I can actually pinpoint the exact day I met the crossword puzzle that changed my life. It was the start of my senior year of high school; I had been hanging out with friends on the Lower East Side, and I had fished The Onion out of one of those green newspaper boxes to read on my commute back home. Eventually I worked my way to the crossword in the back of the issue. I don't think I actually finished the puzzle - too tricky for my undeveloped adolescent cortex - but I did manage to figure out the entry smack-dab in the center of the grid, and I did a double take.
"What the hell?" 17-year-old Q thought. "You can put CIRCLE JERKS in a crossword puzzle? That's..."
"...pretty cool, actually."
Nine years later, when I started writing down ideas for puzzles for my crossword blog, the first one on my list was a tribute to that puzzle which had put me on that path. So imagine my surprise last Thursday when I visited Brendan Emmett Quigley's website and came face to face with the very puzzle that had blown my mind as a teenager. Solving it a decade later, the puzzle is definitely showing its age (remember these guys? no? me neither)... but the impact it had on me as a teen cannot be understated. Certainly you can trace a fairly straight line from that to the fairly risque clues I'm writing now.
Anyway, long prelude to a pretty straightforward (if weirdly-sized) puzzle. Thanks to Steve Mossberg and ckstern for their feedback/test solves - and of course, to Brendan for inspiring not just this QVXword, but all the QVXwordz, now and forever. I hope you all enjoy it.
Applet under the cut.