It's going to be hard for me to write a blurb about today's puzzle without ruining the solve — so please, give it a try first, and then come back and read the rest of this blog post.
Like most folks who get into crossword puzzles, I started by solving the New York Times. But over the last year, I've been more consistently amazed by the work of independent puzzlemakers. Many of my favorite puzzles of all time weren't published in a paper, but lovingly made for someone's personal website. Nowadays, I almost exclusively solve indies. Besides the clever themes, it's truly gratifying to get to know each constructor's personality through their clues and choice of fill, without editorial dilution. Today's puzzle celebrates some of my heroes in the world of indies.
Clearly, there are many whom I've missed in this puzzle — you can name them as well as I can. I brainstormed 50+ theme entries, but ultimately had to trim down to a set that would cooperate with symmetry constraints and fit into a grid of reasonable size. To do this, I imposed two somewhat arbitrary constraints: (1) constructors who have their own personal websites, thus leaving out folks in fantastic indie puzzle venues like AVCX, Inkubator, Queer Qrosswords, and Spyscape; and (2) constructors who are currently publishing on their sites.
You may also notice that the cohort represented by the theme of this puzzle isn't very diverse. While sifting through Matt Gritzmacher's puzzle catalog, I quickly realized that gender parity and racial diversity would be difficult to attain for this theme set. The wider discussion about representation in puzzles has focused on editorial gatekeeping — but, even in the indie world where there are ostensibly no institutional barriers to entry, puzzles are largely authored by white men. If you have any thoughts on this, I'm happy to listen.
Yours in puzzling,