Here's our first full-size cryptic of the year! It's not only our first of 2023, it's also the first published cryptic from Ken Stern, who's been a competitor at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and member of the National Puzzlers' League for more than 20 years. Here's Ken in his own words:
Ken Stern lives in Brooklyn with his wife, two teenage children and adorable dog Popcorn, and works for the Advanced Placement (AP) program at the College Board. He is a longtime frequent solver and infrequent constructor. This is his first solo published cryptic, and he's also on the Lil AVC X editing team for 2023. You can find him chitchatting about puzzles, memes and silly wordplay and dad jokes on Twitter @ckstern
This puzzle has been some time in the making -- Ken and fellow Brooklynite Stella rode together to the 2022 ACPT on MetroNorth, and he put the grid together on the trip. We're so glad to bring it to you in full form at last!
The AVCX Cryptic team