Patrick Blindauer’s monthly website crossword, “Dirty Double Crossword”—Matt Gaffney’s review
If Patrick Blindauer’s rope-a-dope punch of an April Fools’s crossword wasn’t enough for you, then here’s round 2: a devious prank puzzle that took me quite a while to unravel.
In April, half the crossword entries were to be filled in backwards; here, Patrick has filled the same grid twice, then sliced off the Across clues of one and the Down clues of the other. I knew something was up when obvious answers just weren’t fitting: 22-a has to be STAN [Marsh of “South Park”], but then 12-d has to be EDGE [On ___ (nervous)]. They can’t both be right, though, since the cross doesn’t work.
The nice “aha” moment came when I noticed that if I just entered the across entries, the down answers looked like real words (even though they didn’t agree with the given clues). Sensing my prey’s presence—and with adrenaline kicking in—I erased what I had and started over using just the acrosses, and everything fell into place. Well, except for a little trouble in the bottom right, where I had to Google BIG BROTHER [Reality series with eviction nights] to finish it off.
So then: what to do with the downs? Oh yeah, duh—erase the grid and start over again, using just the downs. Actually, I lucked out since I’d accidentally printed out two copies of the puzzle, which made that part easy.
The irony of this “Dirty Double Crossword” is that there are speed-solvers (or masochists) who solve crosswords by only using the across entries, and this one would have been a snap for them! Such a speedster wouldn’t have noticed the down clues at all (assuming no stumbles, as half the entries in each puzzle are left completely unclued—this explains why Patrick put so many very easy clues in the puzzle/s).
Nice touch: The four theme entries feature antonyms on the two grids. We have BLACKSMITH and WHITE HOUSE at 17-a, BIG BROTHER and SMALL TOWNS at 62-a, SOFT PRETZEL and HARD AS A ROCK at 11-d, and UP FOR DEBATE and DOWNTRODDEN at 24-d.
Sneaky guy, this Blindauer, eh? I think I’ll “buy him a beer” at Lollapuzzoola but fill the glass with vinegar instead while he’s not looking. Taste of his own medicine. Anyway, hope you enjoyed the mental workout like I did, and see you here on June 1st to discover what he’s got in store for us next.
(Addendum from Amy: I worked the puzzle for a while with the same “Wait, no, that doesn’t work for the crossword” thoughts and lots of erasing. Eventually I started writing the acrosses in the lower right corner of each square, and the downs in the top left. Which was dumb, because upper right and lower left would work better in squares with numbers in the top left—but in general, two letters in different corners works here. Finding the BLACK/WHITE opposites helped me fill in the opposites for the other three pairs. Loved the challenge of this lowdown dirty double-cross!)