Today’s New York Times crossword puzzle was somewhat vexing. It was a Thursday puzzle, a day often given over to puzzle twists or innovations. The conceit of today’s puzzle was ‘Turn Turn Turn’, meaning that several answers were meant to be read by turning the puzzle 90, 180, or 270 degrees.
Some of the clues/answers were common for puzzles that use the upside-down word technique. For example, 43 Across was : Apollo 11 and 12 [180 degrees]. The answer, reading left to right, was ‘SNOISSIWNOOW’, with, for context, the last ‘W’ connecting to the word ‘GATEWAY’. And, of course, when you turn the puzzle 180 degrees, the word becomes ‘MOONMISSIONS’ or ‘moon missions.’
Completely acceptable, and a clever use of flexible letters like ‘O’ and ‘S’ that are read the same way upside down, and ‘W’ and ‘M’ that are still coherent letters when flipped. However, my problem came with the answers shifted 90 or 270 degrees. Take 61 Across : A specification on a burger order, [270 degrees]. The answer reading left-to-right was ‘ZOHZOOZ’. If you turn that 270 degrees, it supposedly reads ‘NOONION’ or ‘no onion’. But that’s only if you consider a sidways ‘H’ to be the same as an ‘I’. I don’t. In fact, I consider this a betrayal of crossword logic, but then I am a crossword fundamentalist. So, I turn to you once again: Is a sideways ‘H’ the same as a capital ‘I’?