“ALTER EGOS” by Alex Eaton-Salners
Solve. Read. More.
Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners
Theme: Characters clued as their secret identities.
- 4D: BATMAN – Billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne… or is he?
- 23A: HANNAH MONTANA – Just a normal schoolgirl from Tennessee named Miley Stewart… or is she?
- 36A: HALF BLOOD PRINCE – Just a normal Hogwarts potions professor named Severus Snape… or is he?
- 49A: ZIGGY STARDUST – Just a normal rockstar named David Bowie… or is he?
- 48D: MR. HYDE – Just a normal British scientist named Henry Jekyll… or is he?
Ben: Really enjoyed this. I wish there had been a couple more secret identities worked in, but the ones that are here represent great variety — I particularly like that there’s only one super-hero. I knew all of them immediately, but I’m guessing HALF BLOOD PRINCE and ZIGGY STARDUST will give some solvers a little trouble, depending on how old they are. (Days Without a Harry Potter Reference – 0)
Lena: I thought this was a pretty clean puzzle– although initially I was put off by the mixing of entirely fictional identities with those of real people, I got over it. It’s a tidy solve with lots of good clues– many straight forward, MOAT (5A: Water around a bridge), for instance, but some cute n’ clever mixed in. Man, I sure hope Kids These Days know ZIGGY!
Ben: This is the perfect Monday theme to my mind — extremely straightforward, but the individual entries are all fun and inferrable if you don’t know them. If new solvers do know them, of course, they have a major leg up on the rest of the puzzle. Very accessible.
Michael: A little too straightforward, maybe, but still fun / enjoyable. Nice with with those intersecting themers. Also, nice work with those corner cheaters, which are my new jam. I love them. They can really make theme-restricted corners go from “passable” to “solid.”
Ben: AL JAZEERA gave me a little trouble, since I can never remember how to spell the 32D: Arabic news organization owned by the Qatari government. It’s also got a tricky cross with MUJER (41A: Lady, en Espana) — that J was the last letter I filled in. I think AL JAZEERA is legitimately common knowledge, though. (Also, shouldn’t there be a tilde or whatever the diacritic is called on that “n”?)
Michael: Loved AL JAZEERA alongside FETISHES. Also OGRESS / NYMPHO. There were some great clues in here, like the ones on INFINITI (9D: Luxury Nissan that, honestly, I could drive around forever) and BUSH (13D: Painter George who actually once was the President of the United States of America) and DODO (32D: Bird so dumb it got itself extinct). I read that last one, on first pass, as “… doesn’t know it’s extinct,” which I like better.
Ben: The constructor has made good use of cheater squares to keep the fill clean — the NW and SE corners are pretty open and have crossing theme answers, but those corner cheaters let the fill come out clean as a whistle. Similarly, note the cheaters beside AHA (30A: “Now I see what a great song ‘Take On Me’ is!!!”) and TON, which are probably needed because of the stacked long answers crossing two themers each.
Lena: AHA’s clue was definitely a favorite– YMCAS (62A: Orgs. often spelled out using arms) too, even though I don’t like the plural answer.
Ben: This is quite a nice grid. I could do without OTOH on top of DUI, but that’s my only nitpick.
Lena: A couple months ago I was thinking “I wonder when ‘hip textspeak’ was going to start seeming more like tired crosswordese.” IMO, LOL and OMG already are, given how overused they are (esp. in the NYTimes, as a kind of desperate-seeming stab at coolness). Maybe OTOH will be next!
Ben: Favourite clues are 12D: Bird so dumb it got itself extinct for DODO and 61D: “Go ahead, begin Thanksgiving!” for EAT. Side note: can’t believe there’s only three weeks left until the Christmas holidays — this semester has flown by.