Thursday, December 31, 2020

Puzzle #29: It's Been A Frightful Year (Themeless)


I truly cannot believe we're here -- the last day of this truly bizarre and unprecedented year. It feels like it's been both 3 years and 3 months, but I know you don't need to hear that from me! This puzzle started out as a themeless grid with a Halloween mini-theme, but since we've gotten a whole year of frights and scares, I figured what more apt time to publish it than now, as we all turn to say goodbye to the hellish nightmare we've come to know as 2020. We've also started some important discussions this year and worked to fight some terrible injustices, and that work continues in perpetuity.

The one great thing that did come out of this year, as I know is true for many of you as well, is puzzles. I've made and strengthened some fantastic friendships through our beautiful community and, for much of this year, had nothing but time to do the thing I love most -- solving and making puzzles! I've published over 150 right here on this site since May, and have had the enormous pleasure of seeing over 30 others get published in all of the various solving outlets that we know and love. I don't know what I would have done this year without puzzles, and I'm glad I never had to find out. To all of my friends and solvers, I'm glad we've all made it to this moment. I look forward to the times (and puzzles) we'll get to share next year, and in the years to come. 


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Thursday, December 24, 2020

There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays


Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and to those who don't, feel free to take from the Jewish tradition of getting yourself some great Chinese food. I, myself, will be doing both. Christmas in the morning and Chinese food in the evening. In my book, the more traditions the better and I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where both customs were celebrated. 

The two long horizontal entries in this puzzle, when read as a short story, really capture the sentiment of this year's holiday season for me. It made me laugh and I hope it brings some joy to your  holiday solving rotation. Happy and safe holidays, whatever they may be, to you and yours. 


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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Midi Puzzle


Happy to be back today with my first midi in a little while! Things have been pretty busy lately, but it's always a pleasure to get to unwind by making some grids for fun...although reading seaside in a hammock also looks pretty fantastic. The clue for 10-Across was inspired by my three-and-a-half year old niece, who was actively experiencing that moment at the exact time this puzzle was being written.

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Sunday, December 13, 2020

Puzzle #28: Guest themeless by Brooke Husic and Claire Rimkus


As if the Sunday when Puzzle Mania drops isn't exciting enough, boy do we have a themeless for you! This gem by Brooke Husic and Claire Rimkus is a stunner from start to finish, with enough "?" clues to keep you on your toes the whole way through. I'm so grateful they sent this my way, and couldn't be more honored to run it today! I'd say "hope you enjoy," but I already know you will.

Here's Brooke and Claire: If you liked the Husic/Rimkus collaboration debut in the USAT on Tuesday, we hope you also enjoy this substantially trickier themeless offering with a possibly gratuitous amount of ? clues (13; we counted). We're super grateful to Amanda for her willingness/excitement to run this. In other news: Happy Hanukkah, consider donating a dollar or five to this transition fund so we can be blessed with an Agardian themeless, and stay safe out there.

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Sunday, December 6, 2020

Puzzle #27: "Who is the G.O.A.T.?" by Amanda Rafkin & Evelyn Rubin


What a huge honor and pleasure it was to make this puzzle with "Jeopardy!" champion Evelyn Rubin, who shares Alex's Canadian origins. Ross Trudeau made the introduction since both me and Evelyn are bigtime "Jeopardy!" stans, and then we were off to the races brainstorming how best to tackle this tribute puzzle. I've bonded with innumerable people over "Jeopardy!" as I know Evelyn has too and, as an LA resident, I've also had the privilege of getting to attend a few tapings after many years of fandom. This puzzle is not intended to trick you or be wildly difficult in any way -- it's meant to simply be enjoyed and, hopefully, take you down memory lane in some capacity. There are still (what we think are) some fun clues, but the primary purpose of the puzzle is to represent the love and respect that both Evelyn and I have for "Jeopardy!," which we know so many others in the crossword community share. We hope this is an enjoyable addition to your Sunday solving lineup. Alex also loved crossword puzzles, so that only adds to our joy of being able to make this puzzle and put it out into the world today.  💗

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Guest Midi by Evelyn Rubin

I'm very excited to be able to share this midi puzzle with you today, made by the very cool and very smart Evelyn Rubin! This was Evelyn's first midi puzzle, and as you guys know I love a good midi, so it was really fun to see it come together and then to also see how many fun clues she was able to get in there! You'll be seeing a collaboration here between me and Evelyn very soon, as we recently worked on a puzzle together about something near and dear to both of ours hearts. We spent a couple hours on a video call working on it, and it was seriously an enormous pleasure. You'll definitely be seeing her name around, and I'm personally thrilled for this!

Here's EvelynI'm thrilled to have my first midi debut here!  I'm very grateful to Amanda for the opportunity and for being so supportive of this endeavour.  Her constructive feedback and positive nature made this lots of fun and I'm looking forward to our next collaboration.  I also must thank Ross Trudeau for making the introduction and for being such a wonderful collaborator to us both. 

This is my first time using diagonal symmetry, and I actually prefer looking at this puzzle with my head tilted to the left.  While 15-Across was the starting point for this theme, the 5-Down clue is close to my heart for a completely different reason (google my name and the answer if you're interested).