Puzzle #10 – Turn Down For Watt

size: 9x14 (non-rectangular midi)
style: themed
difficulty: 2/5

As you may have been able to guess by the fact that I advertise my blog as having a "variety schedule", crossword construction is really only a side hobby for me at the moment. By day, I'm a professional lighting engineer and designer, and for months I've had this idea kicking around in my head as an homage to that. 

I want to make it more of a habit to make these non-rectangular puzzles, since the shape of the puzzle itself can act as a themer in and of itself, saving room in the grid and making it easier to make "complete" themed puzzles in midi size. Also, these puzzles just look cool as heck and open up fill possibilities in myriad ways.

And before the pedants come out of the woodwork, yes I'm aware that the shape of this puzzle is not quite your prototypical bulb shape, though it is a spitting image of your standard high-intensity discharge bulb! But I'll stop there before I bore you to death or give too much away about the gimmick here. Enjoy the puzzle!

Puzzle #9 – Not-So-Lazy Susan

size: 14x15
style: themed
difficulty: 2/5

Here's a theme that's been in the workshop for quite a long time, and directly inspired by the scene shown in the film screen below. I don't really like to give "hints" to my puzzle in the flavor image, but this is a fairly indirect hint (like the puzzle's title) and I wasn't going to avoid a chance to gush about maybe my favorite movie of all time (Midsommar, if you're not already familiar with the genre of folk Scandinavian psychological horror). Would highly recommend if you're a fan of psychological horror (obv), amazing original soundtracks, and simultaneously captivating and deeply unsettling imagery.

Anyway, the theme! I'll write more about it in the spoiler text below, but basically this started as a good idea, devolved into something I'm sure would have been completely impossible, only to be salvaged by half-decent fill and a little tweaking of the grid structure itself. Enjoy!

So, this obviously started with the basic idea of fitting the rhyme "Round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows" in a grid. There are a few ways you can split it up to make it into a more "classic" quip puzzle, but the very first thing that came to my mind was exactly what you see. Originally, it was only going to feature synonyms for MERRY GO ROUND, which is apparently called a ROUNDABOUT in some parts of the world. With CAROUSEL, this meant I had an ugly 8/10/12 themer set, which necessitated even-width mirror symmetry—thankfully I already had a width of 14 to fit in the rhyme. However, as many constructors likely know, mirror symmetry and even widths don't get along too well. And with a revealer that touches every single corner of the puzzle, finding decent fill was impossible. And that was what led me to just focusing on "things that you'd watch spin" as themers—which I think turned out really well! I was also aaaaalmost going to make 34-D "ROUSE" which would allow me to sneakily get in a hidden CAROUSEL entry ... but the fill just didn't work. The themer density was already way too high.

My biggest worry is that the "disconnectedness" of the revealer proves too hard to get over. The problem with trying to perfectly split it up word by word (besides asymmetry) is that the corners become problematic if a letter doesn't happen to be repeated (i.e. a word ends with the same letter the next begins with) in that exact spot, unless you block off the corners like I did the NW/SE corners here (which was primarily to give the rhyme a more solid starting/ending point). Trying to do that would be completely unworkable.

But yeah, I'm glad how this turned out even if some of the fill is super goofy. If I rework the themers, I could probably come up with a more workable grid, but for now, this is what I've got and I hope you liked it! 

Puzzle #8 – Freestyle Alpha

size: 15x15
style: themeless
difficulty: decently challenging, but not like one of those impossibly hard indie themelesses

Crossword confessional: I'm not typically a big fan of themeless puzzles. They just don't tend to, y'know, get me going the same way that a solid themed puzzle does. Don't get me wrong—I have a huge appreciation for the craftsmanship that goes into a great themeless, and there are plenty that I have genuinely enjoyed, but most of the time I find it hard to get on the creator's wavelength or overcome the obscenely high difficulty that some set for their solvers.

So in a lot of ways, making this puzzle forced me to go outside of my comfort zone. At the same time, I made myself comfortable by not trying to fit this puzzle into a hole, and just writing it as I'd like to see a themeless written. I utilized a very wide array of original and classic cluing angles, and in general I had a lot of fun with the cluing, probably too much fun... and I think you'll see why. This is a very "me" themeless (and I'm not gonna apologize).

If it's not clear from my last three puzzles (between the April Fools grid, the ridiculous SpongeBob grid, and the decidedly 6x9 grid), I'm not shy to messing with my solvers and doing things that wouldn't fly in mainstream venues. This puzzle has at least a couple genuine stumbling blocks that might frustrate you, make you laugh, hopefully not make you cry, but will force you to pause and think about things... differently. Although difficult, I hope all of the different angles I utilized are fair and the fill still comes across as clean. I know it's not perfect.

And a huge thank you to Mikey and Quiara for being the guinea pigs for this experiment!

Puzzle #7 – Let's Not and Say We Did

size: 12x7 (midi)
style: ehehehe
difficulty: ???/5

Hey! Two puzzles in a week! I'm on a roll. Gonna spare you the long-winded spiel and just give you the goods. Came up with the idea this morning and ran with it. Good luck have fun!

There were really only so many themers I could come up with in a midi-size puzzle, so I'm really happy with where the themer density ended up. The only one I'm disappointed I didn't get to include was [6-A] with the answer ILL (meant to be interpreted [Sick, say] if it's not clear). The entry ILL could have fit, but there was no good way of also making 6-A an actual entry, and I figured I wanted to keep all of the misdirects pointed at actual entries.

Also, for your listening pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQJDrohLoOw