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1 puzzle by Stephanie Lesser
with Jeff Chen comments

TotalDebutCollabs
17/19/20210
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0100000
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.59000
Stephanie Lesser
Mon 7/19/2021
JAMSELDERCCED
EDAMGOUGEHOLY
TAKINGADOGEASE
EMOTIONAPEXES
TPSGFLAT
FATESCARNANAS
ELANNAMEDSHARK
ALSDARESAYDEI
TOTHEBEACHPEAR
STEALEPABURST
SHARPDAB
TECHIEAIRLINE
SCOTISABADIDEA
ARIAOILERSLOT
RUNGUNITYHENS

Quote puzzle on a Monday? I can barely remember the last quote puzzle, period, much less one on a Monday. They tend to be much tougher than an average puzzle since you're effectively solving using only the Down clues. (Speed solvers do this as an exercise to improve their times, much like doing pull-ups with a weight jacket.) Often, it's so tough to string the entire quip together that it doesn't click until the very end.

Humor is subjective. This one didn't make me laugh, but a certain XWord Info person who shall remain unnamed thought it was hilarious. Canadians! I mean, people of unnamed nationalities!

One aspect I appreciated: Stephanie took great care to separate her quip into logical chunks. TAKING A DOG / NAMED SHARK / TO THE BEACH is much easier to make sense of than TAKING A / DOG NAMED SHARK TO / THE BEACH, for example.

No long bonuses (8+ letters) in the fill, but for a debut, I'd much rather choose cleanliness over color, especially on a Monday. Finishing with some minor ALS TPS (Will Shortz used to have a thing about solvers not figuring out what TPS stood for; he didn't have the same hobbies I did as a kid) is solid.

Next time out, I'd push Stephanie to experiment with a 76-word grid, taking out black squares between MAKO and TASTE, EGO and FRESCA, and/or COAX and NADER. A puzzle with only four themers should have at least a few long bonuses, although I did enjoy mid-lengthers like DARESAY and CHEETAH.

Quote puzzles used to be pervasive back in the day. Eugene Maleska even created a subtype, the StepQuote. There's room for further experimentation in this genre, especially if it somehow addresses the problems of

  1. how difficult a quote puzzle can be to solve, and
  2. the high-risk / high-reward of putting all your humor/wittiness into a single joke.