DOWNLOADABLE PUZZLE: Unthemely #96 (PUZ) (PDF)
I must admit my enthusiasm for the traditional crossword puzzle is waning. This Unthemely puzzle had been sitting on my desktop for over a year with a single seed entry placed in the grid. I didn’t have the interest in working on it until some recent events spurred my creative impulses and my desire to clean up the back burner a bit. I also feel I should revisit the independent crossword construction process now and then to keep my skills honed and preserve the “Unthemely” brand. I ended up throwing out the original seed entry and attempted a fill more clean than flashy. Enjoy!
FIRST (1 1 7) / LAST (9)
With my Oculus FIRST I unfurled
A high-tech, horror-themed, open world.
In my Grim Reaper role
I LAST many a soul.
The refresh rate was sick, though I hurled.
Comments contain the answer to Rice Milk #29 and may contain other spoilers. For information on solving transposals and other “flat” (verse puzzle) types, visit the National Puzzlers’ League’s Online Guide to the Enigma.
When I thought of this puzzle it seemed vaguely familiar. If it has already been presented somewhere, I apologize for the dupe.
Start with the brand name of an automobile (make, not model). Choose a pair of consecutive letters within the name, advance both letters one position forward in the alphabet, reverse their order, and move the pair of letters to the end. The result, when respaced, will be the first name and last initial of a fictional character who drove the original automobile in a film. What are the automobile and the character?
Last night I drove by the illuminated sign of a national chain. Two consecutive letters in the sign were burned out. “Hmm,” I thought to myself, “If one new letter were added to the sign, it could be used for a sandwich shop.” Later, I drove past the sign in the other direction. On the other side of the sign two consecutive letters were burned out, both different from the burned-out letters on the side I originally saw. “Hmm,” I thought to myself, “If new one letter were added to the sign, it could be used for a … Gilbert & Sullivan theater.”
What national chain was the sign for?
LEFT (7 3) / RIGHT (6 4)
My true love lost some fierce LEFTs on eBay,
Out-proposed on each swan, goose, and grebe, eh?
Lacking waterfowl, he
Bought some RIGHTs, and said, “See:
Storks and ibises in a pear tree, bae!”
Comments contain the answer to Rice Milk #28 and may contain other spoilers. For information on solving transposals and other “flat” (verse puzzle) types, visit the National Puzzlers’ League’s Online Guide to the Enigma.
ONE (9) / TWO (4 5)
Now my No Shave November is done!
And my face depicts gray, wizened ONE!
But by Saturday morn
I’ll be dyed, shaved, and shorn,
With those TWO fully plucked out — how fun!
Comments contain the answer to Rice Milk #27 and may contain other spoilers. For information on solving transposals and other “flat” (verse puzzle) types, visit the National Puzzlers’ League’s Online Guide to the Enigma.
DOWNLOADABLE PUZZLE: Unthemely #95 (PUZ) (PDF)
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While working on this Unthemely puzzle, I started thinking about traditional crossword specifications and the rationale behind them. Some specs serve a practical purpose. Checking all letters in a grid, for example, reduces the chances of a solver getting stuck on a single unknown answer. Some specs reflect the standards used in adjacent journalistic and entertainment practices. The rules about obscure and indelicate vocabulary fall in this category. Some specs are simply aesthetic choices invented for the medium. The rotational symmetry of black squares is such a choice.
Rather than putting crosswords rules in specific categories, suppose we rank them on a “rationale” scale of 0 to 10, where 0 represents practical/derivative and 10 represents arbitrary. The “No two-letter words” rule might rank a 3 on this scale, while “No more than 72 entries in a themeless grid” might be an 8 or 9. I have a question based on this hypothetical scale: where would you rank the rule that discourages or prohibits the duplication of words or word forms (e.g. EATS and ATECROW) in the same grid? Remember that a ranking reflects how much the rule serves a practical purpose or represents an artistic standard that extends outside the world of crossword puzzles.
Themed Crossword: Back Drops (PUZ) (PDF)
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I’m making slow but steady progress on the Autofill Manual Fill Project. I adjusted scores on my Default with Spaces wordlist and have started fortifying it with entries from the all-caps default list. I recently completed entries through eight letters in length, bringing Default with Spaces to 146,000 entries. The crossword in this post was a test of the word list in progress.
Roughly 40% of the entries in all-caps default are deleted or scored as unusable. The unusable entries are not added to Default with Spaces but kept in Default for administrative purposes. I adjust formatting in Microsoft Word, which has a decent interface for changing letter case. I do need to watch Word’s auto-formatting settings, particularly for apostrophes. CCWIN has some problems handling “smart” quotation marks.
The conversion process gets more laborious at this point. The Default with Spaces list is based on a list that was thoroughly developed through the eights not not much beyond that. My default list contained about 3,000 eight-letter entries not already in the Default with Spaces list. It contains over 32,000 unmatched nine-letter entries! Default with Spaces is usable for themed puzzles that don’t have many long entries in general fill but it is far from adequate for an Unthemely.
FIRST (3 4) / SECOND (5 2) / THIRD (7)
The school FIRST has positions to fill
So my mom’s trying out! Really chill!
Some might claim she’s too old
If she SECOND. That’s cold!
And a THIRD: She’s not over the hill!
Comments contain the answer to Rice Milk #26 and may contain other spoilers. For information on solving transposals and other “flat” (verse puzzle) types, visit the National Puzzlers’ League’s Online Guide to the Enigma.
DOWNLOADABLE PUZZLE: Unthemely #94 (PUZ) (PDF)
I’ve been taking a break from social media lately. My main concern was the time-sink, but I was also growing fatigued at Facebook and Twitter sessions that turned into acknowledgment clickfests. I still follow notifications that are directed to my email account, but I’m not sure what to do about other social media functions such as promoting the occasional puzzles and games that I post to this blog. I’ll rely on RSS feed subscriptions for now, and maybe I’ll see about easing back into social media in the future.