Friday, May 3, 2024

#49: Gentlewoman Thief (Themeless #22)


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Hello to everyone visiting QVXwordz for the first time from the link in that Slate profile! I hope you're enjoying my work there... and I hope you aren't scared off by the difficulty of the puzzles on this site! Because what I have for you today is a 64-word themeless that I would call "sizzlin' hot," difficulty-wise. Shout-out to Lila Goldenberg, Will Eisenberg, and Colin Adams (what, no berg?) who all chipped in on the test-solves on this one. (And speaking of shout-outs, check out that 1-Down clue!)

Surprisingly, this is the first themeless grid I've published that was made using Ingrid, the super-cool (and super FREE!) construction software from Ryan Fitzgerald. I say "surprisingly" because I created the program's adorable mascot. She's so cute! The main consequence of this is that there's a couple entries in this grid which weren't on my personal wordlist but which exist on Spread the Word(list), and thus enabled some fun entries here.

What else is new? Hm, well - AVCX's submission window opened on Wednesday, which was nice. We got maybe a dozen submissions on the first day, and only one of them was about butts! I haven't figured out what to do with all the themeless grids I've been making - maybe I'll sell little packs of pay-what-you-want grids on Ko-fi or one of those sorts of websites? And there's always the Redstone app. Let me know what you guys would like, on that front. Anyway, as always, the applet is under the cut; enjoy.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

#48: Girls Gone Wild (ft. Richard Allen!)


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Hey, it's another themed grid - and this time, it's with a pal! Richard Allen runs the blog Lexicon Devil, where he posts metas and variety puzzles in addition to fun themelesses. In addition to this, he's also solved the puzzle classic Cain's Jawbone and one of the Zodiac Killer's ciphers (!!) - a real smart guy, and a great constructor too.

Anyway, we've got a 78-word themed puzzle of middling difficulty. Nothing too earthshaking, this type of theme, but I think it's a pretty good puzzle, firmly at the intersection of the two of our sensibilities. Especially that final theme entry! Actually, the northwest corner is... *very* Quiara, for better or worse. But we had our fun with this one, and we think you will too.

In case you missed it, I posted an "odds and ends" post earlier today recapping some of the cool stuff I did in the past three months. (I got a new job, among other things.) Anyway, applet under the cut; see you next week, probably.

Odds and Ends

Hey, how's everyone been? It was only a few months ago that it looked like I'd settle back into a regular schedule of posting on Sundays, and that... did not happen! But there are good reasons for that.

The big one is that I have now joined the hallowed ranks of the full-time puzzle editors, because I now edit a daily puzzle for Slate! Every weekday you get a lovely midi (an eleven-by-eleven one! not a wimpy little nine-by-nine like you'd get at Vox!) and then on Sunday you get a fun themeless grid. The grids are by some of the best constructors in the game - beyond me, you'll be seeing puzzles by Sid Sivakumar, Nancy Serrano-Wu, Hemant Mehta, Chandi Deitmer, and Ben Zimmer - and I think they're at least on par with the mini or midi offerings elsewhere on the internet. Fans of my work will get to see puzzles there somewhere between two and three times a week, such as this lovely one.

The other big thing is that I went to the ACPT this year! For the second time I worked on the judging team, spending most of Saturday in the mezzanine of the Stamford Marriott with three colors of highlighters. But I did try, to the best of my ability, to play along with the crowd. For those of you curious how I would have fared, I'd have scored 11,415 points - 44th place. Nothing to sneeze at, although I would be kicking myself for leaving two squares blank on puzzle 2, and thus just narrowly missing the C finals due to a very silly error. (Without that mistake I'd be in 23rd, and thus just narrowly missing the B finals instead.) In any case, I had a great time, having perhaps too much to drink (so, two IPAs) and too little sleep. Oh, and Elise gave me a free Cruciverbology t-shirt.

Anyway, in the interim I had a couple interesting grids I constructed or co-constructed go up - I had a Universal Saturday themeless run back in February (it's Freestyle 112, for those of you trying to find it in an archive on the Puzzle Society or whatever - or you can just DM me and I'll send you a PDF) which I thought was very, very good, and I also contributed to Gizmo's "Just One Word" puzzle, which has... much more than one word in it. I think every constructor's Salomon number was cut in half by this grid, oh my lord.

Well, I have a bunch of themed and themeless grids that got rejected from various places, and also some collabs that'll be posted here over the coming months. (Including *literally tonight* OMG!) So I'll see you all then.

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!

(EDIT FROM THE FUTURE: I got annoyed at the way this puzzle would force the page to jump to it as the only applet not under a readmore, so I put it under a readmore. It looks like this:)

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!