“Legal Name Change”

by Ross Trudeau

[.puz][PDF][Solution] Difficulty: 3.75/5

On Saturday Jessie and I are getting hitched and she’ll officially become a Trudeau, which puts us in a funny little interregnum wherein she’s briefly introducing herself as Dr. Bullock. (She successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation on Thursday!)

I decided to run today’s puzzle in part because we’re about to run the bureaucratic gauntlet of the legal name change, Massachusetts edition. And the conceit in today’s grid is extendable far beyond what you see here; read the puzzle notes below for an invitation to build it out.

And here’s one last plug for the Boswords tournament, taking place just across the Charles from us next Sunday.

Thoughts and spoilers for “Legal Name Change” below. Big thanks to Eli, Matt, Sara, Alan, and Joshua for sharing invaluable feedback as test solvers!

get a handle on it!

Every so often Jessie and I will be at a restaurant or a city government office and a well-meaning host or bureaucrat will refer to Jessie as “Jessica.” A fair assumption, going on experience! But Jessie’s full name is, in fact, Jessie! So when I started cluing this puzzle, I felt that it was super important to reference celebrities who went by the relevant nicknames, but whose full name was in fact the lengthened version.

Step one, of course, was making a list of nicknames that were homophones of English language words. And I decided early on to only include nicknames that happened to be shortenings of the full name, so no GUILLERMO -> MEMO, MARGARET -> PEG, etc. I also wanted to be consistent about placement, so I also nixed possibilities like EUGENE -> GENE.

That being said, there are for sure other ways to render this theme (and build it out!). If anyone reading this wants to take a swing at a 21×21 version, well, DIDN’T GET THE GUILLERMO, HELLO KATHERINE, EDWARD RADIO HOUR, ALL-BEEF FRANCIS … they’re all waiting for us!

Happy solving, friends!


31 thoughts on ““Legal Name Change”

  1. What a fun puzzle! Breezed through most of it but struggled with the SE section. Loved the clue for 38D.

    More importantly: congratulations! All blessings and best wishes to you both on the next chapter.

  2. Very elegant. I wasn’t familiar with Ms. Deeley, but the puzzle just flowed nicely and I figured it out. Liked the succession of ODEON and DION. Sadly, no hat trick for you, in that you didn’t follow them with OD ON.
    Congrats to you both! Taking next Sunday off, I hope? I for one will be very disappointed if on your first morning as a married couple you choose to send us a fresh Rossword.

    • Another pattern that I myself failed to notice! At least consciously… and next weekend’s puzzle is already in the can, so you’ll have to be disappointed AND entertained, I hope 😀

  3. “Chicken pusher Sanders” – I about fell off my couch laughing. I’m just imagining this guy in an alleyway with a bucket of chicken trying to get unsuspecting children to try a drumstick. “Nah, kids, you don’t need to know what’s in it, that’s a secret, just 11 herbs and spices. Here. Try it. You’ll like it. I promise.”

  4. Congrats to you Ross and Dr. Jessie for all you do! Finally caught onto the ‘bass’ too.

  5. The Colonel and Popeye(s): Two chicken pushers in the same puzzle. Not bad!
    Congrats to Jessie regarding her dissertation and best wishes to both of you going forward!

  6. Got stuck on 44A trying to get MAGA to fit…
    For those of not on Twitter, what are the 11 accounts KFC follows?
    Congratulations and Best Wishes for health and happiness!

  7. Swell puzzle, Ross. I thought 51D was an especially clever turn, and would have been even without the demurring “uh.”

    I was a bit puzzled (sorry) by 10D. Not surprising for me, I immediately translated it into its more vulgar rendition, which to me means “wasting time” or “loafing,” particularly on the job. Imagine my surprise to learn that that’s the more common usage here in Canada. It’s also the meaning in the earliest example found of the phrase’s use, in 1935. Actually, even earlier, WWI-era versions, referring to laziness, are the more decorous “feeding the dog” or “walking the dog”:


    Congratulations, Dr. Jessie, on defending, and joining the ranks of us PhDs. (You know how Bob Hope—or one of his many writers—rendered the initials PhD, don’t you?)

    And congratulations, both of you, on the upcoming hitching. Will we be reading about it in the “Vows” section of the New York Times?

    • I just spent way more time going down this 10D rabbit hole than I thought I might… it’s funny, the slothful connotation was never known to me before today!

      How did Bob Hope render PhD?? Thanks for the kind words, Blaine, and there miiiight be a Times announcement of a sort…

      • “Pin-headed Dope.” I like the upper-/lower-case correspondence, and I wear the title with pride (and accuracy).

  8. May your marriage emulate the answer to 4 Down! I’m so happy for you both…and, again, congratulations do Dr. Jessie!

  9. I wish you and Jessie a lifetime of love, happiness, and health. Congratulations to Dr. Jessie on completing her PhD before the wedding. My husband did something similar: finished his DMA at USC, moved his stuff to Arkansas, came home to Maryland to marry me, and then moved me, my stuff, his stuff from his parents’ house, and our wedding gifts to Arkansas, where he started teaching clarinet at ATU- all within about a month! (It’ll be 39 years for us August 6.)

    • 39 years! Mazel tov, Kathy! Jessie’s the *highly credentialed* one in the household, so I’ll be following her and riding her elegant coattails to glory for the foreseeable future… next stop, Western New York!

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