“Right Up Your Alley”

[.puz][PDF][Solution]

This week’s puzzle is another affirmation of distance community building. I made it with the help of 100 attendees at the second of two How to Make a Crossword sessions. We got it all done (minus the clues) in about 15 minutes. But before I talk about the puzz, a related human interest aside:

Jessie and I had a surprisingly engaging virtual dinner date last night. Not that we didn’t fully expect our two guests–relative strangers when dinner began–to be scintillating conversationalists. But because we’re not overly optimistic about the possibilities for genuine community and relationship building in a post-eye contact world.

We stand corrected. Dinner lasted almost four hours, and we feel like we’ve made a genuine human connection that delivered many of the same mental cookies on offer in an IRL double date.

Low quality image, high quality company

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

The revealer for today’s puzzle is MIND IN THE GUTTER (15) [What one prone to dirty thoughts has, and what you might need to solve this puzzle].

It’s a classic parse-some-genre-specific-words differently puzz. A tried-and-true formula that will never not work for me as long as the revealer is fun and the wackily-clued themers not *too* wacky. ROLLING PIN [Result of finishing half a split?] is my favorite clue-answer pair.

Stay safe, everyone. Much love.

-Ross

8 thoughts on ““Right Up Your Alley”

  1. Love your puzzles! Thanks for sharing them.

    ROSES is not a valid answer for 43A. Roses have prickles, not thorns. Thorns are essentially modified branches. Spines are modified leaves. Prickles are more like hairs, extensions of the epidermis or cortex.

  2. My pleasure, Bart!

    I’m going to stand by the clue for two reasons. First, the clue says “Thorny flower” not “Flower that has thorns.” So, since most references literally define prickles as “small thorns” anyway, it feels precise enough for me. And more importantly, language changes when enough users implicitly agree on shifts in usage, a la the common-to-the-point of cliche phrase “every rose has its thorn.”

  3. Good points.

    I suppose my thought was that it’s a word that can be clued countless ways. Also, would “prickly flowers” be that much worse of a clue? Yes, there is that phrase. However, I believe (though I could be wrong) the origin predates differentiation between thorns, spines, and prickles. Obviously, people continue to say it even though it’s incorrect. Just wonder if it was a missed opportunity for people to learn something new which is always one of the cooler aspects of doing a puzzle, e.g., “Prickly (not thorny!) flowers.” Okay, perhaps that’s an inelegant clue, so I guess there’s that.

    Regardless… really enjoy your work! I’m always happy when I open a daily puzzle and see your name.

    1. No, I actually like that idea. When puzzles do little things like “Flower that technically has prickles, not thorns,” I find it genuinely interesting *and* I feel it also gives the puzz a nice dash of editorial personality!

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