“Drop-Down Menu”

by Ross Trudeau

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

Greetings from the City of Brotherly Love! Jessie was invited to participate in a smart people conference here in town, and I tagged along because I had had had to see the Betsy Ross house. Verdict: quaint AF, highly recommend. Also very high on the Fishtown neighborhood.

A couple of recent Rosswords in the wild: this weekend’s L.A. Times Healthy Living insert puzzle, and tomorrow’s (4/24) Universal grid, a collaboration with David Ding.

Thanks to Radhika, Dan and partner, and Maren for test solving “Drop-Down Menu” and providing some invaluable feedback. A couple thoughts and spoilers on the grid below.

I love the phrase “dangling modifier” so much that I got overexcited and built this into a complicated interlocking 21x arrangement before the better angels of my nature prevailed. It’s a 15x idea. I suppose if you introduced some variety by riffing more widely on the meaning of “modifier” (“change,” “shift,” etc.) then *maybe*. But of course, it’s the E-D-I-T string that gives you just enough non-dupe options to working with; there ended up being 13 or so viable options I could find. DRAINAGE DITCH was the last domino to fall…

Anyway, feel free to disagree in the comments. Original 21x grid below. Happy solving, friends! -R

17 thoughts on ““Drop-Down Menu”

  1. I should have printed this out so I could have solved it with a red pen.
    Btw, referencing 55D, I recommend “Ghosted” for movie-watchers who like action films with pretty people and who are tolerant of very, very silly dialogue (i.e., movie-watchers like me.)

  2. My bucket list in to craft a crossed worded puzzle. Seeing your 21×21 grid you REJECTED because???
    Is 21×21 only for ridiculously tough puzzles? Comparing your two grids, same theme some matching answers just jumbled around but the pieces still fit. Thank you for using your brain for good. Good genes.

    • Thanks for dropping by, David! I think ultimately my hesitation about rendering this as a 21x is just that the gimmick might be come a bit repetitive once you uncover what’s going on. Sure, the 21x allowed for 3 more “dancing modifiers,” but I felt like there would be diminishing “aha!” returns after example 4…5…6…

  3. Another good puzzle with a few “twists & turns”! But I don’t understand 36D. “Alpha bet?” is an “Ante”. Plz explain the answer to me because my small mind doesn’t get it!

    • Coming late to the puzzle but I think I know this. ANTE is the lead or first (i.e., ALPHA) BET in a poker game.

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