There’s an open letter to the Executive Director of Puzzles at the New York Times going around. It was authored by three assistants and test solvers formerly employed by Will Shortz, and it calls for adding diversity to the Times editorial and test-solving teams, as well as for constructor access to proofs before a puzzle goes to print.
I signed it, along with dozens of other NYT contributors and hundreds of solvers (and counting). The three asks are good and reasonable. With more diverse voices in the editorial team, puzzles would end up appealing to folks with whom the Times puzzle doesn’t often resonate. And voila! Bigger tent. Tent big enough for 6′ of personal space!
In the meantime, a big (related) issue is the relative lack of women/people of color *submitting* puzzles to the Times. Some of this can surely be traced to the lack of editorial diversity: why would you submit puzzles *to* an outlet that doesn’t often make puzzles *for* you?
My contribution (such as it is) these last couple of years has been to actively seek out women/POC’s who are interested in learning to make puzzles. If that’s you, reach out! Or visit the Collaboration Directory on Facebook where you can connect with other mentors and learners.
This week’s puzzle, “Take It from the Top,” is a 21×21 grid–the first Sunday-sized crossword I’ve posted here. It was inspired by my partner’s [highly successful!] attempt to cut my hair. We paid Ysabllea–who normally trims me at Salon Bellissima around the corner–to give Jessie a tutorial via Zoom.
*SPOILER ALERT* “Take It from the Top” started with the phrase IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE -> SNOT ROCKET SCIENCE. All the themers are arranged vertically so the “IT” is taken, well, literally from the top.
Obviously we’re in the domain of the indie puzzle. Because as funny as I find SNOT ROCKET SCIENCE [The physics of blowing one’s nose during a jog?], it’s too icky for mainstream crosswords. (SON LIKE DONKEY KONG [What a classic arcade gamer might hope for in a baby boy?] is my second favorite entry.)
Happy Sunday, Trenton Quarantinos!