Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Lots of fun fill in Robyn’s latest themeless. There’s a TRACTOR BEAM immobilizing a spaceship. A CASH ADVANCE (watch out for those fees, though). The EMPIRE STATE. A seasonal SKI LODGE and SECRET SANTA. Your TOP TEN HIPSTERS (please, nobody select 10 hipsters, okay?). NOSTRILS! IN THE MIDDLE, GREEN SCREEN, KNOCK OVER, the BATCAVE, and STARGAZER. Really lovely stacks of long answers.
ARAL, ENG, ORLY, HRE, IN RE, ACTA, ENE, MST, and RELET are the worst of the fill, but they didn’t ruin the solve for me, they were just dull.
Four more things:
- 16a. [It resembles an “n” when lowercase], ETA. How did I never know that? Ah, okay, an “n” with a long tail.
- 5d. [Elephant’s-ear], TARO. Arrowleaf elephant’s ear, apparently, is one variety of the taro plant.
- 29d. [Rama’s wife, in Hinduism], SITA. I confess I needed the crossings here, and tried SIVA. If you’re as unknowledgeable as I, read up.
- 27d. [___ DeVos, noted school choice advocate], BETSY. Okay, so ERIC was clued as the Trump son twice last week, and now BETSY gets clued with that ideologue Trump’s appointing to head (dismantle?) the Department of Education. “School choice,” in this context, means “defunding public education, weakening teachers’ unions, and shifting resources to corporate charter schools or private Christian schools.” Ms. DeVos, it bears noting, has never been an educator. I just wish the crossword could be a bit of an escape from the steady drumbeat of harsh news. Pretty sure I am not the only one who objects to the turn the crossword has taken of late. (Rex Parker previously noted that names like OBAMA and MALIA that are 60% vowels are easy to work into crosswords, and don’t lend themselves to other cluing approaches. But names like BETSY and ERIC? There are numerous famous people by those names who could appear in the clues instead.)
Four stars from me, with dyspepsia over 27d.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Well, I’ll Bee!” —Ade’s write-up
Happy Friday, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Harman, features four multiple-word entries in which the first word, when standing alone, could also come before the word “bee” to form a different phrase/noun.
- AUNT JEMIMA (17A: [Quaker Oats trademark])
- KILLER WHALE (30A: [Orca])
- HONEY BADGER (48A: [Ratel]) Bonus “sports…smarter” nugget: Nickname of current Arizona Cardinals safety and 2015 All-Pro Tyrann Mathieu.
- SEA SERPENT (66A: [Legendary swimmer])
No hiccups in solving the grid, which is odd since I’m pretty much prone to that occasional mishap that costs me some time. Had a few long entries outside of the theme answers as fill, but none really stood out from that pack. What did stand out was the clue to REAR, as I did have someone who’s involved in the mixed martial arts community offer to put me in that headlock to see how that feels (50D: [____ naked choke (hold that might elicit a tapout]). As you might have guessed, I respectfully declined. There’s probably a good chance that I will hear a SADE song before the end of the day now that I came across her in this grid today (19A: ‘Smooth Operator” singer]). A good number of times, that actually happens not too long after having a song/singer in mind because of doing a crossword puzzle. I’ll keep you updated if that actually happens today.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: EWING (33D: [NBA Hall of Famer Patrick]) – Speaking of coming across something not too long after – or before – doing a crossword, I spent last night watching a classic Christmas Day basketball game from 1994 between the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls, a game that featured longtime New York Knick center Patrick EWING. Or, as his name is stated in this Snickers ad, Patrick Chewing. Gotta love exploding backboards.
Have a great weekend, everybody!
David Alfred Bywaters’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today features a well-made version of a common Friday LA Times theme trope – add letters. Today features “EX”. The EX appears in different words and in different positions of the word, which is less consistent, but in this case leads to pleasant surprises. The answers are interesting, both in original, and altered forms. The themers are: BEES(EX)TING, RAGGEDYANN(EX), FETAL(EX)POSITION), SPRAYONT(EX)AN, (EX)CESSPOOL. There is a revealer in the bottom-right, the vanilla EXES; it seems unnecessary.
Favourite moments: [Clickbait site, as of Sep. 2016], OED the rare clueing masterstroke that rescues a terrible answer! And [Fabled lost mittens punishment] for NOPIE.