Sunday, November 29, 2020

Puzzle #26: Themeless Puzzle

 


If this grid looks a little funky to you, that's because it's a 14x14 -- just a hair smaller than your typical full-sized grid. The reason for that is because this puzzle started with the 33-Across entry and I figured I might as well make it a grid-spanning entry and adjust the dimensions of the puzzle accordingly because why not? As a person who is forever a decade behind on popular television, I just recently started watching Game of Thrones. I found the 33-Across phrase humorous at the moment, for reasons I've included in its clue. Hopefully this puzzle will be not too-challenging and enjoyable way to close out your holiday weekend. Until next time!

Amanda

.puz file

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Puzzle #25: "Wait...Where's The Turkey?" by Amanda Rafkin & Ross Trudeau

 

Happy Thanksgiving, dear solvers! While full-sized grids are usually reserved for Sundays, this week comes with a special bonus puzzle by me and Ross Trudeau. It's so special in fact...that it's not solvable in any of the solving apps! This one you'll have to use that puzzle printer of yours to print out. So grab the folks in your bubble and gather round. We'd love to see the pics of your gravy-stained puzzles and/or your favorite solving nooks. Happy eating everyone, and be safe! 🦃🍂

Wait...Where's The Turkey PDF

Wait...Where's The Turkey SOLUTION



Sunday, November 15, 2020

Puzzle #24: Themeless Puzzle

 

Sometimes I sit on a themeless grid for months before it comes together; other times, it all manages to come together in seemingly no time at all. This puzzle falls into the latter category. I intended to finish this last night and set it to publish early this morning, but alas I had one glass of wine and fells asleep at 8:30 last night, which is not embarrassing at all. As a clue writer I tend to be rather verbose, which makes me the perfect target for editorial trims. And while I am learning my lesson and beginning to self-correct, here on this blog sometimes I take the liberty of writing clues that are as long as I want simply because I can. I hope you find both this puzzle and your Sunday enjoyable. Until next time! 🙂

Amanda

.puz file

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Midi Puzzle

 

We're right in the heart of football season, so I started this puzzle off with 8-Across and then went from there. 5-Down is a great example of something that, both as a constructor and solver, I wasn't familiar with but was happy to learn. Given that I would not consider this an inferable entry, I tried to make all of the crossings as fair as possible. 1-Down is going to tell you everything you need to know about middle school Amanda. If it brings on some nostalgia for you as well, then we are birds of a feather. Happy solving! 🧩

Amanda

.puz file

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Themeless by Amanda Rafkin & Ross Trudeau

 

I've been too emotionally preoccupied to post any puzzles this week, so it is now with the collective sigh of a nation that I am happy to return with a themeless puzzle by me and Ross Trudeau. If I'm not mistaken, Ross and I have collaborated on somewhere between 30 and 40 puzzles since the dawn of our relationship. It truly is a collaboration for the ages and I can honestly say that I wouldn't be puzzling as I am if it weren't for him. As such, we've done just about every method of collaboration possible in terms of how we've gone about tackling a puzzle. This particular one was divided in such a way that Ross ended up being responsible for most of the grid and I ended up being responsible for most of the clues. This puzzle was made shortly after I'd started trying my hand at making themeless puzzles, and even though Ross is a theme machine, he can still be caught with his hand in the themeless cookie jar, as you get to catch a glimpse of today. These days, I probably make about the same number of themed puzzles as themeless puzzles, though as I say that I'm also staring at a big batch of half-completed themeless puzzles that I need to get around to finishing. Woof. We hope this puzzle (or at least a certain part of it) feels a little extra special in your heart today as we look forward to a more hopeful future with a new president-elect and a woman of color VP preparing to take office. The work is only just beginning!

.puz file

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Puzzle #23: Guest Themeless by Brooke Husic and Will Nediger

 

Two fantastic people, one fantastic puzzle! I truly couldn't be more pleased to be running this phenomenal themeless by Brooke and Will. Great entries, incredible clues, and a 37-Across that's close to my heart for more than one reason, one of which being where I went to college (click here after solving to see what I mean). I don't want to say any more because I want you to be able to discover the joys of this puzzle completely on your own. I have no doubt that you'll be just as blown away as I was! Enjoy, and welcome to November!

Here's Brooke: Working with Will is the best, and I'm really proud of this puzzle we made together. I love Will's clues for 37-A and 47-A. I'm also very happy to be back on Amanda's site and am super grateful for her hosting this guest spot and being an all-around stellar friend!

Here's Will: Working with Brooke is a delight too! She wrote too many clever, creative clues for me to list, so you'll just have to dive right into the puzzle! Many thanks to Amanda, whose work I greatly admire, for the guest spot. 

.puz file

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloween Midi

 

When I was a kid, Halloween was my favorite holiday. And while I may have outgrown trick-or-treating, I still enjoy many of the traditions that come with Halloween -- namely, pumpkin carving with apple cider and donuts, and watching my list of annual Halloween movies. The list includes Practical Magic, Halloweentown, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and the film around which today's puzzle is based. I've recently added Beetlejuice to the list in recent years as well. The two grid-spanning entries going across are related to the film in question, and in your down clues you'll find some quotes from the film to really put your knowledge to the test! Here in Hollywood, there's a movie theater owned by Disney called the El Capitan that screens this film every year. And, since both the film and the theater are owned by Disney, they have a ton of the original props, sets, and costumes from the film on display in the theater. (The same is true for The Nightmare Before Christmas). Because of COVID, this of course isn't happening this year, but here's hoping the tradition returns in full force next year! I hope you all find a safe way to celebrate today! When I carved pumpkins with my niece last night, I carved "2020" into my pumpkin because I honestly couldn't think of anything scarier. Happy haunting!

Amanda

.puz file

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Theatre Thursday #23

Happy birthday to the lovely lady pictured above, whose life story inspired the musical at 11-Across. The film version, starring Barbra Streisand, was the highest grossing film in the United States in 1968, and the show boasts such hits as "People" and "Don't Rain On My Parade". Sorry not sorry if either of those earworms get stuck in your head for the rest of the day 😊🎭

Amanda

.puz file

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Midi Puzzle

 I don't know what it is, but the past couple midis I've made have been just so much fun to construct and even more fun to clue. I hope this translates into your solving experience! The clue for 4-D might indicate that the entry itself may elicit a chortle, but I have to say writing the clue definitely elicited a chortle as well. Hope your week is off to a nice start! 🧩

Amanda

.puz file

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Puzzle #22: "A Little Bit Extra" by Amanda Rafkin & Ross Trudeau

 

It's great to be back with another Amanda/Ross collab! I wish I'd remembered to set this to post last night, but alas I didn't remember until I sat down this morning to watch football, so here were are to provide you with a puzzle to do over lunch instead of over breakfast! We hope you enjoy!🧩

Here's Ross: I think the idea for this puzzle came to me when I was considering bringing my cat on a 2-couple podding trip, and the revealer was my best frame for bringing my cat too. (I didn't).

Too bad, Ross. I think that would have been a memorable trip.

.puz file

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Midi Puzzle

 

I've been enjoying the Boswords themeless league so much, and last night's was particularly exciting because it was my puzzle being solved! If you've heard the crossword world talking about it and you're not yet participating, you can still go to the Boswords website and sign up and even get a discounted rate. Or you can just purchase the pack of puzzles if you can't show up live every Monday night. But the conversations have been a ton of fun to watch, as have been the live solves from some of the community's best speed solvers. All in all it's been something really fun to look forward to each week. I made this midi puzzle while I was still riding high on the excitement of this week's tournament. I hope you enjoy! 🧩

Amanda

.puz file

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Midi Puzzle

 

This was the first puzzle I made after taking the week off last week, so naturally I went all out and had a very good time. In fact, I didn't even intend to make this puzzle -- I just started messing around with making a midi and then started having fun with the clues, and the next thing I knew...*poof* a puzzle! As it so often happens when you don't go out of your way to do something, I happen to really like this one. Go figure! I hope you enjoy it too 😊🧩

Amanda

.puz file

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Theatre Thursday #22

 


Hello everyone! Usually, a big part of what I love about Theatre Thursdays is writing the post about the show the puzzle is about. But today, I'm thinking that less is more. On Friday, the filmed version of the show I seeded this puzzle with about is going to be streaming on Amazon Prime amidst the most important election of my lifetime, and perhaps of yours too. This show is one of the most critical pieces of theater I have ever seen in my life and, in my opinion, should be mandatory viewing for all Americans. I urge you to take advantage of this incredible gift we're being given and take an hour and a half to watch this show. I guarantee you that you'll be better for it. In the meantime, enjoy this puzzle and I'd love to hear your thoughts about the show if you do choose to watch it.

Amanda

.puz file

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Midi Puzzle

 

Very happy to be back posting puzzles here after a nice, albeit not as productive as I was hoping, week of to work on the Sondheim Puzzle Suite. It's coming along though, so hopefully it won't be TOO long before I can get it out into the world :) In addition to this midi puzzle, I also have today's NYT puzzle (my solo debut!) as well as today's USA Today puzzle, so I hope you're in an Amanda kind of mood! Happy solving everyone, and I hope these puzzles provide a good start to your week 😊🧩

Amanda

.puz file

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Guest Midi by Sophia Maymudes

 

Very grateful to Sophia for sending me this great midi puzzle so that I could post something during my quiet week off where I'm supposed to be finishing the Sondheim Puzzle Suite, but most certainly will not be (though I did manage get my progress back on track)! Posts should resume here as normal this coming week :) In the meantime, I know you'll enjoy this gem from Sophia, who you can find on Twitter at @smaymudes where you can tell her yourself 😊🧩

Amanda

.puz file

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Puzzle #21: "Heady Toppers" by Brian Herrick

 

When Brian approached me with a musical-themed puzzle (a Sondheim-themed puzzle, no less!), I probably said yes before he'd even gotten the sentence fully out. It definitely didn't hurt that it was also a fun and clever idea! I'm so thrilled that we were able to bring this puzzle from idea to finished product (and by "we" I mean Brian, with me responding to emails too slowly). I couldn't be happier to be featuring this puzzle here today. Brian is a stand-up guy and a great constructor. He's also clearly very bright and knew exactly what kind of puzzle to bait me with 😉 And yes, what he mentions below is true! Sometime in the next months I'll be releasing a Sondheim Puzzle Suite with 20 puzzles: one for each show, plus a general catchall puzzle. So if that kind of thing is your bag, keep your eye out for the release date. on Twitter. Many, many thanks to Brian for gracing me with such a fun and on-brand puzzle to share with you all today! 🧩

Here's Brian: Look--I made a puzzle. Where there never was a puzzle! 

Amanda is one of my absolute favorite constructors and it's a real treat to have a guest spot here. 

I've written many music-themed puzzles, but never a musical-themed puzzle. That changed when Amanda tweeted that she was considering doing a Sondheim puzzle suite. The idea just popped right into my head. We DM'd about it, and she offered to host it. After a few weeks of it sitting in my head, I finally got down to writing it and here we are. 

Speaking of which, I am SO EXCITED for her Sondheim suite. It's going to be amazing.

Thanks again to Amanda for her editorial prowess and friendliness. The crossword community is lucky to have her. I hope you enjoy it!



Saturday, October 3, 2020

Midi Puzzle


Today's puzzle features diagonal symmetry (if you want to do some puzzles by the queen of diagonal symmetry, check out Brooke Husic's new site or just keep an eye out for her byline in general), and I'm convinced that basically all diagonally symmetrical grids look like creatures. Usually I think they look like bugs, but I think today's looks like a turtle. In fact, I think it looks exactly like the turtle pictured above.  This puzzle started off with 13-Across because it's a word/clue pairing I've been hoping to incorporate into a puzzle for a while, and then I basically just tried to build out a fun grid from there. As usual, I had fun with some of the clues, and even got to get a bit snarky with 10-Across, which I honestly put into this grid solely for the purpose of making this joke. Hope you enjoy! 🧩

Amanda

.puz file

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Theatre Thursday #21: Happy Birthday Julie Andrews

 


Today, our Queen Julie Andrews turns 85 years old. I feel so stupidly lucky that her birthday falls on a Thursday this year so that I have a completely acceptable reason to make a puzzle that centers wholly around Julie, which every puzzle should probably do though even I can see how that could maaayybbee alienate some solvers. If you don't love Julie Andrews, I kind of don't know where you've been and I also have some pretty serious questions about your taste. I'm tempted to write a short biography here in this post, but instead I'll just choose to point out some highlights from Julie's career that are worth celebrating:
  • Born October 1, 1935 in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England
  • Made her professional solo debut at the London Hippodrome singing the aria "Je suis Titania" from Mignon as part of a musical revue called "Starlight Roof"
  • At age 13, she became the youngest solo performer ever to be seen in a Royal Command Variety Performance before King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at the London Palladium
  • Appeared on the West End in the London Casino, where she played one year each as Princess Badroulbadour iAladdin and the egg in Humpty Dumpty in 1949
  • In 1954, on the eve of her 19th birthday, she made her Broadway debut playing Polly Brown in The Boyfriend. Near the end of this contract, she auditioned for and got her role in My Fair Lady
  • During her run of My Fair Lady, she was cast by Richard Rodgers to star in the TV version of Cinderella, for which she was nominated for an Emmy
  • 1960 cast in Camelot
  • 1963: cast as the titular Mary Poppins. She then got pregnant, but Walt Disney told her he would wait for her to give birth so she could play the role (QUEEN!) PS: she won the Academy Award and Golden Globe. In an acceptance speech, she thanked Jack Warner, who had chosen to cast Audrey Hepburn in the My Fair Lady film over her, freeing her up to play Mary Poppins.
  • 1965: cast as Maria in the film version of The Sound of Music, which remains the third highest grossing movie of all time (adjusted for inflation)
  • In 2000, Julie Andrews was made a 9-Across (see puzzle) by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the performing arts. 
  • There are honestly too many other films, TV shows/appearances, books written, and achievements to list ("Julie's Greenroom" on Netflix is very cute, by the way), but I encourage you to check them out for yourself. YouTube also has a host of incredible things to watch. Her career has been truly insane. 
  • In short, Julie Andrews is a treasure and quite possibly the best human ever to live.
I hope you enjoy the puzzle, and please feel free to share with me all the ways that you are celebrating this blessed day of Julie's birth. Also, in case you missed it, a pack of Musical Theater Midis that I wrote are now available in the NYT crossword app! Happy solving! 🎭🧩


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Puzzle #20: All Bottled Up

 


This is another puzzle of mine that I made quite some time ago. Like the one from two weeks ago, it's probably one of the first puzzles that I made on my own. As usual, I touched up some of the clues but the grid has largely remained unchanged. Upon revisiting it, I noticed that it doesn't have the long down slots that I image I would have included had I made the grid now, but overall I don't have as many nits to pick with it as I usually do with some of my older puzzles. One of the strangest thing about constructing puzzles for the major outlets with significant queue times is that, by the time you get to see your work in print, a year or more has gone by and you're a much different constructor. It's almost like digging up a time capsule, which is both really cool and also a really unusual thing to experience in the "public eye". I have no complaints, but it is a funny thing that I think about sometimes that feels (perhaps) unique to the world of constructing crossword puzzles. I hope you enjoy today's simple (and hopefully fun) theme. Cheers! 🧩

.puz file

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Guest Midi by Brooke Husic


I am so ridiculously excited to be featuring constructor, human, and friend extraordinaire Brooke Husic today on Brain Candy. I became an uber fan basically as soon as she arrived on the constructing scene, and the more I get to know her as a human, the more of a fan I become! She's wickedly smart and talented and is also a totally great friend, which is basically the ultimate hat trick of being a person. If you don't already, you can keep up with her on Twitter at @brookehus (for science-related stuff) and @xandraladee (for crossword-related stuff). I especially recommend this right now since she has a very exciting announcement coming tomorrow. Huge thanks to Brooke for gifting me/us with this puzzle, and I'm endlessly excited to see and enjoy all the things that are coming next for her!

Here's Brooke: Thanks so much to Amanda for running this! Brain Candy is amazing/trailblazing and I'm in awe of Amanda and her wordplay/cluing skillz. I really was trying to cram a lot of stuff in here so my low points are a little lower than usual (I'm looking at you, 5-D, 22-A, and 35-A. But I loved the chance to mention The Resistance in the 35-A clue, which is a terrible game to play with me if you want to ever be friends/enjoy my company), but hopefully aren't disruptive to the experience. Thanks a ton to Matthew for test solving.

P.S. I'm super here for woman rappers who mention their height. 18-Down does it in "Morning" and Missy Elliott does it in the "theme song" of my puzzle the other week @ Grids These Days. If you know any other instances of this please @ me.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Theatre Thursday #20

 

I cannot believe that this is already the 20th Theatre Thursday puzzle! How on earth...!? If you came late to the party, you can find all of the older puzzles in the "archive" in the sidebar; if you've been with me from the start, I hope you've enjoyed the journey as much as I have! Today's puzzle was built around my second favorite human of all time after Julie Andrews: 21-Across. Even if it did take a Disney movie to do it, I'm so glad she's seen a very well-deserved move into the "household name" sphere of pop culture. (The one downside is that now I have to fight a trillion people to go see her, whereas before I only had to fight other musical theater maniacs like myself)! But what are you going to do? Talent deserves to be recognized, so here we are. After the Wicked ship had sailed, I thought I had perhaps missed my opportunity to ever see her live in a Broadway musical...but then along came If/Then, resurrecting all my hopes and dreams. In total, over the past 15 years I've seen this glorious human four or five times in concert, twice in a musical, twice in a play, and again at her Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony. Suffice it to say, I think she's the best. Maybe you do too. If so, enjoy today's puzzle. And if not, maybe do a little more research 😉🧩

Amanda

.puz file

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Midi Puzzle

 

If you've never heard of the Nevis Swing (as featured in 11-Across and in the above GIF), give it a Google. Ideally with video, to really capture the nightmare that it is. I can barely complete this post because that image alone is making me woozy. (I very much do not care for heights). Similarly to how I feel about skydiving, I am 100% certain that I would die of a heart attack if I tried this. But god bless anyone who is capable of indulging in such adventures. I am the exact opposite of an adrenaline freak, which I guess would make me a...GABA freak? (the neurotransmitter that reduces neuronal excitability). Anyhow...this puzzle started off with 12-Across. A different and equally valid phrase starting with the same word showed up as a fill option when I was working on a puzzle for a mainstream outlet, and I found myself discouraged by the fact that I felt I couldn't include this phrase in the puzzle. While I didn't include that exact phrase here because I couldn't figure out exactly how I'd want to clue it (perhaps some other time), I was happy to include something related since it is, after all, a perfectly normal and real element of life. Happy solving! 🧩

Amanda

.puz file

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Puzzle #19: "Try This Coat!" by Thomas J. Heins, Will Eisenberg, and Olivia Mitra Framke

 

I'm super excited to be posting Brain Candy's first ever three-way collaboration -- a puzzle by Thomas J. Heins, Will Eisenberg, and Olivia Mitra Framke! When they pitched the idea to me, it brought a big smile to my face and I think all of you fellow crossword lovers will find yourselves equally amused! Big thanks to these three lovely people for giving me the pleasure of running this puzzle. Now I'll turn things over to your constructors:

Will: This theme emerged out of a discussion (okay, out of me strong-arming Thomas and Liv into making a puzzle with me) on the Crossword Discord server, aka Crosscord, which can be joined here: http://discord.gg/zHnQtGG. I can be found on Twitter at @TLMBERWOLVES, and on Discord as Lebronswanson.
 
T.J.: Thanks to Will and Liv for having me on; I'm thankful to have had the opportunity for my first collab.
 
Olivia: The second I saw the idea for this theme being discussed in Crosscord I absolutely loved it. I hope you will too!  
 
 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Variety Crossword: Get The Picture?

 


Today's puzzle was born out of a crazy idea I had when I learned that the Amuse Labs platform allowed you to include photos with your clues. Because I'm a little bit of a nut, I asked myself whether or not I thought it was possible to clue an entire puzzle using only photos and no words. Because I imagine the novelty would wear off pretty quickly (plus there's no room for fun word play), I decided to give it a go in the format of a mini puzzle. So...here we are! Some of the photos are very direct and are pictures of what the word is, other photos have something in them that's described by the word in the grid. So keep your eyes peeled and, hopefully, have fun! Back tomorrow with an awesome 3-way-collab guest grid that should give a good laugh to all you folks in the puzzle community.

Amanda

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Theatre Thursday #19


Today's puzzle focuses on a show that I'm currently having some deep-seated FOMO around -- The Band's Visit. I had been dying to see this show since it opened on Broadway, and it was supposed to finally be in LA in May. I think at this point we all know what the outcome of that was. The Band's Visit is a very unusual musical by many standards: where many of the shows that come through Broadway are large and extravagant, The Band's Visit is quiet and subdued; the style of music is wildly unique and unlike most anything else you'll hear from a Broadway cast album; and the level of intimacy is extraordinarily high. Despite it's departure from the norm, The Band's Visit is one of only four musicals in history to win the unofficial "Big Six" Tony awards (Best Musical, Best Book, Best Score, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, and Best Direction of a Musical). It also won the 2019 Grammy award for Best Musical Theater Album.

The story itself takes place in an Israeli town where every day feels the same. Local cafe owner Dina has long given up her dreams of finding romance and spends her days daydreaming. But when a band of Egyptian musicians show up lost, she and her fellow locals must take them in. This results in a magical night in which all are able to overcome their cultural differences and find companionship through an undercurrent of shared melancholy, leading to a permanent change in the town and its people. Watch the cast of The Band's Visit perform a Tiny Desk Concert here. The music is truly beautiful, with a beloved classic being Omar Sharif. Give the album (or these videos) a listen if you're not already familiar. I think you'll find yourself enchanted 🎭🧩

PS: There is a picture in one of the clues, so take a peek here in-browser first if you're planning to solve the .puz file.

.puz file

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Midi Puzzle


Happy to be back here after a couple days off! Though I didn't have any puzzles here over the last couple of days, I did have the USA Today puzzle on Monday and the NYT puzzle yesterday, so you weren't quite rid of me despite your best efforts ;) Today's puzzle is mostly solvable in the .puz file, but I tried something new here that's a really cool feature of the PuzzleMe platform: attaching images to certain clues. There are 3 in this puzzle, and these images will not be accessible in the .puz file so if you can, I'd suggest solving here in the browser today. Hope you enjoy! 🧩

Amanda

.puz file

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Puzzle #18: "Toys Are Us"


Ahh toys. For those of you with kids, these are certainly not a thing of the past. But for folks like me, there's a sense of nostalgia to places like Toys "R" Us and FAO Schwartz. An upsetting and irrelevant fact about me is that I still have the FAO Schwartz Friendship Tree's little poem memorized from when I was a child. You know...the one that he says with his rubbery little mouth when you push the button on his side. Woof. ANYWAY, this puzzle is actually quite old -- one of the first I ever made on my own! The theme is silly, but the revealer is deeply on brand for this site. I ended up re-doing quite a bit of the fill around the edges and wrote a bunch of new clues as well, which I had a lot of fun with. Hope you enjoy! 😄🧩

Amanda

.puz file

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Guest Midi by Paolo Pasco


I couldn't be happier to be hosting a midi puzzle today from the incomparable Paolo Pasco, whose constructing and solving chops are both to be envied. He's also just a genuinely nice human, which is always a supremely exceptional bonus to talent. I won't ruin the puzzle by saying more here, but I will say that if you aren't familiar with 26-Across, definitely click this link after solving! Enjoy!

Here's Paolo: As a longtime Brain Candy fan, I’m very grateful to Amanda for the opportunity to have a puzzle on the site! I think this is the first anniversary puzzle I’ve made—they’re not normally my bag, but the event in this puzzle is too close to my heart to not commemorate. Many of the clues were attempts to hit the high high cluing bar Amanda’s set in terms of fun/quality (and, for 6A and 10A, hit the Broadway tone I love on this site). Hope you enjoy!

.puz file

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Theatre Thursday #18


Hello everyone -- please step aside, for your queen has arrived! (See above). The show that is the subject of today's puzzle is in the puzzle itself, so I won't be referring to it by name below.

As mentioned in the puzzle, this show was the final collaboration between Rodgers & Hammerstein (Hammerstein sadly died of stomach cancer nine months after its Broadway opening). While the stage version of this show was certainly successful in its own right, the award-winning film version truly put this show on the map as the beloved classic it is. In fact, I will go on record as saying that this might be the one and only show I can think of that I think actually worked better as a film (full disclosure: I am completely blinded by my love for Julie Andrews and everything she does). There were two songs written specifically for the film ("I Have Confidence" and "Something Good"), and since Oscar Hammerstein had died a number of years before the film went into production, Richard Rodgers was tasked with writing these two songs in full -- both music and lyrics. The film soundtrack is one of the most successful soundtrack albums in history (again...Julie Andrews), and the original Broadway cast album (starring Mary Martin) spent 16 weeks as the Billboard #1 album. The Carrie Underwood television version never happened, and you cannot convince me otherwise. I'd better stop talking or I will find ways to keep circling back to how much I love Julie Andrews. I hope you enjoy the puzzle! 🧩

PS: I really missed the annual sing-a-long at the Hollywood Bowl this year. Picture 18,500 fellow fans singing along to this film under the stars (often in costume)...😍

Amanda

.puz file

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Midi Puzzle


Back today with a midi puzzle, and I had a lot of fun making this one. I don't always experiment with grid design as much as I could, so I really enjoyed creating this funky-looking one and trying to squeeze as much good stuff into it as possible. The clue for 20-Across is one I've been waiting to use for quite a while now :) I hope you had a nice relaxing long weekend! 🧩

Amanda

.puz file

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Puzzle #17: "That's A Stretch" by Ricky Cruz


Happy Sunday, everyone! I'm very excited to get to run this guest puzzle by Ricky Cruz today -- the concept is really fun and the revealer is certainly right at home here on this site! He's got his own puzzle site Cruzzles as well, so head on over there and check out some of his other stuff after you're done solving here! And if your Sunday is anywhere near as relaxing as my Saturday was, then I couldn't be happier for you. Enjoy!! 😄🧩

Here's Ricky: Very happy to be running a guest puzzle here! I always like to tailor guest puzzles for the blogs they’ll be on, so hopefully it fits right in. Thanks Amanda! Also, I’d like to plug the Crossword Discord Server here; if you’re into solving or constructing, come and join us to talk puzzles! discord.gg/zHnQtGG

.puz file 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Saturday Midi


Happy to be back with another midi, with some clues that I hope you'll find entertaining! The clue for 37-Across comes courtesy of a realization I had about a year ago while watching Scooby Doo with my 3-year-old niece...there's always one random person in addition to the gang in each episode, and that's always the culprit! So glad to have made heads and tails of that enigma in my 30's. Tomorrow will bring another guest puzzle that I'm very excited to feature. Have a great Saturday! 🧩

Amanda

.puz file

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Theatre Thursday #17


It's that time again, and this week's show choice is Kitt & Yorkey's 2014 musical "If/Then", starring my second favorite human after Julie Andrews. If you didn't get a chance to see it, there's a pretty good recording of it on Youtube starring the one-and-only Jackie Burns. The show opens in a park, where the protagonist is faced with a choice: go hang out with her friend Kate (who wants her to open herself up to new experiences and new people) or go with her friend Lucas (who thinks she should focus on her career). The remainder of the show then depicts the two paths that the protagonist's life could take if she made either decision. The ultimate message: while the choices we make do affect our future, if something is truly meant to be then it will come to pass. The show was met with mixed reviews -- many people found it confusing and hard to follow (this writer disagrees) -- but the score is truly incredible and was actually the highest-charting Broadway cast recording since "The Book of Mormon". I recommend giving it a listen! It's good, and also...you know...10-Across. Enjoy! 🎭🧩

Amanda

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Midi Puzzle


Back again with a midi puzzle, and today's marquee entries are both drink mascots. Why? I honestly couldn't tell you. I saw 9-Across on Twitter (I have no idea how/why) and then just ran with it. Decided to have a little fun with the black squares today too. Hope you enjoy! 😊🧩

Amanda

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

Puzzle #16: "Dangerous Ground" by Amanda Rafkin and Ross Trudeau


I'm still out of town, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet! Today's puzzle is by me and Ross Trudeau and we made it quite a while back -- probably almost a year ago now! (The fact that we're right around the corner from September is just next-level mind boggling). Hope everyone's having a great Sunday! 🧩

Amanda

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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Midi Puzzle: The Piano Men


This weekend I'm out of town (well, like two hours outside of LA) playing in what will probably be the only music gig I'll have for quite some time, given the way things are going. It's a drive-in concert (which is completely new to me) that features the music of 11- and 22-Across. We did this same concert last year, though indoors in a theater, and I'm grateful to get a chance to reprise it outside it this summer. I really miss the performing arts both as a spectator and performer and I hope that we can continue to come up with creative solutions like drive-in concerts until it's safe to go back to doing things as usual. I have a puzzle set to post tomorrow as well, so I hope you enjoy both! 🧩

Amanda

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Theatre Thursday #16


It's Theatre Thursday once again, and today we're talking about none other than the 1949 Tony winner for Best Musical: "Kiss Me, Kate". This show was the composer's response to Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!", which had taken the musical theater world by storm by introducing a new type of musical in which the songs were fully integrated with the book and played an active role in character and story development. (The composer's name is in the grid, so I will not be saying it up here). Incidentally, it was also the only show of this composer's that ran for over 1,000 performances on Broadway. The story of "Kiss Me, Kate" comes courtesy not only of Shakespeare, but of some real-life stage drama as well. Husband-and-wife actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne (after whom the Lunt-Fontanne Broadway theater is named) had co-starred in a 1935 production of "The Taming of the Shrew" and shared both some on-stage and off-stage drama. This drama was witnessed by future Broadway producer Arnold Saint-Subber and in 1947 he approached Bella and Samuel Spewack (who were undergoing some marital drama of their own) to write the script. Bella, in turn, enlisted the composer, and the rest is history! I hope you enjoy the solve! 🎭🧩

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Variety Puzzle: Left and Right

Today's puzzle is another type of variety puzzle that I really enjoy making called Left and Right. I have a handful of different types of variety puzzles that I like to make, and I'm hoping to post them once a week in a rotation, such that each type will show up approximately once a month. Back tomorrow with a crossword: none other than Theatre Thursday 😊🧩

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Amanda

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Midi Puzzle


Back in action on this fine Tuesday with a midi puzzle whose two marquee entries are both really stinkin' cute. I used this picture of The Beatles (as referenced in the clue for 3-Down) so as not to give anything else away. I hope everyone had a lovely weekend! 🧩

Amanda

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Sunday, August 23, 2020

Puzzle #15: Guest Puzzle by Rachel Fabi



I couldn't be more thrilled to be featuring Rachel Fabi on Brain Candy today! Just a couple of weeks ago she dazzled us with her grid at Lollapuzzoola (and her midi on the sidsgrids.com takeover!), so I'm totally honored to get to feature her here today. I'm also just a big fan of her work overall! This is a really fun puzzle and, in my eyes, also a really big mood. Enjoy! :)

Today is also a very special day for me because this post is my 100th post here on Brain Candy! There have been 113 puzzles in just over 100 days and I truly cannot believe it. It feels like both yesterday and also a very long time ago that I took this on, and now this site -- like everything else -- has become suspended in the time warp that is 2020. Moving forward from here, I will likely pull back a hair from my daily posts in order to open up my time to work on a puzzle project I'm very excited about (and hope you will be too). You can expect a full-sized grid on Sunday, Theatre Thursday (of course), and a few midis throughout the week. Probably weekly variety puzzles as well. I'd love to hear any feedback anyone has regarding things you've enjoyed and/or anything you'd like to see more of or less of here. Looking forward to the next 100 days 😊🧩

Here's Rachel: I pitched this theme to a few more mainstream outlets and received a resounding "no you cannot run a [four-letter word]-themed puzzle in our esteemed publication," so I knew it was going to be indie or bust! This is my first indie-blog puzzle, and I'm super grateful to Amanda for being so excited about my pitch for the opportunity to publish a puzzle on her site. Out of respect and admiration for Amanda's brand, I tried to lean in on musical theater in the clues whenever I could. Hope you enjoy solving it as much I enjoyed making it!

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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Saturday Midi


This little guy pictured above is a kinkajou, as represented in the clue for 28-Across. I've been sitting on the clues for 11- and 23-Across for a little bit now, so I was happy to find that they were symmetrical and could both find a home in this puzzle.

See you back here tomorrow for a guest puzzle by a fabulous constructor whose name I just know you'll be stoked to see. Tomorrow is a special day for another reason as well, but more on that later!😊🧩

Amanda

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Friday, August 21, 2020

Friday Variety Minis: Double Trouble


Ever since the days of the Lindsay Lohan "Parent Trap" (ok let's be honest, really the Hayley Mills "Parent Trap"), we've all been fans of a little Double Trouble. With that in our minds and hearts, I bring you a variety version of the Friday mini puzzles. Here you'll find two minis as usual, except the clues for these two puzzles are mixed together, and it's up to you to determine which grids they belong in. The first letters have been provided for you. I hope this proves to be a fun and fresh way to close out your week!

Amanda

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