I suppose I’ve made you wait long enough for the first puzzle of 2021. Here she is! I promise I’m not as much of a lush as this grid makes it seem like I am.
Time for a 21x to ring out this wretched, wretched year with! I kinda love this puzzle and I hope you do too. Classical music! Science! Drag Race! And really, 70-Across?
Reading the book referenced in the clue for 35A is what inspired this themeless. Hope you’re inspired to look up the person it’s about and have a bit more fabulous day as a result!
Year 1 of this blog is coming to a close soon! I’m calling myself out: the final puzzle of the year really should be a big-ass 21x themeless, shouldn’t it?
In the meantime, enjoy this standard-issue 70-word 15x, whose seeds were 21A (no, I haven’t seen the new show) and 38A (no, I have never spent the cash to have it done).
I made this puzzle back in May and was experimenting with the popular format of stair-stacked 11s through the middle of the puzzle (although can I really call it stair-stacked if I turned the puzzle 90 degrees?).
Hope you enjoy it and that you had fun with my Boswords puzzle on Monday, if you are participating in the themeless tournament.
I hope you’ll indulge me in that this week’s themeless has 74 words, more than pretty much any publication would allow. The seeds were 20-Across (YUM YUM YUM!) and 55-Across, which is a Stella Esoteric Vocabulary Special, #sorrynotsorry. (I’ve already forgotten what publication I saw it in. #old)
Once Nate became the first person to put a cryptic puzzle on my site I thought, okay, okay, it’s finally time to do one on the site also! As a few of you have requested, it’s a 13×13 puzzle, so a little smaller and easier to deal with than most published puzzles.
Cryptics won’t be a regular feature on the blog; given that I’m already putting out free themelesses and a ton of cryptic clues on the regular, I’d like to get paid for making full puzzles!
Although it may seem that a cryptic must be easy to construct given the small number of words in the grid and that only about half of the letters have to be checked, to me they’re quite a bit harder. You know the stereotypical question about “What do you do first, write the clues or come up with the answers?” that people ask about standard American crosswords, and that it indicates a complete lack of understanding of the construction process? It’s not a silly question at all about cryptics. You’ve got to be thinking at every step of the word-choice process whether that word lends itself to good wordplay in a clue. (I learned this one the hard way, when I filled my first few cryptics with words I found very interesting, as I would for a themeless, but then realized I couldn’t break them up into bits for cluing, which led to some very tortured anagrams.)
End aside; here’s the puzzle! I’m on vacation, so I won’t be checking the comments to this page much, but please do @me on Twitter if you have something to say.
Oh yeah…I realized I didn’t write any explanations for this one (the solution grid is just the solution grid). Will try to get to that when I return from my vacation, which is very much needed.
Many of you know that I am deeply obsessed with RuPaul’s Drag Race, including watching most of the foreign editions. This puzzle was inspired by a wonderful offhanded comment made by one of the judges on Holland’s Drag Race on a recent episode: The queen Sederginne walked out in a getup that included a bejeweled baby carriage with a bejeweled baby boy doll, and as she strutted the stage, Sederginne mimed getting hit in the face by a stream of pee from the baby doll. To which a clever guest judge immediately responded with 20-Across. The subtitles didn’t catch it, but I did and I HOWLED.
I am HERE for that stuff. You all know I like to mix highbrow and lowbrow. It’s a reality-show pee joke. And it is also a reference to a famous piece of art. HERE FOR IT. (Just as I will never forget when Sue Perkins called out a time stamp on Great British Bake-Off by saying, “As Anne of Cleves said to Henry VIII, you’re about two-thirds of the way through!”)
The other seed was 13D; I credit a clue in Dee Williams’s recent AVCX themeless for introducing me to that word!
What?! Three posts on the blog in the same week? Wanted to make sure cryptic lovers knew that this week I’m the guest constructor at Out of Left Field. If you’re not already a subscriber, now’s the time!