Adam Conover, a comedian who hosts the TruTV show “Adam Ruins Everything,” recently published a Twitter thread about crosswords that I highly recommend. He soundly rejected the idea that looking up answers on Google to help solve a puzzle is “cheating.” I completely agree. Sometimes looking up answers that are stumping you may be the only way you can learn and retain information about certain answers and clues. The only time it would be considered cheating is at a crossword tournament, and I’ve never heard of anyone cheating at a crossword tournament. But anyway, as the former New York Times crossword editor Will Weng once said, “It’s your puzzle. Solve it any way you want.”

Eight long theme answers featuring circled hairstyles that are split by a letter:

  • 24A: [Series of video games where characters from Nintendo franchises fight in a battle royal] is SUPER SMASH BROS., where the letter S splits up PERM. I can’t tell you how many hours I sunk into playing that game when I was younger.
  • 35A: [“The Joy Luck Club” and “White Teeth,” e.g.] is DEBUT NOVELS. BUN split up by T.
  • 54A: [Young shepherd of a nursery rhyme] is LITTLE BOY BLUE. BOB split by Y.
  • 57A: [Chug] is GULP DOWN. UPDO split by L.
  • 93A: [Man from Quezon City] is FILIPINO. FLIP split by I.
  • 95A: [1994 greatest hits album that includes “Smooth Operator”] is THE BEST OF SADE. FADE split by S.
  • 111A: [Title and subject of a Ruby Blondell book, subtitled “Beauty, Myth, Devastation”] is HELEN OF TROY. FRO split by T. I perused through several sections of this book while writing a clue for it; it looks really fascinating.
  • 128A: [App game with matching sweets] is CANDY CRUSH SAGA. SHAG split by S.

If you look at the letters that separate the hairstyles, they spell out the central answer at 75A: [Hair-cutting experts … and what’s spelled out by the letters cutting this puzzle’s hairdos] which is STYLISTS. This is a puzzle element I’ve taken a strong liking to over the years. It’s one thing to take a series of words that just break up the letters of hairstyles, but if the theme can build toward a second layer, then I go for it.

What did you think?