Saturday, July 21, 2018

"Free for All XXI," by Mark Diehl

Constructor's Comments

CRAZY QUILT was appropriately the starting point for the colorful blend of Scrabbly words and phrases in this 70-word concoction.  Looking back, it seems like it flows well and doesn't have anything too tough other than PEMMICAN, which I remember less than fondly from extended hiking/camping trips on the John Muir Trail through the Sierras as a Boy Scout.  Meat powder and berries bound together with lard in a bar—amazing what you will eat when hungry enough!

Editor's Comments

Mark Diehl is back with another signature Scrabbly themeless!  My top five favorite entries are CRAZY QUILT, TAX EVASION, EL DIABLO, AY CARAMBA, and ALIEN RACE.  I also really like how Mark made the midlength entries sparkle—as a constructor, it's easy to get so wrapped up in optimizing the longer slots that the midlength ones fall by the wayside.  With shorter goodies like I'M COOL, PALE ALE, MR TOAD, PLOTZ, RAW BAR, and GARBLE, the zip flows throughout the grid rather than being confined to the corners.  Mark's clues are also always at a happy medium.

Friday, July 20, 2018

"Compression Chamber," by Mark McClain

Constructor's Comments

This puzzle is based on what might be called a "shared letters" theme.  The four long entries are familiar three-word phrases in which the last letter of the first two words is the same as the first letter of the following word, and these letters are "shared" in the grid.  This may create some consternation on the part of solvers who might think there is an error in the grid . . . until they figure out the gimmick, which hopefully doesn't take too long.  Once you've finished the grid, you may notice that if you read the phrases, they seem perfectly normal.  Or not.

Editor's Comments

They say sharing is caring, though Mark found an ingenious way to turn sharing into a fiendish Friday theme!  Finding four in-the-language three-word phrases with double letters at each word break can't have been easy to do.  And just overall, I love the quirkiness and originality of the theme.  In the fill, you'll notice that there are no long nonthematic downs.  I think that was a good choice on Mark's part, since having long nonthematic downs mixed in with the long down theme entries might have been confusing.  Focusing more on midlength slots also allowed Mark to keep the fill extra-smooth.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

"Prism," by George Jasper

Constructor's Comments

I had some trouble incorporating the PRISM reveal into the bottom section of the grid without having a ripple effect disrupt the last theme entry, one that I was finding difficult to replace.

David suggested using PRISM as the puzzle's title in order to keep the current theme entries intact, saving me substantial rework.

Editor's Comments

This puzzle's title is the key to understanding its theme:  The word prism can be reparsed as "PR is M."  Tricky!  In addition to finding four amusing theme entries, George mixed in six (!) long downs to spice things up.  I especially like TIM DUNCAN, DOT MATRIX, and LOOSE ENDS.

UNCLE ALBERT was a new one for this millennial, but after doing some research, I came to the conclusion that many solvers would know it.  After all, the song Uncle Albert is from hit #1 in the '70s, and his name is in both the lyrics and the title.  These are just some of the factors that go into my "Is this entry familiar enough?" decisions.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

"K Rations," by Stu Ockman

Constructor's Comments

My inspiration for this grid was a sign on the wall at a Jewish deli—an award-winning deli at that:

Quoting Philadelphia Magazine, "Sure, they've got the best Jewish deli sandwiches and free pickle bowl around.  And don't miss the humongous crinkle-cut steak fries.  But what cinches the deal are the free-with-an-eat-in-lunch fresh chocolate chip cookies. . . . "  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.  But I digress.

I originally had K WORDS as the revealer.  David suggested using KOSHER instead, a big improvement.  DELI MENU was thrown into the mix—also by David.  Then, I put them in KOSHER DELI MENU order and finished filling the grid.

I had a lot of fun working with David on this one.  Hope you had just as much fun solving it.  And don't forget to stop by a deli near you to try each of these (you may have to make more than one trip).  Mmm.

Editor's Comments

I'm a huge fan of Jewish food, so this puzzle's theme hit close to home for me!  When I first saw Stu's original submission (which, as he mentions, had K WORDS in the lower left), KOSHER jumped to my mind.  A common abbreviation for Kosher on food labels is K, so KOSHER seemed like just the right revealer.  Fortunately, Stu was on board with changing K WORDS to KOSHER.  He even did some extra polishing on those wide-open upper right and lower left corners to keep things easy for newer solvers.  All in all, it was a pleasure working with Stu on this one, and I hope you enjoy sinking your teeth into it!