Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative Difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: SLATE
Slate is an English-language online current affairs, politics and culture magazine in the United States created in 1996 by former New Republic editor Michael Kinsley, initially under the ownership of Microsoft as part of MSN. On 21 December 2004, it was purchased by The Washington Post Company, later renamed the Graham Holdings Company. Since 4 June 2008, Slate has been managed by The Slate Group, an online publishing entity created by the Graham Holdings Company to develop and manage web-only magazines. Slate is based in New York City, with an additional office in Washington DC.
A French version (slate.fr) was launched in February 2009 by a group of four journalists, including Jean-Marie Colombani, Eric Leser, and economist Jacques Attali. Among them, the founders hold 50% in the publishing company, while The Slate Group holds 15%. In 2011, slate.fr started a separate site covering African news, Slate Afrique, with a Paris-based editorial staff. (Wikipedia)
You'll have to excuse me for not superimposing a picture of David Plotz into the above image, but the sad truth is this puzzle just isn't worth it. It's serviceable, but far too dull to be of much positive good in this dreary, post-Wittgensteinian world.
I like the doubled clue on HERON [6A: Everglades wader] and EGRET [7A: Everglades wader]. That's surely the most interesting thing going on here. Interesting enough that, were there a third one that would have turned this into a downright good puzzle. That's probably too much to ask though, as there probably aren't any other animals that both match that description and could fit into this grid. I know you're probably thinking that "double crested cormorant" would work, but I already tried that and it doesn't fit. It's too long.
There's too much sub-par fill in here. SOY [8A: ___ latte (certain Starbucks order)] is junk, clued by more junk. The parenthetical is, guess what, unnecessary. Maybe it's just there for the product placement? I guess we didn't have enough already with LEGO [5D: Toy with its own theme park and movie]. OTOE is so worn out it's about to fall apart [2D: Great plains tribe]. SHE'S [4D: "____ out of your league, man"] is, in a word, bullshit. It's a bullshit word, and a bullshit clue. It doesn't belong in the crossword of the paper of record.
SLATE is pretty ok as an answer (it's better as a website) [4A: Website with the Political Gabfest podcast]. Kind of weird that none of the three hosts of the Gabfest actually work at Slate anymore. Good podcast though.
Here's what David Plotz left Slate for:
Signed, Jonathan Gibson, Everglades wallower of CrossWorld