Just a few more reps

In a week of consumption, the crossworld demands exertion

Published November 26, 2023

Happy holidays everyone! It might not feel like it given the early Thanksgiving date, but according to commercials the holiday season has started. Luckily, the puzzle season is all year round. Let’s dive right in and enjoy some trimmings!

Clues you can use

Tuesday, Nov. 21 (New York Times, constructed by Kevin Christian and Andrea Carla Michaels)

“Slumdog Millionaire” actress = FREIDA PINTO

Born in 1984 in Mumbai, Pinto actually made her acting debut as Dev Patel’s love interest in the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire. Since then, she has starred in a number of wide-ranging films, from Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) to Hillbilly Elegy (2020), all along advocating for social causes like women’s rights and education. In a 2013 interview, Pinto said, “As an actor, you don’t have to limit yourself to a particular culture or ethnicity. I want to spread my tentacles everywhere and am ready for a film offer from any part of the world.”

Wednesday, Nov. 22 (Wall Street Journal, constructed by Aaron Ullman)

Skater Chen who won gold at the Beijing Olympics = NATHAN

Born in 1999 in Salt Lake City, Chen is renowned for his technical prowess and innovation. The winner of five straight national championships and multiple Grand Prix, he executed an unprecedented six quadruple jumps in a single routine at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics en route to a fifth-place finish. In 2022 at Beijing, Chen won gold in men’s singles, and silver in the team event. During most of his Olympic training, he was also studying data science at Yale, and plans to go to med school after his 2024 graduation.

Chen’s 2022 gold medal winning long program

Wednesday, Nov. 22 (USA Today, constructed by Olivia Mitra Framke)

Stationary bike brand whose name is a cycling term = PELOTON

Founded in 2012, the New York-based Peloton needs little introduction for its streaming-subscription stationary bikes, treadmills, and rowing machines. Its most popular instructors are celebrities in their own right! The company’s name does indeed come from the word for a pack of cyclists in a race, which also gave us “platoon” – and ultimately “pellet” as well, because the shared French root pelote just means “ball.”

Some sweaty solving

Now that we’re all warmed up on the exercise machines, we’ve got a little puzzle game. I’ll give you two possible crossword clues involving a popular Peloton instructor and a pro athlete who shares the same first name; you give the shared name. Look, we’ve got to burn off some Thanksgiving calories somehow!

Peloton instructor Touissant (4)
Yankees great Rodriguez (4)

Peloton instructor Arzon (5)
19-year-old tennis phenom Montgomery (5)

Peloton instructor Rigsby (4)
New Orleans Pelicans center Zeller (4)

Peloton instructor Love (4)
Orlando Pride forward Watt (4)

Peloton instructor Alldis (3)
2016 Cubs World Series MVP Zobrist (3)

Puzzler profiles

A couple of nice articles were written about puzzle people this week:

First from the Chicago Sun-Times is about constructor Garrett Chalfin, a current University of Chicago student whose crossword appeared in The New York Times on Nov. 12. About his tenuous celebrity status, he noted, “I don’t think any of my professors know about it. I enjoy that. I like having my little secret life.”

The other is from Baltimore magazine, highlighting NYT editor and head editor of the Spelling Bee app, Sam Ezersky. Besides working with Will Shortz on the flagship puzzle, Sam is the one who comes up with the seven letters in each Spelling Bee (and thus chooses not to have an S appear in the grid). Sam is a proud son of Baltimore, and I’m sure he was thrilled for a chance to talk to the magazine to do a profile. I’ve also known Sam for a while, and I hope I get to see him at a tournament in 2024.

That’s all for this week. If you ever see some puzzle news that needs to be highlighted, drop me an email. Love to hear about fun puzzle news around the crossworld! 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.