Puzzle #19: Reptilian Overlords

[.puz][PDF][Solution] 🦎 🐍 🐊 πŸ›

This puzzle was inspired by comedian Claire Parker’s Twitter bio (spoiler alert), which led me down a deep, dark Wiki-conspiracy rabbit hole.

I had only tangentially been aware of the Reptilian Overlord conspiracy theory. Which, if you’re not familiar with, deserves extensive poorly-sourced research on your part.

Sssssssspoiler alert


One of the pros of running an indy crossword puzzle site is that I can frame an otherwise straightforward theme (people descriptors with a reptile in them) as something outlandish like… an alien lizard conspiracy puzzle.

It’s a pretty tight theme set: FLORIDA GATOR, SOCIAL CHAMELEON, DJ SNAKE, LOUNGE LIZARD. And there isn’t a ready-made revealer answer (REPTILIAN PEOPLE, 15, to match SOCIAL CHAMELEON, felt a little forced), I had to go to mirror symmetry with the theme set. And since mirror symmetry allows you to isolate them answers in pretty tidy ways, I was able to get a bunch of bonus fill I like in there: FÜR ELISE, ETSY SHOP, SO TO SAY, DAD JOKE, MEGADETH, etc.

Anyway, try to watch Mitch McConnell and believe he’s not a bullfrog in sheep’s clothing. JUST TRY.


Puzzle #18: Mystery Ingredient

[.puz][PDF][Solution] πŸ‘¨β€πŸ³πŸ‘©πŸ»β€πŸ³πŸ‘©πŸΎβ€πŸ³πŸ‘¨β€πŸ³

Tomorrow, Wednesday February 5th, my 24th puzzle appears in the New York Times. In an odd bit of happenstance, it was the *third* puzzle I ever had accepted by Will Shortz et al. I’m looking back at the grid, and… I don’t hate it. Which is sort of an anomaly for me in reviewing my earlier work.

SO. Let’s whet our #rosswordpuzzle appetite with a mid-week amuse-bouche. Can you taste that? There’s just… *something* on your palate that you can’t… *quite* identify. Can you?

Go for a dip?

*SPOILER ALERT* This is one of those puzzles that required adding words to my word list to build out the theme set. I wanted to limit myself to SAUCEs that were very identifiably SAUCE. As opposed to, like, dips and drizzles and dressings. So the number of concealable words was actually pretty short. RAGU didn’t offer too many options, but DRAG UNDER came mind, and in it went.

MOLE is delicious. RAGU is a brand name, but it’s also apparently a distinct type of sauce. Useful! And PESTO was an obvious choice, given the letter distribution. And… P[R]ESTO! Theme set.

Is it good? Need more salt? You can be honest.


Puzzle #10: Act IV

[PDF] [AcrossLite] [Solution] πŸ’πŸΎβ€β™€οΈπŸ§•πŸ½πŸ™‹πŸ½β€β™€οΈ πŸ’πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

As of 2018, my congresswoman here in Cambridge, MA is Ayanna Pressley. When the Massachusetts 7th sent her to Congress, none of us imagined she’d have quite the platform she does, or quite the peer group…

Ayanna et al.

This puzzle is for the newshounds and policy wonks among you. The upcoming 2019 elections might feel like a muted preamble to 2020, but if you really want to participate in democracy and feel like your vote/voice count, primaries and local politics are where to start.

Hopefully this puzz will get those juices flowing… πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

Puzzle #8: Loose Chronology

[Across Lite] [PDF] [Solution] β°πŸ€”

Omg omg omg we interrupt this regularly-scheduled Rossword Puzzle for a shameless plug. You *didn’t hear it from me*, but tomorrow’s New York Times puzzle is totally worth solving. Not because I had a hand in it (I did), but because it’s a NYT debut for this stellar human. Amanda reached out to me some months ago for some construction tips, and as of this writing she’s sold several crosswords to outlets like Inkubator, the WSJ, and the NY Times. And she’s my new puzz bestie. πŸ’•

Anyway, a bit about this week’s Rossworld Puzzle below… *SPOILER ALERT*

Drip tock

This puzzle’s revealer, DO YOU HAVE THE TIME, is one of those 16-letter revealers that you giddily count out hoping (HOPINNNGGG) it’ll fit in a standard 15×15 grid. When it doesn’t, you know that whatever you come up with is going a) to the NYT, which allows constructors to go 16-wide, b) onto the scrap heap, or c) onto your blog. And… here we are.

There aren’t any super long down “bonus” answers because the middle themer requires black box placement that chops up the sides pretty thoroughly. But when the first themer came to mind, I knew there was a decent puzz here.

Solve it quick, nerds… tempus fugit!

Puzzle #3: Fall of the British Empire

[PDF] [Across Lite] [Solution]

I love grid circles. My crosswords are full of them. They’re full circle. The tool allows you to achieve some interesting visual effects with a grid, and I dig how this one came out. That being said, they can get overused, so I’ll try to space them out.

It’s surprising to me that more mainstream crossword puzzle outlets don’t support the full such “gimmicky” gamut: circles, rebuses, shaded boxes, etc. They offer such potential in terms of new ways to execute avant-garde themes, and it doesn’t seem too terribly difficult from a backend perspective. This site runs PuzzleMe, which has rebuses/circles native to the software.

Oh, and before I’m accused of piling on the British, some of my best friends are from the U.K. So.

Plus… if Alex Morgan is wrong, I don’t want to be right. 🍡