Not gonna lie, felt pretty good pulling off the double-J at 17-Down in Thursday's puzzle. Answer there was HAJJ, clued as [Pilgrimage to Mecca], and those J crossings were both quality: Nicki MINAJ and full-name BONG JOON-HO.
It's one thing to hide HAJJ in a little 4x3 corner; that's like dunking in practice on an empty court. But crossing it with MINAJ and BONG JOON-HO front and center like that is more like dunking over LeBron in a playoff game. OK, I'll stop now.
Rare double letters like JJ are always an unexpected twist for solvers. SKYY vodka is similarly fun since the double-Y is unusual, and same with something like OH, HEY! Where the double-H could throw solvers off.
This puzzle also didn't settle for its two long theme entries: fashion at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival red carpet wasn't limited to 10-letter BELLA HADID and the aforementioned BONG JOON-HO. We also snuck references to SPIKE Lee, ANDIE MacDowell, and HELEN Mirren into the mix. And I'm glad I resisted using puns on "Cannes," which are definitely played out by now.
Did we miss anyone on the red carpet? You Cannes tweet them to us at #beastxword. Oh, sorry...
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