Monday, September 21, 2009
This is very late, but I wanted to create a post where people could discuss / give feedback on the puzzle Caleb Madison and I created for crossword constructor Kevin Der's birthday. We made it especially for Kevin, but it should be doable by any regular crossword solver.
In case you missed it, here are the links again.
NOTE: There is an error in the clues. 6-Down should read [Six after Ford]
[AcrossLite and .pdf version available from Amy Reynaldo's crosswordfiend.com, here.
You can also print it out very easily, below (just click on "More" and then "Print")]
Across Lite - Happy Birthday, Kevin
Do not read on if you haven't solved the puzzle yet ...
The puzzle started as a side remark in the bar of the Brooklyn Marriott during the weekend of the 2009 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. If I remember correctly, I was sitting there with my friend Angela (PuzzleGirl) and maybe a couple other people and at some point Kevin Der and Doug Peterson came over ... I feel like Barry Silk was there at some point. Anyway, I remember Kevin standing there to my left and I joked about making a puzzle out of his name. I don't think I intended to honor him. I'm pretty sure I was mocking him. But somehow the idea stuck and I later pitched the idea to Angela, perhaps as a rebus puzzle ... but that just seemed too hard, so I decided to make it easy on myself (esp. as I had very little constructing experiences) and do a puzzle where I bury his name. I pitched some theme answers back and forth with Angela, and then I had the chance to run the idea by Caleb and he shot right back with two great theme answers (DUDE RANCH, BLADE RUNNER) and declared he wanted in. In fits and starts over the summer, we built the puzzle. All credit goes to Caleb for making the grid. I had not done that before and in fact had not done that until just this past weekend, when I did it twice. It hurts my head.
What was cool about constructing in a leisurely fashion is ... we must have written and rewritten the grid (or many parts of it) dozens of times. The SW alone has been through a half dozen versions, with the current version being my last minute oneupsmanship. We both had decent versions of that corner, but the last one ended up best, if only bec. it got rid of sad intersecting plurals at 70A (was ENDS) and 56D (was DONTS, as in "dos and donts"). Also a version of ENDS was elsewhere in the grid, so ENDS had to go even though most people probably wouldn't have noticed. The Ford stuff and the insane amt of cross-referencing — that's all Caleb. I thought of cluing OXY via the college (their url is oxy.edu), but Caleb is the one who noted the connection to OBAMA. Having NICO and LOU REED in the puzzle was just dumb luck. Turns out Caleb's a huge Velvet Underground fan. Who knew? People seem to like the clues on HAN SOLO [Ford explorer?] and END ZONE [Site of a safety dance?] the best; the former is Caleb's, the latter mine.
I was beyond happy to get CHAZ into the grid. It was kind of painful to hang on to the puzzle all summer for that reason alone. I wanted to be the first to use the former Chastity Bono's new, post-gender change name in a puzzle. And I loved my clue, [Sonny of Cher?]. Don't know if I was first with CHAZ, but I was first that I know about. I thank CHAZ, because getting out of the SE would have been hard without him.
Across clues are mostly mine, Down clues mostly Caleb's. I don't remember who did middle of the grid, but NW, NE, and S are mostly Caleb, and SW, SE, and N are mostly me. Part of the grid I'm most sad about is FRIEDA, in that I mistaken thought that was how FRIDA Kahlo spelled her name. Love "Peanuts," but am not sure I would use FRIEDA again unless I was well and truly desperate. Also, too many Es and Rs and Ds in that SE corner now that I look at it (though when you're writing a puzzle around the name DER ...). If this had been a puzzle for general publication, I would have changed the NITRO clue and possibly the ONE clue. Back-to-back rap clues at 49A (ONE) and 50A (NAS) made me very happy.
Ugh, I see now that we have ONE and AS ONE in the grid, so boooo. Why didn't Anyone mention that? If I'd noticed that, the SW would have undergone yet another rewrite.
It was great to see that so many people downloaded or printed out that puzzle last Wednesday. Kevin liked it. So, in general mission accomplished.
Anyway, all feedback welcome, and all questions entertained.
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