Monday, February 24, 2014

Puzzle #4 Solution

2014.4 Hardest/Harder -- Solution

2014.4 Easier/Easiest -- Solution

Short writeup this week. Row A was clearly the seed entry for this week's puzzle, though I particularly liked a number of entries this week - B1, E2, F1, and J1, for example. I toyed with cluing H2 as "White House occupant for parts of three decades," but thought the misdirect was a tad unfair; let me know if you think that kind of cleverness would have flown for you. Also, I had originally clued D1 as "Many Inception sequences," a clue/entry combo I've been saving for over three years, but with so much movie-ness going on in D2, F1, J2, and K1, I changed the clue to a non-movie connotation. Hope you liked this offering; next puzzle will be sent out next Tuesday.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Puzzle #3 Solution

2014.3 Hardest/Harder -- Solution

2014.3 Easiest/Easier -- Solution

Hope this past offering was to your liking. Because of the timeliness of the entry at B2, I bumped this puzzle up from the rotation. It's actually the most recent Rows Garden I've made (there's about three and a half completed grids in the pipeline), but wanted to capitalize on the freshness of the seed entry.

Using uber-fresh entries are usually thought as a good thing, but I'm straying away from using certain entries, because of potential ephemeral qualities. Looking back on some past puzzles of mine, entries such as I'LL HAVE ANOTHER (Derby + Preakness winner from a few years back) was certainly in-the-language at the time, but now has a certain dated-ness to it. If the horse had won the Triple Crown, that's something different, but time has very nearly reduced the entry to a type that I'd classify as uninteresting trivia. It's a reason I initially balked at B1 in this puzzle, though in the end I thought an easy-enough clue would suffice for solvers that missed that whole Charlie Sheen interview/spectacle. Long story short, I think B2 definitely has legs as an entry, and while I certainly don't want my puzzles have a musty smell to them, so to speak, I do want these puzzles and their entries to have a decent shelf life, too. A delicate balance, to be sure.

Two projects I want to plug this week: first, Evan Birnholz's new indie website, Devil Crosswords. Evan is an up-and-coming constructor, and judging by his premiere themeless he posted last week, he's certainly got constructing chops. Check out his site; looks like he's going for a bi-weekly posting schedule on Saturdays, and Evan told me he's got themeless and themed puzzles planned for the future.

Next, one of the more anticipated projects in recent memory - Will Shortz's WordPlay. Published by Penny Press and edited by the venerated Eric Berlin and Ian Livengood, this bi-monthly magazine offers only variety crosswords -- Rows Gardens, Some Assembly Required, Marching Bands, cryptics, logic puzzles, and more. Yours truly has a couple of original Rows Gardens featured in upcoming issues (I believe they will be in issues #3 and #4 this year), one of which might feature my favorite clue in any puzzle I've constructed. You can subscribe here for the low price of $18.97 for a year's worth of six issues. It was honestly one of the easiest economic decisions I've ever made -- if you're like me, do yourself a favor and subscribe too.