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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Stock

Puzzle No. 11: Themeless (by Brooke Husic)

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

From both of us:

Breonna Taylor would have turned 27 today. (action items) (learn more) Please consider supporting Black Lives Matter, a mutual aid fund, a bail fund (BLM has options for donating without money). And when you're done: educate yourself. This doesn't go away once the topic isn't trending. Erik and Paolo will both send you crossword puzzles in exchange for screenshots of donations (see links for specifics). Cherise is doing the great work of highlighting Black-owned businesses on her instagram, and recommends this list for several categories (e.g. beauty, books, food, fitness) and this one for fashion.


From Matthew: Always proud and honored to share the work of my good friend and favorite diagonal symmetry crusader! This puzzle is challenging, immaculate, and joyously Brooke — her voice comes through in all the best ways.

For those looking for a lighter solve to kick off your Friday (really for those who enjoy great puzzles, which is all of you), Brooke is also back at the USA Today (pdf) with her third puzzle in as many weeks, and ... surprise! It has diagonal symmetry too. 🔥

Check it out here, and shower praises on Brooke on Twitter @xandraladee.


From Brooke: "I loved freestyling so much here. Bring on the copious song references and FITBs and not worrying about black square counts. It's also a double dose of diagonal symmetry from me today!—although this indie offering doesn't feature a quad intersect like my USAT puzzle does.

The seed entry, unsurprisingly, was 29-Across. When I asked Matthew if he thought it was too crude he said, like the great editor that he is, "Perhaps a smidge?" We then converged upon the relevant modification together and I'm extremely happy with the outcome. A few notes:

- I couldn't figure out an efficient way to write in the 45-Across clue that Rihanna's "Higher" has been reviewed as one of those most beautiful and romantic things she’s put to record but also as unlistenable. I like it.

- The 25-Down clue is Matthew's! I wanted this angle, but if left to my own devices you would've gotten yet another clue referencing a song.

- Byron Walden did 41-Down better.

- Many, many thanks to my favorite power couple for test solving this."


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