Well, not exactly. I broke the symmetry rule here and debatably made my job harder. Then, of course, the unchecked rule was laid to waste here here and everything worked out fine. Nobody complained. At least not to my face, or in the comments section. Or maybe I deleted all those. I can't remember.
The moral. You gotta know when to break the rules!
So the above themeless grid has a higher word count than is allowed with most themeless grids. 74 words versus the accepted 72 words. (Hey, Quigley! What gives? I thought you were all on this whole "Moneygridding" kick?) Well, let me explain my motivation. The culprit was 16-Down. There was not supposed to be a cheater directly above it. But alas, I simply could not find a suitably famous person with the same last name as the answer at 16-Down (no spoilers today).
Adding those two black squares meant one of two things had to happen: I had to lose another pair of black squares to keep the word count at 72, or I could just say "fuck it," and keep the new word count of 74. I opted for the later after a little bit of fudging around. Why? Because I felt I got the cleanest and most-fun fill this way. And isn't that the point? (I doubt the average solver even noticed.)
Now this isn't an invitation to raise the word counts across the board (frankly, I think we should lower them, but that's a rant for another day). I think the idea is that if a puzzle is made better by breaking a rule (and you're not breaking rules every single damnfool puzzle), it may prove to be a more entertaining solve.
Share the puzzle. New one on Monday.