the last m&m (themeless)
Blog commentary is a mistake! Here's a puzzle*!
* made using ingrid, the incredible construction app that's about to make crossfire obsolete
Recently I had the happy experience of being seized by a bit of inspiration (majorly spoilery link) and churning out a grid in a haze. Then I sat frozen for a few days, waiting for the cluing bug to bite, until one early morning, insomnia did the trick.
Making a puzzle felt nice, because I've struggled to find the motivation for it recently after deciding to stop submitting to the New York Times. That decision wasn't about the Puzzles team—it was a response to the paper's intransigent aggression toward trans people—but it wasn't NOT on my mind that I was 0 for 16 in NYT crossword submissions, and to be honest, the rejections were getting harder to take, not easier. Partially because it was becoming painfully clear that my voice wasn't welcome, but maybe even more so because, now that I make my living in crosswords, the negative reinforcement started to manifest as doubt about my ability to do my job. It felt bad!
At any rate, refocusing my energy without the usual goal to focus on has felt a little like wandering in the woods, and whenever that sort of thing happens with me, I find it good to rip the bandaid off with a fugue-state puzzle like this one. So I hope it makes for a fun solve!
Many thanks are due to wise test solver extraordinaire, excellent crossword citizen, and all-around good guy Alex Boisvert, who continues to quietly turn out solid, funny puzzle after solid, funny puzzle (not to mention a slew of essential construction and collaboration tools) over at Crossword Nexus. Alex's new Patreon offering promises to be the solution to your suspension-of-NYT-acrostic woes, so head over and sign up!
Puzzle after the jump.
order of precedence (themeless)
IMPORTANT EDIT TO THIS POST: THIS GRID CONTAINS A VERY OBVIOUS, BLATANT, PROMINENT, EMBARRASSING ERROR THAT I SOMEHOW DID NOT SEE DURING THE ENTIRE PROCESS OF MAKING THIS PUZZLE. I'M SO SORRY
Just here to squirt WD-40 into the hinges and make sure this clunker doesn't rust over from disuse! First blog crossword in awhile, hopefully won't be so long again before the next one. This might be on the tough side. IDK if it's any good!!! Godspeed!!!!
spoilery: link to the objects mentioned in 20d because they are perfect
How ideas are born:
(i.e., Alex comes up with something good and I demand part of the credit)
This one brings us both a lot of joy. Have fun!
own-clue round-up, year 2
I am mostly doing this to encourage others to do the same! Look back over your puzzles and get reminded of stuff you're proud of making! Giggle when you remember how someone rolled their eyes so hard at a pun you made that you were afraid you'd never see their pupils again! And please, share your findings with us, the clue-loving public. (Relatedly, for a marvelously wide-ranging list of clues from 2022, check out Frisco's list here! It includes clues of various types from all over the map and by lots of different constructors.)
Here's my list, based on an admittedly hasty trip through my archives; answers are in white font, so select to view.
Category 1: I'm punnin'
See one's way out? : POPEMOBILE
Must-have piece for an apparel launch? : TSHIRT CANNON
Office mate? : WORK SPOUSE
Arch observer of the classics : DANTE
Parted company? : EXES
Indication of high bone density? : X RATING
They might get upset by feminist activism : GENDER NORMS
Periodic backups? : LINERS
Intimacy complex? : POLYCULE
Look, Ma, a cellist! : YOYO
Get ova here! : UTERI
Small gas giant? : QATAR
Category 2: I'm trollin'
Renaissance man who put Descartes before Deshorse ... or something : RENE
Meas. that dates back to when we had one utensil for every piece of furniture (see also chairfork) (citation needed) : TBSP
Midwestern state where *yawns* *falls asleep* : IOWA
Philip who died still mad that he hadn't won the Nobel Prize in Literature for a lifetime of reassuring lecherous pedants of their righteousness : ROTH
"Sooo, are we going to do this, ___...?" : ORR
Animals that are part zebra (the butt part) : OKAPIS
Fuck it; it's the capital of Norway : OSLO
Category 3: I'm explainin' Greek mythology
Woman whose son had to behead a Gorgon to stop a lifetime of her being hounded by men : DANAE
Island where Ariadne enabled Theseus to defeat the Minotaur and Theseus took all the credit : CRETE
Ancient city home to Cassandra, the prophetess no one believed (relatable) : TROY
negging thoughts (themeless)
Holiday season! A time to be forced into head-on confrontation with your social anxiety AND your family issues. Thank goodness for puzzles :prayerhandsemojithatweeblyrefusestodisplay:
maybe you should sit down (themeless)
I nearly trashed this puzzle because I spent too long on it and started to hate it, so if you hate it, just know that YOU ARE NOT ORIGINAL. But I hope you don't!
fullscreen solve: link
jpz and embedded puzzle below
why be coy? i got a form rejection on a themeless and am posting it unaltered from my submission. i hope you like it more than the editors did!
the title is "respectable themeless" because that was the placeholder i used while constructing it, to remind myself not to use entries that were "too far out of the mainstream" or "not appealing to a broad range of solvers." i listen to feedback! lol!
fullscreen solve: link
jpz and embedded puzzle: below
NOT A SINGLE BLOG PUZZLE IN AUGUST ?? though I did have puzzles elsewhere in the world. I've been trying to keep the "non-schmosswords crosswords" page up to date. I'm also now constructing and editing for Crossword Club, which publishes daily midi-sized puzzles that are easy but lively. The great Will Nediger is my co-editor, and in addition to the two of us, the constructor team includes Kelsey Dixon, Erica Hsiung Wojcik, and Quiara Vasquez - no skips! My favorites of my own crosswords there so far are the ones from 8/20, 8/28, and 9/1. Try out our puzzles, and send them to your parents, your friends who only do the NYT mini, etc.
I have a little trifle of a themed puzzle for you here today. I hope you enjoy!
I decided I wanted to post a deliberately difficult puzzle. It's hard to do well! (See below for documentary footage of me working on it.) Thanks to Alex for the test solve, Kelsey and will (explainer) and Will for clue inspo that they weren't warned about in advance, and Stella for her words of support. Good luck, have fun!