“A Well Built Crossword”

crosswords for these troubling times

by Katherine Baicker & Ross Trudeau

[.puz][PDF][Solution] Difficulty: 2.5/5

My collaborator on this weekend’s puzzle is the first Rosswords contributor with her own dang Wikipedia page. How cool is that? Kate and I previously worked together on a Universal grid that ran back in November, and she’s become a cherished co-author over the last few months. Please welcome her in the comments section!

If you’re in the mood for Big Crosswords, I wrote today’s Universal Sunday, and I co-wrote this weekend’s WSJ puzzle (“Carbon Neutral“) with my roommate Jessie Bullock and my associate Parker Higgins. Yeah. Been writing a lot of clues recently.

Some thoughts and spoilers for A Well Built Crossword after the jump! Thanks to Mike, Matt, and Debbie for test solving!

Sun[day]s out, guns out

Kate: I’m so excited to have this collaboration appear!  Like, apparently, everyone else under the sun, I finally took the plunge into constructing last year, filled out a mentor form, and had the unbelievable fortune to get an email from Ross offering to show me the ropes!  We’ve now constructed several puzzles “together” (read: Ross patiently redirecting me out of the corners I’d run myself into).  I’d like to say that I’m keeping my new avocation from interfering with my day job (I’m a health economist and policy school dean), but . . .

Ross: Every now and then I have the intrusive thought of trying to think of more themers for this conceit. DELTA SQUAD? TRIPLE STRAP? BIOLOGY LAB? Quiet, brain, or I’ll stab you with a Q-tip!

Happy solving, friends!

-Ross

19 Responses

  1. Rich says:

    I am wondering if having done this puzzle means I have satisfied my exercise goals for the day and don’t have to go to the gym this afternoon. Clue commentary: 33A (Grrrroan…), 63A (I couldn’t decide whether to go with CNN or NFL), 38D (likewise CAW or AYE), 48D & 49D (haha, well done).

    And welcome Kate, btw what is the “mentor form” you refer to?

  2. Ray Yuen says:

    Two sexist terms in one puzzle? Time to get with the times. Totally turned off by this one.

    • rosstrudeau says:

      My collaborators and I try to be very sensitive to implicit sexism in puzzles, but I’m at a loss as to where we’ve erred here. Do share so we can learn/grow!

      • Ray Yuen says:

        Layperson should be the term over LAYMAN

        I know the reference is to two specific women but LATINX would make your puzzle progressive, rather than the LATINA reference.

        • rosstrudeau says:

          Hi, Ray. Thanks for clarifying. According to interviews, both of those women self-identify as Latina, so that clue stands. I’m not in the business of telling anyone how they *should* identify, though of course I support anyone’s decision to identify as Latinx/o/a. Moreover, the term “Latinx” is contentious among both progressives and the people progressives purport to describe with the term: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/15/learning/for-most-latinos-latinx-does-not-mark-the-spot.html

          As for ___man words, I also support the use of “layperson,” “layman,” or “laywomen,” as well as a general acknowledgment of how biases interact with linguistics. But it’s important to keep in mind that crossword clues are meant to be accurate hints, no exhaustive definitions. a LAYMAN can be [Hardly an expert], but that clue doesn’t purport to mean that all inexpert people are men. (I could clue LAYPERSON or LAYWOMEN the same way.) Anyway, the ongoing discussion of equity and representation in crossword puzzles is an important one that has strongly influenced how I (and my collaborators) choose to build puzzles. You’ll note that among the 17 people mentioned by name in this puzzle, 9 are women and 8 are men. That’s not an accident!

  3. Jean D. says:

    I’m with Rich, hoping my muscles are more fit simply by doing this puzzle. Probably not, since I’m on my duff on the patio in the NorCal winter sunshine. I loved the long down clues & solutions. Cracked up with 33A. Didn’t know the names for 15A and 12D. I recently learned the term “damp 1A” so I was thrilled to be able to use my new vocab in your puzzle. Thanks, Kate and Ross, for a great puzzle. Looking forward to more of your collaborations!

  4. Blaine Allan says:

    My first try at 14D was “UNCLE.” Didn’t work, obviously, and appropriately.

    Welcome aboard, Kate! (Bosun’s whistle sounds.)

    And Ross, a technical matter: After many months of no problems, I’m noting that my solutions are saving (on an iPad mini) only for a short time. If I close and go away for a few minutes, no issue, but a few hours later they’re phffft!

    • rosstrudeau says:

      Ha! (That’s a legit LOL at your 14D entry, which didn’t occur to me. Nice.)

      I just got an email from a user about this! I’ve asked the PuzzleMe people; stay tuned for possible resolution here.

  5. johnjerseycoast says:

    I was clueless on NIA/KAYE so no “A” for me on this one. Welcome Kate! Well done.

    • rosstrudeau says:

      We didn’t give you much to go on there, did we? Honestly, I blame myself. It could have been […whose name sounds like a letter] as a failsafe. Alas. Thanks for solving, John!

  6. Michael says:

    As an avid (okay, obsessed) cyclist, 26A just felt right to me. Fun theme! PS: I’m also the person behind @everydaynytcrossword on IG

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