Derek! I enjoy working with him and reading his Crossword Fiend reviews. Such a mellow guy, churning through crosswords on his path to speedier solving. I'm impressed at how hard he works at it, grinding away at multiple puzzles a day, always with a positive word to say each and every one.
Of all my pop culture deficiencies, music is one of my worst. The only songs I knew with 100% certainty were BLACK OR WHITE, YELLOW SUBMARINE, and WHITE WEDDING. For Pete's sake, I could barely recognize Car Dib — er, Cardi B — much less the cryptic BODAK YELLOW. It's a shame that Lorde's GREENLIGHT wasn't Yellow Light, which would have been much more appropriate for my oafishness today.
Unusual layout. I don't often pay attention to black square count, but today, I noticed that it felt high. Those four black squares in the upper right and lower left weigh things down, as do the Tetris blocks in the middle.
Still, I don't mind if it's the cost of keeping the grid smooth. I was worried, hitting ELOI (crossed with ELO, tough for music idiots like myself) so quickly, but with only some EIN (employer identification number) and ATOB after that, I appreciated the high smoothness factor.
Dynamite clue for PAWS. [Feet in a pound], oh, that's a gimme! TWELVE, of course.
Yeah, that was honestly what I tried to enter … and into only four squares. Hey, it's a rebus puzzle, right?
Talk about deficiencies.
These days, rebus puzzles have become so commonplace that it's essential to have some explainer to give solvers an a-ha; an "of course that's why we shoved a bunch of letters into a single box." I didn't get that today, nor did I understand why pop songs? Why colors? If only there were some phrase like COLORFUL SQUEEZE MUSIC.
Any circus accordion players in the house?
Still, it was fun to see BLACK OR WHITE so elegantly tucked into the middle of the grid, with PAINT IT BLACK and WHITE WEDDING neatly coming off of that. And always great to see my buddy Derek's byline.
I met Derek a few years ago at an ACPT and enjoyed talking with him. He's got an easy demeanor and is so relaxing to be around. His reviews over at Crossword Fiend are some of my favorites since he always manages to keep things positive, making his essays a joy to read.
When he expressed interest in doing something together, it was a no-brainer. It took a while to find something we both thought was interesting — some of my first ideas were terrible, especially the concept of appropriately mixing yellow and black.
I enjoy being irreverent, but I had a feeling my ancestors would rise up and kung fu my ass for that.