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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen 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 (fourteen years ago) link

(xpost)

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

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

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

New crossword from me.

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

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

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

Haha, rly? It was correct online.

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

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

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

Good!

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

Do you have .puz files?

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

cockblocker?

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

http://www.filmaffinity.com/imgs/movies/full/31/317347.jpg

James Redd and the Blecchs, Wednesday, 2 January 2008 16:08 (fourteen 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 (fourteen years ago) link

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total pro-level theme on that one, too!

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

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

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

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

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

RIP to my NYT streak, not because of a Natick but because I somehow just forgot to do it, which I didn't even realize had happened two weeks ago.

Kim Wipers - Youth in America (Leee), Monday, 3 October 2022 23:23 (two months ago) link

you're free now

assert (matttkkkk), Monday, 3 October 2022 23:26 (two months ago) link

Welcome to the camp! One of us, one of us, we accept you, one of us!

Misirlou Sunset (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 4 October 2022 00:03 (two months ago) link

I don't feel free. :(

Kim Wipers - Youth in America (Leee), Tuesday, 4 October 2022 01:04 (two months ago) link

I skipped a day a month ago, and said goodbye to a 500-day streak. Ah, well. Life goes on.

the floor is guava (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 4 October 2022 01:11 (two months ago) link

We’re all normal and we want our rebus.

Misirlou Sunset (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 4 October 2022 01:20 (two months ago) link

Here we are now

Enter rebus

the floor is guava (Ye Mad Puffin), Tuesday, 4 October 2022 01:44 (two months ago) link

happened to be listening to 18A while doing today’s puzzle

donna rouge, Tuesday, 4 October 2022 21:35 (two months ago) link

In other news, Boswords Fall Themeless started. Hopefully this time I remember to submit every week.

Kim Wipers - Youth in America (Leee), Wednesday, 5 October 2022 20:31 (two months ago) link

did you do the first puzzle? I was fast but had one dumb mistake

symsymsym, Thursday, 6 October 2022 05:22 (two months ago) link

Got them all right, but I took almost 8 minutes.

Kim Wipers - Youth in America (Leee), Thursday, 6 October 2022 14:47 (two months ago) link

Today is quite clever.

Fartleby the Scrivener (Leee), Sunday, 16 October 2022 16:54 (one month ago) link

Boswords: Weeks 1-3, clean sheet, but not so Week 4. :(

Fartleby the Scrivener (Leee), Tuesday, 25 October 2022 20:08 (one month ago) link

I did good on Week 4, but felt like I was totally guessing on a few crosses. rn I'm 4th overall in the Choppy rankings...this is before a bunch of the solvers have even finished, so I'm sure I'll get knocked down a few spots, but I think this is still as good as my competitive solving career is ever gonna get

symsymsym, Wednesday, 26 October 2022 00:57 (one month ago) link

did thursday's late last night and couldn't parse the mechanism at all, but it's a good one

symsymsym, Friday, 28 October 2022 16:23 (one month ago) link

Interesting grid today, though I'm of two minds on the fill.

Rabbity Gainsborough (Leee), Friday, 4 November 2022 18:12 (one month ago) link

Awful SW corner today, I had to brute force my way through it.

Rabbity Gainsborough (Leee), Sunday, 13 November 2022 16:34 (three weeks ago) link

Like VU ref today

Meet Me in the Z'Ha'Dum (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 24 November 2022 17:48 (two weeks ago) link

And Bad Company reference.

Meet Me in the Z'Ha'Dum (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 24 November 2022 18:48 (two weeks ago) link

Really enjoyed this Friday puzzle by Simon Marotte.

Meet Me in the Z'Ha'Dum (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 25 November 2022 18:12 (two weeks ago) link

Fri and Sat puzzles were good but they were both too easy. I spent no more than 20 minutes on the two of them combined (and I wasn't even speed-solving). I need more resistance, this is getting ridiculous. I habitually set aside 30 minutes to do the Friday puzzle and 30 more for the Saturday puzzle but I feel like I'm getting ganked.

Josefa, Sunday, 27 November 2022 01:53 (one week ago) link

Maybe, but wasn’t Thursday a little more dit than usual?

The Dark End of the Tweet (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 27 November 2022 02:58 (one week ago) link

Difficult

The Dark End of the Tweet (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 27 November 2022 02:58 (one week ago) link

I don’t do the Thursday ones. Maybe I should start.

Josefa, Sunday, 27 November 2022 03:01 (one week ago) link

i thought Thursday's was medium-ish, tough going at first but fairly easy once you figured out what the trick was.

Roz, Sunday, 27 November 2022 05:12 (one week ago) link

the Thursday reminded me of why I fckn hate the Thursday ones.

assert (matttkkkk), Sunday, 27 November 2022 06:21 (one week ago) link

I think on Thursday I got 15 across, and then combined that with the fact that 10/11/12 "down" were such standard NYT filler, which clued me in quickly.

Andrew Farrell, Sunday, 27 November 2022 11:00 (one week ago) link

breezed thru fri and sat too. today’s was a bit of a slog tbh.

donna rouge, Sunday, 27 November 2022 19:19 (one week ago) link

Today’s was painful yes

The Dark End of the Tweet (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 27 November 2022 19:36 (one week ago) link

yeah Sunday was horrible, after that weirdly easy Saturday

assert (matttkkkk), Monday, 28 November 2022 18:05 (one week ago) link

...and then today felt difficult for a Monday - I finished it of course, but it had some kinda thorny cluing.

Godley and Creamsicle (Ye Mad Puffin), Monday, 28 November 2022 19:29 (one week ago) link

Yeah, Naticky around 21A, and it took me about a minute and a half longer to solve than the last several Mondays.

Rabbity Gainsborough (Leee), Monday, 28 November 2022 19:33 (one week ago) link

I also found today’s a slog for a Monday, although I at first thought it was because I am out of practice.

The Dark End of the Tweet (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 28 November 2022 19:42 (one week ago) link

remarkably easy wednesday

mookieproof, Wednesday, 30 November 2022 03:10 (one week ago) link

Just did the Tuesday a few minutes ago so will have a look-see now. Maybe my LL reminder will also serve as an Xword reminder.

The Dark End of the Tweet (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 30 November 2022 03:22 (one week ago) link

You are correct, sir, felt like a super-easy Monday level puzzle.

The Dark End of the Tweet (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 30 November 2022 03:44 (one week ago) link

thursday’s 28D is straight-up wrong iirc

mookieproof, Thursday, 1 December 2022 23:39 (one week ago) link

That’s really weird.

The Dark End of the Tweet (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 1 December 2022 23:45 (one week ago) link

thursday’s 28D is straight-up wrong iirc

Wikipedia doesn't contradict 28D though -- what am I missing?

Rabbity Gainsborough (Leee), Friday, 2 December 2022 17:57 (one week ago) link

TS: ACT vs. NSW

The Dark End of the Tweet (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 2 December 2022 18:00 (one week ago) link

Ohhh, the clue was correct on the web version, which left me very confused.

Rabbity Gainsborough (Leee), Friday, 2 December 2022 18:08 (one week ago) link

changing it without noting the correction? where is the journalistic integrity

mookieproof, Friday, 2 December 2022 19:06 (one week ago) link

Saturday’s puzzle fun but pretty easy?

Soda Stereo Total (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 4 December 2022 00:21 (six days ago) link

41D and 42A ludicrously weird I thought. And a few difficult refs for a foreigner.

assert (matttkkkk), Sunday, 4 December 2022 02:12 (six days ago) link

Another too-easy Fri/Sat but yeah, Sat had some weird entries.

Josefa, Sunday, 4 December 2022 02:33 (six days ago) link

I've definitely seen both of those before in there.

Andrew Farrell, Sunday, 4 December 2022 12:30 (six days ago) link

How about this Thursday’s puzzle?

Soda Stereo Total (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 9 December 2022 14:32 (yesterday) link

not a fan

mookieproof, Friday, 9 December 2022 14:43 (yesterday) link

Trying to decide whether it was clever or ugly. Jolie laide maybe.

Soda Stereo Total (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 9 December 2022 14:48 (yesterday) link

On a Thursday you expect there to be a gimmick. This had three different gimmicks. The one with circled letters forming an appropriate word? Very nice, very layered. A good three-tier visual joke.

The one where a letter gets skipped in a humorously appropriate way? Very good. I generally like that kind of play on Thursday.

The third gimmick - with the shaded letters - was comprehensible in retrospect. I'll allow it (in the spirit of expanding the playfulness possibilities of crosswords), but it was not as elegant as the other two gimmicks.

Overall, refreshing. If you want hard themeless puzzles with no rebus trickery or whatever, go to Friday/Saturday or seek out the Fireball equivalents. If you start a Thursday NYT you should just accept that there's probably gonna be some hyjinx.

Cirque de Soleil Moon Frye (Ye Mad Puffin), Friday, 9 December 2022 15:21 (yesterday) link


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