“Flip Your Lid”

[.puz][PDF][Solution] Difficulty: 4/5

N.B. Today’s puzzle is a Sunday size 21×21 grid, so the clues will populate above and below grid, rather than to the right. If that bugs you, you can download the .puz and solve in AcrossLite, or print out the PDF. Notes below! -R

As some of you may know, I recently took the plunge to make a go of it as a full-time puzzle maker/writer! So while the puzzles on this site will always be free, it’d mean a lot to me if you supported the ad-free, independent crossword cause with a donation. I appreciate you!

If you do make a donation, leave a comment on today’s puzzle to introduce yourself and I’ll shout you out on Sunday night! Parker and I are doing a special Cursewords Live crossword construction stream at 8pm eastern, Sunday 1/30. We’ll be talking about the ins and outs of putting crosswords together, and perhaps doing some live solving with help from YOU in the chat. Drop in and say hi! It’d also be a perfect opportunity to gripe about the Sunday New York Times puzzle. 😉

As for today’s puzzle… boy howdy. A *perfect* example of the creative possibilities that diagonal symmetry opens up. Thoughts and spoilers for “Flip Your Lid” after the jump. Many thanks to Bruce, Katie, Rajeev, and SpellingBeelieber for test solving!

a show of respect

Permit me a brief word in favor of thematic symmetry. It isn’t necessarily de rigueur, especially when you’re dealing with rebuses and thematic material that changes directions/orientations. But if you’re able to render everything symmetrically, you’re going to win my heart. That goes double for symmetrical grid art!

In today’s grid, the only way to achieve full symmetry is with either mirror symmetry–which wasn’t viable given the restraints on the theme material–or with parallel symmetry as you see here. Further, both the first two themers in WILDLI[FEZ]OOS and MEGAVI[TAM]INS may need to intersect, ditto the revealer answer of TIP OF THE HAT has to intersect the final in ES[CAP]E HATCH in the southeast.

Rending a theme this way is a gigantic pain in the butt, but, shoot! Look at the footprint of the theme material and tell me that doesn’t move your pattern-seeking mammalian brain just a skosh!

Happy solving, friends!


29 thoughts on ““Flip Your Lid”

  1. Yeesh. Both were hard today. You took up a substantial part of my morning. Nice constructions in both. And another parental shout out. I still don’t get 96A in this puzzle, though. (Looking at it more, I guess I do, but if it’s what I think it is … groan.)

    • You do get it, and it’s every bit as groan-worthy as you found it 😀 And I figured since we’re getting snowed in here in New England, I might as well do my part in piling on this weekend. Thanks for dropping by, Andy!

  2. Here in Cazenovia, NY (hometown of Galen Druke😊) we missed the big snow. But it is frigid cold so it’s a great day to sit by the fire and do your crossword puzzles! I always enjoy them, thanks.

    • Greetings, Martha! This is excellent news. Jessie recently took a position at Syracuse University, so we’ll be in touch for cold weather survival tips pretty soon…

  3. That’s exciting! Will you be moving to the Syracuse area? We have lots of winter survival tips. Congrats to Jessie on her new position!

  4. Hi Ross! Congrats on your move as a full time entrepreneur. I’m a retired attorney with two grown children and one grandson. My daughter is about to have her second – a “BABY WOMAN!” (if you don’t get the reference, ask your dad!). I read Doonesbury religiously back in the day – Joanie Caucus was my hero. I love your crossword puzzles and your very personal approach to the column and the comments. I look forward to many more “RossWords.” Janet Austen (“screen name”)

    • Wonderful to hear from you, Janet! You’ve inspired me to see if I can dig up photos of a sweatshirt my twin sister used to wear around the house: a Doonesbury pullover with JJ, Joanie, Boopsie, and Kim that said “BABY WOMAN” across the front. Thanks for solving!

  5. This was a fun one! I’m on day 5 of self isolating with Covid so the difficulty and size was a welcome diversion from boredom! I also quite enjoyed your NYT puzzle, always fun to have a good ‘Aha!’ revealer that sends me searching for all the theme entries once I get the trick!

    I tried to make a donation with your PayPal link and it kept saying there was an internal error and to try again later. Will make another attempt this evening and see if it goes through!

    • Ack! Sorry for your trouble, Jessica, though I suppose Sunday will always be the best day for the self-isolating puzzle geek. Glad the gimmicks landed right for you. I hope the Covid isn’t hitting you too hard; be well!

  6. Hey, Ross-I’m happy to toss a few bucks your way in return for all the challenges you present to this 70+ year old. I rely on you to help keep me up to date on modern usage. When I was a kid, a wise person once told me that the purpose of each new generation’s music and language was to tear iitself free of the generation before. Each passing year makes that more evident to me.
    BTW, don’t forget that “Classic Rock ‘n Roll” puzzle we discussed a while back. I’ll ace that one!

    • Great to hear from you, Michael, and you’ve put your finger on sort of a virtuous cycle of the indie crossword scene. The only way that I, recently turned 38, stay up on pop culture and the twists and turns of usage is by solving the Gen Z indie grids! Keep an eye out for some rock n’ roll material forthcoming…

  7. Okay, so … I think I succeeded in donating to a good cause. Let me know if it doesn’t show up.

    I’ve thought about trying my hand at constructing, but I think the ingenuity required is something I just wasn’t born with and I am doomed to remain no more than part of an appreciative consumer base. Oh, well …

    Best of luck …

    • For what it’s worth, making my first ham-handed forays into building puzzles turned out to be much less daunting than I assumed it might be. The truth is that it’s 100% easier than it looks to make an okay puzzle, and exactly as hard as it looks to made a great one. Do be in touch if you’d like any pointers!

  8. Really loved this puzzle and all of the other great material you put out. Happy to donate and best of luck as you pursue this full time!

  9. Boy, a bunch of big changes happening around your life these past few months, eh? Makes me feel all sluggardly. Once again, best wishes for this next step, Ross, and the cheque’s in the PayPal mail.

    And, by the way, I hadn’t noticed the graphic clue, using shading, in the blank grid until after my completed puzzle was wiped clean (not at my request—and I swear I really did finish it). Made me think of vintage cartoonist Jimmy Hatlo and his strip, “They’ll Do It Every Time,” for the first time in years. For future reference, his catchphrase, “Hatlo” inserted appropriately, clues 120A.

    • Blaine, you’re a real mensch. Thanks for everything, including the prompt to go search up this old Jimmy Hatlo strip. It was new for me, which presumably would disappoint dear ol’ dad if you out me. And, having educated myself, I got a good little chuckle at 120A.

  10. Just dropped you a donation too!! Love your puzzles and nerding out with y’all on Cursewords (@taralaska). I wish you the best of luck in your puzzling endeavors.

  11. 😮‍💨 that was very entertaining once I figured out the theme. Congrats on going crossword making full time. I recently left a job (and a state) I loved to do something.. different.. haven’t yet figured out what that is. I hope you’re staying warm and safe. Here in upstate NY, it’s freezing, and the wind chill is cruel, but no snow this week. Thanks for two awesome puzzles today!

    • Thank you!! And, OY, Jessie and I will be moving to upstate NY when she starts her new job at Syracuse, and as I’ve mentioned to other solvers, we’ll 100% be soliciting upstate weather coping tips! Thanks for dropping by, Daad!

  12. Another fun solve (although I confess I didn’t quite finish it). Favorite clue: 50A. I made a donation – keep up the great work!

    • Rich–you’re a real mensch. I appreciate you! And as for this week’s puzzle, I went the trickier route by not shading/indicating the gimmick squares–you’re not alone!

  13. So, Sunday was your day for super-trickery! I did get the NYT puzzle (left you a Comment there under my screen name =MeanOldLady) but I got a Fail in this one due to the NE corner. “Murder by Death” (or so I thought), had GMC (duh) and put USA for the ?champs (oh, the shame! I was born in GA.) Ya got me! At least I had all the themers. Will snail mail my tribute.

    • I applaud your doggedness, even if the puzzle resisted! As I mentioned above to Rich, there might have been a way to indicate the gimmick more directly, but for whatever reason I was in a more roguish mood this week. Perhaps lighter fare next weekend 🙂

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