Rackenfracker #8: In One Basket

A freshly deviled Rackenfracker.

Fee fife ovum, I smell the arrival of a freshly deviled Rackenfracker for you to brood over. Solvers will not be shell-shocked to hear that today’s puzzle is a jigsaw, where answers’ given order dozen’t correspond to their scrambled positions in the grid, so caviar emptor.

Veteran Rackenfrackists might deem a mere jigsaw, once it’s over, easy to crack. We’ve therefore added a twist that will make it a slightly tougher row to hoe, so please be shirr to read the roe how-to.

What’s more, this is our first full-on collaboration with a respondent to our Help Wanted post — we were fortunate to poach George Ho from his own excellent puzzle blog, Loplop Crosswords. Here’s George with a nested origin story:

It’s been a huge privilege to have been the (in my view, junior) partner to The Rackenfracker in this puzzle — our first collaboration, whether with each other or anyone else! Toiling alongside them down in the word mines has been eye-opening: If there’s still any doubt that this website is a serious outlet for quality cryptics, let me disabuse you of that notion!

Incidentally, this puzzle was partially inspired by the backstory behind my handle. Once you’re done solving, you may want to look up “Loplop [VARIETY THEME]” and see what you find.

Happy solving!

Thanks again to George for yolking himself to us for this one. We consider having landed his first collaboration to be a co-op coup, and are glad the word mines didn’t scare him off — others might have died of fried. We again availed ourselves of test solvers Andy, John, and a Crossweird crew of hagabaka, Kate Chin Park, Kelsey Dixon, meat, and Will Eisenberg — many thanks for coming through in the clutch.

If you are exclusively an online solver of cryptics, you might think you’re ready to declare your favorite working constructors, and omelet you finish, but you are almost certainly missing out on the work of Bob Stigger. During the cryptic drought of the previous decade — pre-Browser, pre-AVCX, pre-return-of-The-New Yorker — GAMES Magazine (print/PDF-only) was an oasis, and Bob has long been their most stalwart cryptic contributor, including an ongoing six-year streak of variety cryptics in just about every issue. For those who can’t make it to a newsstand, Bob edited (and contributed puzzles to) Cryptic All-Stars vol. 1, available via Puzzazz, where you will also find Bob’s free-but-pay-it-forward collection, Staycation Cryptics. (All four volumes of Cryptic All-Stars are available in print, each including Bob’s puzzles which are always 😘👌 chef’s quiche.)

When Bob agreed to consult on this puzzle, our sunny sides were definitely up. We’ve written previously about how the ‘00s NYT Crossword Forums were our cruciverbal crucible, which is where we met Bob. While his cryptic rigor is hard-boiled, his manner never is, and he’s always fulsome in his praise for a clue that is as devious as it is scrupulously fair. Thus he’s both the angel and devil on our shoulder when we construct, and has been for 20 years. Thanks, Bob.

[dadgumituh: Is it pronounced like ‘Jessica Alba’?]

[jmsr525: No, the second syllable is stressed.]

[dadgumituh: ‘al-BUH’?]

[jmsr525: More like ‘BYU’.]

[dadgumituh: Seriously? (mumbles to self) (continues mumbling) Nothing has that meter. I think we’re going to have to skip that one.]

[jmsr525: I’m sure it’ll be all white.]

We hope the puzzle meets your expeggtations.

Image credit: “Eggs” by John Loo is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Subscribe to The Rackenfracker

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.