Big shout-out to friend of the blog and all-around mensch Ben Bass, who is currently asea somewhere near the coast of Denmark. (For serious.) Some months ago he approached me about cluing one of the 100+ themeless grids I’ve made and (never clued) over the last couple years. Generally speaking, if I *want* to make a crossword and don’t have a theme concept I’m excited about, I’ll sit down and hammer out a freestyle grid. But I’m still not sure I want to do anything with them; they tend to leave me cold, for whatever reason. And so! I readily agreed to hand Ben–whose word play acumen and sense of humor I’ve long appreciated–a themed puzzle to wrangle. And lo!
Ben: Hej from Copenhagen, Denmark, where I’m wrapping up a European vacation. Of course, location is immaterial these days, as evidenced by today’s collaboration. Ross sent this lovable grid from Boston, I wrote a set of clues in Evanston, Illinois, and here we are.
What a pleasure to work with such an expert constructor and clever good guy. Thanks Ross for inviting me into Rossworld. Much like Scandinavia, I’d happily visit again!
Ross: I’d be interested to hear which version of this y’all prefer. I was torn between a few priorities. On the one hand, I couldn’t decide whether BIG STRETCH or OH BIG STRETCH or OOH BIG STRETCH made for a more satisfying revealer. On the other, I couldn’t decided if I wanted to use it as a *title* or a revealer proper. And lastly, I wasn’t sure how much to prioritize the maximum length of the C__A__T answers. (I was 100% sure there could be *only* one C, A, and T in each answer.) And in fact, as you can see, CLOSING ARGUMENT (15) and CONJUGAL VISIT (13) exceeded the max length of the version I settled on (CORN HARVEST, 11).
Ultimately, all of these priorities are very much a reflection of what I think the most satisfying solve will feel like, though of course plotting that out requires an intellectual empathy that I expect I’ll be refining *forever*. In the end, a lot of this stuff is just to taste and a product of whatever gives you the best and most satisfying brain pops.
So! What say you? Drop a reaction in the comments!
Happy solving, friends!