May 31, 2009

Hydroplane Tsunami

Okay, this one's a day late. I had this grid ready to go a few days ago but, oh man, it was a bear to clue. I'm still not sure if I like some of the clues, but enough is enough. Time to call it a puzzle and grab some lunch.


What in the world does that title mean, you ask? There's only one way to find out. :D

Puzzle opens with AcrossLite.

PDF to follow in a little bit. Namely, now.
Download file
And, since I don't have Adobe Illustrator, the grid has that godawful text running across it. But the jpeg above will suffice if you're so inclined to download that, too.

UPDATE: To add some more thoughts on this one.

I worked hard on the theme so I tried to make this grid work. Unfortuantely, I ended up with an inordinant amount of 3-letter entries.

Solving this one might be a piece of cake for experienced solvers yet, simultaneously, remain an enigma to those of us who don't solve five-to-nine top-notch puzzles a day.

I, therefore, consider this puzzle to be my most impressive failure thus far. An ambitious puzzle that satisfies neither the crossword maven nor the casual solver. An example of the Peter Principle, where ambition puts one above his level of competence.

Perhaps a 17X17 or 19x19 grid would have been better? The world may never know.

Another attempt at puzzle-making on Saturday where there just may be an abundance of 4-letter words. :)

Posted by Tuning Spork at 11:51 AM | Comments (551) | TrackBack

May 24, 2009

A thought on crossword puzzlers

The worst thing that can happen to crossword puzzles is that they cater to crossword puzzle addicts.

The demise (restructuring?) of the TMS (Chicago Tribune) daily crossword and its replacement (partnership? Please explain further) by/with the L.A. Times' crossword may be merely (simply?) another clue that corporate (publicly owned) America has a problem to solve.

Or, maybe more truthfuly, it may be a clue that crossword constructors and solvers are in danger of getting just a little bit ahead of themselves and, in the immediate desire for more challenging puzzles, choke the market that can produce those puzzles.

There are crossword publishers aplenty. Puzzles can be had in the hundreds in just a few issues of Dell and Penny Press puzzle magazines. Some crosswords are geared for casual solvers. Others are geared for puzzleheads -- like me.

But I wasn't always like me.

There was a time in my life when a crossword puzzle was just another puzzle. One that I didn't even have to solve. :-) A thing to engage whenever it and I happened to cross paths and only for the hell of it.

I've read-tell that some TMS puzzlers are less than thrilled at having to deal with the L.A. Times puzzle now. My gut reaction, of course, is "What?! Do you not see the superiornessity of the L.A. Times puzzle to old Chicago Tribune puzzle?!"

My second reaction is that I remember what it's like to solve what we puzzleheads might call "training wheel puzzles". (Yeah, I made that up. Feel free to come up with something better.)

I was about 8 or 9 years old when I read the clue, "Funny man Reiner". I, being a child of the '70s, knew that the answer had to be ROB. But the puzzle wanted four letters and ROB only had three. I complained of my confoundedness to my grandmother who told me that the correct answer was CARL. "Who?" (To this day I can't see Carl Reiner without remembering the moment I'd first heard of him, while doing that danged crossword puzzle.)

If crossword puzzles are to exist in the future then they must continue AS daily crosswords, in every newspaper, that are accessible to casual solvers.

I don't believe that the recent spike in crossword fandom has had any effect on the TMS puzzle. I think that it's due purely to cost-cutting in this economic climate. But I do worry about the clannishness of puzzle solvers having an effect on what's publishable. Brendan Quigley very recently mentioned that crossword bloggers have had an impact on Will Shortz. That's fine. In fact, that's great -- for us and Will Shortz. I just hope that that impact isn't felt at Universal or USA Today.

Ordinary crosswords are the impetus of great crosswords. They invite the casual solvers to solve and win. And those who can win want to win more. But the worst thing that can happen to daily crosswords is for them to become inaccessible to the rest of us. Some of us (believe it or not) want to solve a crossword as a morning calisthenic; a warm-up for the challenge of the day ahead. Some of us solve the crossword as the day's challenge itself. That's almost spooky.

I must confess that I'm not sure who I'm addessing this to. I'm addressing myself, of course. But, maybe, also the bloggers, the constructors, the editors, the champion solvers, the casual solvers of the world or the wanna-be scholars like me. What I do know is that it was the daily puzzle in my local paper (Newsday, in my case) that got me interested in crosswords in a way that went beyond wishing that I could I solve it. As much as we crossword mavens might poo-poo the daily Newsday puzzle, it is one of the most widely syndicated puzzles just because it is ultimately (and some would say infinitely) solvable. Except, maybe, for Saturday.

Crossword puzzles aren't just for crossword puzzle addicts. The uncanny way that they can find a use for an almost forgotten memory is almost Holy.
Crossword puzzles remind us of what we know. I think.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 06:05 PM | Comments (713) | TrackBack

May 23, 2009

Oh, no! Another crossword!

Here's a little themeless puzzle for a lazy Saturday evening. Or Sunday morning. Or whenever.


Puzzle opens with AcrossLite:

PDF version here:
UPDATE: Thanks to Stephen Macklin, here's a PDF without the obstructive text across the grid:

Fair warning. The PDF prints out on three pages. Page one is the grid. That's good to have. Page two is the clues. You'll need that. Page three is the solution. Don't look at that.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 06:19 PM | Comments (173) | TrackBack

May 16, 2009

new Crossword puzzle

Here is the first in what I intend to be a somewhat regular posting of my own crossword puzzles. We'll see how that goes.

This is an homage to David J. Kahn's New York Times crossword puzzle of Thursday, May 14, 2008 which generated quite some discussion at a couple of crossword blogs.

Those who solved it and discussed it in the comments thread HERE will, I hope, appreciate the emulation of Kahn's clues and answers, spiffy and iffy alike.

I don't think it's a difficult solve. It's certainly not an impressive grid.

But I do hope that it's a fun solve. (Except for those two airport codes that I had to include just because including them was the only way to complete the @#$% thing).


Puzzle opens with AcrossLite.

Don't have AcrossLite? What are you, nuts? Download it FREE. All the cool kids have it.

UPDATE: Per request, here's a PDF version:
Download file
I converted the .puz file to .pdf using the demo version of a crossword-making program, so it has some text running through the center of the grid and the grid and clues are on individual pages. Oh well.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 11:44 PM | Comments (889) | TrackBack
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