“Medicine Droppers”

[.puz][PDF][Solution] 👩🏻‍⚕️👨🏼‍⚕️ Difficulty: 3.75/5

N.B.: this 21×21 puzzle’s clues may populate *above and below* the grid, rather than to the side as with my 15×15’s.

Welcome back, friends! I’m posting this week’s puzzle on Saturday afternoon rather than Sunday morning because Sunday is going to be a busy day: Parker and I are going to live stream some crossword construction at 2pm eastern over on Cursewords Live. All are welcome! Drop by, say whatup, and help us a build a crossword from scratch via the chat.

We’ll also talk a bit about the Sunday New York Times grid, which I co-wrote with my cherished collaborator Lindsey Hobbes. The puzzle is titled “Gravity’s Rainbow,” and while we didn’t write it with Pride in mind, we’re both honored to see it run this month. Not for nothing, but have y’all checked our Queer Crosswords lately?

If you’re here for the first time, I post a new puzzle every weekend on Sunday morning. Drop your email address in the field on the right side of this page to get the weekly #rosswordpuzzle sent directly to your inbox!

As usual, I’ve got a few *SPOILER ALERT* thoughts about this week’s puzzle, “Medicine Droppers,” after the jump:

Oh! Oh! I know this one!

I learned a *lot* about the various “doctors” of pop culture writing this crossword. For instance, a lot of people tend to confuse the real life Dr. Spock with Mr. Spock on “Star Trek.” Even the show’s creators! I further learned that while The Doctor on “Doctor Who” is only rarely (and ironically) referred to as “Doctor Who,” the character appeared in the show credits for 20+ years as exactly that: “Doctor Who”! Go figure. Oh, and Dr. Evil apparently *is* a medical doctor, albeit one who went to “Evil Medical School.” (So, like, Harvard?) 😉

When I was building out the theme set, I found the options to be pretty constrained:

a) The answers had to be in-the-language phrases with a well-known pop culture “doctor” hidden in them; b) the doctors’ names needed to span multiple words; c) the answers needed to be arranged in the grid such that the black box (i.e. the BORDER that the DOCTORS ignore) could be placed such that the remaining letters of the phrase *after* the box formed a full, clueable word. As I’ve said in the past on the this site, I really try to avoid theme answers in this sort of conceit that require a [-] clue for the latter part of the answers because the latter part ends of being a non-valid entry.

Another constraint I gave myself was to get at least one woman doctor in the theme set. It was pretty striking/depressing how few well-known female doctors–fictional or otherwise–there were to choose from. Most of the ones I found (think Dr. QUINN) weren’t the kinds of names you were going to find hidden in longer base phrases. If anyone knows Sandra Oh, feel free to pass along my gratitude that Dr. YANG ended up rounding out the set in BAB[Y ANG]ELS.

Also, pretty tickled I was able to squeeze TED LASSO, GOT GOT, and STAY WOKE up there in the NW corner. All examples of fill that I’ve been going out of my way to try to use recently.

Happy solving, friends!


11 thoughts on ““Medicine Droppers”

  1. In terms of having female doctors appear in the themers, you did better than you thought, since the current incarnation of “Doctor Who” is female (www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/jul/20/female-dr-who-was-inevitable-jodie-whittaker-tells-pop-culture-festival). Also, couldn’t you have rounded out the female contingent with “Doctor mom” (hidden in, say, CAMO MILE)?

  2. This was extremely intricate and fun. I wasn’t familiar with all the content, actually: I never watched Grey’s Anatomy so I didn’t say “Oh!” when YANG appeared. And my flirting days are well behind me (and not well executed even back then) so I didn’t drool over SPIT GAME. Speaking about the pursuit of a little sumthin’ sumthin’, how about Doctor RUTH Westheimer for a female doc? I could see those letters not breaking into two words very cleanly.

    Also, I didn’t understand the “Extended the Atlantic” clue for 89D?

    Nicely done all around.

    1. Good find, Rich. I did mess around with RUTH for a while, but the options were pretty limited. Answers like ST[RUT H]ER STUFF were fun, but couldn’t be separated with a black square in such a way that the remaining letters after the black square formed an independently clueable word. Alas!

      As for Extended the Atlantic, I was going for an Atlantic magazine angle. Does that make sense?

    1. I’m very confident this is not the first time I’ve misspelled Tolkien on this site, and also confident that you were the one to give me a boost the last time! Thanks, KK 🙂

  3. Beautiful puzzle with some really high-class fill. Was stoked to see a GOTGOT appearance! Lotta great Ross content today.

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