For at least the last two years at the A.C.P.T., the puzzles have been solved by a computer, and "Dr. Fill's" results are discussed by his creator, Matt Ginsberg, as part of the Saturday evening program. Dr. Fill was in first place for a while (it solved the first two puzzles in under ten seconds each), but after puzzle five, it fell forty or fifty points, because puzzle five contained what was called a "geometry theme." Believe it or not, Dr. Fill has been programmed to look for certain geometry themes, but Patrick Berry took it a little farther than Dr. Fill was prepared for, apparently.
I'm not sure if this theme is in that same category, but it's at least similar in that I think it would be very difficult for Dr. Fill to finish, as answers are broken up and reconnected by the wormhole of a rebus square. Of course, the crosses all work, so maybe Dr. Fill would've been fine anyway... what do I know?
Anyway, we found the rebus squares in such a way that it looked for a while that they'd simply jump down the puzzle (and then we guessed the bottom one would jump back to the top), but once we realized that "river" could fit in two different places, we finally understood that the theme answer endings were swapped in pairs. WHER[EAR]IGHTTOKNOW and IHAV[EAR]EMYKEYS for example, and so on. Pretty cool, really. I give the theme a solid thumbs up.
And speaking of puzzles, we've got another one in less than an hour, and I'm still finishing my coffee, so I'm signing off short here. Maybe we'll have time to write another wrap up on the drive back north.
Happy puzzling to all!
p.s. 1A: ____ -Town (sobriquet in many a Kanye West song) (CHI). Meh. Not terribly exciting, and I'm a little down on Kanye for his being so high on himself. Still, the clue is better than something like "White Sox on the scoreboard," so I'll give it a C+.
p.p.s. We were seated in the Grand Ballroom this morning, waiting for Will Shortz to come to the podium, and the contestant next to us had brought this puzzle with him to solve as preparation. He finished it about ten minutes before the start of Puzzle 7, and we started talking about it together - saying how much we enjoyed it - and just then Natan Last walked in front of us, heard us talking about the puzzle, and stopped to chat. That's just how it is here. Our constructing heroes are all around us, and they're all really nice people!