When I first saw the theme answer BEER ME in a puzzle it made me smile. It's a fun phrase that obviously stuck in my head because sometime later I decided to build a puzzle around it. This was a lot of fun to work on and I'm hoping the end result is also fun for you.
I like to think these puzzles are a little escape from the normal world, which is anything but normal these days!
I have never met a crossword puzzle lover or solver who I didn't like. And that's the truth! Our community is a very special group of people.
So, tonight I know who I'm raising my glass to: "Here's to you!"
This is the first puzzle I have created from scratch. Meaning, starting with an entirely white grid. Before this, I used Crossword Compiler to find grids that would work. My theme set for this puzzle didn't work. So I had to face the totally daunting big white space: the empty grid. I am not mathematical in any way and always thought you had to be to place the squares in their proper places.
Evidently not! I did many grids before I finally got it right. And LOVED doing it. I had guidance from Will and Sam, which was extremely helpful. But mostly, I enjoyed the challenge. From now on, I'll be starting from scratch.
For today's puzzle, I wanted to tell a story. A fairy tale. And I hope it brings a smile to your face.
(And a shout out to Jeff Chen, who helped me finalize the theme set!)
It is such a pleasure working with Jeff. I am so happy that he wanted to help me bring this puzzle to life as it means a lot to me to support this month's important cause — hopefully in an interesting and entertaining way. I thank Jeff. And I dedicate this puzzle to my mom, Margaret Allen Hawkins, who was not only a great woman but also a brave breast cancer survivor.
I fell in love with the word GOBSMACKED, thus this puzzle. As it turns out there are some really fun phrases that mean the same thing. I was just lucky that BLEW and AWAY match lengths to give me the perfect reveal.
This puzzle was accepted a while back, but just recently when looking at the grid, I decided I could do better so I asked Will if he'd consider a revision. Happily he said yes and with his input the end result is much improved over my original submission.
I really didn't know how to clue the theme answers as they all mean the same thing. My idea was to leave those clues blank, like they've been blown away, and use BLEW/AWAY as the definition for all. I like what Will came up with much, much better.
This is my third puzzle for the NYT and what's really exciting for me is that it's my solo debut. I hope that, while maybe not mind-blowing, it'll bring a smile or two.
This is my second collaboration with Johanna Fenimore whom I have still yet to meet face to face. We had a fun add-an-o puzzle Tues 7/5/2011. Now Johanna had come up with a super fun idea of things that "pop up".
We both love puzzles that are visual and peppy. She had PRAIRIEDOG and JACKINTHEBOX (love that J and X) and maybe INTERNETAD. we needed a fourth, as Will felt PINGPONGBALL didn't "pop up" in the same way. It was a bitch coming up with a fourth 12 letter word. I think after a lot of trial and error, Johanna landed upon CARDOORLOCKS! Done!
(If only it were CARDOORLOCKZ we'd have had a pangram!)
I added TOAST at 1-Across and matched it with POPUP as the last word. It was a true collaboration and still so funny that we've never met.
Andrea: This was my first collaboration with someone I've never actually met in person! Johanna Fenimore is a virtual friend through Rex Parker's blog and we have a very similar sense and sensibility on our takes on puzzles. We both have also spent time in Minnesota. We've been friends for over 5 years and yet have never met! Johanna had made an offhand joke about SPEEDO Bumps and that led me to envision an add an o to make funny phrases, with FULLSPEEDOAHEAD as our sort of risque anchor.
I had made an add-an-i puzzle with Tony Orbach (Sunday 1/31/2010) and this seemed like a great follow up to that. I think it was an Alan Arbesfeld (one of my favorite constructors, whom I've also met at the ACPT but have never collaborated with) who had an add a letter puzzle that had made me really laugh and I thought how lovely and simple to add but one letter yet totally transform a phrase. Johanna and I have tossed around a hundred other ideas, and had another successful collaboration Mon 6/17/13 off another of Johanna's clever ideas of things that "pop up".