Glutton for Pun #186 by Erik Agard


Settle in for a super-sized solve, then scroll along…

This week bestows upon us a Sunday-sized puzzle, chock-full of themeless deliciousness. I could write a novel about what I enjoyed in this grid, but I’ll stick to some of the highlights.

The four 21s form a symmetric frame near the edges of the grid:

  • [Blissfully unfettered] FOOTLOOSE AND FANCY FREE
  • [*holds newspaper overhead, to no avail*] IT’S RAINING CATS AND DOGS
  • [Where flyers for study abroad programs might be found?] INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

The longer entries in the center were all great, too. I got tripped up on PALEO DIET [Prehistoric gorges] but love the wordplay. [Fare that’s raised by 2%?] left me stumped forever; the breakthrough when finally filling in DRY CEREAL was so satisfying. Other favorites include [Kobe organization] for YAKUZA, [Good name for a French autopsist?] for MORT, and [Where a great many of the stories on “Doctor Who” (the show about the alien who can go anywhere in time and space) take place] for EARTH, because it really makes no sense that the Doctor’s companions can take there pick of anywhere or anywhen they desire, but tend to putter around Great Britain more often than not.

What didn’t I like? The partial PAY AMON (which would have been annoying if I hadn’t solved the day the puzzle dropped), and that’s pretty much it. I really enjoyed this solve.

And now for a word about the scandal rocking the crossword community right now, Gridgate. An article by FiveThirtyEight’s Oliver Roeder presents pretty damning evidence of USA Today and Universal Crossword editor Timothy Parker plagiarizing themes and other elements from New York Times puzzles, as well as almost completely copying puzzles he previously published and printing them again under pseudonyms. Ollie does a great job delving into the data, compiled in a database by software engineer Saul Pwanson and brought to CrossWorld’s attention by crossword editor and constructor Ben Tausig. It’s enough to infuriate any crossword editor or constructor who prides themselves on creating original, innovative puzzles as well as any meticulous solver who lives for a tight, creative grid. If you haven’t been inundated on Twitter by the scandal yet, take a peek at #gridgate.

1 comment
  1. I’m glad that the artist formerly known as sporps decided to channel his inner trump and give us this very yuge very classy very excellent xl themeless. kudos, sporks!

    Liked by 1 person

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