W: So once again we return to you with a write-up and video of the Thursday puzzle! We had a great time with this one and even finished with our best Thursday time (19:01) since starting this blog!
A: Woohoo! Let it be known that this is not our best Thursday time ever – which is something like 15 minutes – but compared to our average 35-40 minute Thursday solve, I’d say this is a respectable tournament time.
W: That, however, was definitely NOT what we expected upon loading the puzzle. Why, you ask? Even though my solving is buoyed by loads of unearned confidence, seeing the constructor name “Jeff Chen” has me pumping the brakes. Nothing against Jeff, ofc, it’s just that we’ve had some….scary experiences with his crosswords before *flashes back to Lollapuzzoola Puzzle 4, cries a little bit*
A: Upon looking at the puzzle, Will immediately said “Oh [fudge], it’s a Jeff Chen crossword” and then both of us groaned, recalling the extremely difficult clues and the theme we stumbled through on his Lollapuzzoola puzzle. Nothing like the feeling of utter loss when you’re sure you’ve given the maximum intellectual effort you can on a crossword, and you’re only halfway done, and you’re sure half your boxes are wrong anyway… Yes, we still have experiences like that.
W: That said – today’s puzzle was nowhere near that frightening. We started things in the upper left corner, getting most of it filled in…until seeing SLAM where it should be ISLAM. So okay, we thought, we’ve run into the theme. Maybe it’s something like “missing eyes?” But then we got MERGES instead of EMERGES and realized that something a little funkier was up. Thankfully, Angela came to the rescue with a good ol’ fashioned pen and paper.
A: As the self-appointed theme solver of our two-person team, I grabbed a notebook and started writing down the missing letters that I knew for sure were missing, and got IEBERG, which seemed suspicious. I glanced down the clues to look for the theme, and saw that “Hidden trouble indicator … or what you’ll need to finish this crossword?” was the clue. Putting two and two together, I realized the only English word I know that ends in BERG is ICEBERG, and the extra boxes helped me figure out that TIP OF THE ICEBERG was the theme. So what Jeff did here was take a bunch of words whose first letter was I, C, E, B… etc and chop off the first letter. I have to hand it to him, this is clever.
W: Once the theme was out of the way, the rest of the grid kind of fell into place for us. A solid amount of crossword-ese showed up in the top of the grid, including a hat trick of SLAV, ECRUS, and NANA in the second row. We even got EMUS up there too! I, for one, was thankful for all these familiar clues as it compensated for a trickier theme; however, it left me a little sad that my dream crossword answer / band name EMO EMUS was left off the table. Maybe next time, Jeff.
A: The overall clue level wasn’t too difficult in this puzzle, after we figured out the theme. Maybe Jeff decided one weird letter thing was enough to add difficulty, and took it easy on the rest of the puzzle. For the clues, I got PRATE and LAPIN, which were words I didn’t even know I knew. I also felt justified for watching hours of YouTube video bloggers in middle school when I was able to fill in RHETT & Link almost immediately. Maybe that’s what inspired me to start vlogging with a friend about fun and interesting topics (aka crosswords).
W: There was also some cool history littering this puzzle – one that Angela and I both recognized was Jerusalem’s Mosque of OMAR. We used to walk by it all the time when we lived there and studied history last year. Just googling images of the mosque’s exterior places me back on its busy, incense-heavy street corner in the Old City – just steps from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Check out our video for my brief retelling of why those two holy sites are so close in physical proximity – one of the more interesting stories I learned on that trip.
A: Will and I are always excited when something Jerusalem-related (FALAFEL, RABBI, etc) shows up in the puzzle, if only as a reminder of our study abroad experiences. It’s a way for us to not forget about the time we spent abroad, and the deep dive into history and culture we had for a brief moment. It’s so neat how a little clue in a crossword can bring to mind something that we’d almost forgotten about. There’s an idea: crossword clues as conversation topics for forgetful humans.
W: I also def laughed a bit at a few of these clues – most notably SATAN as the answer to “Leader of the land down under” and the double meaning of JOCK. I like when crossword answers are juuust dumb and juvenile enough to make me smile. And this puzzle hit that sweet spot in a very good way.
A: Agreed, I thought STRETCHY was cute as the answer to “Like one-size-fits-all garments”, and I lol’ed at DIED as the very obvious answer to “Word on a gravestone”. Though to be honest, I originally thought it was DEAD, which is arguably an even more hilarious word to have a on a gravestone. My gravestone is just going to say “Angela. Dead!” and it’ll be great.
Thanks for reading!
— Angela and Will