Puzzle #9: Strike a Pose!

In order to hold myself to a more productive standard, I've decided to give myself a regular date to post puzzles. I've decided on the 19th and 5th of each month (that seems like a reasonable rate to churn out puzzles that are fit for the public eye), and so what better way to start this new era than by posting an un-testsolved puzzle with just a few minutes to go before midnight! 

This is a (mildly reworked) theme puzzle that the NYT rejected for being too broad. But some of the entries still make me chuckle, and I put a decent bit of effort into finding phrases that fit the theme. So I hope you enjoy!

Puzzle #8: Voiced by Keith David

The origin of this puzzle is a little different than usual; it's more of a proof-of-concept. I might at some point attempt a 15x15, but first I wanted to see if the idea had any feasibility.

So as to not spoil the bit, dear solver: attempt the puzzle, and then scroll down to read my notes afterwards (and for what it's worth, I think solving it primarily downs-only emphasize the effect, but isn't strictly a requirement.)










So, no that you've solved it, hopefully it's clear that this puzzle is formally based on the Qwerty keyboard (thus it's title); the right half of the puzzle is filled exclusively with letters typed by the right hand, and similarly left-for-left.

This puzzle grew out of thinking about the concept of ludonarrative dissonance, in which the mechanics of a game are at odds with the narrative it's trying to tell (Bioshock Infinite is a prime offender in my mind). Now obviously this doesn't apply to crosswords, where there is no narrative. But it led to me thinking about the potential for consonance between how we solve a puzzle and the form of puzzle itself; for most of us, we use a keyboard to interface with the puzzle. This made remember a Radiolab episode (mostly about the development of a keyboard for Chinese, an interesting story in its own right), where at one point they talk about the impact the Qwerty keyboard has had on our use of letters:

"Simon: Yes. Correct. There is some evidence that the layout of the keyboard created those left-right preferences rather than the other way around. Just a couple of years ago, research has asked, okay, has our feeling towards letters changed over time? What they did was they got social security records from the 1960s through 2012 and they looked at names of babies being born. They decided we're going to pick 1990 as our year that the QWERTY keyboard became ubiquitous. Let's look at the prevalence of names with more right-handed letters than left before 1990 and after, and it spikes after 1990. It's crazy.

Jad: So suddenly a lot of Paul's and a lot of Leah starts to appear. That is bizarre.

Simon: Simon is four right hand one left-hand. Jad is one right hand to left hand. You and I bear out the idea.

Jad: It's funny. Was it Wittgenstein? I don't think it was Wittgenstein. Heidegger, was it a Heidegger thing? Somebody, one of those nihilistic German philosophers had this idea that the hammer isn't just a tool, the hammer actually feeds back. The hammer changes the hand. It's interesting to me that this arbitrary leftover arguably outdated QWERTY keyboard that we're all stuck with is actually influencing our preferences when it comes to naming our offspring. Who knows what else it's doing? It's probably doing all kinds of weird things to us."

Creating this puzzle was a strange experience, since I was severely limited in the words I could use: my dictionary has 278,807 words, while only 2838 of those are "left" words and an even fewer 593 are "right" (and 4239 are split somewhere in the middle). It took several grid iterations to get to a configuration that even had a solution, with comparatively tiny word list. Those numbers don't bode well for a full sized puzzle, but I'm happy at least that I could get a midi out of this idea.

Stray notes:

  • Admittedly 19-Across would have been much better as ABBA. But I tend to type 'B' with my right hand, while according to the Qwerty finger placement it should be typed by the left index finger. So to be safe I just omitted 'B' entirely.
  • After writing the clue for 28-Across, I realized that I don't think I've ever actually had Imo's Pizza. But living in St. Louis for five years it was impossible to not form an opinion about it.
  • I wanted to clue 10-Across with a reference to The Talos Principle, but I think that it's not well known enough and would just frustrate too many people.

Puzzle #7: It's a food one (a thremeless)

Call me "Weird" Q Yankovic, cause it's The Food Album Puzzle. This "theme" did not occur intentionally, I must just be have been hungry when working on it. By my count almost 15% of the entries are food & drink related.

My intention was simply to make another thremeless like my last post, with four fun long entries (specifically 4-Down and 20-Across, I've been wanting to use those for a while). Some favorite clues include 8-Down, 18-Across (referencing the best Trek), and 44/50-Down.

Big thanks to Jake Eakle and Quiara for test solving this; they caught (hopefully) all of my typos and bad cluing angles.

Puzzle #6: Thremeless

This puzzle was inspired by Quiara over on the Crosscord, who shared this grid with no three letter entries. 4-Down was my seed, as I'd watched it recently on the Criterion Channel's Afrofuturism playlist. I initially hit cluers block and had trouble coming up with anything interesting, but I came back to the puzzle a bit later and was able to make progress. I'm particularly fond of the clues for 9-Across (set a reminder for 8 years from now!) and 10-Down, and I was excited to include the very timely clue for 38-Across.

Puzzle #5: Not a square (midi)

This was an interesting puzzle to make. I started with a regular 9x midi, using 19A as my seed, which is a word I've been dying to use since learning it from the Great British Bake Off. But then I decided to make a mini-theme and have the central down answer be a sort of counterpart. To keep the symmetry of their crossing being at the center, I extended the height and then found an interesting entry that I liked.

Working on this grid was surprisingly difficult, since I didn't have many options to partition it; my choices were either:

  1.  a three stack in the center, which I felt would dilute the theme of the central entry a bit too much
  2.  the only connection between top and bottom being through the central square (by extending the two block fingers to three
  3.  what I decided on, having two additional 11-length downs. This felt least objectionable since they're offset from the center. And I was able to come up with some satisfactory entries, with clues that hopefully you find interesting!

Other notes:

  • I worry that some of the clues are too personally specific, but I erred on the side of amusing myself since who cares about my blog anyway! That particularly applies to 2D, so if you didn't get the reference check it out.
  • 12A is very stupid, and I hope you appreciate it.

Puzzle #4: This time it's a Midi

 Since I've only worked on 15x15 puzzles and 7x7s for my upcoming puzzle in the 7xword project (watch for mine on May 8), I thought it would be nice to work on a different size.

So today I'm presenting a 10x10 with diagonal symmetry I made over the last few days. My seed was 7D, which I was inspired to use by the two most recent clipping. albums. It also gives me a loose musical motif, with 12A, 17A, and 30A.

Other notes:

  • I particularly enjoy the clues/entries for 1A, 30A, and 27D
  • 9D references a very serious issue! Read more about it here.
  • Alternate (easier) clue for 8D:  German city that translates to "eat"
  • Alternate (harder) clue for 24D: Lynch's character on "Twin Peaks"

Puzzle #3: Adventures in Modern Symmetry

As I've been getting more into crosswords, especially indie crosswords, I have been slowly breaking down my reliance on with the more stodgy style I'm used to from the New York Times.

My first "discovery" was the experimentation people have been doing with symmetry (à la https://xwordsbyaladee.blogspot.com/), so I thought I'd try my hand at something similar.

Second, I realized from https://qvxwordz.blogspot.com/ that it's okay to use the first person in a puzzle. I really get annoyed when I have to use the impersonal style in academic writing as part of my other life, and so being freed of this restriction in my hobby (at least on my personal blog) feels great. 27-Across is my response to this (and a reference to my factually incorrect original clue), and I aim to make my voice more explicit in the future.

Other notes:

-- 4-Down is inspired by a King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard album that includes the answer

-- I'm delighted that I got to use the clue for 13-Down

-- I didn't know 54-Across before Crossfire suggested it, but it strikes me as something more people should know!


Puzzle #2: Bimonthly edition

I started this blog with the expectation that I would post more regularly, on the order of a couple times a month. But of course I confused semimonthly with bimonthly and so instead this is coming out two months after the first post. I'll eventually get around to posting regularly.

This is the first puzzle I made when I started back up; years ago during undergrad I took a winter semester class on crosswords, where I submitted my final puzzle to the NYT and was understandably rejected.

I'd been stewing on this idea for a while, particularly because I wanted to honor 17-Across, one of the best current sci-fi/fantasy writers, and 27-Across, my favorite classic sci-fi/fantasy writer. 

Other notes: 

-- I included 31-Down because I moved there shortly before making this puzzle

-- The clue for 26-Across amuses me probably more than it should 

-- I'm proud to have been able to include 46-Across as a tribute to my friend Stephen

-- Alternative clue for 16-Across: Princes' song in "Into The Woods"

-- Alternative clue for 36-Down: _____ Estus Flask from "Dark Souls"



Puzzle #1: Big things have small beginnings

I think that I'll start here by posting one of my themeless puzzles. I started with some long seed entry in the middle section that I lost during the course of creating. I'm still satisfied with the fill, though, so it makes a nice enough place to start.

Hello, world

 Welcome to my blog. The idea is that this is a place I can post my crosswords. Stay tuned!