The Week In Crosswords

Miss the Onion AV Club crossword? So do its former contributors, who’ve launched a Kickstarter to bring it back to life as an independent feature. This deserves your support.

Deb Amlen announced a new look for the New York Times Puzzles & Games webpage which should be going up around the time this bulletin does.

This survey of the field of cognitive training includes a few words from Tyler Hinman about his employer, Lumosity.

The Guardian surveys crosswords in Australia and asks how British crosswords got to be symmetrical.

The signal-to-noise ratio in this discussion of Will Shortz is frankly rather low, but here are some choice morsels I didn’t know: (1) Shortz is allegedly no longer the only enigmatology major on Earth, just the most famous one. (2) His sometime handle is WILLz [WILL + short z]. (3) Occasionally he’ll reveal his identity when he sees people doing well on the Sunday Times crossword, just to congratulate them.

“Finally, a crossword puzzle I can actually do… #humblebrag” (Matthew Perry)

Finally, it’s not quite crosswords, but I couldn’t resist: What’s a three-letter word clued by “She may keep you from solving Super Word-Finds Companion?”

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7 Responses to The Week In Crosswords

  1. ktd says:

    I saw the announcement about the AV Club crossword from Amy a few days ago. Does anyone have more information about why it’s suddenly being dropped?

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Ask the publishers of the Onion’s A.V. Club. I’m guessing it’s financial cheapskatitude, as such decisions usually are, especially when it comes to print media.

      The Kickstarter campaign’s already 72% funded a mere three days in, which is terrific! There’s really no way that the $10,000 funding total won’t be reached with over a month to go, meaning that the puzzle will return to (subscriber-based) circulation sooner rather than later. The American Values Club crossword remains a part of the Crosswords by PuzzleSocial app, too—look for it on Wednesdays.

      • T Campbell says:

        Amy, I’d call it “probable but not certain” that the goal will be reached. Call me overcautious, but I don’t want to discourage any support at this point. (The graph of funding/time is rarely a straight line: there’s usually an explosion of support that follows the initial marketing push.)

        • janie says:

          congrats to ben: goal has been met. BUT — that shouldn’t keep folks from subscribing if they haven’t already. “the more, the merrier,” no?


    • Ben Tausig says:

      Hi ktd: Like many print publications, the Onion (and its affiliated, non-satirical section the A.V. Club) is scaling back, both in terms of the cities where it runs and the content that it pays to include. I’ll spare you the details, but this is the long and short of it.

      Many people have written to me expressing frustration and annoyance, which I understand. On the other hand, I should express how classy the Onion has been throughout our relationship with them. First, they took a chance on creating an original crossword feature (how many papers have done that in the past decade?), paying us a respectable amount of money and giving us a home in both the print edition and online. Second, despite pressure from some corners of its management to cut the crossword, certain people at the paper have advocated for us tirelessly enough that we ultimately had more than six years. Third, everyone I’ve worked with there has been kind and professional at every step. They ran a note with the final crossword that directed solvers to my email in case they wanted to continue receiving the puzzle. That was extremely useful for us; solvers of the print edition otherwise might have had no idea where we went. Instead, I’ve gotten hundreds of emails from likely subscribers. The success I expect we’ll have as the AVCX will be in no small part attributable to our longstanding relationship with the Onion, and to the audience they allowed us to build.

      As Amy says, the fundraising campaign is doing quite well so far. Well enough, in fact, that we may reach our goal this week and send out the first puzzle under the American Values Club banner as soon as tomorrow. (This is my chance to direct you to to subscribe today!)

      Many of us who run independent features have recognized for years that this model would become necessary eventually. It’s not terribly different from many other forms of content that have lost their native home in print (or other ad-supported) media, and that have turned to direct subscriptions instead. There are a ton of logistical and ethical issues to consider in making this transition, and I’m happy to answer any questions about any of them here or in another open forum. But the transition itself can hardly be avoided.

  2. Zulema says:

    The new improved crossword and games website defeated me, and made my computer crash twice. It had not crashed in ages and ages. I’m glad I could come here and print Tuesday’s crossword out. Thank you, Amy and Dave.

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