“Are You Quite Finished?”

by Ross Trudeau

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

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!


20 thoughts on ““Are You Quite Finished?”

  1. Good morning! I gather that early arrivals briefly saw a version of this puzzle in which the “starred” clues had no stars! They have stars now, but you probably didn’t need them anyway, did you? ๐Ÿ˜€ Happy solving, friends!

  2. Elegant and very, very funny!
    My experience is with much more taciturn UPS drivers, so perhaps they have already taken Riri’s advice.

  3. Ross – Unlike the drivel spouted by the 3 stooges, er starred speakers, you put the pedal to the metal while steering the theme home. (As a retired Teamster I can recognize a focused driver.)
    Thank you for being a doer, not a talker when it comes to constructing fun puzzles to solve.

  4. I used to do crosswords on graveyard shifts at the airport. Most airlines use their company name for ATC callsigns but to avoid similarities or for clarity on the radio many donโ€™t. Around 1990 UPS used โ€œBrowntailโ€ [based on their paint scheme] for about a year until, I suspect, their pilots got fed up with the razzing from other pilots. Thank you for your creativity and (checking thesaurus) indomitibility.

  5. Thanks for the puzzle, Ross. Also, thank you for that beautifully written explanation on why you create crossword puzzles. I can’t stop thinking about it. It will take a while to process everything in the essay.
    One initial feeling is that there is little ego in your puzzles. You don’t seem to have an overwhelming desire to impress anyone with your talent–a true artist.

  6. Also, thank you for providing specific examples of how you come up with themes. I crave information like that.

    • You’re very welcome, Mark! As a teacher I wish I had a more sophisticated pedagogy for “how to come up with a theme,” but HERE ARE A MILLION EXAMPLES is still the best I can do…

  7. Another good puzzle! (And I like the photo that you attached above. Is that Jessie? Lol!) And 41D reminds me of the J Lennon song.

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