On Thursday morning I awoke to a strongly-worded email from a solver who’d just got done with my 5/12 New York Times puzzle. (Spoiler ahead.) She was disappointed that I had been careless enough to misspell Margaret Atwood’s name in the grid, and on this of all weeks! After all, her highest-profile novel was being regularly invoked on the heels of the SCOTUS draft opinion that portends reproductive rights being stripped from tens of millions of Americans. (Incidentally, you can support these people and enjoy crossword puzzles simultaneously.)
I explained the misunderstanding–there had been no mistake, just a tricky Thursday thematic gimmick–and we exchanged a few emails over the course of the day. In the end we found we had quite a lot in common, and we’ll be doing a Zoom call this week to get her started on construction of her very first crossword puzzle, which, not coincidentally, will have a Supreme Court theme!
I’d been hearing the phrase “perfection, no notes” over and over in the last 12+ months, and finally decided to sort out a way to employ it as a revealer. Initially I was thinking perhaps some sort of deletion puzzle involving bills, but finally caved and made what probably amounts to the 23094823943rd ever musical note puzzle.
I was sure that I wanted to ask the solver to ignore the notes consecutively, and to hide them as consistently as possible. And actually, when it came down to it, there were for multiple of the notes *pretty* few options for two word phrases for which, if you ignored the note string, yielded a crossword-valid answer. [SOL]O MAN really bailed me out. The other thing that made it hard to find examples was that I knew it’d be super inelegant to have a ton of extraneous D-O or R-E or M-I strings in the rest of the grid. And it was *that* element that made filling this puzzle a royal pain in the ass, ultimately necessitating a bit more gluey bits than I’d normally permit myself: ETO, ASST, and the not-super-common TARSES and LUNN (which both actually had interesting cluing angle possibilities). One of my test solvers also noted the fun inclusion of TIN EARS as a theme answer, which perhaps was too cute by half…
Happy solving, friends!