WEDNESDAY PIZZLE -- I was not sure what I would expect when I started writing the Wordplay columns in June 2021. Was I going to have enough to say about these puzzles? Will my readers tolerate my obsession with the details of crossword constructions? Will the comments be nice? I am so glad to report that all three questions were answered with a resounding yes.
The Wordplay community has given me the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful experience.
I am grateful for the support and mentoring of my co-columnists Deb Amlen, Caitlin Lover, and myself over the past two years. They have made me feel valued and welcome, and it has been a pleasure to be part of this team. I am also grateful for the friendships and insights of the puzzle-editing team: Wyna, Tracy Bennett Sam Ezersky Christina Iverson, Joel Fagliano. The editors have always been available to answer my questions and have provided valuable insight for the Wordplay print columns. Thanks also to the editors of Flexible Editing, who always improve my writing (and catch my errant Oxford Commas! ).
Most of all, I want to thank the people who solved it. You know who you're! My favorite punsters and mansplainers in the comments. To the wonderful people I've encountered at live crosswords, I have enjoyed getting to know them. I'll miss all of you, and I hope that you will stay in touch. You can find me at Twitter @URL.
Now, let's turn our attention to the final puzzle. It was created by my two favorite builders, Olivia Mitra Framke, and Brooke Husic.
I like a good repeating clue. I also appreciate it when the repeated clues are in symmetrical positions. For example, 'Furthermore ...' is the clue to both the first Across entry and the last Across entry. Answers are PLUS and ALSO.
It wouldn't, in my opinion, be a Brooke Husic crossword without at least some German. The answer to 'Mister in Munster' (which is HERR) is HERR.
This wordplay is about a team of athletes who don't make the first cut.
You may not be aware that the answer to 'Celebrity Chef ___ Leith is PRUE if you haven't watched 'The Great British Baking Show'.
ANO is often used in crosswords as a combination of letters, and it's usually referred to by the Spanish word ano, which means year. The constructors should have used 'Year in Portuguese' instead, since the answer ANO does not require the tilde to be placed over the letter 'N'.
I admit I didn't know what the Hartford was in the clue "Animal in Hartford's Logo". Since then, I've looked it up and discovered that the Hartford is an insurer with a STAG as its logo.
I laughed at the self-referential crossword puzzle component clue, even though it is actually GRID.
It took me several readings of the clue to determine whether I should enter LOIN into the grid or 'lion.'
BOLSTERS, a word that I'm used to seeing more as a verb than a noun, is what I learned means "Supportive Pillows in a Yoga Class."
The NYT is the company behind First Person, a podcast. This podcast is new to me, but I will check it out when I have more time.
This is a fun clue for LIDS that you might put on top of jars.
ATTA, or 'Palindromic Flour' is an important ingredient in the making of breads such as naan roti chapati.
The answer to the question 'Helpline?' is finally 64D. SOS is a helpline that you might call when in need.
This is a great, new theme! Ms. Framke, and Ms. Husic identified four entries of 15 letters each composed of three parts. Each of these three pieces was an anagram for the other two. There's nothing new about anagram themes -- we just had one the other day. But this is a fresh take on a classic wordplay.
The theme entries for the anagram-tastic contest are:
AIDE'S IDEA ASIDE ('Ignoring What My Assistant Said ...'?'). It's hard to imagine someone saying this because it would be rude. But the clue captures perfectly the silly expression that is created when you jumble up the letters of IDEAS 3 times.
STRAY ARTSY TABLES ('What could be found outside of a hipster café ?'). I liked picturing STRAY Trays strewn around outside a cafeteria and imagining how they could be ARTSY. Maybe they're covered with doodles or logos from bands you haven't heard of.
Early Relay Layer ('Wetsuit versus a Team Triathlon ?'). This is my favorite -- it is a bit less ridiculous than the other two and the clue is right on. The EARLY leg in a triathlon RELAY begins with swimming. A wetsuit could be used as an LAYER for this race.
NOTES SET IN STONE ('Engravings e.g .?'). This puzzle is slightly different from the others in that instead of three anagrammed letters, we use two words - 'SET ON -- for the five middle letters. It's a beautiful twist and I like that it comes last as a finishing flourish.
You have it! A clever theme, a GRID that is clean and sharply built with colorful clues by two highly skilled constructors. A great way to finish!
Thank you all for being with me on this journey. See you on the web!
Brooke Husic: My collab debut with Olivia is so exciting! We barely knew eachother when we began collaborating. But now, we have been working at Lil AVC X together for about a half-year. Olivia is a very thoughtful and creative editor. It's an honor to work with Olivia! This puzzle shows her creativity and thoughtfulness. The idea was all hers.
Olivia Mitra Framke : I am so grateful Brooke contacted me in 2021 about collaborating! It was a joy to work together then, and it is an absolute dream to collaborate with her today. It's our first Wednesday puzzle together, and I am really pleased with the result!
The idea for this theme was to create anagrams as clues. My two initial entries were [Notes carved in stone] for ENGRAVINGS, and [Least Stale Tales] for Page Turners. Brooke came up with the brilliant idea to change the execution of the grid by adding anagrams. We played around with a few fun options. Here are a few other ideas that didn't make the cut:
The English poet orders steak.
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