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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

(xpost)

jaymc, Monday, 24 December 2007 03:54 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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

anatol_merklich, Monday, 24 December 2007 04:04 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

New crossword from me.

jaymc, Thursday, 27 December 2007 16:25 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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

nabisco, Thursday, 27 December 2007 19:53 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

Haha, rly? It was correct online.

Jordan, Saturday, 29 December 2007 23:06 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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

Jordan, Monday, 31 December 2007 19:28 (twelve years ago) link

Good!

jaymc, Monday, 31 December 2007 19:35 (twelve years ago) link

Do you have .puz files?

Casuistry, Monday, 31 December 2007 20:15 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

cockblocker?

Jordan, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:04 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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

xpost dang it

n/a, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:06 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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

n/a, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:21 (twelve years ago) link

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

n/a, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:21 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

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

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 17:01 (twelve years ago) link

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

nabisco, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:09 (twelve years ago) link

Total pro-level theme on that one, too!

nabisco, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:09 (twelve years ago) link

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

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:10 (twelve years ago) link

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

jaymc, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 19:10 (twelve years ago) link

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 (twelve years ago) link

sometimes you just happen to see the answer that opens everything up, and sometimes you won't see it until tomorrow when you're in a slightly different frame of mind

mookieproof, Tuesday, 28 January 2020 20:26 (two months ago) link

Yeah, like when the theme becomes clear all at once - As with Jan 28 "'The wart stops here' sloganeer" - if you have that, the rest of the theme answers fall into place. But if you don't, you'll struggle with what looks like gibberish in a buncha places.

Okay, you're an ambulance (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 28 January 2020 22:02 (two months ago) link

I'm a big fan of working in five or ten minute chunks on a hard puzzle, for exactly the reason mookie just gave. Conveniently, five or ten minute chunks what my schedule permits. I'm also noticeably better at solving puzzles between, like, 6am and 4pm. Before/after my brain is mooshy. I don't like a lot of the NYTimes regular constructors, but I (honestly) don't know where to go to find other free, dece quality puzzles I can do on my phone. I'm so weary of the ETTA / ASTA /ARIA / ERIE / ETALIA fill style.

When I first started daily puzzling, I got confused by the hatred for certain creators/styles/clues at Rex Parker and xwordinfo, because I couldn't even detect the style from puzzle to puzzle. The more I've done, though, the more I've realized that I like (a) quick (b) medium-difficult (c) trivia-based (d) wordplay-heavy puzzles. Innuendo and puns are fun to solve. I'm not charmed by crosswordese or celebrity/pop culture entries, or famous wines or opera stars from the mid twentieth century, and the recent spate of conversational entries has worn thin. I especially hate 'near' phrases e.g. 'BUBBLECHEW' instead of BUBBLEGUM or CHEWING GUM and semi-real constructions that are nearly puns but not (e.g. FRONTLOADER for 'mover or destination for dirty clothes').

rb (soda), Tuesday, 28 January 2020 22:02 (two months ago) link

soda, have you tried the Muller Monthly Music Meta?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/crossword-puzzles/monthly-music-meta/

Okay, you're an ambulance (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 28 January 2020 22:14 (two months ago) link

That wasn't bad! Got stuck on 46D as I can never remember the spelling of Monsieur Satie's first name.

Charlotte Brontesaurus (Leee), Tuesday, 28 January 2020 22:39 (two months ago) link

6 minute tuesday was a new record for me... was it just real easy?

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 29 January 2020 00:05 (two months ago) link

new yorker puzzles are fairly easy trivia heavy themelesses, don't know if they work on
a phone

https://www.newyorker.com/crossword/puzzles-dept/2020/01/27

symsymsym, Wednesday, 29 January 2020 07:52 (two months ago) link

like these puzzles too: https://www.ariespuzzles.com/

symsymsym, Wednesday, 29 January 2020 08:23 (two months ago) link

not sure if available in the US but the Times (uk) quick crytpic regular Teazel has a good crossword app simply called Crossword Cryptic

nxd, Wednesday, 29 January 2020 11:29 (two months ago) link

I’m looking for a new crossword now that I’ve stopped buying the Times. Atm I’ve been resorting to the i and the national.

Bidh boladh a' mhairbh de 'n láimh fhalaimh (dowd), Wednesday, 29 January 2020 16:55 (two months ago) link

i subscribed here but won't get a new issue until april (?!?!), will report back
https://gamesmagazine-online.com/

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 29 January 2020 17:27 (two months ago) link

had a Games subscription for a while, good shit.

Swilling Ambergris, Esq. (silby), Wednesday, 29 January 2020 17:32 (two months ago) link

they are exorbitantly expensive! i think it's $30 for 6 issues via subscription which is almost always like 20% of newsstand but not here

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 29 January 2020 17:33 (two months ago) link

if you're primarily after American-style crosswords there's plenty of indie options that are a better value

Swilling Ambergris, Esq. (silby), Wednesday, 29 January 2020 17:52 (two months ago) link

would love to hear about on paper options that don't suck

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Wednesday, 29 January 2020 18:04 (two months ago) link

these are free and dece: https://www.brendanemmettquigley.com/

symsymsym, Wednesday, 29 January 2020 18:07 (two months ago) link

American Values Club, the now long-former Onion AV Club crossword, sorta kicked off indie crossword subscriptions afaik, and I can vouch for the quality and relative freedom from the tired NYT house style https://avxwords.com

Swilling Ambergris, Esq. (silby), Wednesday, 29 January 2020 18:20 (two months ago) link

AV Clubs are good, yes

Okay, you're an ambulance (Ye Mad Puffin), Wednesday, 29 January 2020 18:22 (two months ago) link

The Inkubator is a good AVCXword spinoff

https://inkubatorcrosswords.com/

maura, Thursday, 30 January 2020 18:15 (two months ago) link

Also ulysses you'll probably get your first issue soon—they're pretty far out as far as dating issues goes

maura, Thursday, 30 January 2020 18:15 (two months ago) link

good! I thought that was nuts to buy in january and have to wait three months!

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Thursday, 30 January 2020 18:23 (two months ago) link

My conceptual art piece of the day https://imgur.com/hJpHfU0

Bidh boladh a' mhairbh de 'n láimh fhalaimh (dowd), Friday, 31 January 2020 10:22 (two months ago) link

Oh forget it.

Bidh boladh a' mhairbh de 'n láimh fhalaimh (dowd), Friday, 31 January 2020 10:25 (two months ago) link

i dig the concept

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Friday, 31 January 2020 14:49 (two months ago) link

Is it some kind of rebus?

TS: Kirk/Spock vs. Marat/Sade (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 31 January 2020 14:54 (two months ago) link

two weeks pass...

Another good themeless today! 27:38 for me.

Charlotte Brontesaurus (Leee), Saturday, 15 February 2020 18:10 (one month ago) link

Deviously clever NYT puzzle today

Natalie Wouldn't (Ye Mad Puffin), Thursday, 20 February 2020 14:57 (one month ago) link

Yes! I quite liked it.

Charlotte Brontesaurus (Leee), Thursday, 20 February 2020 19:49 (one month ago) link

same. cracked it with the "school daze" clue

Fuck the NRA (ulysses), Friday, 21 February 2020 07:21 (one month ago) link

one month passes...

Just walked out in my garden for a few, too few minutes of sunshine. Heard some kids and then came within a dozen feet of a guy sitting out there supervising them who turned out to be Ben Tausig. He told me he and his wife had already had the virus and recovered.

He doesn’t even live here, but a block away. He assured me he was practicing good social distancing with this other family.

Robbie Shakespeare’s Sister Lovers (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 24 March 2020 20:23 (two weeks ago) link

cool

silby, Tuesday, 24 March 2020 20:29 (two weeks ago) link

^I didn’t know where to post this so I posted it here, sorry

Robbie Shakespeare’s Sister Lovers (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 24 March 2020 20:34 (two weeks ago) link

no it is cool!

silby, Tuesday, 24 March 2020 20:43 (two weeks ago) link

He is one person I seem to see around the neighborhood a lot. I usually say hello to him even though he doesn’t ever quite remember who I am. So to me it was kind of funny that he was sitting there in my garden, especially since I didn’t recognize him for a bit and then had that “hey, Wait a minute!” moment.

Robbie Shakespeare’s Sister Lovers (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 24 March 2020 21:39 (two weeks ago) link

sounds like you have a number of cool neighbors !

budo jeru, Tuesday, 24 March 2020 22:20 (two weeks ago) link

Were you reading one of the other threads?

Robbie Shakespeare’s Sister Lovers (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 24 March 2020 23:28 (two weeks ago) link

I did the "crossword from your couch" tournament on Saturday, super fun puzzles. Was 244 out of 1815 total entrants, and no mistakes, which I was pretty happy with...the playoff puzzle with the hard cluing totally kicked my ass, however

symsymsym, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 01:33 (two weeks ago) link

puzzles here: https://www.crosswordtournamentfromyourcouch.org/puzzles/

symsymsym, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 01:34 (two weeks ago) link

Actually, just found out that two of my former across the street neighbors will be on the cover of the May issue of Downbeat.

Robbie Shakespeare’s Sister Lovers (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 25 March 2020 01:43 (two weeks ago) link

dang i didn't know about that tournament! hope they do another one

donna rouge, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 02:12 (two weeks ago) link

I think it was bcz ACPT was cancelled. I've never done any kind of tournament before

symsymsym, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 02:22 (two weeks ago) link

xps

hi, yes, sorry james. you mentioned a neighbor on the hoagy carmichael thread, where i’ve been meaning to post but haven’t. wasn’t trying to be nosy.

budo jeru, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 22:34 (two weeks ago) link

Ben T. tweeted about COVID-19 yesterday:

We've now officially tested positive.

I am not mentioning this to be alarmist. I'm physically fine, and have no more symptoms. I'm totally, totally ok, and focused solely on not exposing others.

But damn, the mismanagement. The levels and layers of mismanagement.

— American Values Club (@AVCXWord) March 24, 2020

jaymc, Thursday, 26 March 2020 01:04 (two weeks ago) link

Anyway, I popped in here to say that I've decided to get into crosswords again while in quarantine. I re-subscribed to the AVC crossword (after letting my subscription lapse 3 years ago) and have been going through back puzzles. It's proving to be an excellent distraction from the news.

jaymc, Thursday, 26 March 2020 01:06 (two weeks ago) link

Are you constructing as well?

Robbie Shakespeare’s Sister Lovers (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 26 March 2020 16:40 (two weeks ago) link

So this is a thing

https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/03/fight-to-make-crosswords-more-inclusive/608212/

I agree, and love seeing fresher, more inclusive puzzles.

(But I am not gonna stop doing NYT puzzles because I am fucking good at doing them, and frankly I need all the tiny victories I can get right now)

no one ever is to blave (Ye Mad Puffin), Thursday, 2 April 2020 23:44 (one week ago) link

i'm bored with nyt puzzles but the ease of doing them on an ipad is perfect for me. i wish i could get the new yorker puzzles the same way

mookieproof, Friday, 3 April 2020 00:26 (one week ago) link

I really like Natan Last's puzzles! Probably my biggest regret in lapsing on doing the NYer every week.

Triceratops Vowell (Leee), Friday, 3 April 2020 00:38 (one week ago) link

Erik Agard is my favorite from the NYer crew, he's a genius (at crossword solving/constructing), and he cares a lot about inclusivity.

symsymsym, Friday, 3 April 2020 00:45 (one week ago) link


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