This week’s puzzle is a collaboration with Ella Dershowitz, whose name you’ll recognize from last Thursday’s New York Times crossword!
Ella and I started talking grid last May when she reached out via Twitter for some puzzle advice. In the months since then, she’s had puzzles published with AVCX, the Inkubator, the Times, and elsewhere. And she’s got her own puzzle blog! She’s an actor, so naturally her indie grids skew heavily in the musical theatre vector.
If you need to bury your head in the sand on Inauguration Day, skip over to the WSJ and solve a #rossword in that paper of record on Wednesday. And I’m very excited about next weekend’s Sunday NYT puzzle… stay tuned.
Ella’s thoughts on “Shaken, Not Stirred” after the jump.
Ella: This puzzle is what happened when I, a very very (very) novice constructor stumbled upon a link to Ross’s website, did an embarrassing quantity of his awesome puzzles in one sitting, saw that he was open to (nay, passionate about) mentoring newbies, and sent the second twitter DM of my life.
Not only did we collaborate on this puzzle, but he showed me some basic principles of how to wrangle squares and themers (and feel like they were friends instead of sources of endless frustration) that gave me a ton more confidence and that I think about all the time (thanks, Ross!). Through talking, we realized we had both been toying around with one of the same themes – this one – and had a few of the same answers in mind. The answer that had initially excited both of us – Peter Dinklage (SUCH A GOOD ACTOR) – didn’t end up making it into the grid, but I love the answers that did. 17-Across, especially, is something that I have done and that was one of the cooler experiences of my life.
As an actor, I like putting something theatery into puzzles wherever possible and the show referenced in 20-Across is one of my favorites when I need a pick-me-up. Making this puzzle with Ross across the email and zoomwaves was an awesome experience in and of itself, but I am also very excited to be sharing it here with all of you! For others who are just starting out or wanting to learn to construct, take Ross up on his offer and reach out! I promise you’ll be glad you did! And, in the spirit of this puzzle, cheers to the New Year.
Ross: Happy solving, friends!