Constructors' CommentsMatt Sewell: It's a great pleasure to collaborate with Brad—we both like the back-and-forth of experimenting with lots of variants in hopes of finding the best possible choice. Brad always brings a rigorous eye and a deep well of fun entries—I mean, get a load of this grid's lovely middle, which is all Brad (as for me, I brought, uh, SAD KEANU to the party). I think this was a spin-off from another puzzle we made together, but after many revisions it took on a life of its own. I hope solvers enjoy the final product.
Brad Wilber: I think Matt's right, and we had tried to wedge SAD KEANU into the final corner of another themeless, but it didn't work. We started with it here, and the stack we built, including PAY TOILET, seemed snappy to me. I remember TEN LONELY GUYS among my mother's 45s. Its highest chart position must have been very close to my personal cutoff for inclusion in my word list, because research revealed it wasn't quite the megahit I assumed it was based on the number of childhood hearings. If you can't sing it, I think the clue is well-crafted and gettable! Yeah, Matt's been producing eminently publishable puzzles from his earliest attempts several years back. It's probably natural that he would direct some my way at The Chronicle of Higher Education and that we would hit it off as cowriters. We have many parallels in our work life, our interests, and our puzzle aesthetic. In between all of our tinkering with grids and preparing submissions, we often laugh together about the foibles of college humanities departments.