Then as an extra kicker, I threw in some grid art. There’s circled squares in the shape of a flying saucer in the upper half of the grid. The puzzle’s note reads: “The circled squares, beginning at 30 Across and reading clockwise, will spell an apt two-word phrase.” The phrase is CONSPIRACY THEORY, which is the only explanation for why those UFO clues went missing. They were abducted!
(Hmm, I suppose SANTA at 3D [Dancer’s director] could be another UFO. And so could PAN-AM at 23A, though I clued that as [___ Games]. I’ll chalk those up to being oddities in a puzzle about space oddities.)
Technical note: In the print version, the five flying UFO clues are left blank, whereas in the electronic version, I clued them as [???]. That’s because my crossword-building program doesn’t let you leave clues completely blank.
See you next week, with yet another tougher-than-normal puzzle.