Stump the Schwa (#117)

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Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 117!

Last weekend was the Indie 500, and I crushed it.

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Besides winning the handwriting once again, of the 198 people at the tournament, I had the 30th best time, which is wild. I’ve never expected to do this good at a tournament, and I’m so pleased that I blazed through it. Congrats to Ray Hunley and Daniel Feitel who both had better times than me on the Outside Track finals puzzle.

Also, whenever the puzzles become available to the public, I hope to post my handwriting sample either on here or on Twitter.

Today’s puzzle was distributed to participants at the Indie 500, which took place June 1st. The event this puzzle involves occurred May 30th, and was constructed essentially after midnight, May 31st. That is a quick turnaround. Huge thanks to Evan Birnholz who created the puzzle’s grid.

Enjoy!

Chris

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Puzzle Predictions for the Indie 500 2019

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Hey everyone!

So, it has been a while. In short, holding a full-time job decreases some puzzle making, but I promise you I’ve still been making puzzles. I’ll have things to announce soon, but hopefully during the summer, we’ll have some more puzzles on this site.

Tomorrow is the Indie 500 tournament, the indiest crossword tournament this nation has to offer, and I will be in DC later today! Very excited to see everyone once again, and I’m gearing to bringing home some more hardware.

So, for the last four years, it has been my solemn duty to predict every puzzle in the Indie 500, and to date, I have had a absolutely, 100% correct rate. About this ability, Will Shortz once said “Chris, I can’t believe you solved that Puzzle 5 in under 2 minutes”. It’s a gift.

So, once again, here are the puzzles we shall see in the Indie 505.

Look, this tournament has made it impossible to guess which constructors are paired up, so as tradition, I’ll use the organizers as the base.

Andy Kravis – Andy thinks because he’s crushing puzzles Downs-only on Twitch, Andy finally shakes it up and has a puzzle Acrosses-only. I mean, any puzzle can be Across-only if you make the thematic clues Downs, so Andy finally puts his hobby on its head, or more correctly, on its side.

Angela Olson Halsted – You know, we’ve been promised pie for half a decade now, and I have yet to see a pie puzzle, so Angela finally delivers the baked goods with a puzzle all about pie. Of course there is folly, as writing a pie puzzle will often result in a pie to the face, but Angela will weather the decadents with a puzzle FINALLY about pie, which will be rated tin out of tin.

Erik Agard – Erik is certainly a musically inclined person, who really tries to include many musicians and songs in his puzzles, especially highlighting R&B/rap musicians as well as current musicians. And keeping with this musical tradition and appealing to a mass audience, Erik’s puzzle will be a puzzle based on The Beatles. Especially with the new movie coming out, this puzzle will feature some of your favorite songs symmetrically placed.

Neville Fogarty – Like me, Neville spends a lot of time on Twitter. So, Neville finally put Twitter to good use by having a puzzle that includes Twitter (15)s. If you are active on crossword Twitter, you’ll know that people try to come up with new grid-spanning phrases, and most often, they never go into a puzzle. In the last year, Neville came up with the (15)s of BRAND AMBASSADOR, POOP TRANSPLANTS, YOU MAKE MY DREAMS, TWITCH GAMER LIFE, READ THE SYLLABUS, RNG MANIPULATION, SCROTATION MARKS, and I’LL SEE YOU IN HELL. Looking forward to some fun quadstacks this weekend.

Peter Broda – The most technological savvy of this crew, Peter sticks with his computer roots and writes a puzzle with words debated by the Cruciverb-L email list. Featuring the best constructors of the 90s, this email list debates the usability of words like OH BAH, WABI-SABI, ACHOOED, BESRA, II SAMUEL, WINGDAM, and HI SCORE. Peter wrangles all these together for a fantastic puzzle.

If you’ve been practicing other puzzles, please shred those posthaste, and start working with these prompts.

It’s going to be a good one. Looking forward to seeing you all out there!

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Initial Changes (#116)

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Note: Puzzles were updated on 12:48pm Sunday, due to major misspelling. Thanks to Jenna LaFleur for letting me know.

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Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 116! Today’s puzzle is a nice and pleasant crossword. Feel free to solve it downs only, and throw it up on Twitch. Is it asymmetric? Does it matter? It’s fun! I hope you enjoy it.

Let’s go over the answer to #115, and it appears I haven’t written a meta recap since April 2018. Jesus. Let’s get into this.

For the puzzle, I noted I was looking for a creature, and this puzzle had four clues that featured an *asterisk as well as [bracketed numbers]

18-Across {*Swiss, in other words [6] } = EMMENTALER CHEESEPNG115sol

23-Across {*Professional who studies exits [2] } = HIGHWAY ENGINEER

54-Across {*Carpenter’s bottleful [10] } = WOODWORKING GLUE

59-Across {*Czech tennis player and former world No. 1 who lost to Angelique Kerber in the 2016 US Open finals [9] } = KAROLINA PLISKOVA

A few long answers, but circles were left in 18-Across, and those letters spelled out MEECHEE. If you had no idea what that word meant, hopefully you Googled it, and discovered it is the name of a character from the 2018 animated film Smallfoot, about abominable snowmen living in Nepal. While the movie I think did fine, it might be best known for a meme titled “Zendaya is Meechee“, with a fantastically catchy song.

It turns out, the other three entries also contain the name of an abominable snowman from the movie. GWANGI in HIGHWAY ENGINEER, DORGLE in WOODWORKING GLUE, and KOLKA in KAROLINA PLISKOVA.

The [numbers] in each of the clues come in here. The [10] isn’t very useful for DORGLE, but if you use the voice actor names, it works out. After all, Zendaya is Meechee.

Meechee = ZENDAYA [6] = Y
Gwangi = LEBRON JAMES [2] = E
Dorgle = DANNY DEVITO [10] = T
Kolka = GINA RODRIGUEZ [9] = I

Those letters spell YETI, which is the appropriate creature that is this puzzle’s answer. I had this idea for the puzzle back when the meme was super trendy, but hey, nothing wrong with a puzzle about a 2018 movie. That’s what the last meta was about too.

Altogether, 47 readers submitted the right answer. Coming back after a long absence might do that, so thank you regular viewers who check their inboxes. Congrats to those who got it! This week’s randomly selected winner was Grayson Holmes. He will join Jon Delfin, John L. Wilson, Jim Quinlan, Eric Maddy, Andy Keller, David Cole, Roger Barkan, Patricia Miga, Erik Agard, Charles Montpetit, Steve Blais, Mike Ruslander, Matthew Breen, David Stein, Justin Weinbaum, Tyler Hinman, Kathy Johnescu, Regina Cassidy, Tim Harrod, Laura Mendyke, and Anna-Marie Ruoff in a future section of the site. Congrats Grayson!

New puzzle soon. Hope you’ve got a great week ahead!

Chris

Meta: Cooler Temperatures (#115)

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Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 115!

So, after a couple of months, I’m back with the meta. No time like the present. But hey, let’s go ahead and take care of the instructions.

For this twenty-third meta, I’m looking for a creature. When you think you have it, email me at cking.gow@gmail.com with your answer by February 10th.

Shouldn’t be too hard of a meta for you, and if you need help, Google can point you the rest of the way.

I’ve been doing well, and I hope you have too. Job is rolling right along, and I’m still doing puzzle and trivia things. A week ago, I was at the 2019 MIT Mystery Hunt, and I plan to have a review post on this site in the next week or so. I’m hosting two gigs of trivia in Columbia, so if you ever need questions, feel free to hit me up.

In 2018, this site got less puzzles than it did in 2017. There were 15 on CW in 2017, and only 13 in 2018. Granted, some of them were all-time greats like Wash Your Mouth Out and Rock Group, but still, a dearth.

I think a great way to increase my puzzle writing for 2019 is to do collaborations with you fine people. If you’ve got a puzzle idea, and would like to see it published somewhere, feel free to get a hold of me, and we can make it happen here. Longtime constructor, and first time wannabe, I’m here to make it happen.

But don’t worry, I’m still very in tune with the puzzle people, and anyone who follows me on Twitter can see that.

I’ll be back soon with more puzzle stuff, but until then, enjoy the meta!

Chris

A&Q (#114.1)

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Hey everyone, and welcome to Week 114.1!

A nice 13×13 quote puzzle today, but I’m glad to finally use it in a puzzle. Today’s puzzle is a tribute to my friend Erik Agard, who recently went on the TV and did a very cool thing that I sincerely hope I get a chance at one day. Great job Erik. You were so close to securing a high-profile Indie 500 contestant.

Hope to have another puzzle before you know it!

Enjoy!

Chris