by Ross Trudeau
First and foremost, THANK YOU. I just got done stuffing and licking a whole stack of thank-you letter envelopes going out to folks who donated to Rossword Puzzles over the last few days. (This’ll be the last time I’ll prompt folks to notice the “donate” button on the site until next January; we’ve got bigger fish to fry than dollars and cents!)
Today I’ll be participating in the Boswords Winter Wondersolve crossword tournament. If you’re reading this on Sunday morning, there’s still time to sign up! As a Boston local, it has been my honor at Boswords of yesteryear to write puzzles for their summer tournament, held a few miles south of me at Roxbury Latin (imagine that: a Boswords Rossword!). Fingers crossed that I’ll perhaps be able to see some of you all there this summer. As of this writing, I also plan to attend the 2022 A.C.P.T. down in Stamford. I still haven’t gotten my head around the emotional implications of seeing so many cherished puzzle heads at once. It’s possible that if you see me there I’ll be openly weeping. Pray don’t let this dissuade you from saying hello.
Onto today’s puzzle, which does what last Sunday’s NYT grid did *not*, and is therefore, in my opinion, a more elegant piece of gridwork. Many thanks to Rebecca, Matt, and @TweetsVanZandt for test solving this one!
Maybe I year ago I tweeted about some proto-version of this grid, and the excellent puzzle constructor Max Carpenter replied with his own version of the conceit. I’ve tried to dig it up, so if anyone has a line on where it lives, leave a comment.
It’s not hard to see why we both landed on the same concept. MICRODOSE is just a super evocative phrase that’s becoming more and more in-the-language, as we say. It’s also a perfect revealer answer for a rebus puzzle. And when I noted that the resulting L-S-D strings, bound by a square shape, look a lot like your average piece of acid blotter paper, well, how could I not?
There are three features of this puzzle that made the final product super satisfying for me.
First, while the theme content was finite, there were enough options to render a grid where the LSD tabs are located symmetrically in the grid, which is ALWAYS my preference, and which I wasn’t able to do in last Sunday’s NYT puzzle. Second, each of the answers breaks up the L-S-D strings in a consistent way, with a space after the S: DEVIL’S DEN, CALLS DIBS, RU PAUL’S DRAG U, etc. And third, I was able to include the revealer answer of MICRODOSE (rather than using it as a title) by getting a little ambitious with the placement of the revealer answer (stacked flush with DEVIL’S DEN and intersecting DIALS DOWN).
None of these features are totally necessary, of course. But they’re the sort of features that give me really satisfying brain pops when I’m looking at a finished grid.
Happy solving, friends!