“Split Screen”

[.puz][PDF][Solution] πŸ“ΊπŸ’₯🀯

“Did you ever get the feeling you was bein’ watched?” asks a certain Looney Tunes character to the orange monster holding him in its clutches.

“PEOPLE!?” screams the monster, after it realizes we–the cartoon watchers–are *out there,* watching it. It shrieks and runs directly away from us, leaving its cartoon silhouette in a series of increasingly distant brick walls.

Now that we experience almost everything via screens, this kind of meta gag has lost a whole lot of its charm for me. Yes, I’m audience. Yes, I’m viewer. Of Looney Tunes, House of Cards, and now, ugh, my niece’s and nephews’ birthday parties. :*(

Today’s puzzle–a 21×21 grid for the holiday weekend–was inspired by the screens we’re all various degrees of desperate to put aside for something realer. Spoilers after the jump!

“My turn.”

*SPOILER ALERT* Building a crossword puzzle grid with five “screens” in it presents a bunch of headaches. On the one hand, I wanted each character who BREAKS THE FOURTH WALL to “break” it in the same direction. This meant that a grid with traditional rotational symmetry wouldn’t work, since whatever “screen” ended up in the lower right corner of the grid could only be “broken” by a character with a super short name.

The layout you see here compromises a couple of standard 21×21 conventions, namely the number of black squares (this puzzle has 84), the number of 3-letter words (45), and the number of answer words (143). These are all higher than usual.

This is one of those puzzles where it’s really hard for me to predict what the solving experience will be like. Fun? Satisfying? Sloggy? I’m curious to hear your reactions. Leave a comment… and have a wonderful holiday weekend!


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