I'm beyond thrilled to say that today's guest puzzle comes courtesy of fan-favorite Sid Sivakumar. I actually clearly remember the first time I was ever blown away by Sid. Back in October, he had an AVCX puzzle called "Bursting With Pride", and it's one of the most memorable puzzles I've ever solved. I was overcome with a combination of the joys of representation, amazement at Sid's craft, and jealousy that I hadn't thought of that awesome idea myself. (If you somehow missed the puzzle, you can probably still buy it for $1 on the AVCX site). Sid has rapidly become an indie crossword powerhouse (who also happened to have an amazing NYT debut a couple of weeks ago). He is one of those people whose site you rush over to when you learn a new puzzle has been posted because you just know it's going to be epic. What an honor it is to have him here today. Happy solving! 🧩
Here's Sid: Amanda is a truly inspiring puzzle maker. She somehow publishes an ultra-fresh puzzle on her blog every day (something that can't even be said of most newspapers), and her voice shines without the interference of editors. Good crossword puzzles are authored -- not just made -- and it's rare to find an author you love who delivers a bite-sized work of art to your inbox every morning. When Amanda asked if I would contribute a guest puzzle to her site, I replied that it would be a matter of when, not if.
Naturally, this grid started with 32A, and knowing that Amanda and I have a shared interest, I seeded the corners with 4D and 34D. I recently re-scored my word list, prioritizing references to BIPOC culture (see entries 29A, 5D, 26D, and 47D), but I also continue to seek out inclusive cluing opportunities like 35A and 44D here. Hope you enjoy the puzzle!