Word Play + News = A Crossword Writer’s Inspiration

Matt Gaffney
·2 min read
Rebecca Tulis
Rebecca Tulis

Not gonna lie, I was very pleased with myself about last Thursday's puzzle. Mandy Moore had just had a baby boy named Gus, whose arrival she announced on Instagram with the sentence "Gus is here".

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A crossword writer's brain is always on low-level watch for themes, and this sparked a red alert from my synapses. Wouldn't it be funnier if she'd used the hashtag #ThisIsGus, since the name of her show is "This Is Us"? And they're both nine letters long, which is perfect. So that's what happened, with the two theme entries GUS IS HERE and THIS IS GUS, the second one clued as [Sentence that would've been funny if she'd posted instead, since it plays on the name of her hit show].

After the puzzle went up, I wondered: how many other people had thought of this? I found three fans of the show who'd tweeted about it with the #ThisisGus hashtag, such as this one:

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That's "Mandy Moore became a mom and I'm literally crying," in case your Spanish is rusty.

Just three people posted it, meaning it was probably a pleasant surprise to anyone who solved it —except the author of this book (argh!) — although they're probably not punning on "This Is Us" with that title (I think). The things your crossword writer worries about to ensure that you have a good solving experience...

See some clever wordplay that should be in a puzzle? My DMs are open @metabymatt. Don't tweet it at #beastxword because that'd be a spoiler, and crossword solvers do not like spoilers.

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