John Guzzetta & Michael Hawkins’ New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Is it just me, or did this play more like a Saturday than a Friday? I do love a tough themeless, but I CAN’T WAIT (20-Across!) to dig into the Indie 500 tournament’s crosswords on Saturday. Prior Indie 500 puzzles have been tough, clever, ingenious, funny, fresh, and surprising. I expect no different this weekend.
Highlights in the grid: the horrific BACONATOR (I continue waiting years for the bacon-on-everything fetish to run its course), tennis MATCH POINTS, MIAMI HEAT followed by Shaquille O’NEAL, IDRIS ELBA, “I’M AT A LOSS” (having two “I” answers is better when both are good longer phrases rather than, say, an I DO, I AM, and a partial), MALL SANTA, SQUEAMISH, and DARTH MAUL.
Didn’t know that was a legit form of the word: 12d. [Constantly wanting more], INSATIATE. Insatiable, sure. Dictionary labels INSATIATE as “literary.” Meh.
Didn’t know this was a thing at all: 11d. [Assigned, as to do charity work, in modern lingo], VOLUNTOLD. Blend of volunteer and told, I gather.
Dirty trick: 22a. [Abbr. for Lucasfilm] is LTD and not ILM, or Industrial Light & Magic. The clue seems much too overly specific for LTD, because there are a jillion Ltd. companies out there. Who’s gonna think this American company isn’t an Inc.? I really wasn’t confident of that L, given the clue for crossing MOBIL: 1d. [Company once named Socony-Vacuum]. That’s oil trivia I didn’t know. And given that Mobil ceased to be a company unto itself in 1999, I don’t like the clue, which sure doesn’t signal that you’re looking for another old corporate name. If you’re not familiar with the CYCAD, 3d. [Palmlike tropical plant], further trouble with the LTD crossing.
Three more things:
- 51a. [One devoted to Mary?], LAMB. I think this hearkens to the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and not the Virgin Mary/Lamb of God. “Everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.” Did today’s college students learn the old nursery rhymes when they were kids?
- 55d. [Relative of “die”], LES. German vs. French for “the,” in two not-very-closely related languages? They’re only relatives in that both are Indo-European languages. Not keen on the clue.
- 46d. [Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” vis-à-vis “We Will Rock You”], SIDE A. Blurgh. No. Records have the A-side and B-side. Now! Side A is actually a thing. There’s a Filipino pop band by that name.
3.9 stars from me.
Paul Coulter’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s review
“Cute and offbeat” is how I’d describe this theme, that I only appreciated in retrospect and solved around in my typical way. for some reason I thought DRESSEDTO/KILL was part of the theme, but there is no asterisk there! Anyway TURNOFPHRASE means several two-part phrases that can form phrases arranged either way, are placed one way, but clued as though they’re the other. NOTHINGDOING is clued as though it were DOINGNOTHING. BREAKWATER/WATERBREAK, BEATSDOWN/DOWNBEATS, and timeous BACKHANDED/HANDEDBACK make up the set.
Fill was again above average, particularly for the theme density. I (of course) loved the anatomical zone of ELASTIN/LIGATES with a fake-out tissue clue for KLEENEX!
It’s a pretty infinite theme, but no less for that fact.