Sunday, March 28, 2021

Chain of Fools (Monday Mini #11)


I thought this one would be straightforward, but test solvers indicated it was kind of ruthless. Oh well. Applet under the cut. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

#20: Something Different


difficulty: @#$!? (n/a)

I was going to publish this on April Fool's, but figured I could do better.

So what's a "Something Different" puzzle? Well, it's not really all that different from your standard American crossword, except that the long entries are hot nonsense like MOJITO SPEEDBOAT or UH OH! MY BRA IS GONE or DR. MARIO'S GOT A GUN. (Some of the short entries are nonsensical too, but in less delightful ways.) To compensate, all the clues are pretty straightforward definitions. The end result is kind of a trip: e.g., how often do you see a quadruple stack of fifteen-letter entries? (Or two, as is the case here?) That's the magic of a Something Different, baby.

Anyway, let me know what you think. Applet under the cut. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Cut Cut (Monday Mini #10)



Tenth mini, ten clues, which was neither deliberate nor a sustainable pattern. Maybe I'll do a 50x50 for puzzle 100? Don't count on it. Anyway, according to Ariel this one is "fun mean." Enjoy. Applet under the... wait for it... cut.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

#19: Shiny Happy People

difficulty: easy, for once(?)

Blame Malaika for this one. No wordplay, just a nice straightforward themed puzzle. I think it's pretty easy, for once, but YMMV (particularly on the northeast and southwest corners which have no theme content).

Applet under the cut. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

#18: Not the Centerpiece of an Illuminati Ritual (Themeless #8)

difficulty: regular hard (Friday NYT)

Been seeing a lot of talk on Twitter about how to make themeless grids, so here is One Weird Tip that's worked out really well for me: whenever possible, put your seed entry at the bottom of the grid, and then work your way from the southern and eastern borders of the grid towards the northwest. This way, you don't frontload your best clues/entries, and you don't get saddled with crap like REASSESSES crossing SASS towards the bottom of the puzzle. (This particular puzzle was seeded with 68-Across, if you were wondering.)

Anyway, enough behind the scenes chatter. Enjoy! Special thanks to Norah Sharpe and Ken Stern for playtesting this bad boy. Applet under the cut.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Monday Mini #9 - Sponsored by Paramount+


Folks, I'm not much of a streamer. The cultural zeitgeist has left me behind, with its "Queen's Gambits" and its "Ozarks" and its "Oranges Which May or May Not Be the New Black." But do you know what hasn't left me behind? What you can always rely on? That's right. I'm talking about Paramount+, the new streaming service with all your favorite Television Content. I'm talking "Sponge Bob Square Pants: Kamp Koral." I'm talking "Tooning Out The News." I'm talking "Star Trek" - and I mean all the Star Treks, not just the one with the old Asian guy with the perched eyebrows from the memes. What a veritable cornucopia of streaming content, available for a highly affordable $9.99 a month.

Speaking of content you've grown to love and expect week after week, here is today's Monday Mini. Applet under the cut. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

#17: Sliding Van Doors (Themeless #7)

 [PDF] [PUZ]
difficulty: easy/medium (Tuesday-Wednesday?)

"this was a good time and more fun than homework"
- paolo "skateboard p" pasco

So last week, Matthew Stock (who, incidentally, I did last Sunday's Atlantic puzzle with - please solve that if you haven't) posted a 16x16 themeless on his site with translational symmetry. It got me wondering whether you could do something similar with a 15x15 grid! It turns out the answer is yes, but that there is exactly one grid pattern you can do that with which isn't totally infeasible, and it is, um, totally miserable:

But, with some very minor tweaks, you can get a grid that's far less segmented, far more aesthetically pleasing, and... it has 52 4-letter entries! Which is actually kind of cool. The only problem is it's got 78 words, but hey, I like cluing. Also, since the grid is still pretty segmented, you can stick literally any 15 into this grid and it'll fill. (You'll see what I mean when you solve it.)

Anyway, thanks to Paolo for test solving. Enjoy! Applet under the cut.