Constructing a crossword worthy of being published in the NYT requires years of puzzle-making experience and decades of life experience. This week is all about proving that previous sentence wrong. Every puzzle from now through Saturday is constructed by someone under 20 years old. Eventually it's going to be like women's gymnastics. By the time you're 14, you've lost the mental flexibility to be able to compete at the highest levels.
Or rather, the opposite is true and that's one of the wonderful aspects of crosswords. This is an activity that can be enjoyed at any stage of your life, and creators come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Bravo to Will Shortz for cultivating a new generation of constructors. Like every art form, crosswords will thrive and evolve in unexpected ways by introducing new brains into the creative mix.
The week kicks off with Oliver Hill's, Monday, September 8 puzzle (answers) and it's already making me hungry. I'm guessing that Mr. Hill came up with his theme while standing in line at the local deli in New Haven, Connecticut trying to figure out what to eat.
"Igloo inhabitants" are INUITS. Thank goodness. It's nice to see crosswords finally catching up to modern sensibilities and eschewing the Eskimo label.
As I do the puzzles this week, I'll be asking myself what seems different about this puzzle because it's written by a teenager. The Monday puzzle has so many constraints that it might be harder to let your youthful personality show through, but "actress Hudgens of High School Musical" is certainly a clue that I would never have thought of. That's VANESSA in the photo.
Crosswords cover a wide cultural gamut and part of the fun is taking a mental journey each day through a variety of topics. Today I was reminded of how much I admire Frank Loesser. Guys and Dolls is a remarkable score and for some reason the song SUE ME appeals to me at a deep level. I'll be humming it to myself the rest of the day.
Some people had problems downloading the Across Lite version of this puzzle from the NYT web site. I think it’s fixed now, but click here if you still need it.