FRIDAY PUZZLE — Welcome to Friday, everyone. We’ve done it, and we have a themed Puzzle Gem to start the weekend. Today’s puzzle is a collaboration between designers Christina Iverson (new assistant editor of The Los Angeles Times Crossword) and Caitlin Reid (mainstay of The New Yorker’s All-Star Crossword Constructors list).
I’ve always believed that crosswords should have slogans to highlight their brand and capture what makes a New York Times puzzle different from a Los Angeles Times or a New Yorker puzzle. I’ve tried using a few potential New York Times crossword slogans from the editors here, with very little success. Some of my favorites were “All the clues fit for printing” – which was a hard no (“It’s ungrammatical”) – and “It’ll help you when you’re feeling down” (also oddly not immediately adopted).
Because it’s Friday and I think everyone could use a fun distraction from everyone *gestures wildly* ThisI humbly ask you to suggest your own potential catchphrases in the comments.
Speaking of fun distractions, let’s jump into today’s fabulous riddle by taking a look at some of the more difficult clues.
1A Just outside the gate we encountered the notice “Kneading is used to make naan and roti” which I adore. We often see ATTA as “introduction to boy or girl” (as in, ATTAboy!), and it drives me nuts because there’s already a perfectly cromulant meaning of ATTA: the flour used to bake naan and roti bread is used.
18A The “company that folds” is ORIGAMI because you fold paper to create ORIGAMI.
25A A meter reader checked my gas usage the other day, but a “meter reader?” is a POET who might recite poetry (meter) at a reading or poetry slam.
37A. I’ve never had courtside seats at a basketball game, but from what I can see on TV, they’re just regular chairs. But are we talking about “courtside seats” here? with a question mark – the pun is on “courtside,” which doesn’t refer to a basketball court, but to a king’s or queen’s court. Therefore, the pitches in question are THRONES.
56A, “Heated” events are MEETS because participants compete in individual heats at track or swim meetings.
57A. “Slogan?” is an excellent guide to DO NOT IRON. I’m not sure that particular slogan would work for the New York Times crossword, but it would certainly keep me from ruining a silk shirt with a hot iron if it were clearly printed on the tag. I mean it would probably Help, assuming I read the tag first.
8D Little did I know FALLS was a “classic honeymoon destination”. Are we talking about Niagara Falls? Some other CASES? Just waterFALLS in general? I did a quick internet search on this and apparently it is a thing!
19D. I like the “You could draw things with it” hint for MAGNET because it works on two levels. The right pun level is that a MAGNET might attract something with its magnetism, but the sillier level is that an Etch A Sketch is really just a magnet and a bunch of iron filings that you use to draw.
40D. Today I found out that what we call a sedan in the US is called a SALOON in the UK. (The clue here is in the analogy format “Saloon : US :: ___ : UK”) Are Brits confused when visiting tourist attractions of the Old West where they are expected to drink in a SALOON?
42D. The reference “religious exodus” refers to the HEGIRA, which was Muhammad’s departure from Mecca in the seventh century.
52D. “Large sums of money, informal” are GEES, short for “Grands” or thousands of dollars. As in: “He paid 40 GEES for his new SALOON.”
Thank you Ms. Iverson and Ms. Reid for this fun distraction on Friday. Let’s hear from them about their collaboration.
Christina Iverson: I’m thrilled to be sharing a byline with one of the best in the business! Caitlin and I met three years ago when I reached out because we were both housewives at the time. (I’ve since worked as Patti Varol’s deputy editor for the Los Angeles Times crossword.) We exchanged ideas about nursery rhymes, but never created a themed puzzle. About a year and a half later we reconnected and did this unthemed one, with I’M A LITTLE TEAPANNE as the nucleus. As the grid evolved only the TEAPOT remained, but I think the puzzle is better for that.
I learned so much from Caitlin about themed building. Her puzzles are always sparkling and clean, which is what I always strive for with any puzzle. She really pushed me to revise it until we were 100 percent happy with every section.
Caitlin Reid: As Christina mentioned, we’ve been looking for a way to work on a puzzle together for a while. I’m glad it’s finally here!
Christina is a pleasure to work with and diligently strives for clean, fun fill. No wonder the Los Angeles Times wanted her to be their editor! A lot of my favorite fills and clues we submitted were hers, like 57-Across and some other cute ones that unfortunately ended up on the cutting room floor. I also loved the editorial team’s note for 18-Across. Hope you enjoy the puzzle!
Sign up for the games newsletter
If you’re interested in getting riddles, brain teasers, walkthroughs, and more in your inbox each week, sign up for the new gameplay newsletter.