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I’m a fan of visual gimmicks in puzzles, but I’d never set out to create one until this idea came along. This puzzle, previously titled “Seeing What You Want to See,” turned out to be, uh, an optical illusion of sorts. Yeah, that sounds about right. Now, a slight warning: you know that we here at Devil Cross headquarters like to go for edgy and risqué humor, and this one fits that mold, but there’s a chance that this one may come off as a bit bro-ey, for lack of a better term. But hey, that’s why the site’s masthead says my puzzles like to play with fire, right? I wanted to create a visual gimmick that you just won’t see in any mainstream outlet because…..because for no other reason than I think it’s funny, so I’m hoping that people of all stripes will enjoy the scenery and wordplay involved. It’s also the first 21×21 Devil Cross puzzle, so there’s that, too.

One solving note: there’s one square in this puzzle that will not cooperate with my PUZ file for Across Lite, no matter how many times I tried to force it to listen. Basically, if you solve the puzzle completely, Across Lite will think you have gotten at least one square wrong, even if you know it’s right. You’ll know which one it is.

One other puzzle news note: here’s another reminder that the Indie 500 Crossword Tournament is accepting submissions for a sixth tourney puzzle, and we want all of you who are relatively new to creating and publishing croswords to build one for us. Here’s the link for more info. Get crackin’, since our deadline is now less than one month away!

Finally, one completely-unrelated-to-puzzles note: if you’re in the Philly area and want to catch a fun Christmas concert tonight (Saturday, 12/20), you may want to check out my choir as we sing the Glorious Sounds of Christmas at the Kimmel Center with maestro Bramwell Tovey. If anything, you should go to that show just for Bramwell alone — he’s an incredibly funny and entertaining showman. Trust me on that. I have kind of a perfectly reasonably-sized and musical man-crush on the guy, and my wife’s cool with it. Anyway, you can get a 20% discount on tickets if you type in MendelssohnClub (one word) in the promo code box. Here’s the link.

Enjoy the puzzle, and happy holidays. There will hopefully be a new Devil Cross puzzle on December 27, but travel during the holiday season’s always unpredictable, so stay tuned.

Update, 12/23/14 @ 2:25 pm ET: I made a couple of small changes. First, the clue for 50-Down was slightly inaccurate — it should read [Pac-12 perennial powerhouse] rather than Pac-10, as the conference became the Pac-12 in 2011, which shows how little I pay attention to college football relative to the NFL. Second, there was a small discrepancy between the PUZ and PDF file in terms of the clue for 105-Down. The clue for the PUZ read [Item stereotypically hawked by an NBA star] where the PDF file omitted the word “stereotypically” for space-saving reasons. They should have been the same clue for both versions. Sorry for any mix-ups there.