Monday, February 11, 2019

Puns & Anagrams #1

Welcome back! As I mentioned last time, I've got a Puns & Anagrams puzzle today. See below for the links; in the PUZ version, there is one clue (36-Across) that I could only use the Notepad to replicate, so be sure to click on the Notepad for that clue.

Puns & Anagrams #1 - PUZ

Puns & Anagrams #1 - PDF

Puns & Anagrams #1 - SOLUTION

Puns & Anagrams is a format that is related to the cryptic, but stands alone and does its own thing. Will Shortz wrote a column explaining the basics of P&As a few years ago, and I can't put it much better than Will, but I'll try to sum up the most important concepts of the P&A that I keep in mind as I write these.

P&As differ from cryptics in two key ways. First, unlike cryptic clues which may read more like complete sentences, P&A clues are structured like a standard crossword clue, no matter how much wackiness the clue may entail. There is an imperative function of a standard crossword clue that the P&A must replicate; cryptic clues often lack this function. A fun characteristic of a P&A is that it can incorporate the familiar notations often seen at the ends of crossword clues (Abbr., e.g., et al., etc., cross-references, and so forth) into the wordplay itself. Keeping in mind that the clues must retain the structure of standard crossword clues, I like to think of a P&A like a parody crossword, in a similar vein to a Something Different puzzle (or "Cuckoo Crossword"), except that in a P&A, the grid is normal.

The second key difference is the grid. Since every letter in a P&A is checked twice, there's a lot more "falling into" answers than there would be in a block cryptic puzzle. Cryptics are much more rigid in their cluing structure because the solver inherently relies on each clue, since half of the squares in the grid are unchecked. In a P&A, it's possible to get most or all of an answer filled in by solving its crossing entries; hence, each P&A clue isn't required to give a straight definition, nor are anagram indicators required. This "looseness" in cluing rules is in place because the solver can rely on crossings much more so than in a block cryptic.

Hope you enjoy this change of pace - back to Cryptic #10 in two weeks!

Happy solving!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Aries Cryptic #9

Back again for Cryptic #9! I'd like to say that 8-Across was the seed entry, but I discovered that clue in the process of writing the grid, and it was one of those lightning-bolt clue moments that I've come to treasure. The name in question may not be the most familiar to everyone, but is a personal favorite of mine, which makes the discovery of the clue that much sweeter. Hope you enjoy!

I've got a Puns & Anagrams puzzle coming up next, and could use an extra test solver or two - let me know if you'd be interested!

Happy solving!

Aries Cryptic #9 - PUZ

Aries Cryptic #9 - PDF

Aries Cryptic #9 - SOLUTION

Intro to Cryptics - PDF

Monday, January 14, 2019

Aries Cryptic #8, and Crosswordese Movies

Hello again for Cryptic #8! I started this puzzle with 14-D, as I had that clue on ice for a little bit. It's not uncommon that I come across a good cluing angle for an entry, only to lose the entry in a grid change down the line. The upshot is that these can be seeded in subsequent puzzles, as was the case here. Hope you enjoy!

Aries Cryptic #8 - PUZ

Aries Cryptic #8 - PDF

Aries Cryptic #8 - SOLUTION

Intro to Cryptics - PDF

On a somewhat related note, I'm a big movie watcher, and I especially enjoy watching batches of movies with some overarching theme connecting them. This started in the summer of 2017, when I began a binge of movies released in the year 1981. I've literally lost count of how many '81s I've seen to date (I kept a journal for the first sixty or so), but it's close to a hundred at this point. I did 31 horror movies in 31 days this past October (OK, it took me 32 days, but don't tell anyone). I'm slowly making my way through all twenty or so films scored by Tangerine Dream. More recently I've taken to smaller spurts - I watched all eleven films directed by Hal Ashby, which, inspired by The Last Detail, spun off into a run of the film works of novelist/screenwriter Darryl Ponicsan.

I bring this up because I'm planning on doing a crossword-related movie spurt in the near future, and could use some help formulating the screening list. Roughly the theme of this spurt is "Movies more relevant in 2019 in crossword puzzles than as movies." This can also extend to actors/directors/film characters whose present-day crossword fame far outstrips their movie fame. Here's what I've got so far:

1. Ulee's Gold (1997)
2. D.C. Cab (1983)
3. Eleni (1985)
4. Dr. T. and the Women (2000)
5. Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
6. Lili (1953) - Gigi passing the "relevance test" by its being a Best Picture winner, IMO

Then there are the crosswordese actors to consider. In these cases, some of the movies pass the relevance test, but its usage in the crossword is most often connected with a not-very-relevant-in-2019 person. For instance, I would argue A Shot in the Dark (1964) is film-relevant as the first sequel to The Pink Panther, and is the first film in the series where Inspector Clouseau is the main character (he was a side character in the first film, fun fact). The film certainly isn't Wizard of Oz-relevant, but far more relevant than, say, D.C. Cab. However, less relevant in 2019 is the film's co-star ELKE Sommer, whose first name nonetheless is the only reason we see A Shot in the Dark referenced in crosswords nowadays. Similarly, here are some other examples:

1. The Thin Man (1934) - ASTA the dog
2. La Bamba (1987) - ESAI Morales
3. Say Anything... (1989) - IONE Skye
4. Chocolat (2000) - Lena OLIN
5. Butterfly (1982) - PIA Zadora
6. The Verdict (1982) - Milo O'SHEA

Thankfully I've already seen Butterfly, which is stunningly wretched. And I'll go to bat anyday for The Thin Man and vouch for its relevance, but let's be honest - no movie-related crosswordese list is complete without throwing a bone to ASTA.

If you have any good ideas for movies to include, I'd love to hear them! I feel like there's some obvious ones I'm missing. I realize there's a lot of debate to be had regarding relevancy and which movies to pick among actors, etc., but that's part of the fun of coming up with the list! Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Happy solving!


Monday, December 31, 2018

Aries Cryptic #7

Happy New Year! Here's Cryptic #7 for your puzzling enjoyment.

Ready to start another year of Aries Rows Garden and Aries Freestyle! The first Rows Garden of Year 6 will be sent later tonight. Have you subscribed yet? If not, do so now - the 1-Year Bundle special is only valid through tonight.

Here's hoping for better things in 2019!

Aries Cryptic #7 - PUZ

Aries Cryptic #7 - PDF

Aries Cryptic #7 - SOLUTION

Intro to Cryptics Guide - PDF