an "et 2, etui?" has me shook. But honestly, considering just how many must-solve constructors came onto the scene this year who had never so much as even touched Crossfire not even six months ago, I have absolutely no doubt that my socks will be knocked into the stratosphere by someone who no one's even heard of. Who knows, maybe in 2021 this blog can be a launchpad for the next star constructor-in-the-making.

So yeah, enjoy the puzzle. Applet under the cut. I hope I'm not "dropping the ball" here. (Little New Year's Eve humor.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Five Indie Puzzles That Made My 2020 Slightly Less Terrible

What a year, am I right? One day you're making jokes about Joaquin Phoenix's bonkers Oscars speech and the incoming plastic bag tax, and the next you're in a forty-minute line at a Key Food where the bread aisle is completely devoid of product, and the next you're out of a job. And in between those days, you're obsessively checking social media to see which of your friends under 30 is gonna die today. Just terrible all around.

On the other hand, when God closes a door, he opens a window (to air out the smell of 100,000 corpses). Would I have taken the plunge into "crossworld" had the pandemic not happened? Maybe. But suffice it to say, the indie crossword scene saw a huge boom due to COVID, and if there is a pandemic "class" of indie constructors, I am probably one of the names at its forefront. But in fact, there are quite a few talented constructors who put out A+ work during this year.

I intended to post this Monday in lieu of a mini, but real life got in the way. This is not a comprehensive list, obviously - for starters, there already exists a completely objective and comprehensive chronological list of the best 100 puzzles of 2020. And besides, there are too many brilliant puzzles being made these days, some of which aren't by Brooke Husic, to list 'em all. So this list is just a set of recommendations for puzzles that fell through the cracks for whatever reason. If any of these don't look familiar, just click the link - I've kept spoilers to a minimum in the mini write-ups but you should definitely go into these blind if possible.

Without further ado, the "Top Five" ...