And I have no good excuse. The fact that you guys are still coming to my site means you're holding up your end of the bargain. I have not. Until today. I finally got around to fulling one of your requests (the rest forthcoming, I swear). I finally made one of those outrageous "Something Different" puzzles that Trip Payne does oh so well.
Okay, I do have two excuses, and they're both lame. One, I should never have taken requests right in the middle of the move and a book deadline. That = stupid.
Secondly, the next challenge, after the Matt Jones proposal, that I wanted to tackle was this "Something Different" puzzle. And, frankly, I was scared witless at the prospect. Once a year the New York Sun would run one of these Trip beauties, and they were a joy to solve. The entries were always gonzo, always fairly clued, with a dauntingly wide-open grid, and usually around five or six stunning entries. It seemed like a Herculean task. (If you aren't familiar with these puzzles, Trip has posted a couple of them on his website: Across Lites here and here, and printouts here and here. Well worth your time, and when you're done, you might enjoy his cryptic puzzles as well.)
Now in the past I said I really didn't know where grid construction takes me. Well, in this instance, I really didn't know where this was going to take me. Once again I started along the bottom with 53-Across (Not going to say answers for this one, so no spoiler alert needed). No reason for that entry other than it sounded interesting. An uneventful one at 51-Across was the glue that held what I felt was the first winner at 48-Across. Threw in the goofy nod to a previous sports hero at 33-Down, and the 13-Down entry makes me think of those Dos Equis ads.
At this point in the construction, I got nervous. It seemed like there was a slight possibility that this grid could be filled in by mortal constructors. 60 words, 18 black squares. Certainly plausible. I shot the pattern over to Longo who said: "no way." (Phew! Course, now that I've said that, Kevin Der will pull this baby off somehow.)
Worked my way up in the 2-Down, 3-Down area. Basically, loads of words could have gone at the beginnings, so I was fairly flexible with how I wanted to shape the top. I was pretty pleased with how the 1-, 5-, and 17-Across entries came out. It almost looked like I started up there first. Also surprised with not only the pangram, but the abundance of Scrabble-y letters throughout.
Cluing took a couple passes. Trip gave his approval before the test solvers got their talons on it. Nancy Schuster, especially. I cannot believe I didn't think to go that route with 37-Down until she pointed it out!
Okay, so how'd I do? Did this work? Fail? Would you guys like more like this? Inquiring minds want to know! Let me hear it in the comments