Monday, December 31, 2018

Farewell . . . and New Beginnings

Yesterday's puzzle was the last in The Puzzle Society Crossword, and so this blog, like the year, is coming to an end.  I'll be posting an update here soon about what's next for me on the puzzle front, but in the meantime, thanks for solving the Puzzle Society crossword each day and stopping by the Crossword Crossing blog!  Here's to new beginnings and a happy 2019 to all!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

"Color Spectrum," by Zhouqin Burnikel

Constructor's Comments

When I first proposed this theme to David back in February, I had ONE LIFE TO LIVE for OLIVE, which fully contains OLIVE in the end.  He noticed immediately, of course.  And the title is his again.

Thank you, David, for patiently guiding me through all the Puzzle Society puzzles this year.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

"Cash Purchases," by Paul Coulter

Constructor's Comments

This started several years ago as a Sunday grid called "Heaven Cent."  It was puns on currency that no one wanted.  So it sat idle in my rejects file along with hundreds of others until David's call for submissions.  Then I reviewed them all, submitted some as is, and refreshed other theme ideas into something better.  I'm glad David liked this one and, as usual, that he was so helpful with improving it.  I hope solvers found it ". . . something completely different," as Monty Python liked to say.  SPLAT.  Oops, forgot about that giant foot.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

"Gross!" by Lynn Lempel

Constructor's Comments

I really can't think of much to say about this puzzle, it being a pretty common add-a-letter type.  However, I do hope the theme doesn't apply to your holiday season!  Here's to lots of good puzzling in 2019.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

"Triple Play," by Jim Leeds

Constructor's Comments

"Triple Play" is one of my favorite 15xs after 22 years of published puzzle construction.

Each of the five theme entries has two words.  The first word, a famous person's (name ending with a double letter), and the second word, beginning with that same letter, form recognizable but misspelled phrases.

For me, puzzle construction evolved from a skittish attempt into a passionate pursuit!

The joy of awakening to a publish date—the thought that that day, scores of folks, pen or pencil at the ready, will be poring over cogent clues, trying to solve what came from my brain, is . . . is . . . well, there's nothing quite like it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

"Santa's Little Helpers," by Alex Eaton-Salners

Constructor's Comments

I don't often remember where I was when I came up with a particular puzzle idea.  In this case, I have clear recollection.  I was in the Mickey & Friends parking structure at Disneyland.  Realizing that ELF ON THE SHELF was amenable to a symmetric layout with both ELFs placeable on "shelves" was the key insight driving the puzzle's creation.  It was a bit challenging to find a block layout that worked without creating any pseudoshelves, but I'm pleased with how everything came together in the end.  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

"Layering," by Paul Coulter

Constructor's Comments

I like the idea of themes that show a logical progression—BREAKFAST ___, LUNCH ___, TEA ___, DINNER ___, and that sort of thing.  Add onto them a spacial element top to bottom, like ___ ONIONS, ___ CHEESE, ___ SAUCE, ____ CRUST, and that's a pretty good set.  This one shows peeling off the clothes when you dress in layers.  I like that David ran it as the cold weather sets in, so that the COAT in COAT OF ARMS is appropriate.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

"Save Now!" by Doug Peterson

Constructor's Comments

Split-word puzzles usually feature the splits in the centers of the theme entries—for example, a "split END" inside SCREEN DOOR or a "split PEA" inside HOOP EARRING.  For this theme, I thought it made more sense to have the DOORs as "wide open" as possible.  I hope you enjoy the puzzle, and I also hope you're done with all your holiday shopping!  As for me, I'll be avoiding the mall until we're well into 2019.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

"See the Big Picture," by Ned White

Constructor's Comments

Major Spoiler Alert:  The main challenge here was working without circled letters—per the Puzzle Society's software.  My original puzzle circled six trees:  FIR, OAK, RUBBER, ELM, SPRUCE, and TEA.  So I thought that without the circles the puzzle was fairly hard to solve.  The next challenge was to find the "mini-meta" suggested by MYOPIC at 68-Across.  Simply enough, it's the first letter of each tree—FOREST—but "hard to see" for all trees.

I loved making this puzzle.  But it happened so many months ago that I'd forgotten what the trick was and had to be rescued by my wife, Carla:  "You've got FOREST buried in there," and, of course, my only response was a facepalm.  How could I have been so myopic?

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

"Men at Work," by Greg Johnson

Constructor's Comments

There were many choices for theme clues and answers—however, some of the job choices were a little off, and those duos missed the cut.  I really wanted to use [Chase and Hector], but it just didn't work out.

Monday, December 17, 2018

"Holey Cow," by Gary Larson

Constructor's Comments

This is my first acceptance with the Puzzle Society Crossword, and I couldn't be more excited.  Two things I would like to mention:  1) I am not the Far Side cartoonist, and 2) no animals were harmed during the construction of this puzzle.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

"Digital Communications," by Jim Peredo

Constructor's Comments

When I SNAP my fingers, my dog Penny comes running, probably because I've dropped some food on the floor or I'm going to take her for a walk.  That idea was the impetus for this puzzle.  But I was only going to build it if I could find enough in-the-language verbal equivalents of snapping one's fingers.  I think I've done that, and the grid feels pretty lively to me.  As a bonus, I was also able to pull off those stacked long Downs in two of the corners with only a little bit of gunk (ARTE, e.g.).  The finishing touch was the title, which felt like a gift from the crossword gods.  Thank you, crossword gods!

Friday, December 14, 2018

"Crunch Time," by Brian Thomas

Constructor's Comments

'Tis the season to drink some HOT COCOA and snuggle up watching ELF, my favorite Christmas movie.  Throw in a day with a SKI (or maybe two!), and this puzzle is arriving at the perfect time of year—albeit unintentionally, because the wintry fill was a happy bonus to the theme.  Speaking of the theme, I'm a big fan of some potato chips (unfortunately for my health) and poker (unfortunately for my wallet)—so combining the two seemed like a fun combo.  Hope all enjoy and have a wonderful holiday season!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

"Extreme Weather," by Andy Kravis

Constructor's Comments

I constructed this puzzle almost a year ago.  I hadn't really looked at it since then until I went back and solved it a few days ago, during which time I fell for—without exaggeration—12 of my purposely misdirecting clues.  Hope you find them more memorable than I did.

Monday, December 10, 2018

"Mixology," by Larry Nargi

Constructor's Comments

I like puzzles and I like cocktails, so here we are.  Although it's a fairly straightforward theme, I thought it would be fun.  Thanks, David, for being on board with that and for making some good editing suggestions to improve the fill.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

"Almighty Dollar," by Pancho Harrison

Constructor's Comments

This grid was essentially David's idea.  The two previous grids I'd come up with did not have the 11-letter entries at 3- and 25-Down, and we were both having problems finding acceptable fill for a Monday-level puzzle.  My original construction also had 23 three-letter words instead of David's 16, and only 11 five-letter entries as opposed to David's 24.  His was a much better balance of four- and five-letter words, at 24 and 24.

So when he sent me his idea for the new construction, with the O-shape of black squares in the middle and the two long Down entries, it resolved most of the inherent fill difficulties.  The title was also David's—best I could come up with was "Pinching Pennies," which doesn't actually make much sense!  I've found that titles can be a bit problematic when one of the theme entries is a revealer.

My strong suit has never been 15x15s, so David's help was invaluable in this one, my debut puzzle for The Puzzle Society!

Friday, December 7, 2018

"Listen!" by Ari Halpern

Constructor's Comments

Thrilled to have my second crossword appear on the Puzzle Society page!

About the puzzle:  I have always loved crossword substitution/omission themes that have a revealer based on reparsing a word or phrase . . . themes like visa (V is A), floss (F loss), or story (S to RY).  When pondering theme ideas for a new puzzle, I always find myself going back to this basic wordplay.  In my growing list of ideas, I knew that the word not could be reparsed as no T.  However, I never seriously considered continuing with this notion because surely the idea of omitting a T in a phrase had been done before.  One day, during a discussion with a friend, the phrase seen but not heard was used in describing someone else.  In the back of my mind, I reparsed it as seen but no T heard.  A lightbulb went off, and I realized I could construct a puzzle where Ts were "seen" but not actually "heard."  In googling the origin of the phrase, I discovered that the actual phrase was seen and not heard.  That, however, did not change the meaning for my purposes, so I continued with the construction of this fun puzzle.  Hopefully, in solving, you had that aha moment that the central revealer should provide!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

"Time's Up," by Debbie Ellerin

Constructor's Comments

Tough act to follow yesterday's puzzle by Sheryl Bartol, my talented sister.

I don't remember exactly how this puzzle came to be, but it was inspired by the #MeToo movement.  The addition of ME to common phrases seemed like it could work as a theme.  My favorite entry that didn't make it into the puzzle:  DESPICABLE MEME.

Thank you, David, for publishing this.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"Victory Parade," by Sheryl Bartol

Constructor's Comments

I started on my path to coming up with this theme when I heard an NFL quarterback talking about "running the table."  As a sports fan, I love an exciting finish, and this theme covers many of them.  The one I couldn't fit in was BUZZER BEATER.  Maybe I'll work it into another puzzle!  Please be sure to check back for tomorrow's puzzle constructed by my mentor and sister, Debbie Ellerin.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

"Online Followers," by Rob Gonsalves and Jennifer Lim

Constructors' Comments

We are very excited to have our first crossword puzzle published!  And we are thankful for David's help in all phases of construction.

The original theme for this puzzle was adding on to names of social networks to create humorous answers, like LINKEDINSECTS.  David liked the idea in general but recommended that we narrow it down to have answers that would be types of people, such as LINKEDINVENTOR.  He also suggested we make our theme answers more divergent from the original meaning to bring out the funny.  So FACEBOOKWORM became FACEBOOKIE.

Our original title for the puzzle was "Extended Network."  When David recommended NETWORKING as the revealer, we switched it to "Online Followers" to avoid using a form of an answer word in the title.

We would like to send a special shout-out to Nancy Solomon.  She gave us a lot of advice on puzzle construction as we were getting started.

Monday, December 3, 2018

"Print Issues," by Johanna Fenimore and Jeff Chen

Constructors' Comments

Johanna Fenimore:  We started out with the seed idea being "A Wrinkle in Time."  I was hoping Jeff could work his grid magic and create a visual wrinkle.  Not practical!  So we put our heads together and went in a new direction.  Similar concept with a smoothed-out approach.

Jeff Chen:  It's always a pleasure working with Johanna!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

"Interwoven," by Val Melius

Constructor's Comments

This theme idea actually came about whilst I was working on another theme idea, and then the thought came to me, "How about adding basketmaking materials within phrases?"  Thus I began my quest in search of various basket types and materials.

It was really fascinating, the different types and techniques used to create baskets—also, how various cultures applied these techniques to other necessities, such as fish pots, table mats, etc.  The intricacies of the design, too, take someone really special to create these everyday masterpieces.

Natural basketmaking materials resonated with me, so I focused on those and incorporated them into everyday phrases.  My initial theme set had a couple of issues, so David and I worked on them till we found something we both liked.  For instance, BASKET CASE was the initial title of this puzzle; David suggested using it as the reveal.  I spent the next couple of days getting the grid design and fill right—think I created, like, three or more grid designs till I came up with this one.

Was an interesting couple of days—this was a really fun project.  Hope you had fun solving it—I've got a couple others in store. :)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

"Finding Your Purpose," by Blake Slonecker

Constructor's Comments

My daughters eat a lot of cereal and play a lot of board games.  So this theme came together while I drank coffee and watched them go about their lives.  Histories of all sorts litter my bookshelves.  So there was another theme entry from the detritus of daily life.  The songbook reference, though, was a late addition and new to me—one of the quirky entries that you pick up in putting together a grid (and David's gift).  My favorite clue is at 1-Across (my wife's), and my favorite answer is at 1-Down (mine)—good places for each.  This is my first published puzzle, so I'm grateful to David for being open to a rookie.