Me: Any praise from a gen z solver is music to my ears!
Ria: Gen z solvers are pretty easy to please tbh! toss in an EGIRL and we’re happy.
Me: Furiously scribbling down notes here. Ria EGIRL wasn’t even in my word list 😞
Ria: What no!!!!! it’s ranked ridiculously high in mine. It literally shows up every time I click on a five letter word.
I don’t know if you’ve been noticing this, but the kids really do seem to be taking over. Did you catch Paolo Pasco and Adam Aaronson‘s NYT sparkler yesterday? I think they’re younger than me *combined*.
I’m trying to stay optimistic about my ability to make puzzles that appeal to the full gamut of solvers, but keeping the kids happy and feeling “seen” is only a viable project as long as they continue to deign to chat with me on crossword Twitter.
Couple of quick hits: there are still tickets available for next Sunday’s How to Make a Crossword seminar. I’m hoping to see many of you there! And mark your calendars for Lollapuzzoola Online. This is one of my favorite IRL crossword tournaments, and I have no doubt they’re going to put on a good show via Twitch/Zoom/Tiktok… assuming that last one isn’t, like, strictly verboten by then…
Thoughts on this week’s puzzle after the jump!
I don’t remember when I found the delightful spanner SNAKE IN THE GRASS. It’s an evocative phrase, it’s fun to say, and bam: 15 letters. For a while it sat in the “ideas” folder, until I settled on using it as a hidden word revealer. It seemed double appropriate (given the meaning of the phrase) to orient the themers vertically, rendering the snakes at the bottom of the answers, down there IN THE GRASS.
DIS[CO BRA] was a late find, actually, and I rearranged the whole grid to accommodate it there in the center. The theme set makes me pretty happy, with ROCKY BAL[BOA], ATTIC L[ADDER], and BEYOND ONE’S GR[ASP] as the 15-letter spanner to mirror the revealer.
The construction wasn’t totally straightforward, and with all those themers clogging up the bottom third of the grid, I had to go to some corner black squares (which I don’t love) to keep the fill smooth. And stacking theme answers side-by-side, while occasionally a necessity, presents its own challenges (which I relish).
Among the real & fictional people in this puzzle:
Happy dog days, friends. See you on the Zoom?