2024 ORCA Awards

And the winners are…


Untitled, by Desiree Penner & Jeff Sinnock (NYT, November 6)


“Two for the Price of One” by Will Nediger (Bewilderingly, July 17)


 Untitled, by Desiree Penner & Jeff Sinnock (NYT, November 6)

“Two for the Price of One” by Will Nediger (Bewilderingly, July 17)


“Themeless #50,” Tracy Bennett & Laura Braunstein (Inkubator, December 29)


“Flying Colors,” by Rafael Musa (NYT, June 4)


“Going Downhill,” by Rebecca Goldstein (Boswords Winter Wondersolve, February                 5)


[Only human, briefly] for ADAM, in Untitled, by Alex Rosen (ed. Will Shortz)                          (NYT, February 9)


“They Turn Into Superheroes,” by Quiara Vasquez (MGWCC, June 13)


“Departure,” by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon (WSJ, December 16)


Rebecca Goldstein


Jim Horne & Jeff Chen for their work on XWord Info


Robert Loy, Charleston SC (2012)

Maudie McCormick, San Francisco CA (1948)

Andrew Miller, Washington DC (1206)

Brian Cross, Clifton VA (2887)

Christopher Ross, Stonington ME (2282)



The 12th ORCA Awards has arrived – the annual celebration of creativity in crosswords! This year brings innovation to the awards process. For the first time ever, solvers can cast their ballot to vote for their favorite nominees in nine different categories. Voting closes at midnight ET on Friday, March 1. The winners will be announced during a 35-minute livestream on Wednesday, March 6 at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT.

To vote, make a selection from each category and click submit on the final page. (Once you hit submit, the nominations will no longer be visible.) There are links to each nominated puzzle or puzzle commentary for seven of the categories. (A few outlets with nominated puzzles behind a paywall were unable to provide us with links.) One ballot per person.

The livestream is guaranteed to be fun. It will be hosted by John Lieb and Andrew Kingsley. There will be games and prizes. Presenters include Jeff Chen, Jim Horne, Emma Oxford, Nate Cardin, David Steinberg, Shannon Rapp, Will Eisenberg, Adam Wagner, Rafael Musa, Jared Goudsmit, Kate Chin Park, Sid Sivakumar, Christina Iverson, and Robyn Weintraub.

Five long-time solvers will receive special awards. Constructors can receive ORCAS, speed solvers can win crossword tournaments, but most of the crossworld is comprised of marathoners – faithfully solving their crossword puzzles every day. To recognize these important members of the crossword community, we have created the Streaker Sweepstakes. For each day of their streak, solvers can receive a chance to win crossword memorabilia inscribed to them and signed by Will Shortz.

To enter the sweepstakes, take a screenshot of your streak and paste it into the body of an email along with your mailing address. The streak can be from any outlet (e.g., New York Times, USA Today, The Modern Crossword, etc.) Paper solvers can instead scan consecutively-solved puzzles (365 puzzles max) from any outlet, and submit this as a single attachment. In the subject line of your email, include only the number of days of your streak (e.g., “17”). Send your email to theorcaawards@gmail.com by Friday, March 1. You need not be present during the livestream to win. (Raffle entrants will not receive spam.)

We adore unraveling the little mysteries shrouded in wit and all the clever geniuses who produce this quirky art form. We wish we could mention every great puzzle printed in any publication or indie blog in the crossworld in 2023. We hope those who were not nominated this year know they are kenough—more than kenough! Alas, we are living in the golden age of crosswords; over 12,000 crossword puzzles were published last year. We undoubtedly missed out on many excellent ones. If one of your favorites was snubbed, we invite you to submit nominations so we don’t miss any of your favorites in 2024.


“Look Inward,” by Peter A. Collins (WSJ, January 19) commentary Seven entries in this puzzle contain another word indicated by circles; the hidden word placed before the whole word creates a legitimate phrase­­­­­­­­­­­­—W(O)R(L)(D) is clued as “(OLD) WORLD;” other examples include (HOT) CHOCOLATE, (TOY) STORY, and (AIR) CARRIERS

“Suit Yourself,” by Jack Murtagh (The Modern Crossword, March 4) A fresh, clever riff on a card theme—a [Knave of spades?] is a TOMB RAIDER; the [Queen of hearts?] is HELEN OF TROY; the [King of clubs?] is ARNOLD PALMER; and an [Ace of diamonds?] is a STAR PITCHER—the cherry on top is that the revealer, YOU’RE A CARD, is aptly defined as a “thing said to a joker”

“Quiet Down,” by Chandi Deitmer and Erica Hsiung Wojcik (The Modern Crossword, April 22) Four playground games—HOP “SCOTCH,” LEAP “FROG,” JUMP “ROPE,” and DODGE “BALL”—punily hint that solvers should skip over the letters in the second word when filling in the crossing Downs leading to transformations like ANGLERS to ANGERS; the indie-style clues pull from a range of exciting references, from sea bunnies to sequential art

Untitled, by Simon Marotte & Trenton Lee Stewart (NYT, August 14) commentary An impressive set of legitimate phrases that double as instructions for a basic math problem: GO TO ELEVEN, PLUS ONE, TAKE TEN, HALF OFF … ONE AND DONE

“Material World,” by Jasmeet Arora and Brooke Husic (USA Today, October 4) commentary A really smart brainstorm of two-word phrases that follow a [material] + [natural formation] pattern: GLASS CLIFF, CONCRETE JUNGLE, and SILICON VALLEY; with the great bonuses of SLOPPY JOE and SALSA CLUBS

Untitled, by Desiree Penner & Jeff Sinnock (NYT, November 6) commentary This elegant puzzle sparkles with fun themers like HOBBIT VILLAGE; the revealer is [Where your eyes might stay during a suspenseful scene … or the only place you’ll find the “eyes” in this puzzle] GLUED TO THE TV, and the only “I”s in the puzzle are on either side of TV in the themers


“‘Tis The Season,” by Erik Agard (USA Today, January 16) commentary The sole theme entry, THE OTHER AMERICA, bridges two halves of this grid, one clued gently, the other nearly unsolvable, in a reference to MLK Jr’s 1967 speech and inequity in American society

Untitled, by Paolo Pasco (The Atlantic, March 17) puzzle This was the climax of a series of Oscar-nominee-themed puzzles where it seemed like the mini format would doom any attempt to represent EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, but Paolo cracked it by making an EVERYTHING/EVERYWHERE Schrodinger

“Double Back,” by Chandi Deitmer (These Puzzl3s Fund Abortion, March 28) puzzle A bright, fun theme for an ever-more-fraught subject where REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS turned into duplications on the right-hand side of phrases, as in SAY IT AIN’T SO-SO, PEEK A BOO-BOO, YES WE CAN-CAN, and COUNTRY POP-POP

Untitled, by Lance Enfinger & Jeff Chen (LAT, April 27) commentary Words starting with APP- are reimagined as AP classes in unlikely subjects­­—[Honors course for an aspiring aircraft marshaller?] for AP POINTING—the rest of the themers are AP PRAISING, AP PROVING, and AP PEALING

“Landfill,” by Daniel Bodily (Universal, May 3) commentary Words that can be parsed as a country name with another word inside it are clued that way—BENJAMIN is [Predicament in Porto-Novo?] (JAM inside BENIN) while CHINCHILLA is [Cold snap in Beijing?]—the grid has left-right symmetry to fit three themers Down and one Across as their lengths wouldn’t work with regular symmetry

“Shredded,” by Christopher Young (WSJ, June 1) commentary Eight rebus ABs are scattered throughout the puzzle, including three words with two rebuses—COPACABANA BEACH, SANTA BABY, and ABUDHABI—and the revealer (also a rebus AB) is EIGHT MINUTE ABS

Untitled, by David Harris (NYT, June 15) commentary 1A is IOUS and 1D is IONS and the revealer is BACK TO SQUARE ONE, so Across theme entries add -IOUS to match the clue and Down theme entries add -IONS; all the words are valid entries on their own without adding -IOUS or -IONS: 15A [Inappropriately jocular] is FACET(IOUS)

“See You Later!” by Hanh Huynh (Universal, June 15) commentary In four pairs of adjacent words, the left one is missing the letters CU from its clued answer, and the right one has the letters CU inserted; in both cases, the resulting words also are valid crossword answers—so DISSES and CLOSECUT are clued as [*Items hurled at the Olympics] for discuses and [*Place for suits to hang] for closet

“Two for the Price of One” by Will Nediger (Bewilderingly, July 17) puzzle A full Schrodinger grid – where one set of clues results in two completely different solutions; bewilderingly indeed!

Untitled, by Troy Laedtke (NYT, October 3) commentary SNAKEs wind through the grid with each “growing” successively longer when they “eat” a black square, like in the video game


“themeless xxx,” by Brooke Husic (xwordsbyaladee, January 27) puzzle From [Three to get ready] perfectly clued PHONE WALLET KEYS to cutting edge term NLP—referring to Natural Language Processing—this puzzle resonated beautifully while packing in a ton of other fun entries like FATE LINE, GOOD GIRL GONE BAD, and ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI into a challenging bloom design

“Love and Longing,” by Ada Nicolle (Xtra, February 1) puzzle Though it has no overt theme, Ada’s inaugural Xtra puzzle has a definite pro-LGBTQ+ point of view, and strikes a beautiful balance between introducing new and semi-new terms to heteronormative culture while remaining smooth and gettable; highlights include QUEERING THE MAP, LAVENDER MENACE, and SAMOA for the clue [Country of origin of the gender identity fa’afafine]

Untitled, by Ada Nicolle (NYT, March 18) commentary This puzzle has perhaps the seed entry of the year with DO YOU QUARREL SIR and plenty of other good stuff as well including GET RICH QUICK, NOISE MUSIC, and SEMORNILAPS in an adventurously-designed grid

Untitled, by Carter Cobb (NYT, May 6) commentary Vibrant triple stacks shine with CAROLINA REAPERS and A MODEST PROPOSAL in this flowy Saturday grid

“Words, Words, Words: A Themeless,” by Sam Ezersky (NYT, June 11) commentary This grid’s number of answers—118—is the smallest yet seen in an NYT Sunday grid with the likes of RED HOT POKER, JUST KIDDING, ALGAL BLOOM, TIKI BARS, WON THE WAR, AMO, AMAS, AMAT, and WENT TOE TO TOE

“Duty Calls,” by Erik Agard (USA Today, June 16) commentary This eye-popping grid includes related-but-not-cross-referenced spanners PUT DOWN THE PHONE and FOR THE TIME BEING

“Chasm No 13,” by Ryan McCarty (McGrids, June 20) puzzle The wide-open middle in Ryan’s typical style features intersecting stairstacks of juicy nine-letter entries; [It might be password-protected] for SPEAKEASY and the bawdy [Experience under one’s belt?] for THIRD BASE highlight the indie vibe

Untitled, by Kameron Austin Collins (The Atlantic, June 25) puzzle In an outlet that experimented with its Sunday offerings over the course of the year, Kameron’s high/low style is on full display with NOBLESSE OBLIGE and WHOPPER JRS

“Themeless #50,” Tracy Bennett & Laura Braunstein (Inkubator, December 29) commentary The final Inkubator puzzle includes beautiful spans of PROTECT TRANS KIDS and RELEASE THE KRAKEN along with DARK ACADEMIA and TAKES TO HEART


“Out with the Old, In with the New,” by Evan Birnholz (Washington Post, January 1) commentary Ten theme entries have their first letters altered from familiar phrases; the unaltered letters spell out SO LAST YEAR, while the altered ones spell out FRESH START; theme entry highlights include FLUSH FUNDS, SIR GUITAR, ALF ON THE SHELF, RYE CAPTAIN, and TUSH ORDERS

“Abridged Too Far,” by Michael Schlossberg (NYT, January 15) commentary Five “short” stories hide inside the names of five longer stories, with clues that describe both stories equally well. For example, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM conceals MEDEA, and their combined line is clued as [Play about love and heartbreak in ancient Greece (1605, 431 B.C.)]

“When the Chips are Down,” by Paul Coulter (WSJ, January 21) commentary Each theme entry in this puzzle has a segment that extends downward, which can be preceded by “chip”; COW-ARDLY LION, ACADE-MIC RO-BES, CORN-ERS THE MARKET, PUBL-IC E-NEMY, and S-PIT A-ND SHINE

“Cheap Thrills,” by Christina Iverson and Samuel A. Donaldson (NYT, February 12) commentary Christina and Sam use four visual gimmicks to express the term “economizing,” including CUTTING CORNERS with a SAW and AXE, MAKING ENDS MEET with CAN, BUM, ASS, and BUTT, STRETCHING A BUCK with SSIINNGGLLEE, and PINCHING PENNIES with BI(CENT)ENNIAL (CENT)ER

“Name Dropping,” by Lewis Rothlein and Jeff Chen (NYT, April 30, 2023) commentary Lewis and Jeff hit on a brilliant conceit with this one—although the grid implies its longer down answers are CHARDONNAY, BROKE THE LAW, SHERMAN TANK, BOW AND ARROW, TRICK ENDING, and FINE, THANKS—to make sense of the clues, the first names need to “drop” from those answers, turning them into CHARY, BROKAW, STANK, BORROW, TENDING, and FINKS; the names “drop down” to complete LADY MADONNA, TAKE THE L, FLY FISHERMAN, HOTEL RWANDA, KUBRICK, and ELIZABETHAN

“Quite the Contrary,” by Joe DiPietro (The Crosswords Club, May 25) This tricky ‘Opposite Day’ theme led solvers to amusing entries in one of the last puzzles from this longtime standard

“Flying Colors,” by Rafael Musa (NYT, June 4) commentary This rainbow-themed puzzle debuted as Pride Month began with seven lines in the grid which contain two answers each—the untinted answer describes the tinted one in a punny way; so the companion answer to the red-tinted ON/OFF—describing two electrical STATES—is RED STATES

“Wrongful Terminations,” by Sam Koperwas and Jeff Chen (Universal Sunday, June 4) commentary This set tells a delightful story while conjuring up a set of funny images: [“It’s so unfair! I lost my job making boomerangs, even after I ___!”] clues STRAIGHTENED THINGS OUT; [“I got fired as a Zamboni driver, even after I TRIED TO BREAK THE ICE!”]; [“I got canned as a taxi driver, even after I WENT THE EXTRA MILE!”]; [“I lost my job roping cattle with the ranch crew, even after I KEPT EVERYONE IN THE LOOP!”]; and, [“I was terminated at Nissan’s electric car factory, even after I TURNED OVER A NEW LEAF.”]

“Get Over It,” by Jeremy Newton (NYT, December 17) commentary In this puzzle, certain squares contain BRIDGE rebuses when read one way—CAM(BRIDGE) UNIVERSITY runs Across; crossing it downward is SNOG, which skips over the rebus square just before the O, creating the appearance that the hidden word BOG is partially concealed by the “bridge”; this continues with a “bridge” covering the “Y” in BAY, the “G” in GULF, and these letters in order spell out BYGONES which hints at the revealer WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE

“Ubercross Acecedaria,” by T Campbell (Ubercross, December 30) website T Campbell’s magnum opus is a mite bit larger than the usual Sunday puzzle, setting a new world record at 116,370 clue-answer pairs and adorned with grid art of the alphabet


[Only human, briefly] for ADAM, in Untitled, by Alex Rosen (ed. Will Shortz) (NYT, February 9)

[Expression of love that doesn’t quite land?] for AIRKISS in Untitled, by Emma Lawson & Shannon Rapp (ed. Patti Varol) (LAT, May 10)

[Like some hot spots?] for EROGENOUS, in “The Crossword: Monday, May 15, 2023,” by Kameron Austin Collins (ed. Liz Maynes-Aminzade) (The New Yorker, May 15)

[Person who can’t be the victim of a pickpocket] for NUDIST in Untitled, by Aimee Lucido (ed. Will Shortz) (NYT, June 20)

[Networker?] for GOALIE in Untitled, by Michael Schlossberg (ed. Will Shortz) (NYT, July 16)

[Grp. of stick figures?] for NHL, in “Frankly Saintlike Behavior (Themeless),” by Kate Chin Park (Crosswords Schmosswords, July 20)

[Your wurst side?] for SAUERKRAUT in Untitled, by Kameron Austin Collins (ed. Will Shortz)  (NYT, August 18)

[Pocket protector?] for MISER, in Untitled, by Matthew Stock and Caitlin Reid (ed. Patti Varol) (LAT, September 23)

[Trample, for example] for RHYME, in “Headliners” by Zachary David Levy (ed. Mike Shenk) (WSJ, October 9)

[Where shots are taken at parties?] for PHOTO BOOTHS, in “Universal Freestyle 95,” by Rich Lurilli (ed. David Steinberg) (Universal, October 21)


“Going Downhill,” by Rebecca Goldstein (Boswords Winter Wondersolve, February 5) A perfectly executed theme set in which correct answers jump down one row in the grid, crossing diagonally through and sharing letters with entries below; PRESS KIT goes through YEAH I KNOW and FAKE IT; LOS ANGELES KINGS through ODD SOCKS and SAYINGS; CHEFS KISS through KLAUS and PRISS; LOTUS KICK through KNEE and KNICK; NINETIES KIDS through SHOOT SKEET and LIDS—and each one splits at the SKI run, matched by the excellent revealer SKI SLOPES

“Puzzle #2,” by Carly Schuna (Boswords Spring Themeless League, March) A gorgeous grid packed with fun, referential phrases: DREAMLIKE, BUT DID YOU DIE, DR GOOGLE, ALL THE THINGS, CRUSH HARD, BEFORE I GO, GOOD AS NEW—sparkly clean and fun

“Ding Dong Ditch,” by Sam Ezersky (American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, April 1) Sam brings a little heat to puzzle 5 this year with an inventive theme well suited for April 1—the revealer FOOLS RUSH IN indicates that correct answers to the starred clues, clued as their non-fool entries, are supplemented with words meaning “fool” to become new phrases: [Cowardly] becomes JERK CHICKEN; [Bedcover] DOPE SHEET; [Vietnamese soup] SAPPHO; [Best Picture Winner of 2005] CRASH DUMMY; [XXX] CHASSIS; and [View from a gorge] PRATFALLS

“Puzzle #6,” by Matthew Luter (Boswords Spring Themeless League, April 10) Matthew’s puzzle was chosen from the open submission process and it’s clear why—stacks of NO LOVE LOST, CLAPOMETER, ID BETTER GO and FOZZIE BEAR, PARISIENNE, DRAGONS DEN—plus long entries of HAND ME DOWN, LABOR DAY WEEKEND, SUPPER TIME, and some sparkle in the midlength KING CAKE and TACO TRUCK

“Note to Self,” by Sam Donaldson (Boswords Summer Tournament, July 23) Phrases that begin with “notes” such as DOG TREATS replace their notes with ME, giving MEG TREATS [What happens when actress Ryan feels generous at a restaurant?]; other themers are RE/METRO CHIC, MI/MEND BOGGLING, FA/METAL ATTRACTION, SO/MERRY CHARLIE, LA/MEW REVIEW, TI/MEME ZONES—the trick appears seven times and in scale order

“Wrap Stars,” by Ricky Cruz (Lollapuzzoola 16, August 19) This creative concept relies on several mechanics at once: 1) three separate sets of clues in three dimensions wrap around a cube; 2) theme entries with hidden anagrams; 3) modern clues in Ricky’s signature style; and 4) an easy meta element—all combine to create a fun solving experience and visually pleasing package all relevant to the birthday party theme of the day

“Puzzle #4,” by Amie Walker (Boswords Fall League, October 23) Packed with cultural references such as BARBIECORE, UPSET ALERT, LISA TURTLE, this puzzle also shines with in-the-language freshness in UBER DRIVER, WOW FACTOR, I HAVE NOTES, BEFORE TIMES, GOT A MINUTE, and END OF STORY

“Puzzle #7,” by May Huang (Boswords Fall League, November) The superfresh seed of TAYLORGATING lays alongside gems such as YO LA TENGO, CLOSER TO FINE, DON’T LET GO, GO STEADY, BIG SISTERS, and RARE FEAT


“Signs of the Times,” by Mike Shenk (WSJ, January 20) commentary Twelve across answers are clued with the animals of the Chinese zodiac in order: LATE is “Like the White Rabbit,” UNAGI is “Dragon roll ingredient,” NEWT is “Relative of a congo snake”; the answers’ initials add up to the perfect twelve-letter reveal for the date of the puzzle—”lunar new year”

“Pretty Cool,” by Matt Gaffney (MGWCC, March 28) commentary Instructions to look for “something that may give you a chill,” lead to the discovery of a lot of candidates: a strongly asymmetric grid contains four “cold sandwiches”; eight items that are naturally cold—MONGOLIA, ICE STORM, ALASKA, GELATO, ALPS, SKIS, SLEET, IGLOO­­—surrounding four items that can be preceded by the word “cold”—CALLS, TURKEY, SHOULDER, FEET; while four other clues in the grid correspond to those sandwich fillings and yield the contest answer wind: WEB AD is [One way to find new customers] and so is “cold CALLS,” [Radical way to quit] is IN A HUFF/”cold TURKEY,” [Reason not to go through with a plan] is NERVES/”cold FEET,” and [Purposely failing to greet a friend, e.g.] is a DIS/”cold SHOULDER”

“Resounding Success,” by Alex Eaton-Salners (Fireball, March 29) commentary Soundalike fun with the five long answers turning into alternate clues for five other grid answers: MORNING PERSON -> WIDOW; STEAL FIRST -> IRON; SEE ACTION -> TIDE; FAIR POINTS -> CABS; WASTE AREA -> HIPS; the initials add up to WITCH, a homophone of the requested choice word “which”

“Making the Rounds,” by Patrick Berry (Fireball, April 19) commentary Sixteen entries are clued as parts of four sets of “rounds,” and the solver must overlap the starting and ending letters of each round’s answers to create a simple crossword: in round one, answer words TORCH and PARTS when connected by TIP and HE’S, leads to a new phrase than can be read in a circle—ORCHESTRA PIT; similar treatments of CHIN-CAME-NEST-EMIT, SNOG-SKI-GOO-INDO, and AMEN-AVER-NICE-RITE yields TIME MACHINES, NOGOODNIKS, and CINEMA VERITE, respectively—these four circular phrases are suitable answers to clues to four  other entries in the puzzle—TIER, UFOS, RATS, NOIR—whose initials spell “turn”

“Plurality,” by Mike Shenk (WSJ, May 12) commentary Pluralizing the long Across entries results in new down entries that share clues with other grid entries: BRISK TEMPO -> BRISK TEMPI, FOREWOMAN -> FOREWOMEN, CASH BASIS -> CASH BASES and SQUARE FOOT -> SQUARE FEET, leads to TIPPLED, ELMS, BORES, TENS, and REDS—suitable answers to clues for five other entries in the puzzle, DRANK, ASPENS, TIRES, UNITS, and METS; the initials spell out datum, which when pluralized to “data,” reveals the requested “four-letter plural noun”

“They Turn Into Superheroes,” by Quiara Vasquez (MGWCC, June 13) commentary Solvers are asked to name a “heroic group”; the theme entries—FREEZE TAG, ECLIPSING, SIGMAR GABRIEL, AUDIOTAPE, and EX MACHINA—each conceal a Greek letter–ZETA, PSI, SIGMA, IOTA, and CHI; aka XIΣΨZ—which, if turned on its side, becomes a stylized version of X-MEN; the iota turning into a hyphen as a beautiful crowning touch

“Hope Springs Eternal,” by Pete Muller and Mack Meller (Muller Monthly Music Meta, August 2023) commentary Solvers are challenged to find a famous rock song; the cross clues that refer to a BOX in a poem by HESIOD hint at seven places in the puzzle where the letters p-a-n-d-o-r-a-s form hidden boxes, each surrounding one letter; when read in order, the letters spell “dream on”


“Russian Dollhouse,” by Alex Boisvert (Crossword Nexus Acrostics, February 10) Featuring a colorful quote that set the tone for this new subscription

“Double or Nothing,” by Joon Pahk (Outside the Box, March 31) A rewarding crossword variant with an elegant meta payoff

“T Squares,” by Patrick Berry (WSJ, September 16) A puzzle full of neat finds and a novel way to fit entries together

“Rows Garden #9,” by Joon Pahk (Outside the Box, October 10) A timely twist on the usually themeless Rows Garden format

“Twists & Turns #9,” by Andrew Ries (Aries Puzzles, November 11) A Rows Garden-like format of Andrew’s invention; this one filled with particularly entertaining “Turns” entries

“Untitled Vowelless Crossword,” by Ryan McCarty (NYT, November 12) This newbie-friendly vowelless construction is packed to the gills with evocative entries like WELCOME TO THE CLUB, RAINBOW SPRINKLES, READ THE FINE PRINT, LONDON UNDERGROUND, and DROP IT LIKE IT’S HOT

“Departure,” by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon (WSJ, December 16) A fitting final variety cryptic from titans of the form


Rebecca Goldstein

Rafael Musa

Christina Iverson

Simeon Seigel

Jeff Chen

Congratulations to all the nominees! (If your outlet, mainstream or indie, does not want to be considered for future ORCA nominations, please let us know.)

This whole endeavor was made possible by tech wiz Dave Sullivan who created the voting system. Thanks to Amy Reynaldo as always for hosting and encouraging the ORCAS. A giant shoutout to Melanie Chernyk, Shannon Rapp, T Campbell, Jared Goudsmit, Emma Oxford, and especially Matthew Gritzmacher for being part of the nominating team. Lastly, a huge thanks to all the ORCA livestream participants.

– Rich Proulx, et al.

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