The Cross Nerd: “Vowelless #13”

Peter Broda, blog writer and fellow Canadian, has a new crossword out for your solving pleasure: VOWELLESS #13.

There’s not really much point in reviewing vowelless crosswords — as long as they’re well-constructed, and this one is, the only question is whether you like them (in which case they’re awesome) or you don’t (in which case they’re insufferable). So just go solve it, then come back and I’ll write about my solving experience. Fair? Fair.


I solved without enumerations for most of the puzzle, and finally resorted to them when I got stuck.

In my experience, it’s common to end up with the starts or ends of answers entered into the grid well before you can see the full phrase. Here, you can see that I’ve got the end of HOUSING BUBBLE (17A: It might burst if real estate prices get too high), although I’ve somehow managed to forget that there are 3 B’s in it. I really do get paid to teach English to teenagers, honest.

Anyway, after a few false starts, DUTCH ELM DISEASE and the easily clued SCREENING (26A: It may be done to phone calls, potential hirees, or airport baggage) got me going.


With those answers in place, I had a pretty clean entry to the rest of the puzzle. ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES (27A: In need of some polishing (or sanding, I guess)) got me over to ATTENTION WHORES, but I ran into a wall in that section. So I moved down instead — here, I’ve just filled in GIVING THE HEAVE HO (42A: Tossing out, as an employee) and am about to link up the south corners.


Right side mostly done — I’ve just filled in THE BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE, a great answer that’s nonetheless going to be the last thing I get for about 10 minutes. This is the point where the puzzle went from “breezy fun” to “gale-force hurricane” for me (this always happens to me with vowellesses — the only question is when).

Marvel, by the way, at my complete inability to see one of my favourite movies, DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE (20D: The highest-grossing film of 1995), despite missing a mere one letter.


This was as far as I got without enumerations — that NW corner was a bear for me. Eventually I checked them, and immediately filled in TWO-HEADED TURTLE and STATISTIC (the crossing DANCE TO THE MUSIC means nothing to me — I’ve never heard the song, although I worked out the title once I had the enumerations).

Eventually, I filled everything in, albeit getting ENDOUBLED from crosses only — I couldn’t parse 6D: Unfolded or made single even with all the consonants. But I still had an error — after searching, I realized that NIBBLES AT, the very first answer I filled in for 16A: Takes small bites of, had to be NIBBLES ON.


And that gave me the happy pencil, although I needed the solution sheet to see NONISSUE (14D: It’s not even worth discussing).

Great puzzle!

1 comment
  1. erinium said:

    This was wonderful, Peter! Glad you had a chance to make another one.

    There used to be a two-headed turtle at a pet store not far from me, but then the store changed ownership, and then it wasn’t there anymore. I think if I sold the store, I’d take a two-headed turtle with me, too! At least I hope that’s what happened…I don’t know what the life span is for a little bicephalic reptile. 😕


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