“Dropdown Menu”

by Alison Ohringer and Ross Trudeau

[.puz][PDF][solution] 🧵

Until pretty recently, the only puzzles I’d co-solve were the big ‘uns. Sundays. The grids two people can really sink both their teeth into at the same time.

It turns out that collaborating on 21×21 grids yields similar returns. I think this particular puzzle sounds like me at times, and at other times it’s distinctively what I’ve come to know as Alison’s voice. She both filled and clued 55-Across, for example, which is an entry/clue pairing that never would have found its way into my puzzle.

As I write this, it’s brilliantly sunny here in Cambridge, MA. Yesterday we woke up to flurries of big, cottonball-size flakes of snow. I’ve given up trying to make predictions about 2020, but I expect you’ll dig this puzz… no matter the weather.

String a few answers together


This puzzle got its start when the revealer phrase–HANG BY A THREAD–caught my eye in a magazine article. Initially I submitted a version of this puzzle to the NYT, with theme answers that simply were placed vertically in the grid. They passed, because it was an inelegant/inapt connection. Then it sat on the shelf for a while, until Alison and I got connected via social media and we hammered out a version with the pictographic element you see here.

I’ve been on a kick of these sorts of puzzles, and I think it’s all thanks to this charming Patrick Blindauer puzzle from last summer. We opted for mirror symmetry on this grid so that the answers that HANG BY A “THREAD” could be arranged in a sort of chandelier fashion.

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