I'm embarrassed to say I finished with a wrong letter — one that I couldn't figure out, even after knowing it was wrong. RTES probably meet in Montreal. And being a pop culture idiot, QTEEN could be a drag show term I didn't know, for a young contestant?
Well, it should be!
(Is it offensive for a non-drag queen to call a participant a QUEEN, by the way? My brother laughs when I call him a banana, but I doubt he'd laugh if a non-Asian person did.)
I enjoyed uncovering the rebuses in today's debut. WEATHER BALLOON makes for a nice visual, with the rebused words inside balloon-like circles. I was slightly confused because I uncovered ICE first — since when does ICE qualify as WEATHER? — but the rest fit perfectly.
I didn't notice at first that the four balloons exhibit crossword symmetry. There's a debate among constructors whether rebus symmetry is an asset or a liability. On the one hand, it lends elegance to the presentation, mimicking crossword symmetry. It also makes the solve much easier, which is important when running a rebus puzzle on a Wednesday. Some folks who top out at Wednesday difficulty may never have run into a rebus before, so assistance could be most welcome.
However, symmetry creates unwelcome construction constraints, forcing trade-offs. The most unfortunate ones involve the quality of themers. TEAR ASUNDER is a nice entry, but it doesn't split SUN across two words, like E PLURIBUS UNUM or MONKEYS UNCLE does.
Similarly, I bet that without the symmetry requirement, ICE could have turned into the more weather-like SNOW, in ITS NO W ONDER crossing GOES NOWHERE.
I appreciated some of the bonus touches; HOTEL BAR a highlight. RECLINER is comforting, too, and even IN A SENSE could qualify as snazzy ... okay, maybe in a sense. Helped balance out some inelegant entries like ANAG, YOO, PEES, LAN, SEN. ANAG(ram) is the only one that badly stuck out — or should I say, that sock tutu?
Fun debut, with an apt visual element. Four rebus squares, with a grid-spanning revealer, is a difficult way to debut, but Juliana did well.