by Parker Higgins & Ross Trudeau

[.puz][PDF][Solution] 🐝🐝🐝

Special tribute bonus puzzle inbound!

When I pitched Parker on the base idea for this crossword, our first question was, “How much overlap is there between the crossword solving community and the 26-Across solving community?” Quite a lot, we expect, though we’re eager to see how intuitively this plays for the 26-Across uninitiated.

For the hardcore fans, however, we have a special treat. Sam Ezersky, the ‘Keeper Himself, is joining us on the Cursewords Live stream this evening to live solve our little tribute grid and talk All Things Hive. Tune in at 9p Eastern tonight (Monday)! Fair warning: we treasure Sam, and any 26-Across list kvetching in the chat will be met with swift moderatorial retribution! So keep it light and airy, friends.

In any case, leave us a comment! Was this a fun little collision of word nerd worlds? Would you solve another such puzz?

Happy solving, friends!


“Close Quarters”

[.puz][PDF][Solution] 🏘🏘🏘🏘

Who doesn’t love a good aesthetic phase? Picasso went blue. The Beatles went psychedelic. And Will Nediger? Well, Will’s gone stacks on stacks on stacks. Stacked theme answers, that is.

First he went and did this, which, *cranium eruption*. Then he followed it up with this, and, obviously, *brain melt*. And most recently THIS–and he’s just giving it away for free! King stuff. (Incidentally, he dropped by the Twitch stream to discuss that last one–much fun, highly recommend giving it a watch.)

Needless to say, I admire Will’s work a lot. So much so that I’m happy to be shamelessly derivative. So today I offer you, humbly, a bewilderingly-inspired grid. Thoughts and spoilers after the jump.

Honestly, after being incepted/inspired by Will’s work, I wasn’t exactly looking for a *scintillating* concept. His “High Romance” puzzle has multiple layers of thematic meaning that this grid certainly does not. I settled on ADJOINING ROOMS (14) as a revealer, specifically because the middle four letters of N-I-N-G were necessarily going to cross decently well with a variety of ROOMs for the simple reason that we name a lot of rooms in the “___ING room” pattern.

Anyway, this theme set and grid arrangement took a metric ton of iterating. There’s not really a science to this stuff. Just: pick rooms with decently common letters, and jigger and rejigger until the vowel-consonants and left-right letter distributions look, uh, passable … and then experiment with 23940823094 black box arrangements to try to get the whole thing to hang together.

In the end, I actually really like how this came out. III was the only real compromise to my mind, and even that doesn’t really make me feel cheap.

Oh, and I spent a LONGGG time trying to generate an OSIRIS clue that references the fact that his brother Set killed him and chopped him up into little pieces. [God that was dead Set against?] Ehhh. Almost, but … kill your darlings.

Happy solving, friends!


“Let It Burn”

by Yacob Yonas & Ross Trudeau

[.puz][PDF][Solution] πŸ‘¨πŸΎβ€πŸš’πŸ‘¨πŸΌβ€πŸš’

This is going to be fun.

On Monday night, Yacob Yonas (yes, the Yacob Yonas) is joining us live on the Cursewords stream. The plan is for Parker to solve today’s puzzle while Yacob and I heckle. Thereafter, we’ll *dialogue* and ask pointed questions of Yacob, like, “How did you construct Friday’s NYT puzzle so good?”

Join us! 9pm Eastern. Be there and fill squares.

Meantime, a word on today’s puzzle: it *may* end up being a more satisfying solve if you can print and solve with pencil and paper. Related spoilers and thoughts from myself and Yacob on “Let It Burn” after the jump… H/t to Mike, Arianna, and Matt for test solving!

Ross: Today’s puzzle presents a solving challenge in the applet, in that we needed to set either FIRE or SMOKE as the “correct” answer. We went with SMOKE, which corresponds to the first half of each theme clue, and seems to mimic the meaning of the clue more closely. And naturally, each answer was a rebus. (For the uninitiated, “rebus: just means “more than one letter in a box,” and there’s a “REBUS” button in the app that’ll let you enter them… you’re not alone if your first reaction was, “WHAT? YOU CAN DO THAT?!”)

As such, it might be frustrating to correctly enter “SMOKE” or “FIRESMOKE” or “SMOKEFIRE” or whatever, and not get a “puzzle solved” response. For this, I hope you’ll forgive us. We think it’s worth an improbable theme set, and stunt-worthy stacked revealer.

Yacob: I love collaborating to construct crosswords, especially when I feel like my co-constructor and I are on the same wavelength. In my collabs with Ross, I feel like we are always speaking the same language and it’s so much fun!

This puzzle came to be after we were discussing another (similar-ish?) idea and then Ross had a stroke of genius and proposed this idea. I thought there would be no way we could pull this off because the theme is so constraining and finding a grid layout that worked for the few themers we had seemed impossible at first. However, we were able to pull it off and I’m very proud of the puzzle we made! 

If you ever get a chance to collaborate with Ross, you jump on it!

“Stock Exchange”

[.puz][PDF][Solution] πŸ‚ πŸ“¦ 🏦 πŸ₯£ πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘¦β€πŸ‘¦

Short post this morning. I’m taking it low and slow today, as last night Jessie and I reinitiated on-the-town (albeit outdoor) Date Night! (Did you miss us? She’d like to know.)

In case today’s puzzle doesn’t deliver your full weekend grid fix, there’s also a Sunday-sized #rossword out in the wild today! The Universal Sunday puzzle, “Study Breaks,” is a collaborative effort with noted cat lady Amanda Rafkin.

A couple of thoughts and spoilers for “Stock Exchange” after the jump.

in 5/9/21 papers e’rywhere!

Sincerely, dear solver, I love making these kinds of puzzles.

The word “stock” is perfect for one of these, uh, Hidden Varied Meaning puzzles? Clunky name, better one TK. It has various distinct meanings, meanings around investment, broth, supply, animal husbandry, tree trunks, ancestry…

And the key to satisfying the little pattern-seeking ferret in my head is not only to generate five different “stock” phrases, but *also* to make sure that those five phrases treat the meaning of “stock” differently.

But wait! A further constraint exists to ensure a warm bath of anal-retentive crossword consistency. Each of the resulting answer phrases–CATTLE HORNS, FAMILY PHOTO, etc.–must *also* each be a distinct example of the meaning of the word “stock.” Here’s a little visual to describe what I mean:

And voila! A crossword is born.

Happy solving, friends!


“Well, I’m Stumped”

[.puz][PDF][Solution] πŸŒ²πŸŒ΄πŸŽ‹πŸŒ³

It occurs to me that maybe, from time to time, I should point out the “Rosswords by Mail” feature. Drop your email address in the field to the right and you’ll get each Sunday’s #Rossword whooshed straight to your inbox. It’s a good way to ensure you won’t miss a trick!

A couple of #Rosswords out the in the wild to apprise you of:

– Tomorrow’s New York Times Monday (5/3) puzzle, which I’m told by a colleague “isn’t a GIANT waste of time *wink wink*”. I submitted that one sometime in mid-2019, so it’s not exactly cutting edge Ross material, but I think it holds up okay.

-Yesterday’s 5/1 Universal puzzle, “Look Within Yourself,” a collaboration with my dear friend and noted weasel aficionado Amanda Rafkin.

Oh! And don’t forget to tune in tomorrow (Monday) evening at 9pm eastern for some live Twitch solving over at Cursewords Live. Parker and I are temporarily taking over the Boswords primetime slot, at least until Boswords returns and we can resume our more natural role as afterparty hosts.

Thoughts and spoilers for “Well, I’m Stumped” after the jump!

Maybe solve this week’s puzz via the PDF? Cap’n America helped me make it!!!

There is nothing, and I mean nothing inherently interesting about “wood” as a crossword puzzle theme. And truth be told, I’m not sure how this is going to play out from a solving standpoint. I think when I fixed on the idea of a) hiding various types of trees in the grid, b) stacking them one on top of the others, and c) trying to pull off a triple stack three different times in the same grid … well, I think I just liked the challenge. But that’s a pretty navel-gazy approach to crossword construction. Ah, well. Perhaps the, ahem, craftsmanship will be enough to make this a worthwhile solve.

If you’ve got the wherewithal, I suggest clicking into the PDF and downloading/printing/solving with pen and paper. The colored cels in PuzzleMe are nice, but I was able to do more with the PDF.

Happy solving, friends!