“Tough Way to Go”

by Jessie Bullock & Ross Trudeau

[.puz][PDF][Solution] ☠️🚢 🚞 🚌 ☠️ Difficulty: 2/5

Conventional wisdom is that you don’t acknowledge a no-hitter in progress, lest the bored and minorly vindictive karmic bureaucrats in the sky take note and yank the rug out from under your pitcher. Avert your eyes, the thinking goes. Think about something else. Just don’t *want* it too much, and you’re more likely to *get* it.

The reason I note all this is because it’s looking like the Delta variant *could* disrupt a highly anticipated vacation that Jessie and I have lined up in two weeks (we’re vaccinated, but). This eventuality would be particularly excruciating insofar as that this particular vacation–to a little resort in St. Lucia–was originally on the books for the very first week we all first went into lockdown in March of 2020. Suffice it to say that we’ve *built this one up* in our heads.

SO. We’ve decided to take a reverse jinx approach. This week’s puzzle, and indeed this entire blog post, is meant to look the possibility that our vacation gets cancelled again DIRECTLY IN THE EYE. Hello darkness our old friend! How are you? Actually, hold that thought, we super don’t care. F*** right off, sir! And good day to you!

I hope you bring this spirit to your solve as you crack “What a Way to Go!,” the thematic content of which is a direct foil for the last J+R collaboration on this site. Thoughts and spoilers after the jump.

honk honk

The conceit here is pretty straightforward, but this theme brings a big goofy grin to my face. We’re working with various metaphorical vehicles with a negative connotation: CLOWN CAR, SINKING SHIP, PAIN TRAIN, STRUGGLE BUS, SAME BOAT. And in fact, this theme started when a friend of mine mentioned a “bruise cruise” he’d been on–apparently some screamo metal floating mosh pit. Weren’t the before times wild?

Anyway, as noted about, this puzzle is the spiritual evil twin of the “Have a Nice Trip!” puzzle that Jessie and I posted back in June. That grid featured metaphorical vehicles with a *positive* connotation–GRAVY TRAIN, DREAM BOAT, TIGHT SHIP, THE WELCOME WAGON–as well as the revealer FANTASTIC VOYAGE.

Kudos to Jessie for such smooth and evocative content in this one. She’s getting conspicuously good at filling grids these days… keep your eye out for more from her relatively soon…

Happy solving, friends.

-Ross

6 thoughts on ““Tough Way to Go”

  1. This puzzle is charming! And good for you guys for looking bleep right in the eye…I really admire that and want to be like you when I grow up. Thank you for the puzzle — and the backstory.

  2. Wish I could say I blasted through solving this puzzle like a runaway train, but even with practice my brain becomes an empty vessel. I always look forward to your Sunday puzzles!

    1. So glad to hear it, Dominick! And while my vessel doesn’t empty out week to week, I can definitely feel myself springing some cognitive leaks here and there…

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