NYT Crossword Answers: Writer Rogers St. Johns

12D. The ‘difference between icky and picky? Is the letter P, which for some reason is written PEE. Icky!

21D. I appreciated the poor orientation of the “Shortest month of the year” index, which you might guess to be FEB, but in this case it’s MAI, which is the shortest name of a month. .

28D. An ATTIC is a “Site? »If it is inhabited by spiders.

It was a theme that I hadn’t seen coming. I even interrupted my resolution after filling out the three long Across answers before the revealer to see if I could guess the relationship between the theme entries, but I had no luck. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what BAD INVESTMENTS, ONE-WAY, and AS OF SERVICE had in common without the help of the developer.

Once I read the reveal at 51A (SORRY, NO RETURNS), I slapped the palm of my hand and kicked myself – sure enough, these are all things that cannot be returned! There’s not much more to say about the theme itself, other than how well executed and delicious in the way it weaves its way through the solver.

I strongly recommend that you read the beautiful and moving essay that Ms. Bullock and Mr. Trudeau refer to in the builder’s notes below. He delves a bit into Mr. Trudeau’s weird pattern recognition skills and Ms. Bullock’s great ability to help him refine those patterns into clever crossword themes. More importantly, it’s a poignant reflection on the role that crossword puzzle construction plays in their lives against the backdrop of chronic disease and pain.

Many thanks to Ms. Bullock and Mr. Trudeau for sharing this essay – I’m sure the Wordplay community joins me in wishing you both good luck this week. We look forward to your next collaboration!

Jessie: This is our third puzzle for The Times and Ross’s 102nd crossword of 2021: 49 in various print and online publications, and 53 on his personal puzzle site. And the day this puzzle goes live, Ross will be coming out of his eighth schwannomatosis operation. These numbers are linked.

I regularly hear people ask Ross about his crossword productivity; he usually responds by saying he’s wired for puns. Only I know it’s a coping mechanism too – you can draw a pretty straight line between chronic pain and its remarkable daily performance.

A few months ago, I suggested that she write about how puzzle-making had become such an essential part of her life. The result was an essay that represents a touching glimpse into the mind and process of the puzzle that I love. I encourage you to read it here.

Ross: * gurgling *

The New York Times Crossword has an open submission system, which will reopen on January 3.

For tips on how to get started, read our “How to Create a Crossword Puzzle” series.

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