Giving us fits

This week’s puzzles take a weird trip into TikTok look-land

Published April 14, 2024

Welcome to the new week, everyone! One Sunday ago, the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament wrapped up in Stamford, Conn., and congratulations to phenom and great guy Paolo Pasco on winning the tournament! If you’d like to see Paolo solve puzzles very quickly–along with fellow great-guy/phenoms Will Nediger and David Plotkin–there’s video of the finals here.

We plan to cover some of the ACPT clues on this blog next week. Before we get to spoilin’, note that you can still purchase puzzles from 2024 at the official ACPT website. (by the way, that finals video from the first paragraph has spoilers too, of course)

Last week featured a bevy of content from CT Connecticontent, including this video about top solvers’ favorite writing implements, and a whole range of videos from the tournament weekend!

While Paolo and crew knocked it out of the Nutmeg State, the rest of the country had puzzles too! Let’s dip into the inkwell and go over some of our favorites.

Clues you can use

Thursday, Apr. 11 (New York Times, constructed by Dan Caprera)

 ___ VanDerveer, coach who holds the record for the most wins in college basketball history (1,200+) = TARA

Last Sunday, my South Carolina Gamecocks topped Caitlin Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes to win the NCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament. Great timing for this clue–and even (way) more so because it was published two days after Tara VanDerveer announced her retirement! After a stint with the Idaho Vandals, VanDerveer began her historic time at Stanford in 1985, and stayed as head coach until this year. Along the way she won three national championships (most recently in 2021), the 2011 AP Coach of the Year award, and a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame. She also coached USA women’s basketball in 1996, leading the team to Olympic gold in Atlanta, with a roster featuring 2020 USA head coach (and now three-time NCAA championship coach) Dawn Staley.

Wednesday, Apr. 10 (USA Today, constructed by Shannon Rapp and Will Eisenberg)

She played Kim Wexler in “Better Call Saul”  = RHEA SEEHORN

Rhea (like “ray”) never got that Emmy she deserved this past decade, but this writeup is the next best thing! Starting on sitcoms including I’m With Her, Whitney, and Franklin & Bash, she joined Vince Gilligan’s galaxy of comedy-stars-turned-dramatic-titans on Better Call Saul. Her role as an almost-by-the-book lawyer earned universal acclaim as one of the all-time best TV turns. Luckily, her time in the ABQ isn’t over yet, as her new Vince Gilligan show has already started filming. We can’t wait to see it!

Thursday, Apr. 11 (The Atlantic, constructed by crossword champ Paolo Pasco)

One with a flirty, feminine aesthetic, in slang  = COQUETTE

I’m not on TikTok, so I learned about the world of TikTok aesthetics very recently. In the past couple years, microcosms of certain looks have gone viral, influencing clothing designs in the real world. One such aesthetic is COQUETTE, named for the type of flirty woman who might identify with those fashion choices (the word itself is more than 400 years old). If you’re like me, and this is all new to you, here are a few more massively popular TikTok trends that might very well come up in a puzzle:

Barbiecore – Pink outfits, of course, inspired by last year’s Oscar-winning blockbuster.

Clean Girl – The off-duty-model look. Think loungewear and minimalism.

Dark Academia – A broody school-uniform look. BTW, when do we get more Wednesday?

Coastal Grandmother – White dresses, floppy hats, and you’re basically Diane Keaton.

You can keep up with a more thorough rundown here. Meanwhile, I can only hope that T-shirts and open button-downs will get to trending soon.

Plenty of hard puzzles recently, especially on the Eastern seaboard, so maybe take a cool down with the long-awaited digital edition of the People magazine Puzzler. It’s the only crossword with its own game show, and now you can solve it on the go!

And whether you do that or not, have a great week!

Chris King is a longtime crossword commentator, and the author of five published puzzle books. His column appears on Questionist every Sunday. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *