PROGRAM: [Across Lite]
As a constructor, the themeless stunt grid is a dangerous prospect. We all know what they are: multiple triple stacks in a puzzle, quad stacks, word count that is 66 or below, forced pangrams, etc. These themeless grids are like the three point line in basketball. Mighty tempting for a lot of constructors/players, especially the ones who have no right to attempt a three or a stunt grid (just say "no"). Occasionally the friend of the middle of the pack participants (these are often win some, lose some propositions). And then there's the legends like Reggie Miller and Ray Allen, or any of the Crossword Jesuses (money more often than not from downtown).
I am guilty of being a middle of the pack stunt grid constructor. I have made some crazy stacked grids like this one. I have gone probably a smidge too low for my skills, where some dodginess fought with some stellar entries, in this one. Even managed to pull off the impossible by crossing AQUARIA with AQUATIC in this 66 worder. While they're not bad puzzles per se, each one of them has their merits, I'd say these were desperation threes as the shot clock wound down that bounced first off the rim then off the backboard then went into the net.
Today's puzzle has 72 words, the max for a themeless puzzle. Grids like these will never blow away solvers, take their breath away, and make them go "wow." Instead of that, you will find cleaner grids, fresher clues on the old standbys, and hopefully an overall better solving experience.
Share the puzzle. New one on Thursday.