N.B. Today’s grid is 21×21, so the clues won’t appear to the right of the puzzle as with a 15×15 grid. They will appear both above and below the grid, though I find that solving the .puz with AcrossLite or downloading and printing the PDF a more satisfying solving experience.
Happy New Year! If your household operates anything like ours does, you and yours remain post-holiday slugs until about January 4th. So we decided to drop a Sunday-sized grid to act as slug enablers. Sorry/you’re welcome. Here’s a question for you veteran solvers out there: would you have preferred that the shaded/circled squares be unmarked? I went back and forth, from a difficulty perspective.
Many thanks to Erin, Kate (of Kate Schmate Crosswords!), Ben (who just launched Nautilus Puzzles!), and my new twitter friend @CelebrityGus for test solving this puzzle. Thoughts and spoilers after the jump!
This. Puzzle. Took. For. EVER. Shame on me for my obsessive clinging to symmetry in all its forms.
As an exercise–and a Pai Mei level cruelty one at that–open up a blank grid and try to rearrange the theme material such that all of the across answers and all of the down answers through which the various HAIR pieces descend are placed symmetrically. (You won’t of course get a piece of HAIR descending downward from the LET YOUR HAIR DOWN revealer.) I’ll wait. Are you back? Frustrated. THAT MAKES THREE OF US (Jessie says whatup.)
Ultimately, the constraints had to do with the limited ways you can hide each of LOCK (easy-ish), BRAID (very hard), SHOCK (very hard), DREAD (medium), TRESS (medium), and CURL (very hard) in *two* separate ways apiece, such that the resulting answers were placeable symmetrically. The really confounding bit was that due to the nature of the grid, the descending answers form the second (INTERLOCKED) and last (INCUR LOSSES) theme answers were necessarily going to intersect the first (LARA CROFT TOMBRAIDER) and revealer (LET YOUR HAIR DOWN) answers.
Anyway, as a a result, some of the answers are a bit more contrived (looking at you, THAT IS DREADFUL) or obscure (LUCY LOCKET) than I’d prefer. But apart from that, it’s a grid we’re proud of.
Happy solving, friends!