Puzzle #40: “Questionable Fill”

Hello, puzzle folks!

This week’s offering is a love letter to the worst crosswords have to offer. I seldom reference puzzles in puzzles, but I feel it’s fitting at some point to pay homage to the collective pain we’ve endured as solvers. I hope it’s more fun to look at from this angle.

I quick shout out to the crossword constructor community. I’ve really been enjoying test-solving some terrific puzzles lately, and greatly appreciate all the folks who have been able to spare a moment to help out with my own. This week’s thanks go to Will Eisenberg, who began his own puzzle blog with a really fun themeless last week!

It’s puzzle time. I hope it hurts in a good way! Be safe, enjoy, and I’ll see you in a week for themeless Wednesday!

Solve Online

.puz

PDF

PDF Solution

Variety Cryptic #2: “Somebody’s Gotta Lose”

Hello cryptic fans!

It was so fun to hear about folks enjoying themselves with last month’s variety cryptic that I just had to make another one. Once again, I’ve tried to create something approachable for less-experienced solvers, though there are a few tricky clues here and there, and of course a bit of a mischievous variety element going on.

I know that there’s an even smaller scene of solvers for variety cryptics than there is for independent crosswords in general, and I really want folks to feel welcome in this space. I’m always happy to hear civil feedback so I can keep making these even better. Extra thanks to cryptic solvers k0rmad and Citizen Ra, who gave this one a test run and picked all the right nits!

Like last time, there’s no .puz file, because this thing is full of bars, not blocks! Also like last time, I think there isn’t much to be lost in solving online, though a bit of scratch paper may be nice to have.

Enjoy, take care, and see you next week with a crunchy-ish themed puzzle!

Solve Online

.pdf

.pdf EXPLANATIONS + SOLUTIONS

Puzzle #39: Themeless #20

Hello, puzzle folks!

Look, it’s big number 20! It’s been so fun to hone my themeless-making skills on the blog this year. Thanks for solving along — I think you’re going to like this one! I’m never sure quite what to say ahead of time about this sort of thing because I’d rather not tip my hand, but I can say I’m proud of the shape and glad to be able to debut a couple of phrases that make me smile. Thanks to Brooke for being this week’s test solver!

In other news, in light of all the kind feedback and requests I’ve gotten following my variety cryptic last month, I decided to make another one. It’s on its way to you this weekend. I hope you’ll come by and give it a try — it’s geared towards folks who are still getting their feet wet in cryptic land but should still have enough spice for the rest of you!

That’s my piece. I hope you enjoy! Take care and see you Saturday for that cryptic business and next Wednesday with a dastardly themed puzzle!

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION

Puzzle #38: “Go West!”

Greetings, crossword travelers!

Thanks for stopping by! I’ve got a nostalgic puzzle for you which, should it land correctly, will unfortunately allow you to deduce my age — but no matter, there’s something for everybody in this one.

I’m feeling very grateful today for the independent crossword scene which has been so supportive and also given me an endless supply of solving entertainment. Each time I think it can’t get any better, another talented constructor comes out of the woodwork with a fun puzzle to tackle. Thanks this week to Will and Richard for test solving my grid!

Enjoy the journey, be careful out there, and I hope to see you next week for a themeless adventure and a little bit of variety too!

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION

Cryptic #4: “Filling the Crust”

Welcome back, cryptic folks!

I’m in the mood for pie, how about you? My appetite must have gotten the better of me while constructing this one because it’s quite a pie-forward cryptic. I hope you’re hungry!

Folks who have been following my cryptics may have noticed a really difficult one at the beginning of last month followed by a much more straightforward variety cryptic a couple weeks later. Today’s puzzle has a couple of trickier entries, but should resemble the latter more closely in terms of overall challenge. I’m getting the vibe that approachability is important to those who have been solving here. Please let me know if this one hits the spot or if it doesn’t put up enough of a fight for you! Civil feedback is always appreciated.

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget to check out the solution document after solving if you’d like an explanation of every answer in the puzzle. I’ll see you next Wednesday with a regularly-scheduled themed puzzle and maybe even another variety cryptic in the not too distant future….

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION + Explanations

Puzzle #37: Themeless #19

Good morning, exceptionally well-rested crossword solvers!

I can’t really say why, but I feel like today is the day for a themeless crossword shaped like an adorable bobcat’s face. And so, here’s a themeless crossword shaped like an adorable bobcat’s face.

The shape of this grid led to more short and medium-length entries than I typically use in themeless puzzles, and it was fun to try out some new stuff I haven’t clued before. Special thanks to Brooke Husic for helping me with the science entry in the grid. I think it’s cool to ask people who have a lot of knowledge in subject areas for advice when making puzzles. If anyone ever has jazz or other music questions for me when constructing, bring them on! I’m happy to help.

It’s a new month, so I’ll be back here with a lighthearted and fairly approachable cryptic on Saturday. Take extra care of yourselves and enjoy the puzzle.

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION

Puzzle #36: “Nature Show”

Hello, crossword travelers!

This week’s themed puzzle is wholly autobiographical, though there’s not much about me in there — it’s really all about the nature show. We’re heading into a stressful period in a lot of ways right now, so I hope this one serves as a good opportunity to pause and enjoy a moment with a grid.

Thanks very much to the wonderful Brooke Husic for the test solve! In case you missed it, we made this themeless together a while back, but I highly recommend you take a look at what she just made right here.

I’m back with a themeless next Wednesday, which I can only imagine we’ll tackle with bleary eyes. Take care, enjoy, and I’ll see you on the other side!

Note, this puzzle looks MUCH prettier in the Solve Online mode.

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION

Puzzle #35: Themeless #18

Welcome, Crossfolks!

It’s another themeless Wednesday! I’ve been experimenting very unscientifically with some weird grid shapes lately and today I submit one for your consideration. My sole criterion is often that it looks fun, and I think the results this time are interesting at the very least!

I am sad to report that there is not a single big cat in this week’s puzzle, but it’s got some fun phrases and plenty of delicious food! May the challenge be sufficiently stiff, the smiles plentiful and the payoff satisfying. I really appreciate you stopping by to solve these things like you do!

And with that, the crossword has landed! Enjoy, take care, and I’ll see you in one week with a themed offering!

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION

Variety Cryptic: “Wild Night Out”

Welcome back, intrepid puzzlers!

For this October bonus, we’ve got a variety cryptic! For those who haven’t done one yet, that means that this is a barred (not blocked) puzzle with a sneaky meta-like challenge involved.

This particular construction had to motivators. First off, I’ve been itching to make a barred grid, and I found the challenge rewarding! Secondly, it became clear to me through feedback that the October cryptic was REALLY HARD. I decided right away to give you folks something much more approachable and to not make you wait a month for it. I don’t think this one’s a gimme by any means, but I hope it’s lots of fun for everybody. Thanks so much to Avid (have you solved his amazing collaboration that dropped last weekend?) and k0rmad, who I hope makes a puzzle soon so that we can all solve it and grow our brains to massive proportions.

Because of the barred grid, there’s no .puz file this week. I think the .pdf looks nice, and printing it to solve may make the variety element a bit easier to work out. The puzzle plays just fine to with the “Solve Online” option too. If you’re stumped or curious, the solution, as always, contains a parsing of each clue and an explanation of the variety element.

Take care, enjoy, and see you next week with a themeless that should be a stiff challenge.

Solve Online

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION (with explanations)

Puzzle #34 “Big Cat Energy”

Hello, puzzle folks!

If you like cats, big cats, puns or big puns, this one is likely for you. It comes to us from my archive of summer puzzles that never went anywhere. It wasn’t quite right for the publisher I originally had in mind, but as a cat lover and silly person, I felt it needed to see the light of day. In blog form I got to get a bit extra eccentric with it. I hope we’re on the same wavelength today!

Speaking of whimsy, I’m offering a bonus puzzle this coming Saturday. I’ve never done this exact format, though it’s cryptic-adjunct. Since the September monthly cryptic ended up being so punishing, it’s going to be very much on the easier side. If the last one didn’t make you feel welcome, I hope this one does the opposite. If none of that funny business with the clues is your bag, I’ve got a crisp, autumnal themeless landing for you next Wednesday.

That’s that! Enjoy the cat-thing, take care out there, and I’ll see you on Saturday with something different.

Solve Online

.puz

.pdf

.pdf SOLUTION