Bonus Glutton this week! Did you find the trick?
Erik is back with an extra puzzle this week! He’s hidden four arthropods across pairs of rebus squares in this grid so they look like “squished bugs”:
- [Expensive ways to get away from the bathroom] FIRST CLASS TICKETS
- [Generous phone plan feature] UNLIMITED TALK TIME
- [Playing it cool] ACTING NATURAL
- [Newspaper employee who makes a living by reproducing his own work under an alias, escaping consequences for his breaches of journalistic ethics even after being unmasked] TIMOTHY PARKER
His writeup also contains a link to this article, in which Lone Shark Games announces its boycott of USA Today and Universal Uclick over their plan to reinstate crossword editor Timothy Parker after three months while at the same time admitting he plagiarized numerous puzzles. Argh. AAAARRRRRGH. The good thing that has come of this is some amazing gridwork by constructors like Andrew Ries and Francis Heaney (links are to writeups, but you should buy the puzzles if you haven’t yet!), and this gem by Erik.
Anyway, back to the puzzle at hand…the theme is great as it is, but there’s another amazing layer to it which at least several people discovered (including me) only after solving in Across Lite or similar software and being told there were errors. Apparently there is another solution which involves not a moth, but a particular arachnid…
Instead of TIMOTHY PARKER, an alternate entry is Daily Bugle photographer PETER PARKER, otherwise seen hanging around town as Spider-Man. I love how he fits another “bug” in the grid, keeping the down entries true to their clues ([People whose noses tend to turn up all over the place] can be either SNOOTS or SNOOPS, for example), and having solid fill for both answers.
The fill in general is lovely. Overall this is a really fun solve with a great initial aha moment, followed by a “Wait a minute…oh holy heck look at what he did there” breakthrough. I wonder if anyone had PETER PARKER first, or if Erik’s following is all people who knew about Gridgate and were primed to enter TIMOTHY. Regardless, much love for this bonus bit of puzzly yumminess.