“I PUZZLE YOU” by Alex Eaton-Salners
I Puzzle You
Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners
Theme: Valentine’s Day.
- 17A: ST VALENTINE’S DAY – The theme of this puzzle, which happened on Feb. 14
- 3D: LOVE LETTER – Poetic gift option on 17-Across
- 11D: TEDDY BEARS – Soft gift option on 17-Across
- 54A: FLOWERS – Scented gift option on 17-Across
- 58A: CANDIES – Sweet gift option on 17-Across
- 37A: COUPLES – Duos that might celebrate 17-Across together
- 41A: HOT DATE – Ideal activity on 17-Across
- 45A: HEART – Symbol of 17-Across visualized in the center of this puzzle
Lena: This grid has a big heart– and is packed full of assorted ST VALENTINES DAY related sweetisms. No real overall themely cohesiveness, but a clean asymmetrical grid and some fun long fill.
Max: I loved this puzzle a lot. COUPLES/HOT DATE/ HEAT was an amazing find, and there aren’t too many concession in the heart. And outside the heart was just as cool.
Ben: Yeah, it’s a little hard to pick out all the theme answers here. I’ve opted to include the presents and stuff inside the heart in the list above, but there’s also a bunch of references in the fill, like 62A: Like having a 17-Across that lives up to the expectation created by the culture industry’s image of romance for RARE. Also, what is the “culture industry”…?
Max: DOZ was my SEOTD, but there wasn’t too many bad things overall.
Lena: It’s a shame LEATHER wasn’t somehow part of the V-Day theme. The clue (15A: Biker bar jacket material), is awkward to me– the “bar” inclusion as is. Maybe something like “biker bar dress code requirement.”
Max: I was fine with the theme answers. It was well done. LEATHER really didn’t have irk me too much. The themers were symmetrically placed, so nothing felt off.
Ben: Yeah, I was a little surprised it wasn’t part of the theme too. Theme was generally fine, I thought, but a little overwhelming. Also, TEDDY BEARS is an awkward plural necessitated by symmetry.
Lena: Clue-saves-fill with 9D: Hallow follower that’s a shortening of “evening” for EEN; a “oh hey yeah how about that” moment for me.
Max: I’m excited about some of the non-theme fill, like SELFIE. I am soooooo glad that that stuff was included, because it really elevated the puzzle for me.
Ben: I enjoyed 36A: Sandwich that could also be made with Bread, Lox, and Turkey for BLT and 50D: Member of the Rihanna Navy or Beyhive for FAN. A lot of short stuff here because of the central heart. It made for an easy solve, but nothing really stood out much to me.
Max: It’s funny, I had MAN for 50D, because I was sure the “Rihanna Navy” was some sort of all-dudes fan club that is some Rihanna fundamentalist cult. LOL. Apparently not.
Ben: I think I’d have liked this better if it were actually out on Valentine’s Day — I don’t think it quite works a day late, especially since I had already seen the heart-grid trick in yesterday’s NYT. But it’s solid enough.
Max: This was my favorite of the heart grids for me. 4.2/5 for me. maXWORD out!