difficulty: decently challenging, but not like one of those impossibly hard indie themelesses
In case you haven't been clued in yet, I like squares. I just think they're neat (but not as neat as hexagons). I've always been a big geometry enthusiast, so things like large-scale symmetry and patterns scratch a certain itch in my brain. Recently I've been binging Numberphile videos on YouTube, and this video in particular really got me thinking. I'll let James explain it far better than I can, but imagine if a standard four-square court or chessboard could only be made of squares of different sizes—but still with integer-length sides.
The image above is the smallest possible (yes, it's been proven!) example of these so-called "squared squares", and is the logo of the Trinity Mathematical Society, the student group responsible for discovering several of these squares, by hand, and popularizing the idea. Image source and more reading here.
Anyway, I'm here with more not-so-elegant squares of squares. Enjoy this week's Snack Pack!
The first week of my weird little experiment is done, and as promised, here are the puzzles in printable format (also in PNG, in case opening in Paint and drawing in the answers there is more your thing). Links are below, and I'd love to know what you think and what suggestions you might have! Thank you to everyone who has submitted clues so far—it's taking quite a while to sift through all of the quality.
In case you don't know what's going on, here's what you need to know:
That's it! If it's not clear, I don't intend for these puzzles to be much of a challenge. I'm realizing in my crossword constructing journey that I really just want to make puzzles that I would enjoy doing myself, and while I do appreciate a proper intricate challenge, most of the time I'd rather snack on something bite size but still satisfyingly sweet.
So, I've been stuck in a bit of a cluing rut recently. I'm currently sitting on three different fully-filled 15x15 puzzles that I just can't bring myself to fully clue—so I've been spending most of my crossword energy recently working on a new set of projects: The Two-letter Cluing Project and 4sqr, which is going to be a collection of daily 2x2 puzzles, with a slightly larger Sunday puzzle, all designed to showcase the plethora of two-letter crossword entries which have been unfairly suppressed and maligned by the likes of one William F. Shortz and Big Crossword. CWAC™—giving two-letter words a home since February 2021. First snack pack will be released right here, this Sunday! Stay tuned. And follow me on Twitter if you'd like to receive the daily puzzles on the day they release.
Oh right! I also made a puzzle for today. See below. I expect many of you will discover the theme fairly quickly—I didn't make it very subtle. Regardless, I had fun making this one. And hopefully I'll climb out of my rut and get back to publishing more full-size marties shortly. Enjoy.
I know you're tired of January 2021 current events puzzles. So am I. But, it was an insane month for news, and I would have felt like I missed the bus if I saved this seed entry for any longer. And for some reason I decided that it would be a pangram! Trust me—it didn't happen accidentally and made the process way harder than it had to be, but I hope the fill is good enough to make for a smooth solve. Let me know what you think!
Also, huge shoutout to Chris Piuma for providing the clues to 5-down (originally too boring) and 22-across (originally too insensitive). 10/10 test solver, would recommend.
I'm alive! Took about a month off from publishing anything as part of an oh-so-cliché, but oh-so-needed, social media cleanse following the stress of the holidays and whatnot. I've still been constructing, moreso on large grids in the hopes of getting something published sometime this year, but I'm ready to start carving out the time for these blog posts again. I'll be doing them weekly now—I promise.
Enjoy this little midi. Not really a whole lot to say, except that I accidentally created a tongue-twister with 11-A's clue. Just try saying it ten times fast.
I'll try to be quick with the body of this post since I'm trying to work on my brevity in writing. Today's puzzle is themed. I think it works well, but it could have been better if other potential themers had the forethought to match letter counts with each other. Oh well. I'll let the puzzle speak for itself.
Also, from now on the flavor image will simply be a still from any movie (or TV, selectively) scene I was reminded of while making the puzzle, which doesn't have any direct connection to any clues, without any other context. Bonus points if you can identify the movie and what connection it may have to any of the entries (the connections may be pretty cosmic—my brain tends to connect things that aren't really connected pretty often). Today's should be pretty easy.
Okay, so, I'll be the first to admit—Puzzle #0 was kind of a disaster, but that's why I called it Puzzle #0! It had too many problems to list: Problems with grid fill, with entries, and with cluing. I appreciate all of the feedback, negative and positive, and I especially appreciate everyone who has given me tips so far on how I can make the next one better.
And here's my attempt at better! It was clear to me that one of my biggest problems was grid fill—I simply settled for crappy fill in my first puzzle way too often, and it led to poor entry choices and weird cluing angles. With this puzzle, I focused on getting a nice, clean fill before doing anything—then I had fun with the cluing. Those of you who liked my cluing style from #0 should enjoy this one as well. It's on the easier side, with less ridiculous wordplay/obscure geography trivia, and more cross references/funny clues.
Thank you to Quiara Vasquez for the test solve! This would have gone up with lots of head-tilts (not the 5-down kind) and minor technical errors had she not provided her thoughts. Happy solving!
Oh, hi! I'm new here—to crossword construction, crossword critique, and the crossword community. I've been solving crosswords for about... 10 years now? What started as a way to kill time between classes has become a daily fixture of my life, and earlier this year I discovered it was possible to actually make my own. What a revelation. After about a dozen scrapped puzzles, lots of really really horrible entries/clues (some of which may have even made it to the final draft below!), and some extremely constructive feedback, I was able to put together a puzzle I'm proud of.
But I guess I should also write a little about myself so you know what to expect from this blog! I'm a run-of-the-mill Millennial living adjacent to NYC with keen interests in cooking, baking, geography, linguistics, mathematics, science, music (incl. music theory and such), outdoor recreation, video games, and film. I have strong opinions on all things food, I am a dog person, and I prefer warm fuzzy socks to slippers. Expect puzzles on anything bolded—don't expect too many literary references, modern pop culture references, or history references (though I'm very interested in history, I just don't know too much about it... yet).
Well uh, here it is. The first puzzle that I've both 1) completed, and 2) felt enough confidence in to publish. It's a classic themed 15x15, and the theme may have ended up a little ham-fisted, but I'm hoping the cute bonuses and wordplay make up for that. Also, a few of the entries will probably make you groan and roll your eyes, so I apologize in advance. Have fun and let me know what you think!
|"Hey Benny! 6-DOWNNN!!!"|