Don’t Be Alarmed! It’s Just a Puzzly Wake-Up Call!

o-why-hitting-snooze-is-bad-for-your-health-facebook

[Image courtesy of The Huffington Post.]

There’s nothing quite like the grating blare of your alarm clock to rouse you from a sound sleep. But for some people, the alarm isn’t enough.

If you’re adept at whacking the snooze button or shutting off the alarm entirely — intentionally or not, since I’ve definitely done one or both in my sleep from time to time — you might need something a bit more devious to ensure you get up in the morning.

Some place their alarm clock out of reach, so they have to get up to shut it off. One buddy of mine, an adept snooze button-smasher, would return to bed after getting up, so this technique didn’t work.

We found an alarm clock that actually shot a small rocket across the room, and refused to stop beeping until you retrieved the rocket and placed it back on the alarm clock’s launchpad. That seemed to do the trick for him.

But the question remains… how do you make an alarm clock that ensures you’re awake?

As it turns out, puzzles are the solution!

screen_3-310x550

[Image courtesy of I Can’t Wake Up for Android.]

The app is called I Can’t Wake Up, and it requires you to complete a series of puzzly tasks before the alarm shuts off. These can range from memory tasks and placing numbers in order to retyping strings of gibberish or repeating a sequence of clicks Simon-style.

Essentially, you control the difficulty and complexity of the tasks you’re required to solve. So, if you know you NEED to be up for an important meeting in the morning, you can set the alarm to be louder and more diabolical.

I suspect this will start a trend in puzzly alarm apps, where you have to solve a crossword, conquer a Sudoku, or even decrypt a random message in order to stop your alarm.

Either that, or it will become the perfect tool for vengeful wives, husbands, significant others, parents, roommates, and others who are affected by the unreliable morning wake-ups of others.

In any case, I look forward to hearing about it.

81d6a31592aad3a95ccb4ac42bd96022

[Don’t be like this unfortunate stormtrooper… Image courtesy of Pinterest.]


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!

1 word, 3 letters, a world of possibilities

As I was writing Tuesday’s post and returning to the world of crossword-inspired art, it made me wonder what other puzzly works are out there, waiting to be discovered, appreciated, and perhaps mistakenly filled in.

So I did a little digging, a little Googling, and a little research, and I thought I’d introduce you, my fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers, to some of the crossword-infused works of art I discovered.

So, without further ado or hullabaloo, let’s get to it!


This work from 2005, entitled “I Can’t Read,” is a collage of crossword and newsprint, and although I discovered it on Crossword City, it was originally posted on the DeviantArt account of content creator PrairiePunk.

This Untitled piece by artist Juliet A is just one of several crossword-inspired pieces I found on the website Milliande.com. They featured themed weeks for posts, and “crossword puzzles” apparently provided plenty of inspiration for several impressive, engaging creations.

This wonderful bit of crossword-fueled street art, discovered in Ghent, Belgium, was posted on Pinterest.

Inspired by the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon, as well as the Saskatoon art scene itself, this work by Megan Mormon was developed for partygoers to play with and solve (with post-its provided). The clues and entries are all geared toward local art.

My personal favorite was this piece by Tony Blue, entitled Crosswords 2, a work of mixed media on canvas.

Puzzles meet performance in this sketch by Emily Jo Cureton, based on key words from the May 16, 2008, New York Times crossword.

Crosswords have even found their way into the world of nail art, as typified by this design by Hannah Rox Nails, created for Girls’ Life. [Note: the link leads to a YouTube page.]

I’ll close out today’s gallery with this intriguing piece of interactive crossword puzzle art, created by Gary Hill. The ever-shifting view of the grid only allows you to examine small portions at once, leaving you curiously adrift as you solve along with the artist.


This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to crossword-inspired art. A quick Google search or targeted Pinterest hunt will reveal many more.

For a few more pieces of crossword art, complete with commentary from the artists themselves, check out this article from CrosswordUnclued.com.


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!

It’s Follow-Up Friday: Importmanteau edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’d like to return to the subject of portmanteaus.

[Image courtesy of upenn.edu.]

For the uninitiated, a portmanteau is a word that combines two words and represents aspects of both of them. Smog is a portmanteau of smoke and fog. Spork, avionics, brunch, labradoodle, cyborg, Pinterest, webinar, glitterati, Reaganomics, sharknado…these are all portmanteau words.

It can be a handy way to coin a term for a situation that doesn’t already have a word to describe it. For instance, I like to think of that unpleasant sensation that you’re going to drop your car keys down a storm drain as “sedanxiety.” A disastrous kiss? “Liplockalypse.”

And clearly I’m not the only one who enjoys crafting new portmanteaus.

Tom Murphy, not to be confused with Tom Swifty (another big name in wordplay), set himself a seemingly impossible challenge: create a portmanteau that includes every word in the English language. A lofty goal, considering there are around 100,000 words in our dictionary.

Utilizing a keen knowledge of French grammar, he coins this project a portmantout, using the French word for “all.”

And not only does he coin a few choice portmanteaus along the way, but he succeeds in creating a single portmanteau that contains every word in the English language:

Granted, that word is 611,000 letters long, but hey, it’s still a pretty impressive bit of coding and wordsmithing.

I look forward to a future video where he says the word out loud.


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!

Follow-Up Friday: Optical Illusion edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’d like to return to the subject of optical illusions.

Puzzles for the eye, optical illusions challenge the viewer to shift perspectives and accept that seeing is not always believing. And whether it’s Ok Go!’s tricky music video or a carefully crafted LEGO illusion, they’re a favorite subject here at PuzzleNation Blog. I mean, heck, we’ve got entire boards on Pinterest dedicated to them!

So you can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a CollegeHumor video that had some fun with a few classic optical illusions.

I present Optical Illusion Girlfriend:

Have a marvelous weekend, puzzlers and PuzzleNationers! Here’s hoping everything you see is what it seems. =)

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

Putting the “social” in social media

One cannot overstate how the advent of social media has changed the way we interact with each other on a daily basis.

Stories and reminiscences that had to wait for high school reunions and family get-togethers are now shared over Facebook every day. Fan clubs and monthly newsletters used to be the only source for new info on your favorite bands and celebrities, but these days, they can speak directly to their fans through Twitter.

We can take people on vacation with us on Instagram and share our deepest thoughts on Tumblr. We can document baby’s first steps on YouTube and delve into virtually any subject on various blogs.

And social media has undoubtedly changed the landscape for puzzles and constructors alike.

There are entire blogs dedicated to dissecting the New York Times and Los Angeles Times crosswords each and every day. Amy Reynaldo (Diary of a Crossword Fiend) and our recent 5 Questions interviewee Kathy Matheson (Crossword Kathy) are both terrific examples of engaging crossword bloggers.

Through Twitter and other platforms, constructors are marketing their puzzles directly to solvers, bypassing publishers and sparking a new wave of entrepreneurial creativity in puzzles.

(For more on this, check out our 5 Questions interview with Robin Stears and our subsequent post on digital puzzle distribution.)

Heck, I’ve seen solvers and celebrities alike asking for help with challenging clues by reaching out to their followers on Twitter. Crowdsourcing at its best!

As PuzzleNation’s resident social media helper monkey, I’ve seen firsthand the amazing changes wrought by social media. I play games and interact daily with PuzzleNationers on Facebook, meet fellow puzzlers and innovators through Twitter, and engage in all manner of puzzly topics on Pinterest.

At the end of every blog post, I offer up links to all of our social media platforms, and every time you tweet or comment or reply or re-pin or email, I’m left in awe by how involved and how passionate the PuzzleNation audience is. Interacting with you guys is by far the best part of this gig, and I can’t wait to see what comes next from the marvelous melding of puzzles and social media.

Thanks for visiting the PuzzleNation blog today! You can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, cruise our boards on Pinterest, check out our Classic Word Search iBook (recently featured by Apple in the Made for iBooks category!), play our games at PuzzleNation.com, or contact us here at the blog!