Sorry about the skipped week there. I had a freestyle mostly finished, but didn't have quite enough time to devote to polishing it to my standards. The wonderful feedback I've received from y'all has really encouraged me to up my game, but as a result I spend much much longer on each puzzle because I hate to have an off week. Excuses, excuses.
In other news, although I totally forgot about pi day last friday, the topic came up at work this morning and I ended up betting my colleague that I could memorize and recite pi to 1000 digits by next week. I wasn't sure at first if I could get even remotely close, but over lunch I started brainstorming various possible approaches and it seems eminently doable. My psychology education finally paid off, in fact, and I recalled the method of loci (which is similar to Sherlock Holmes' memory palace technique). And just when you thought this post couldn't get any nerdier (you're reading a crossword blog, what did you expect?), I figured that the best thing to map the digits to would be the Super Metroid any% speedrun route, since I've been drilling it for the last few weeks. It turned out to be kind of fun, actually, trying to identify patterns in the sequence of digits and then thinking up meaningful associations to the game map. Tying individual numbers to the number of enemies or platforms in a room, say, or imagining that alternating strings like 323 or 3993 could represent contours in the terrain or patterns of movement around obstacles. Seems to be working: after only about half an hour I already had 150 digits down pat, and I'm up to 250 now. Victory is mine.
Anyway, that has nothing to do with today's puzzle, which is just another freestyle. Filling it was somewhat difficult, as evidenced by the abundance of cheater ("helper") squares. I prefer the look of a grid with very few black squares, but beyond that I don't actually care about cheaters if they improve the fill significantly, as they did in this case. Hope you feel the same.
More words, crossed and otherwise, next week.
Puzzle: Freestyle #30