Hi Crossworld! Thrilled to be making my New York Times Crossword debut. My fascination with crosswords started at an early age; as a kid, I cut my teeth on Newsday puzzles in my hometown, Baldwin, N.Y. At some point, when I was 8 or 9 years old, I remember trying to construct my own puzzle. The only thing I recall about that attempt was that it included the answer OMS, which I clued as “Orange Mammal Society.” I know — so many questions. None of which have good answers, I’m afraid.
Years later, I turned to crosswords as a diversion during a 90-minute commute to New York City every morning, but as a technologically-challenged Xennial, it never occurred to me that a New York Times Crossword app existed. So there I was, crammed in with grumpy Long Islanders like a human rebus, bumping along toward Penn Station, trying to write my answers legibly in a copy of Will Shortz’s Wittiest, Wackiest Crosswords.
Eventually, I realized that I could be doing puzzles on my phone instead. I downloaded the app and was stunned to discover that I suddenly had access to more than 20 years of New York Times Crossword archives. After plowing through hundreds of puzzles, I started toying with the idea of making one of my own. Three years and seven submissions later, here we are.
I must take a moment to thank Will Shortz and the editorial team for their patience and encouragement along the way. It would have been easy to quit after multiple rejections, but they were always careful to call out some positive feedback and leave the door open for future attempts.
Once I settled on this particular theme, I set out to find the most colorful entries that would fit the mold, but was constrained by a self-imposed rule that both sides of the [AD] be valid stand-alone entries. The four theme entries didn’t end up as snazzy as I would have liked, but I hope that some of the livelier fill makes up for it. As a personal bonus, I was happy to be able to incorporate my wife’s name (32D) and birthstone (15A). I was also pleased to see that roughly half of my clues made the cut, including my personal faves at 38A, 8D, and 27D.
One final note — I tried every which way to put the revealer at 63A or 64A and failed miserably. Three P’s and a U in the bottom row meant permanent dents in my wall and forehead. The 61A/62A row was no picnic either. Moving the revealer to 8A took all that pressure off and allowed me to load up on some interesting seven-letter entries, albeit at the expense of saving the revealer for last. From the solver’s perspective this seemed like a worthwhile trade-off. I hope you agree.
Happy solving, folks! Hope to be back soon.
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