by Ross Trudeau
Over the holidays one of my family members asked me why it’s so important to me to share a puzzle here every single weekend. And there are two reasons: first, engaging with you all here and down below in the comments section has been a wellspring of joy and community since day one, and those feelings haven’t yet diminished one iota. And second, in a funny way I sort of have to.
So while heaven knows what the future holds, I don’t have plans to stop. And while the puzzles on this site will always be free, it’d mean a lot to me if you’d support my corner of an ad-free, independent crossworld with a donation via the yellow button below. I appreciate you!
I *especially* appreciate those of you who have volunteered as test solvers. Week in and week out, the testers help refine these puzzles by sharing their impressions and insights behind the scenes. This week I send my gratitude out to Gaby, Ken, Sam, David, and Shreya. Thoughts and spoilers for “Are You Quite Finished?” below the jump!
I almost gave up on this one. ALMOST. There are, to my mind, three and only three distinct enough meanings of the word “drive” to build out this theme set. And while CATTLE RANCHER (13) and SCRATCH GOLFER or, like, AMATEUR GOLFER (13) came to mind pretty quickly, finding a 14-letter answer to pair with SHUT UP AND DRIVE was a royal pain in the ass. MOTOCROSS RACER was the closest I got, but as was pointed out to me, you really *ride* a motorcycle more than *drive* one.
Ultimately I figured that DELIVERY PERSON (14) wasn’t good enough because there are plenty of delivery people who ride a bike. But UPS DELIVERY GUY (14)? They’ve got those unmistakable brown trucks! They’re cultural icons!
And lo. A theme set is born. The concept here really does it for me, and writing the copy for the three gas bags this puzzle imagines was pretty fun. I kept the word count down to a themelessesque 70 in order to maximize the total % of page space the theme clues occupy. And yeah, we’ve been listening to a lot of SHUT UP AND DRIVE this week. Anyone else looking forward to Riri’s upcoming gig?
Happy solving, friends!