Sunday, August 27, 2017

PUZZLE #8: Themeless 2

PDF
PUZ
SOLUTION to last week's puzzle

Quick post: themeless puz, different grid design. The seed entry is a pretty niche reference, but I have slowly incorporated it into both my vocabulary and life philosophy, so into the grid it goes. Gotta love the complete freedom offered by running your own site.

Also, check out Jenna Sais Quoi crosswords, run by new-to-the-scene constructor Jenna Lafleur! Her glutton for pun collab was choice; definitely a constructor to watch.

Enjoy, and until next week!

-Paolo

Friday, August 25, 2017

FlashGrid #1

PDF
PUZ

Surprise! Rolling out a new feature of the site, tentatively called "FlashGrids." They're puzzles that are smaller in size, but inspired by ultra-current stuff. We're talking hot off the presses, ripped from the headlines, crosswords-based-on-things-that-just-happened-like-yesterday current. You'll probably be seeing these infrequently, since their creation is at the mercy of whatever happens in pop culture. That's especially true with this grid, with a theme based on something that happened no more than 24 hours ago. Hopefully, it'll be a quick solve.

New puzzle on Sunday, as usual. Enjoy!

-Paolo

Sunday, August 20, 2017

PUZZLE #7: Motion Capture

PDF
PUZ
SOLUTION to last week's puzzle

Welcome back, solvers!

School's officially back in session, so get ready for my post lengths to shrink from five paragraphs to like two sentences. Things are gonna get hectic real fast, which means less time for crosswords, but I think I have enough of a backlog to keep the weekly-puzzle thing going. Fingers crossed!

I'd be remiss to not mention that yesterday was the date of Lollapuzzoola 10! Couldn't be there in person, sadly, but I heard fun things. Congrats to master constructor Andy Kravis on his first place finish, and to tournament-runners Patrick Blindauer and Brian Cimmet for cat-herding another successful event. (If you missed the tournament, I believe you can still order the puzzles here; trust me, they're all baller)

Finally, in a long-awaited-by-me development, Chris Adams has launched an indie site of his own: arctanxwords. There's some excellent stuff there already, and I highly recommend that you check it out. (I'd like to single out his "Everything Louder than Everything Else" puzzle; a real tour de force)

Themed puzzle this time. Enjoy, and until next week!

-Paolo


Sunday, August 13, 2017

PUZZLE #6: "Suh-weet!" (and last week's meta results)

PDF
PUZ

Welcome back! New puzzle this week. But first, a recap of last week's contest:

A lot going on in the crossword; the first sign that something was up was that it came with a note saying that in a grand last-minute effort, I stayed up all night writing the puzzle. At first glance, it seemed like a crossword with a three-part insomnia theme, with the entries TOSSANDTURN at 17A, CIRCLES/UNDER/THEEYES at 28A/40A/47A, and LOSINGSLEEP at 60A.

But, as solvers noticed, there was more to the puzzle going on. The puzzle also had the disclaimer that since I didn't have time to get it test-solved (a lie, incidentally; I had like nine separate people test-solve this, shoutout to all of them), there might be more errors than usual. And, there were "errors" in the puzzle, but all in the same manner. Specifically, 31 clues contained an extra letter. Those clues (with the extra letter capitalized in bold) are:

[Code's form], VERSE
[Opposite of fEast], EAT
[Nonce more], AGAIN
["It's noT ___!”], USE
[Rover half], MOST
["Let's Make ____" (HalAl program, once)], ADEAL
[Animator's unLit], CEL
[Tracer Jesse], OWENS
[Spot for some cHats], LAP
[SEoul companion], BODY
[Mel ____ (boss, in slang)], JEFE
[HEader's vehicle, once], SNL
[Exeter's countRy], DEVON
[Tool that might attach to a basIs], AMP
[Busts or Soils], ART
[BAring up], EVOKE
[BatHes in a vintage horror flick], NORMA
[Irate indicator], PER
[DyNe containers], VATS
[Kind of fileT], RASP
[Girl in the faRm], SIS
[Coats over poEts], ENAMELS
[SWay], TELL
[Hear centers], COBS
[ProAm attendee], SENIOR
[SpurT, with “on"], URGE
[JeTer], BOO
[POut up, as a painting], HANG
[Mess with, as some pAunch], SPIKE
[CD-____], SPAN
[RoDe, to Caesar], OVA

Reading the extra letters, in clue order, gives the phrase CENTRAL THEMER IS A HINT RE WHAT TO ADD. The central theme entry is CIRCLES UNDER THE EYES, and successful meta solvers realized that it was a cue to add circles under the I's in the grid. The prompt asked for an eight-letter answer, and reassuringly, there were exactly eight I's in the grid. Circling the squares below the I's led to this:


The circled letters, read left to right and top to bottom, spell the meta answer STAY WOKE, as found by 52 solvers. 

This week's randomly selected winner is... joon pahk! For his efforts, he gets a reserved free copy of an upcoming project I have going on, and he gets to choose a word for me to put in a future puzzle. Congrats, joon, and thanks to everyone who solved/gave feedback!

Gentler themed puzzle this week. Enjoy!

-Paolo

Sunday, August 6, 2017

PUZZLE #5: All Night Long (CONTEST)

PDF
PUZ
SOLUTION to last week's puzzle

Welcome back, solvers!

We’re back with a new puzzle— and it’s a meta contest! The next two paragraphs are gonna be a rundown of metas, so if you're already familiar with them, you can just skip ahead. For the uninitiated, meta crosswords are basically puzzles within puzzles. They solve like regular crosswords, but there's a hidden extra layer that you have to discover for yourself, which typically leads to a final bonus word or phrase. Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest and Pete Muller’s Muller Monthly Music Meta are two excellent regular sources for these, and I highly recommend clicking through and browsing through the last few months of puzzles to get a feel for what metas tend to ask of the solver.

The meta element can be anywhere from easy (like this puzzle, where the solver had to see that the three longest entries ended with LATHER, RINSE, and REPEAT, thus telegraphing the meta answer SHAMPOO) to nigh-impossible (like this puzzle, where the solver had to see that each of eight starred entries contained an anagram of one word of a two-word country name, and that for each unused word in the country names there was an entry somewhere in the grid that was exactly one letter off, and that the changed letters can be arranged to spell meta answer SRI LANKA). I'm hoping this meta will be somewhere in between those two examples in terms of difficulty.

So, onto today's puzzle. When you have the correct answer, send it to pascopuzzles [at] gmail [dot] com. One randomly-selected solver will win this week's prize, a free copy of a forthcoming puzzle project I'm working on, which I'll send on its release date. Plus, they'll get to suggest any word for me to use in a future puzzle (within reason, of course). The submission deadline's 11:59 pm PST on Saturday August 12, 2017, so be sure to get your answers in before then.

Meta crosswords typically have some kind of prompt to lead you off, so here goes:
Full disclosure: this crossword was a total last-minute effort-- in fact, I was up from yesterday night until now just so I could get it done. Now, (a) I'm impossibly tired, and (b) since I just finished the puzzle, I haven't been able to get it test-solved like usual. So, you're getting the raw, uncorrected version. Provided you look past that, you should be able to find the eight-letter meta answer

Best of luck!
-Paolo