SATURDAY PUZZLE — Today we get to welcome Lily Silverstein as a new constructor. Ms. Silverstein makes her debut with a very accessible, fun Saturday grid, and it’s always a delight to see a female constructor join the themeless, late-week ranks.
One thing I really like to see in a new constructor’s grid is clean fill, and for the most part, that’s what we’ve got here. I really liked the central staggered stack: All three entries, CHANCE MEETING, “A HUNGER ARTIST” and PLATELET COUNT are lively and make their own debuts today. Other entries that caught my eye were RIGHT ANGLE, AEROSOL CAN, PAPER-THIN and DEFEATIST (which also could have been PESSIMIST, not that I’m bitter).
There were a couple of entries that seemed a bit random to my ears, like NEW IDEA for “Basis of a patent” and HERA for “One sitting on a celestial throne” (HERA is sometimes portrayed as sitting on a throne, but the wording of the clue made me believe it could have been almost any god or goddess. Maybe that was the point, given that it’s Saturday.)
• 39A: I am a life-long dog companion, and I only just learned from this puzzle that the name FIDO is derived from the Latin for “faithful.” Makes perfect sense to me, and Now I Know.
• 55A: I loved this one. “Slide presentations?” suggests something you might see in a meeting, but there are other kinds of slides. Today, we’re supposed to think about something present on a glass microscope slide, and that could be AMOEBAS.
• 1D: It’s Saturday. You know the answer couldn’t be as easy as “Santa CLAUS.” Today, it’s “Santa MARIA.”
• 8D: This is a fairly common trick in crossword cluing: “This and this, but not that.” When you see letters in a clue like “F and…