by Jessie Bullock and Ross Trudeau
Last summer, I went on a conspicuously good first date with a ballerina-turned-political scientist just returned from studying crime and political corruption in Rio. Swoon!
I tried to temper my excitement, but the following morning I got an email from Will Shortz saying that a 2-year old puzzle was at last going to print. 46-Across? J-E-S-S-I-E. Some signs are obvious enough that even dopes like me can’t miss them.
Jessie and I have been dating for almost a year now, and officially living together since quarantine began. And while I tried to assure her that she needn’t make crosswords a part of her already rich and busy life, it wasn’t long before we were solving together on a daily basis. Within six months she’d built and sold her first puzzle (forthcoming via Universal), and just two weeks ago she and I received a joint acceptance from the New York Times.
Today’s puzzle is our first collaborative effort we’re sharing publicly. Spoilers and Jessie’s thoughts after the barftastically cute jump.
The genesis of this puzzle’s theme is probably obvious, but we didn’t want Colin Kaepernick or protesting institutional racism to be this puzzle’s core message. Rather, we wanted it to be an example of the kind of puzzle we ourselves want to solve in the future: puzzles that include BLM and BLM-related words/clues not as implicit political statements, but because those words are an essential part of the American experience.
Also, Jessie gave me lots of mental cookies for the clue for OREO: [Cookie that’s shared between Baltimore Orioles?] 🥰
JESSIE: Hi everyone! It has been a lot of fun learning how to make puzzles and to begin making them with Ross. Quarantine has been especially conducive to long conversations about politics- and corruption-related wordplay, and we’ve had several laughs trying to deconstruct and clue common metaphors related to the political machine. Check 5-Across, 58-Across, and 51-Down for a nod to Jessie-specific entries that are on the lighter side. Hope you enjoy and happy Sunday!