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1 puzzle by Derek J. Angell
with constructor comments

TotalDebutCollabs
111/19/20200
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
0000100
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.74000
Derek J. Angell
Thu 11/19/2020
BLISSPHISAP
READMECOGSNNE
AERIALARTBOOKS
MRVGRFFNVNNWHT
PSATIEINSST
SEEDBEDTIDY
RSTLNUAEIRMA
EPEEIDYLLLEAN
FIXESEAPTSJK
SNAPUPVOTES
REOPOSITCSI
BNKRPTWHLFFRTN
FEASIBLEDIEOUT
FANNAILESTADO
SPAERESHAKY

It is a tremendous honor to contribute to the New York Times crossword. I have done the puzzle regularly for a quarter-century — at the breakfast table in high school, in the back of the class in college, on my laptop in law school, and now every morning on the app. I had no idea puzzle submissions were open to the public until reading Wordplay.

I tried my hand at construction during the doldrums of lockdown and was instantly hooked. My first few efforts were rather bad in hindsight and rightly rejected. The idea for this one came from my paralegal Nicole, who suggested a Jeopardy theme (RIP, Mr. Trebek). Jeopardy ran right after Wheel of Fortune when I grew up, and the theme for this puzzle immediately popped into my head.

Three months later, I nearly fell out of my chair when Sam Ezersky delivered a tentative yes. The team asked if I could clean up some unsightly fill, and I went to work. Given that I was on the cusp of acceptance, I splurged on Jeff Chen's mind-blowing wordlist and entirely reworked the grid. That did it.

Sam said I could expect publication in around six months. My mother, who encouraged me to "graduate" from simpler puzzles to the crossword so long ago, is battling cancer. She still does the paper puzzle every day in ink. Sam and Will awesomely moved my puzzle up in the queue so that she will have the joy of seeing her son's name on the byline. My parents have no idea that I have been constructing, so I cannot wait for their reactions on Thursday.

As we appropriately enter the Thanksgiving season, I send my gratitude to Sam and Will, Jeff for his list and comments during my rework, my wife Andie for tolerating my crossword ramblings all year, and, of course, my mother. Thanks for getting me started on this hobby and for everything else, Mom. This one's for you.