This is the crossword puzzle thread

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I have been meaning to make this thread for a few weeks now, since Jordan and I have been derailing the Chicago thread lately with commentary about the Ben Tausig's Ink Well crossword (syndicated in a variety of alt-weeklies) and the Onion AV Club crossword, which Tausig edits. You can find both here.

Additionally, I have been constructing my own crosswords, which I've put up on Flickr. I just spent most of my weekend working on my first puzzle to utilize five theme fills (previous puzzles used only three theme fills or else were themeless).

Feel free to discuss the NYT puzzle, too. I wanted a thread broader than this one, but since that's the premier puzzle in the U.S., it surely belongs here, too. (I have to admit that I don't actually do the NYT one, but that has a lot to do with the fact that you have to pay to do it online.)

Anyway, go forth and tell me about your frequent encounters with "Sea eagle" or "Actress Skye."

jaymc, Monday, 24 December 2007 03:32 (ten years ago) Permalink

Recently I picked up a copy of the Oregonian in order to do the NYTimes puzzle and I kept it aside for weeks and then finally did it -- it was a Wednesday puzzle and I had a few minutes to spare -- and it was all Latin themed clues, which was nice, and was almost enough to make be believe that divine providence had caused me to hang on to it, almost.

Also while cleaning up I found the enormous bag of old GAMES magazines from the 80s that my friend gave me and which I have yet to explore. Rah!

The difficult part about crossword making is the clues, of course...

Casuistry, Monday, 24 December 2007 03:43 (ten years ago) Permalink

it was a Wednesday puzzle and I had a few minutes to spare -- and it was all Latin themed clues, which was nice

omg ysi?

anatol_merklich, Monday, 24 December 2007 03:50 (ten years ago) Permalink

Yes and no. I mean, it takes me several hours to create the fills and usually I'm so relieved to be done that I can rush through the clues in mere minutes. But it's a challenge to make really good clues, ones that will make the difference between an easy and a (more interesting) difficult puzzle. For instance, I like to put a lot of pop-culture references in my puzzles, but a lot of times these are hard to create ambiguous clues for; some end up just being fill-in-the-blanks.

jaymc, Monday, 24 December 2007 03:54 (ten years ago) Permalink

(xpost)

jaymc, Monday, 24 December 2007 03:54 (ten years ago) Permalink

Re: YSI: Oh uh I did it and then recycled it. It might still be in my recycle bin though. But it'll have the answers.

Casuistry, Monday, 24 December 2007 04:01 (ten years ago) Permalink

Har, no worries Casuistry. Are we talking about cryptics or non- here btw?

anatol_merklich, Monday, 24 December 2007 04:04 (ten years ago) Permalink

Cryptic thread is another one, mostly UK posters, but jaymc and Casuistry show up too.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Monday, 24 December 2007 04:10 (ten years ago) Permalink

i can do ny times up through wednesday 80-90% of the time with a fair amount of ease, thursday closer to 50-60% (usually with some help), friday almost never, and i dont think ive ever finished a saturday ny times x-word

max, Monday, 24 December 2007 04:15 (ten years ago) Permalink

Oh. I have. Either I get hopeless stuck on a Saturday (30% of the time?) or it takes about 45 minutes. Or, it did when I was doing them all the time.

Casuistry, Monday, 24 December 2007 06:31 (ten years ago) Permalink

last week's sunday ny times crossword i did in less than an hour (this is not usually the case for me).

i cannot, under any circumstances, ever finish a cryptic crossword

impudent harlot, Monday, 24 December 2007 06:37 (ten years ago) Permalink

New crossword from me.

jaymc, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:25 (ten years ago) Permalink

Haha "what johns do."

The school clue is super-great, too!

I was momentarily thrown by two spellings not conforming to the way the NYT would render them -- and then in both cases yours seems more Korrect, and theirs seems more of the variEnt.

nabisco, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:43 (ten years ago) Permalink

I'm pretty sure I know one of the two you mean. Is this the other? Because I think that's always spelled like that, even though a word that contains that word has a NYT-preferred variant.

jaymc, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:51 (ten years ago) Permalink

Nope, two different ones -- 9 across and 48 across.

nabisco, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:53 (ten years ago) Permalink

And actually, funny though it may be, I'm kind of annoyed with "what johns do," just because it's a bit of a stretch, even for a Tausig-type puzzle. Really hard to work with five theme fills, though!

jaymc, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:53 (ten years ago) Permalink

Nope, two different ones -- 9 across and 48 across.

Ah! I had originally used the variant for 48-A until I looked it up in Wikipedia and saw that that was a common mistake.

jaymc, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:54 (ten years ago) Permalink

my pops schooled me on that holiday sunday NYT puzzle. :(

i got ben tausig's book and i'm about halfway through it, although his cluing seems to have gotten harder as he went along.

Jordan, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:55 (ten years ago) Permalink

I think you can get away with one giant stretch per puzzle, so long as it's , you know, funny.

nabisco, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:56 (ten years ago) Permalink

Try to be a little sneakier with the clues, maybe? "When Romeo dies" -- the present tense gives that one away far too quickly. Make it past tense, so there's at least a chance that I'll panic for a moment trying to figure out if we know the year -- or, better, "Where Romeo died", and I might think you're going for "GENOA" and realize that won't fit and wonder if I am misremembering the story -- or, maybe even better, for a good Thursdayish clue, find some other character who dies in a similar place, but whose name does not immediately ring of Shakespeare, and I'll be mystified for a while, but it will eventually come to me. Because it's that sort of strip-tease, right?

"What johns do" is nicely phrased for sure, though.

Casuistry, Thursday, 27 December 2007 20:13 (ten years ago) Permalink

That's a fair point, Chris. My thought process for that clue was basically, "I need something that happens there ... Oh, well, obviously: Romeo dies ... Is that too easy? ... What happens in Othello? ... *reads Wikipedia article about Othello* ... yeah, not really feeling that ... I should probably be working right now ... All right, 'When Romeo dies.'"

jaymc, Thursday, 27 December 2007 20:35 (ten years ago) Permalink

That's sort of what I meant about the clues being the hard part. But you saw the movie, right? How Will Shortz basically rewrites half the clues for the puzzles he accepts?

Anyway I'm not trying to discourage you, of course. I just want more awesome crosswords to do.

Casuistry, Thursday, 27 December 2007 23:58 (ten years ago) Permalink

Speaking of Tausig puzzles: the numbering of the clues in the Onion one this week (the sports issue) is completely off!

nabisco, Saturday, 29 December 2007 22:37 (ten years ago) Permalink

Haha, rly? It was correct online.

Jordan, Saturday, 29 December 2007 23:06 (ten years ago) Permalink

Yeah, it's bad enough that 1/3 of the down clues are sometimes randomly deleted; this time I was like, "Yeah, that's not gonna work."

jaymc, Saturday, 29 December 2007 23:17 (ten years ago) Permalink

Another new one. Title is exactly the same as Ben Tausig's Ink Well puzzle last week but with a different interpretation.

jaymc, Monday, 31 December 2007 17:32 (ten years ago) Permalink

I think this is your hardest one yet, for sure.

Jordan, Monday, 31 December 2007 19:28 (ten years ago) Permalink

Good!

jaymc, Monday, 31 December 2007 19:35 (ten years ago) Permalink

Do you have .puz files?

Casuistry, Monday, 31 December 2007 20:15 (ten years ago) Permalink

Wow, jaymc, that last one is really good.

I used to want to make my own crosswords, and looked for books on how to construct them, but never could find any. Are there such things, or do you just get in there and figure it out?

Rock Hardy, Monday, 31 December 2007 20:45 (ten years ago) Permalink

Most books about crossword puzzles seem to have an obligatory section on making them, I think. I read Eugene T. Maleska's book, and boy was he proud of the awful crosswordese he used to drill into his puzzles, but I'm pretty sure it had a chapter on making puzzles.

Casuistry, Monday, 31 December 2007 20:53 (ten years ago) Permalink

No, I don't have .puz files. I need to look into that. Also crossword constructors are always talking about a software program called Across Lite?

And thanks, Rock. I just sort of figured it out through trial and error. All you really need to know is the basic rules for what the grid needs to look like: no words shorter than three letters, diagonal symmetry. But any good software (like Crossword Weaver, which I use) will help you make sure you don't do anything irregular.

When I started out doing themeless puzzles, I would just start at the top-right and work my way around the puzzle intuitively. With themed puzzles, I do the theme fills first and then work outward from the middle.

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 15:57 (ten years ago) Permalink

I'm still a little wtf over this Tausig one from the other day (I'm working through his book). The clue is "Good Buddy" and the answer is "CBER". I assume it's CB radio, but still doesn't quite make sense to me?

Jordan, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:04 (ten years ago) Permalink

cockblocker?

Jordan, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:04 (ten years ago) Permalink

I'm guessing that someone who uses CB radio is a CBer, in the same way that Tausig uses the clue "Recipient of 'You've got mail' message" for AOLER.

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:06 (ten years ago) Permalink

just "CBer," as in one who does CB? seems ok to me

xpost dang it

n/a, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:06 (ten years ago) Permalink

Yeah guys, I know that CBer is one who does CB, but how do you get that from "good buddy"?

Jordan, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:18 (ten years ago) Permalink

that is CB slang, they say stuff like "ten-four, good buddy."

n/a, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:21 (ten years ago) Permalink

http://www.impawards.com/1977/posters/smokey_and_the_bandit.jpg

n/a, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:21 (ten years ago) Permalink

Across Lite is the program that you use to enjoy .puz files, and you can get it from the NYTimes website, and they distribute their puzzles to online subscribers in that format. Someone you know might have a year's worth of such .puz files, but he has perhaps already worked through them all.

Casuistry, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:50 (ten years ago) Permalink

Also, you're supposed to have no more than [a certain number] of black squares if you hope to get published by the big-leagues, and certain black-square formations are frowned upon (full 90 degree right angles -- basically anything Tetris-y).

Casuistry, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:52 (ten years ago) Permalink

I think it's 17% black squares, or 40 squares in a 15x15 puzzle. Though Tausig had one that was 46 recently.

certain black-square formations are frowned upon (full 90 degree right angles -- basically anything Tetris-y).

I didn't know this.

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:57 (ten years ago) Permalink

I'm not sure it's as hard-and-fast a rule as the percentage one, but on those rare occasions when I see such a puzzle, I'm always a little startled by it. I dunno, I should flip through one of my NYTimes books to make sure I'm not fooling myself about it.

Diagramless puzzles, of course, are all about that.

Casuistry, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 17:00 (ten years ago) Permalink

http://www.cruciverb.com/index.php/articles/htmlpages/120

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 17:01 (ten years ago) Permalink

A++ for "Paris's friend," Jaymc -- actually took me a while, with excellent payoff

nabisco, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:09 (ten years ago) Permalink

Total pro-level theme on that one, too!

nabisco, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:09 (ten years ago) Permalink

Ha, I sort of wrote that one with you in mind, N!

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:10 (ten years ago) Permalink

The "Paris's friend" clue, I mean.

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:10 (ten years ago) Permalink

I had to look that one up after I got the answer, I don't watch that show.

Jordan, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:13 (ten years ago) Permalink

agreed, tho i haven't done this week's yet

808s & Deep States (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 8 May 2018 21:39 (seven months ago) Permalink

I did the first one and liked it well enough, but it made me appreciate how the AV Club xword is even more refreshing. Highly recommend that one.

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 8 May 2018 21:48 (seven months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Bonus clue from https://www.xwordinfo.com/Crossword?date=5/24/2018:

Breaking pitch thrown by an oddsmaker? (6,6)

That would be CUTTER BOOKIE or some variation, right?

Sybil Disobedience (Leee), Wednesday, 11 July 2018 20:09 (five months ago) Permalink

Butter cookie? If there are lots of spoonerisms...

Leaghaidh am brón an t-anam bochd (dowd), Wednesday, 11 July 2018 20:13 (five months ago) Permalink

bookie cutter

maura, Thursday, 12 July 2018 04:27 (five months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Finished the latest New Yorker crossword in 21:08 with no cheating! They seem to have gotten a lot easier after several weeks of being almost frustratingly obscure/hard.

Justice Leee Unlimited (Leee), Thursday, 23 August 2018 19:57 (three months ago) Permalink

nyer one is great, but knowing one of the long references can open it up pretty quick

the bhagwanadook (symsymsym), Friday, 24 August 2018 02:21 (three months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Today's Washington Post puzzle by Evan Birnholz is grebt.

Buckaroo Can't Fail (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 28 October 2018 18:06 (one month ago) Permalink

gf and I have gotten pretty serious about the times puzzle, yesterday's broke our 47 day streak. I'm afraid to look at non-times puzzles since this is already becoming such a reliable time suck.

iatee, Monday, 29 October 2018 01:31 (one month ago) Permalink

Tell me about it. I had to stop for several years.

Buckaroo Can't Fail (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 29 October 2018 01:44 (one month ago) Permalink

avcxword is pretty solid

also: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/laurabrarian/the-inkubator

maura, Monday, 29 October 2018 19:26 (one month ago) Permalink

oh and i really like the new yorker puzzle too, although its software hangs at times

maura, Monday, 29 October 2018 19:26 (one month ago) Permalink

Fireballs are wonderful.

Birnholz can be good, but I preferred it when there was a variety of constructors, not the same guy every Sunday. Once I learn how a particular person's mind works, it gets less.

Glasnostradamus (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 30 October 2018 17:29 (one month ago) Permalink

Less fun

Glasnostradamus (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 30 October 2018 17:29 (one month ago) Permalink

Okay, you twisted my arm, so I reupped for Fireball.

The Crossword Jesus wrote today's NYT. Also enjoyed the BIrnholz again.

Buckaroo Can't Fail (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 4 November 2018 20:37 (one month ago) Permalink

I just switched from Android to iPhone and one of my biggest regrets is that Crosswords Plus (free NYT crosswords!) isn't in the App Store. What's a good iOS crossword app?

Captain Hardchord (Leee), Tuesday, 6 November 2018 19:21 (one month ago) Permalink

the nyt app is pretty good, you should just pay for it and support the crossword industry

iatee, Tuesday, 6 November 2018 21:58 (one month ago) Permalink

the sunday themeless from this week was awesome, I wish NYT would run those more often

Freda VanFleet (symsymsym), Thursday, 8 November 2018 19:11 (one month ago) Permalink

I never quite know what people mean when they talk about crosswords in the US - are they cryptic, general knowledge or what? I still do the Times every day, even though I can't justify giving money to murdoch.

Leaghaidh am brón an t-anam bochd (dowd), Thursday, 8 November 2018 20:59 (one month ago) Permalink

(I also do the Morning Star on a saturday - does that balance it out?)

Leaghaidh am brón an t-anam bochd (dowd), Thursday, 8 November 2018 20:59 (one month ago) Permalink

crosswords in the U.S. are not cryptic

( ͡☉ ͜ʖ ͡☉) (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:00 (one month ago) Permalink

But they can be difficult, right?

Leaghaidh am brón an t-anam bochd (dowd), Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:01 (one month ago) Permalink

(Was thinking of subscribing to some apps - but I find it hard to do crosswords that aren't on paper.)

Leaghaidh am brón an t-anam bochd (dowd), Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:02 (one month ago) Permalink

Mostly I just need something to stop people talking to me in the pub when i'm drinking at 10am.

Leaghaidh am brón an t-anam bochd (dowd), Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:02 (one month ago) Permalink

Cosign the recommendation for the American Values Club crossword, it's just the best.
https://avxwords.com/#/

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 8 November 2018 21:28 (one month ago) Permalink

Ahem.

There are such things as cryptic crossswords in the US, in American English - they were started by Stephen Sondheim!- but they are not too common. Main sources now are the WSJ and Harper’s, once a month. The New Yorker used to have one but it was super easy in a small grid. NYT does them on Sunday once in a while as a extra.

Can’t stand doing crosswords on phone any more so don’t really use the apps but didn’t think you could get NYT puzzles without a subscription on any app.

Haven’t done the American Values puzzle in a few years, despite (because of?) the fact that Ven Tausig currently lives a block away from me.

Buckaroo Can't Fail (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 9 November 2018 00:36 (one month ago) Permalink

games world of puzzles magazine (the combined version of games and world of puzzles) also has cryptics

maura, Friday, 9 November 2018 13:07 (one month ago) Permalink

brendan emmet quigley’s free ones on his site are good too

maura, Friday, 9 November 2018 13:08 (one month ago) Permalink

I tend to find ‘ordinary’ crosswords are just synonym exercises, but which I don’t find that interesting. Plus I use the times cryptic to keep track of whether or not my meds are dulling me (in the short term they did, but I’m back to my usual level now).

Leaghaidh am brón an t-anam bochd (dowd), Friday, 9 November 2018 13:17 (one month ago) Permalink

Okay, I have one tiny use for crossword apps. The Standalone app seems to still be going strong whilst the other apps have fallen by the wayside.

Buckaroo Can't Fail (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 11 November 2018 20:03 (one month ago) Permalink

Some of the rest of the Redds have being doing NYT regularly so I have been dipping back in with caution

Gottseidank, es ist Blecch Freitag (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 25 November 2018 18:05 (three weeks ago) Permalink

are there any living people who actually use the term el-hi

mookieproof, Monday, 26 November 2018 01:50 (three weeks ago) Permalink

naked indians iirc

we got the observer this week and couldn't get into the rhythm at all. might be a long winter

old yeller-at-clouds (darraghmac), Monday, 26 November 2018 01:53 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Today's nyt had an impish gem with the clue "AT hot dog hot dog RA."

Brian Oenophile (Ye Mad Puffin), Monday, 3 December 2018 01:28 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Yup.

The WP today has an insanely complex gimmick.

What is Blecchism ? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 3 December 2018 02:06 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I was able to solve all the grids, but I don't always care about the metapuzzle shit like rearranging them or whatever, or mailing in what quote it being referenced by anagram in the circled letters or whatever.

Brian Oenophile (Ye Mad Puffin), Monday, 3 December 2018 14:35 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Yup

What is Blecchism ? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 3 December 2018 14:39 (two weeks ago) Permalink

(Doesn't mean I am not curious! Feel free to spoil me if you have a chance.)

Brian Oenophile (Ye Mad Puffin), Monday, 3 December 2018 14:45 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Thanks. Not worth it IMO, so I guess I'm not the target audience for that meta exercise.

Brian Oenophile (Ye Mad Puffin), Monday, 3 December 2018 16:13 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Full disclosure: I burned out on doing puzzles around the time the ACPT moved from Brooklyn back to Connecticut. Until then I was doing pretty much every single puzzle mentioned on that blog, including the metas, which I was never great at. I sometimes worry if this is just a matter of sour grapes, but also think I really just don’t care enough about spending the extra time to chase down the metas, it’s like a glorified acrostic maybe.

What is Blecchism ? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 3 December 2018 16:29 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I sympathize, JRatB.

A while back I burned out on themed, gimmick, and rebus puzzles generally, after decades of faithful adherence.

I loved the tough themeless Post Puzzlers, but those petered out. Some of the Fireballs captured that magic, but even then there was a lot of diagramless or otherwise un-fun stuff that did not constitute voluntary leisure activity for me.

I've become interested in the current NYTs due to a boring office job, but I am fully aware that it's a phase.

Brian Oenophile (Ye Mad Puffin), Monday, 3 December 2018 18:18 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Ahem.

There are such things as cryptic crossswords in the US, in American English - they were started by Stephen Sondheim.- but they are not too common. Main sources now are the WSJ and Harper’s, once a month. The New Yorker used to have one but it was super easy in a small grid. NYT does them on Sunday once in a while as a extra.

Interesting.

( ͡☉ ͜ʖ ͡☉) (jim in vancouver), Monday, 3 December 2018 18:22 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Thanks, YMP.

Cryptics I took a break from as well, but still actively enjoy. This weekend’s WSJ puzzle was fun.

What is Blecchism ? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 3 December 2018 19:34 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I'm thinking of going to the ACPT next year... any tips (more accommodation-wise than anything else)?

From Damage Inc. to Metallica Inc. (Leee), Friday, 7 December 2018 00:37 (one week ago) Permalink

Don’t you just want to stay in the hotel where the contest is? Maybe you can get a roommate to share

What Do I Blecch? (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 7 December 2018 00:50 (one week ago) Permalink

It's a Marriott though (but the strike's over so I guess it'd be ok?).

From Damage Inc. to Metallica Inc. (Leee), Friday, 7 December 2018 01:02 (one week ago) Permalink

ooh i’d go to this

maura, Friday, 7 December 2018 01:06 (one week ago) Permalink

Maura: FACT (fancy a crossword tournament)?

From Damage Inc. to Metallica Inc. (Leee), Friday, 7 December 2018 01:12 (one week ago) Permalink

The Nation is a good source of free US cryptic crosswords: https://www.thenation.com/admin-taxonomy/crossword-puzzle/

fetter, Friday, 7 December 2018 11:41 (one week ago) Permalink


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