FRIDAY QUESTION – Welcome to Friday, everyone. We made it and we’ve got a worthless puzzle to start the weekend with. Today’s quiz is a collaboration between builder Christina Iverson (the new assistant editor of The Los Angeles Times Crossword) and Caitlin Reid (a mainstay on The New Yorker’s all-star crossword building list) .
I’ve always felt that crossword puzzles should have tag lines to help differentiate their brand and capture what makes a New York Times puzzle different from a Los Angeles Times or New Yorker puzzle. I’ve tried running a few lines of potential New York Times Crossword cards by editors around here, with little success. Some of my favorites are “All the right clues to print” – it’s a no-brainer (“It has no intonation”) – and “It will get you through when you’re feeling depressed” (also, oddly enough, not immediately applicable).
Because today is Friday, and because I think people can use a fun way to distract *all thisI humbly ask you to suggest your own potential tag lines in the comments.
Speaking of fun distractions, let’s dive into today’s great puzzle by going through some of the more difficult clues.
1A. Right out of the gate, we come across the clue “It’s kneaded to make naan and roti,” which I love. We often see ATTA referred to as “the guide for boys or girls” (as in, ATTAboy!), and it drives me crazy that there is already a perfect meaning of ATTA: the flour used for baking naan bread and roti bread.
18A. “Business is folding” is ORIGAMI, because you fold paper to create ORIGAMI.
25A. A meter reader checked my gas usage the day before, but a “Meter reading?” is a POET who can recite poetry (meters) while reading or a poem.
37A. I’ve never had court seats at a basketball game, but from what I can see on TV, they’re just normal chairs. However, here, are we talking about “Courtside seats?” with a question mark – a pun meaning “side of the ballpark”, rather than a basketball court, it refers to a king or queen’s court. Therefore, the court seats in question are THRONES.
56A, “Warm-up” events are RESPONSE because racetrack or swimming competitors meet in individual matches.
57A. “Card line?” is a great clue for NO IRON. I’m not sure this particular line of cards will work for the New York Times Crossword, but it will certainly prevent me from damaging the silk shirt with a hot iron if it is prominently printed on the card. I mean, it will maybe help, let’s say I read the tag first.
8D. I didn’t know that FALLS was a “classic honeymoon destination.” Are we talking, like, Niagara FALLS? Some other FALLS? Just water in general? I did a quick search on the internet about it, and apparently it an object!
19D. I like the “You can draw anything with this” clue for MAGNET because it works on two levels. The pun level is exactly that MAGNET can draw something using its magnetism, but the harder level is Etch A Sketch is really just a magnet and a bunch of iron filings that you use to draw .
40D. Today I learned that what we in the US call a sedan is called a SALOON in the UK. (The clue here is the analogy of “Sedan: US :: ___: UK”) Are Britons confused when they visit Old West tourist attractions where they are expected to drink during a SALOON?
42D. The “Religious Exodus” clue refers to HEGIRA, which was Muhammad’s departure from Mecca in the seventh century.
52D. “Large, informal sums” are GEES, which stands for “nephew” or thousands of dollars. As in, “He paid 40 GEES for his new SALOON.”
Thank you Ms. Iverson and Ms. Reid for this happy Friday diversion. Hear them about their collaboration.
Christina Iverson: I’m so excited to share a stream of messages with one of the best in the business! Caitlin and I connected three years ago when I contacted each other because we were both mom-to-be-home builders at the time. (I have since worked as Patti Varol’s assistant editor for the Los Angeles Times Crossword.) About a year and a half later, we reconnected and formed this useless group, with I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT as a seed. As the grid grows, only TEAPOT remains, but I think the puzzle will be better for it.
I learned a lot from Caitlin about how to build useless. Her puzzles are always sparkling and clean, which is something I always strive for in any puzzle. She really pushed me with this part, to keep redoing it until we were 100% satisfied with every part.
Caitlin Reid: As Christina mentioned, we’ve been working on puzzle solving together for a while. I’m so glad the time has finally come!
Christina is a pleasure to work with and works hard towards the clean, fun goal. No wonder the Los Angeles Times wanted her for an editorial assistant! A lot of my favorite fills and clues we sent were hers, like 57-Across and some other cute ones but ended up lying on the cutting room floor sadly. I also love the editorial team clues for 18-Across. Hope you enjoy the puzzle!
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