by Ross Trudeau
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.
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!