by Ross Trudeau

[.puz][PDF][Solution] Difficulty: 3.25/5 🥂 🎉 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟛

Buenas días desde Playa del Carmen, and a happy new year to crossworld! I hope this week’s puzzle finds you suffused with optimism for 2023, or at least not *too* hungover. Jessie and I are on a short trip with some friends to celebrate my 39th birthday, having narrowly escaped the nightmarish travel conditions of the Upper Midwest. Our condolences to those of you who got got. At any rate, so continues our tradition of posting crosswords from the Free and Sovereign State of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

My gratitude to this week’s test solvers Josh, Matt, and Connor Burwell, who had some insightful feedback on the theme material copy. Scroll down for thoughts and spoilers for “Proofreading” below!

Okay, so it’s a hidden word theme. Nothing to pop any bottles over, right? In recent years I’ve started shying away from this theme type–they’re pretty ubiquitous and I’ve plumbed these depths pretty thoroughly myself–but this concept was appealing for a couple of reasons.

First, the ALCOHOL BY VOLUME (15) revealer allowed for a novel relationship between revealer and theme material. It’s doubtless one of those themes where the mechanism isn’t totally helpful for the solve, but (hopefully) adds a level of appreciation post facto when you go back and, well, check the math. And secondly, the theme set is tight (GIN, RYE, PISCO, RUM, ABSINTHE are more or less the only spirits, i.e., not beer or wine or cetera that you can hide in this way) but just loose enough to provide fodder for 5 theme answers plus a revealer, which is a robust enough gridding proposition to hold my attention from a craft perspective. Plus, STABS IN THE BACK, ah–satisfying.

Happy solving, friends!


33 thoughts on ““Proofreading”

  1. Nice — a little hair of the dog for New Year’s Day. And your post-puzzle paragraph was a perfect description of my experience solving it and reflecting on it, including the appreciation of stABSINTHEback. Happy New Year, happy birthday, and thanks for the puzzles each week!

  2. Thirty-nine? Just like Jack Benny. Congratulations, and stay that age as long as you can. Happy Birthday. Happy New Year, and thanks for all the headscratchers.

    • HA. Thanks, Blaine. You know I wasn’t familiar with Jack Benny’s agelessness until my mom mentioned something to that effect the day before my birthday. Happy to join the pantheon!

  3. feliz cumpleaños
    been living in playa for more than 30 yrs
    hope you did not get trampled by the crowd

    believe it or not, when I moved here there were less than 10 thousand people living here

    • Feliz año nuevo, Steve! Nice place you got here. I’ll take your word for it, but hoo boy, after walking Avenida Quinta last night it’s hard to imagine that kind of boom growth… thanks for solving!

      • yeah, boom growth, good for some, bad for some, urban planning is not high on the list of strengths in Mexico

        just imagine how nice this place was with 8000 instead of 300,000, eh

  4. I’m on my third year of being 39 years old and I find it agrees with me and plan to stay this age for many years to come. Hope you enjoy it too!

    Great puzzle to start the new year. I liked the theme, had a nice aha moment about halfway through, didn’t even need the revealer to figure it out.

    • Well, it’s certainly an honor to join such august company, Zef! I was wondering when the light bulb was going to go off on this one… sometimes the revealer is just a cute little coda, eh?

  5. Happy birthday! Quintana Roo was also the name of Joan Didion’s daughter. Sounds like a potential crossword clue.

  6. Clever how you spirited away the theme materials within the 5 answers. I was blind to the booze even upon completing the puzzle, but now I can see its Happy Time. A toast to a Happy New Year for all of you and a Happy Birthday to you Ross! (I’ve been 39 for 30 years now and it never grows old – in spite of my body’s rude protests to the contrary.)

  7. Good puzzle and Happy New Year! Looking forward to see what you come up with in 2023.

    Small nitpick on 27A. For those of us that got screwed by the airline that shall not be named: the answer should be ETD, not ETA. Can’t have an ETA if you never leave. Insert sad and angry face emoji here (got there two days later).

  8. I’d never heard of PISCO before, and now I want to try it. I spent the rest of Sunday trying to fit my favorite spirit into a themer, but the best I could do was BANGING RAP PARTY (5/15, 33.3%). I like your choices better!

  9. Thanks for the nice puzz! I just wanted to give you kudos also for the 63a clue, at which I actually LOL’d. Happy New Year!

  10. Hi Ross. Belated happy birthday from a fellow Capricorn. I enjoyed this puzzle, although embarrassed to say I didn’t get the theme until I solved the revealer very late. I’m another who hadn’t heard of pisco – learn something new every day!

    • I once had a conversation with a constructor who was surprised to learn that AGITA would be considered obscure by anyone at all, given how ubiquitous its usage was in her life, going back to childhood. This is one of those “take-it-for-granted” answers that I’m just now learning isn’t, you know, everywhere! Thanks for solving, Bill!

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