"Clown Core Curriculum" by Paolo Pasco, edited by Francis Heaney

Difficulty ● ● ● ● ●

Puzzle Notes

Hello, and happy Groundhog Day! We're celebrating with our first variety cryptic of the year; if the groundhog sees their shadow, it will take you six erasers to solve it. It's by one of our favorite crossword pals, Paolo Pasco, and it's a laugh riot, just like the Bill Murray movie most appropriate to the day ("Quick Change," of course). Paolo says:

This puzzle was inspired by a Twitter thread of people hoping it wouldn't happen, proving once and for all that the easiest way to motivate me to make a puzzle is reverse psychology and the urge to be a little stinker.

As for the rest, I'm doing data science in San Diego, just graduated college, have puzzles at the Atlantic and cryptics at the Browser/New Yorker, am on Twitter @gpaolopasco, fun fact was a guest on the Depths of Wikipedia show in San Diego for a few segments and had a blast! Thanks to Francis a thousand times for helping nail the theme down to the best version of itself, and for working their trademark editing magic on the rest of the puzzle. Also did you know they typeset these little barred puzzles by hand? Tip your editors.

Aw, thanks! (Note that I prefer my tips to be aged at least 5 years with strong peaty notes.) Hope y'all enjoy solving this one as much as I enjoyed working with Paolo on it. And get psyched for our next puzzle in two weeks, a very fun, very fresh one from Lily Geller, edited with love by Nate Cardin.

Oh, and one last technical note -- since barred cryptics are incompatible with Across Lite, there is no .puz file this week (and no Inksaver .pdf, because what am I gonna do, make the lines gray?). Digital solving is still possible with the .jpz file, either with Crossword Nexus's handy online solving interface, or with an app like Xword or Crossword Solver.

Puzzle on,
Francis (and the AVCX Cryptic crew)