This is going to be fun.
On Monday night, Yacob Yonas (yes, the Yacob Yonas) is joining us live on the Cursewords stream. The plan is for Parker to solve today’s puzzle while Yacob and I heckle. Thereafter, we’ll *dialogue* and ask pointed questions of Yacob, like, “How did you construct Friday’s NYT puzzle so good?”
Join us! 9pm Eastern. Be there and fill squares.
Meantime, a word on today’s puzzle: it *may* end up being a more satisfying solve if you can print and solve with pencil and paper. Related spoilers and thoughts from myself and Yacob on “Let It Burn” after the jump… H/t to Mike, Arianna, and Matt for test solving!
Ross: Today’s puzzle presents a solving challenge in the applet, in that we needed to set either FIRE or SMOKE as the “correct” answer. We went with SMOKE, which corresponds to the first half of each theme clue, and seems to mimic the meaning of the clue more closely. And naturally, each answer was a rebus. (For the uninitiated, “rebus: just means “more than one letter in a box,” and there’s a “REBUS” button in the app that’ll let you enter them… you’re not alone if your first reaction was, “WHAT? YOU CAN DO THAT?!”)
As such, it might be frustrating to correctly enter “SMOKE” or “FIRESMOKE” or “SMOKEFIRE” or whatever, and not get a “puzzle solved” response. For this, I hope you’ll forgive us. We think it’s worth an improbable theme set, and stunt-worthy stacked revealer.
Yacob: I love collaborating to construct crosswords, especially when I feel like my co-constructor and I are on the same wavelength. In my collabs with Ross, I feel like we are always speaking the same language and it’s so much fun!
This puzzle came to be after we were discussing another (similar-ish?) idea and then Ross had a stroke of genius and proposed this idea. I thought there would be no way we could pull this off because the theme is so constraining and finding a grid layout that worked for the few themers we had seemed impossible at first. However, we were able to pull it off and I’m very proud of the puzzle we made!
If you ever get a chance to collaborate with Ross, you jump on it!