So I mailed off another NYT submission tonight. It's a Mon/Tue type puzzle, with a theme I've been sitting on for some time. It was a combination of a NYT rejection that arrived last week and seeing Julian Lim's LAT puzzle from last Tuesday (which used another theme I had been sitting on) that got my ass in gear. I wasn't really upset about the rejection; in fact, I anticipated it. It came over 4 months after submission, since I constructed that one well before the crossnerd era. My standards and skills have improved by forcing myself to pump out a couple puzzles a week, though, and I would never construct or submit a grid as unsound as that now. That I'm not even running it here should say a lot, given that it's already finished and I'm lazy. However, I'm still not holding my breath for this one. The theme concept is solid, IMO, but the entries are, by necessity of the theme, kind of ho-hum. The other obstacle to acceptance is some of the fill. Now, I took care to make the fill as smooth as possible (while keeping the vocab at an early-week level - not easy!), and I think it will pass muster. However, the "sparkle" may not be Shortz' cup of tea. ON A DIME, REDBULL, TELECOM, and a PIG/LATIN combo should be fine. SEX SHOP, BO KNOWS, and NEXTGEN may be over the line. Could that fill have been avoided? Absolutely. Was putting it in a stupid thing to do given that it may be the only reason the puzzle is rejected? Absolutely. Then why? Well, I realized that I don't actually care that much about a NYT publication. I care a bit (it forces me to hone my skills and work on my professionalism, and a publication would be cred and smoke/beer money), but not enough to have my voice not come across in the grid and clues. For the most part, I found myself getting bored writing the puzzle; it was kind of a chore. I realized how much I like having basically free reign when it comes to fill and clues, as I do when I write the puzzles on this site and the Campus Crossword ones. I can put into the grid and clues things that I think about and that me and my friends say, listen to, watch, do, etc. These are generally things that would offend little old ladies, not be familiar to several large demographics, be seen as childish and low-brow, or all of the above, any of which is a kiss of death for a puzzle hoping to break into the big leagues. So, if this puzzle isn't accepted I won't lose any sleep. I'll just publish it here and move on to the next one.
Speaking of puzzles (what else would I be speaking about?), there were some gooders this week. Yesterday's Themeless Monday #154 by BEQ was quite good, as was Joe Krozel's Friday NYT (unchecked squares in a NYT!). Puzzle of the week, though, goes to today's Jonesin' themeless. Find it here, and while you're at it, join the group to receive the puzzles in your inbox every week. They're consistently top-notch. Protip: thecrossnerd.com also has a Google Group.
Today's puzzle is my Campus Crosswords offering for Thursday (good news everybody! We've been picked up for an indefinite run in the Harvard Crimson after last week's successful test run. E-mail campus[dot]crosswords[at]gmail[dot]com to get them in your paper). It's another 11x13 with a two-entry mini-theme about science and TV shows. I should point out that I've never actually seen an entire episode of either show, but some of my friends love that shit, so I can't avoid hearing about them.
Sorry, no special crossnerd puzzle this week. Been busy with this and that and the NYT submission. I'll try to have a 15x15 or something equally enticing for next week.
More words, crossed and otherwise, next Tuesday
Puzzles: Pseudoscience (Campus Crosswords puzzle for Feb 2)
Download the PDF and PUZ files here, or solve or download the Across Lite puzzle and/or software from the Java app below.