Constructor: Andrew J. Ries
Relative difficulty: Very Easy (8:29, my fastest Friday time by over three minutes)
Word of the Day: PAPAW (7D: Fruit in the custard apple family) —
Asimina triloba, the papaw, pawpaw, paw paw, or paw-paw, among many regional names, is a small deciduous tree native to the eastern United States and Canada, producing a large, yellowish-green to brown fruit.
Hi all! Resident radio nerd Matthew here subbing in for Rex — now from St. Louis, where I’m taking a break from pub media and starting a yearlong fellowship teaching math at East St. Louis Senior High! My crossword solving obsession and constructing ambitions — supported in large part by the lovely folks at this blog — have become my de facto ice breaker fun facts, so we’ll see how many friends I make among my fellow teachers with my trusty cruciverbalist know-how in my back pocket. To the puz!
I’m surely biased by how little resistance I encountered in this PR solve, but I thoroughly loved almost everything about this puzzle. The grid is wide-open and aesthetically pleasing (contrast with last Friday’s, which felt awkwardly segmented). The short fill is all clean and clued on the easier side (looking at you, WAS IOU CPU SYR … ETC …), which allows lots of the longer answers to drop right in without any second-guessing. It’s a relief to come across a Friday that presents its challenges but doesn’t feel like it’s constantly out to get you.
I particularly enjoyed the cluing on the mid-length answers — there’s a lot of 6- to 8-letter stuff in there, and clue-wise, there are a *lot* of winners. Doubling up on “Put on the line” with both AIRDRIED (16A) and WAGERED (34A) is some A+ wordplay™. “Character raised in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ ” (APOSTROPHE (36A)) made me smile. All told, there are also a bunch of places where answers could go either way (read: ORCHESTRA in for MEZZANINE at 44A) that I just got lucky with whichever option I was able to throw down quicker.
All of the 11-letter downs get high marks in my book, but most of all STEGOSAURUS (23D: Colorado’s official state dinosaur). If you know any dinosaur fun facts, PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS because animal fun facts are the best fun facts (besides crossword-adjacent fun facts, of course … right?)
Re: dinos, I learned a bunch from this episode of 99% Invisible … and … of course …
- 48A: BBQ offering (BURGER) — As a native Texan, it is my obligation to say that the circles in the Venn diagram of burgers and barbecue don’t overlap. That’s it. That’s the bullet.
- 22A: Important thing to know, if you will (ESTATE LAW) — Estate law sounds incredibly boring, but I enjoyed its place in this puzzle entirely thanks to brilliant cluing.
- 5D: First podcast to win a Peabody Award (2015) (SERIAL) — Podcast love! I have never listened to Serial, but I am pretty sure that everyone I have spoken to in the last four years has recommended it to me. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
- 57A: Ill will (RANCOR) — Before I knew that this was actually a ~word~ found in the ~real world~, I knew from my definitely very cool ~children’s Star Wars encyclopedia~ that Jabba the Hutt’s grotestque, carnivorous cave giant from Episode VI is called a Rancor. I almost led with this as Word of the Day for this reason, but hey — I did have to leave y’all something to look forward to.
TGIF, Matthew Stock, Mos Eisley Cantina bandmate of CrossWorld
P.S. Shoutout to my two intrepid friends who made their crossword competition debut at BosWords last weekend! Proud of y’all.