Just Ben today, folks, and sorry for the late post — I was going to post as soon as I got home and then I spent the last 3 hours passed out. Being a teacher ain’t all it’s cracked up to be! Oh well, solve before reading on.
Can My Friend Hop In?
Constructor: Paolo Pasco
Theme: A form of transportation hidden in four Across pairs is shared between them, so each letter is only entered once for the crossing Downs.
- 17A: TV ANTENNA – “Rabbit Ears,” to people born before the ’90s
- 20A: IVANA – Trump’s former wife, whom I could probz clue more topically if I paid attention to whatever Trump is doing right now
- 19A: BUSTA – Rhymes of rhymes
- 21A: GARY BUSEY – “The Buddy Holly Story” actor who was on the latest season of “Dancing With the Stars”
- 60A: CABLE TIES – Makeshift handcuff replacements, possibly
- 64A: CABOT – “Princess Diaries” author Meg
- 62A: CARLO – Monte ___ (fanciest place I can currently imagine)
- 65A: DREW CAREY – Host of the show “where everything is made up and the points don’t matter” and the show “where the price is right”
- 37A: RIDESHARE – Economic travel arrangement… or what four pairs of answers in this puzzle are participating in?
This is the sort of theme that’s simple enough while you’re solving but hellish to try to describe. Hopefully I phrased it clearly.
Cute concept — I’m quickly learning to look forward to Paolo’s puzzles. It’s appropriately tough for Thursday, though it does result in a gibberish grid, which is always a slight annoyance for me. I opted to remove the doubled forms of transport in the grid above, since I disliked how the full version looked. Your mileage may vary, no pun intended.
Since I got the theme almost immediately (there’s really only one answer for 2D: “In ___ Russia, crossword solves you”), I pretty much just tackled all four corners in turn. Very segmented grid today, which is the trade-off for a fairly dense theme and clean fill. Well, mostly clean — NOLA is ugly. But it came out pretty nice.
Had no idea who Meg CABOT or Jerry SLOAN were, so that crossing O was a guess, but it was the only reasonable choice.
A bunch of pop-culture shoutouts that I liked — 5A: Range traversed in a quirkily fragile cable car in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” for ALPS, 32A: Beverage often sipped while solving in “Sherlock” for TEA, and my absolute favourite clue in ages, 48A: Movie character who really dodged a bullet by taking that pill for NEO.
Also really liked PENAL (7D: Kind of colony or code that might make you giggle if you had an immature sense of humor, but not me). I admit, I laughed. And 66D: Question from an existential toddler, probably for WHY is also awesome. Cluing is really on point today!
I was all set to “um actually” the clue for DREW CAREY, since he’s not the current host of “Whose Line Is It Anyway”, but it also specifies “The Price Is Right”, so fine. I still think Aisha Tyler is a better host, though.
I enjoyed this!