Ricky's puzzles aren't hard. You just need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of anime. Don't blame him just because you don't know which character used the purple Xorph cannon in Bubblegum Ancestor.
— Ricky Billingsgate (@ambivalentricky) May 27, 2020
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Monday, December 14, 2020
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Saturday, November 7, 2020
Sunday, November 1, 2020
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Sunday, August 30, 2020
Friday, August 14, 2020
(Warning: The music video for this song has some flashing images; if your eyes are sensitive to that kind of thing, this video of the song doesn't have any of that.)
Sorry for the weird hiatus, btw; I've been busy with some other puzzle stuff, including a few collabs that should be showing up here and on others' blogs in the near future. There should be more puzzles here in general in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for them.
I wrote this puzzle exclusively so I could use 1-Across; I've been playing a ton of Project DIVA lately, and 1-Across is a neat technique that I thought would work well in a puzzle. If you're interested in Hatsune Miku and other Vocaloid music, I highly recommend Project DIVA; it's really addicting, and the newest game, Project DIVA Mega Mix, is available on Nintendo Switch.
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Thursday, July 9, 2020
Sunday, June 21, 2020
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Thursday, May 28, 2020
People keep telling me my crosswords are hard so I decided to make it easy on you guys and do a word search instead. Not easy enough? It should be: there's no right-to-left, up-and-down, or diagonal words. They only read left-to-right. pic.twitter.com/qhLZKRJs7e— Ricky Cruz (@rickycruzart) May 27, 2020
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Thursday, May 7, 2020
Pretty standard themeless today. I started this puzzle off with the intention of making a grid to submit to the Times, but there were too many good options for nerdy fill that presented themselves, and I gave in. I think as a result, this puzzle has hit a happy medium between the super-niche stuff I've been putting out lately and general-audience fill. Less "you-know-it-or-you-don't" and more "unfamiliar but gettable" is the goal. Hope y'all enjoy.
Monday, May 4, 2020
Pulling a puzzle from the backlog today; this was originally made as an NYT submission a few months back, and was turned down (rightfully) for being too "cerebral" for the general audience (definitely using that word more often). When I got that feedback back, I realized that yeah, this theme's probably too tricky to try submitting for any general audience, so I slated it as a blog puzzle. You guys can take cerebral.
Since it's an older puzzle (one made for submission, at that), there's not nearly as much nerdy stuff as y'all are used to here. Thus is the way of the backlog.
Apologies for the lack of puzzle the past couple weeks; but there's a reason! I've recently been busting out puzzles for Crossing Words, an Animal Crossing-themed puzzle suite that I'm releasing later this month. The suite will have 5 puzzles, roughly corresponding with Monday-to-Friday difficulties (the final puzzle being a themeless). I'm not 100% sure how I'll be handling the release; I'd like to implement a pay-what-you-want system, that way anyone can solve the puzzles for free while still allowing for donations. No idea what services allow for that model, so we'll see. There'll be a fancy release post here on the blog when that drops, so be on the lookout for that!
Enjoy the puzzle, y'all.
Saturday, April 18, 2020
This puzzle was entirely gridded on-stream on my Twitch. I don't know if I'll stream again anytime soon, but I'll share over on my Twitter if I do. Live-constructing is very interesting, because it very much shapes the end result to have people in chat commenting on it. I don't think this puzzle had as much chat influence as Sid Sivakumar's live-constructed puzzles, but there are definitely some entries here that wouldn't be here otherwise. 53-Across, for example, is dear to me, as I became familiar with the Epic of Gilgamesh in college, but I wouldn't expect anyone else to be familiar with it. But someone in chat was familiar with it, so I decided to keep it in. It was definitely a fun experience; it isn't anything I'll start doing regularly, but I might be inclined to do it more often.
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
This grid pattern.
If you haven't noticed, I'm really really really really fond of stair-stacking in themelesses. It was only a matter of time before I had two crossing 11-stairs, and I finally managed it. Construction-wise, this flowed super smoothly; if you can get the stacks to cooperate, all the corners turn out to be smooth sailing. Sure enough, this exact pattern and its reflection have been used about 5 times in the New York Times alone (I imagine several times more in other outlets and indie blogs).
This puzzle in particular, if my own test solve is any indication, is going to be quite a difficult solve. I had a super rough corner in this puzzle that was unevenly combined with less-mindbreaking sections, and in that one I should've eased up the cluing there to make it nice and even. This puzzle has that all around, so I decided to not ease up here. Oh, I did ease up in one clue: 24-Down was originally [Jaguar, e.g.]. I had to fight the urge to leave that one in. Hope you enjoy.
EDIT [4/15 1:01 AM]: The clue for 28-Down was originally [Partner of agape and eros]; turns out this is incorrect! The image above and the puzzle links have been updated with a new Skullgirls-related clue.
Friday, April 10, 2020
It's a return to stair-stacks; I love doing these 11 stair-stacks a lot. This puzzle in particular was fun to construct because of all of the nice long answers throughout the grid. Only one of them (54-Across) seems mediocre to me. I usually constrain the answers crossing the stack, but this time I tried leaving things more open, and I feel it paid off. Hope you guys agree.
Also, update on the move to CrossFire: it's not as great as I'd hoped, but it's got some significant advantages. The NE of this puzzle was mostly done with the auto-fill, which is way more flexible in CrossFire than in Crossword Compiler. The downside is that it seems to block off possibilities that I was able to find by hand (21-Across, for example, was an adjustment I had to make to compensate for the computer not registering the 9D/24A crossing as valid for some reason). Also, it's way more of a pain to remove words from wordlists in CF than in CC. My guess is that I'll be switching completely over to CrossFire purely because the advanced autofill and displaying of forced squares speed things up so much, which kinda trumps all the downsides.
Enjoy the puzzle, y'all.
Saturday, April 4, 2020
I meant to post this one like a week ago, but kept putting it off. Real sorry about that. You'll probably be getting another puzzle in the next couple days; I've got a themeless I'm really happy about in the works, and I now have CrossFire at my disposal to help me finish it. Crossword Compiler has done some real good for me, but after seeing so many cool features in CrossFire that CC doesn't have, I finally bit the bullet and bought it. I'll be spending the next month or so weighing the pros and cons and seeing what appeals to me more.
This was a fun puzzle to grid; the theme came after the revealer came up in a conversation, and after finding a crown jewel themer *and* having it mirror the revealer, it was a dream come true. I hope y'all enjoy it as well. Stay safe.
Saturday, March 21, 2020
...Yeah, it's probably not that hard to figure out exactly what this puzzle's theme is just by looking at the grid. If you don't know what the theme is just by looking, then great! Go solve it! You can read this after. I'll wait.
So yeah, it's pretty obvious what events led to this theme idea. I wanted to get some good long entries in there to add some more value to a relatively theme-light puzzle; hopefully that was a success. I was very worried the center wasn't going to work out, but some tech lingo and a "The Office" reference saved my butt. A lot of puzzles here rely on the niche stuff to work; case in point is 52-Down, which I like in itself, but only happened because it was the only possible way to finish that section without a heavy refill. It's what makes blog puzzles easier to construct than venue submissions.
I finished filling this and did a good amount of cluing during this weekend's Crossword Tournament on Your Couch, a Facebook event set up by some wonderful crossword folks to ease the pain of having the ACPT delayed till the fall. You can go solve the tournament puzzles at that link; I also believe the videos of the tournament are available on the Facebook page. (Congrats btw to Tyler Hinman, Will Nediger, and Sam Ezersky/Madison Clague for winning the Chesterton/Futon/Loveseat Divisions respectively!)
Also, quick reminder that my first NYT Sunday puzzle (and third puzzle overall) will be published in a little more than a week, on Sunday the 29th!
Enjoy the puzzle, and stay safe!
Saturday, March 14, 2020
I seeded this one with 15-Across; a bunch of this puzzle's long Acrosses are also from my themeless seed list, so I'm pretty happy with the 10-stacks and the central entry. Not much else to say about this one; I hope it's a lively enough puzzle to solve at home; there should be more in the coming weeks.
Speaking of the coming weeks, for those who didn't see my announcement in the post for the other day's Snake Pit puzzle, I'll have two crosswords in the New York Times this month! I have a Wednesday puzzle this week on the 18th, and my first Sunday puzzle will be out on the 29th.
Enjoy the puzzle!
Friday, March 13, 2020
Another Snake Pit! With recent events going on, I'm gonna try to get some more puzzles out than usual around here, seeing that people are in need of entertainment from home at the moment. I saw on Twitter a demand for themelesses, so I'll probably be focusing on those. I haven't been posting my older puzzles here a lot, but I might pull from those to amp up the volume some.
Also, you can solve me in the New York Times *twice* this month! I have a puzzle coming out on Wednesday, March 18th, and a Sunday puzzle on March 29th. I'll probably be posting this reminder a few more times in my upcoming posts, as I expect more people solve the crosswords here than the varieties.
Enjoy the puzzle!
Thursday, March 5, 2020
Real niche puzzle today; I've tagged it as hard, but it might not be if your pop culture game is strong. This was made in about four hours' time total, which is bizarre to me. I was up very late last night, and was expecting to get this started yesterday and finished today, but the puzzle just kinda happened. As an impulse puzzle (and one finished in such a short timeframe) the fill isn't the cleanest or the most colorful, but I'm satisfied enough with it to post it.
I've been wanting to put 57A in a blog puzzle for a while, and when I realized that the English translation of it (1A) is the same length, I knew I had to use those as seeds in opposite slots. 57A is a really good anime that everyone should watch. <SPOILER> As the clue references, it's an anime about three girls that decide to make anime, and it goes into super interesting details on the art of animation while still being really dynamic and visually interesting. Also, the female characters are actually drawn more realistically instead of being sexualized like in a lot of anime, and their voices are average, which is such a breath of fresh air. </SPOILER> You can watch it on Crunchyroll for free (albeit with ads and being unable to watch the newest episode till the next week).
Oh yeah, there's a crossword in this blog post too. Hope y'all enjoy it!