TABULA RASA PROJECT
Look, I haven't been on this earth very long, but over the course of my life I've found three things to be categorically true:
1) The health and well-being of ourselves and others should be everyone's number one priority - everything else is dumb, fun bullshit and should be treated as such. This includes puzzles. They are designed to be fun - not stuffy homages to Puccini operas or whatever the fuck that are meant to pacify anyone who needs smelling salts at the first sign of a butt joke. (Ask me how I really feel.)
2) Everyone is secretly a huge freak and they'll eagerly demonstrate that to you if given the opportunity. Yes, this even applies to normies, who are actually probably some of the biggest weirdos on the planet. Imagine repressing your weirdness for all your life and having all that bubble up inside your head forever? No thanks!
3) Fun is more fun when you get more people involved. Take this how you will.
Anyway, these three truths are the guiding principles behind Tabula Rasa. Since getting really into puzzles, one of the things that's been really interesting to me is seeing how different people clue different things. It's a really intimate moment where you get a curated peek inside someone's brain with their permission, and slowly you begin to learn more and more about the people constructing the puzzles. In my opinion, indie puzzles are where most of this magic happens, as the "rules" imposed by larger publications aren't a thing out here in this wild, wild, west. Because of this, I ask that as you solve these, you really take the time to absorb the clues and not just speed through the puzzle. This puzzle was designed for creative purposes, not competitive ones. (Besides, competition frequently stifles creativity in our neoliberal hellscape and the end product is inescapable, thoughtless cookie cutter "art". Anyway!)
Tabula Rasa is a project where I constructed a 15x themeless grid with fun, flexible fill and sent it out to whoever for them to clue however their little freakazoid heart desired. The three rules I did have for this project were this: there needs to be basic grammatical agreement between your clue and the fill (no, I don't really care about spelling or typos), no needless bummers, and any racism/sexism/homophobia/transphobia/Islamophobia/etc. will result in your puzzle being entirely excluded from this project.
It was also important to me that people who've never constructed a puzzle got in on this, even if it's just the cluing portion. Making puzzles can be expensive (between "standard" wordlists and software) and it's ridiculous to think that people have expendable income like that in 2022. A collaborative spreadsheet on Drive works just fine to share clues! And also, honestly, it's also kinda intimidating to build a grid for the first time, so I figured I'd just do the hard part! I wanted this to be a bit of a nudge for people who've been considering getting into making puzzles but have been putting it off for whatever reason, and I think this project was successful in that regard.
Live on this blog is my version of the Tabula Rasa grid, along with grids from constructors who do not currently have their own blogs (but many of them are Twitch streamers, so I've included the links to their channels). If we, as constructors and members of an ever-growing community, are serious about platforming new voices, then we should just, y'know...platform new voices. Not rocket science.
Here is a link to the puzzle pack that includes all 19 submissions as .puz files for your solving pleasure. I've also invited seasoned constructors to post their own clued versions of my Tabula Rasa grid on their blogs over the course of the next few days. I'm so excited for you all to see them (see the list below)! Truly bangers.
One last thing and then I'll let you solve a fucking puzzle: truly, an enormous thank you to everyone who contributed to this. Thank you for taking on an opportunity that may, in many ways, make you a little vulnerable and going with it anyway. There's a lot of power in taking silliness seriously and anyone who says otherwise can go listen to Puccini.
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