See the 24 answer words debuted by Erica Hsiung Wojcik.
I love dogs. My next-door neighbors' pooch is one of my best friends — especially since I don't have to pick up her poop — and I'm an unabashedly huge fan of Tucker Budzyn. I'd totally get some FUR BABIES if I didn't already have two snot babies.
This flu / RSV season is killing me.
Everyone take note that when the NBA brings back the Sonics through expansion, COURTSIDE SEATs would be an ideal "big ticket item" for your ol' pal Jeff. That level of clever wordplay alone was worth the price of admission.
I wasn't familiar with JUDITH HEUMANN. Thankfully, my guess of NEUMANN made me ASHEN when ASDEN didn't make sense. I enjoyed reading about her; a TREASURE TROVE of accomplishments. She's genuinely an EYE OPENER — I'm putting her book on my TBR pile.
Stairstack grids are commonplace these days, but they can push their boundaries with long entries threaded through their middle triplet. EPIDURAL isn't a multi-word entry that editors tend to prize, but that clue — "labor relief," indeed!
I'd be curious to see what happens when you take out the black square between EASE and VIET. I'm sure it wouldn't be the epitome of EASE, but with a standard pattern like a stair stack, I love seeing how far constructors can push themselves.
NATATORIA isn't in my everyday language, but it's so constructor-friendly. That perfect consonant-vowel allows for it to be worked in swimmingly.
All in all, a solid amount of color and not much gluey short fill to ding.
That stair-stacked triplet sums up my life when Jill is away. She thinks it should be fine (and it really should be), but my SOLO PARENTING experiences have included one child howling so fiercely they peed straight through the floor, one child waking up screaming like a banshee at 2 a.m. with unspecified foot PAIN, and copious, copious issues regarding poo.
WHO AM I KIDDING, indeed.
Also neat to get extra kid-related flavor in the TABULA RASA clue. John Locke may be a great philosopher, but he's never tried to influence a Chen child.
A handful of great clues. USED VEHICLE is on the road again. [Intro to America's pastime] misdirected to the National Anthem, away from TBALL. Jim Horne is an actual symphony conductor, so he knows the score when it comes to a score propped on a MUSIC STAND. Delightful!
A couple of blips. I've had both Pau and Marc GASOL on my fantasy bball teams, but will Pau make the Hall of Fame? Not sure. Crossing GASOL with [Tiny dosage units: Abbr.] which could be MGS or MLS … why not go with the Booker T and the MGS?
I also wondered if the lower-left corner could have gotten more color, helping me WARM TO it more. Turns out that pesky final A of TABULA RASA and Y of TRAGICOMEDY constrain things mightily.
Parenting is often a TRAGICOMEDY of laughter and tears. Thankfully, a great majority of my solving experience was the former. Fun debut that resonated with this father (who is recording every moment for future blackmail).