David Woolf’s New York Times crossword
You know how I generally grouse about puzzles with triple stacks? I actually enjoyed this one. Yeah, there’s some junky fill in there, but the 15s included plenty of sparkle and the puzzle had a fun vibe.
Here’s what I liked most:
- 1a. [Message accompanied by red lips], SEALED WITH A KISS.
- 16a. [Like a hot mess], ALL OVER THE PLACE. A hot mess is a person who isn’t necessarily hot, just a mess. (Loved the clue, but could have done without the 36d: HOT IRON duplication. HOT IRON also is a weird entry.) We may be seeing the influence of Will’s postcollegiate assistant, Joel Fagliano, here. Would a man in his 60s generally use “hot mess” otherwise?
- 17a. [Where everything has been checked], BAGGAGE CAROUSEL.
- 50a. [They’re good for the long haul], TRACTOR-TRAILERS.
- 15d. [Many an Instagram], SELFIE. The slangy vibe that began with the “hot mess” clue carries through with KINDA, HOMIE (eh, dated), and HANGS clued as [Kicks back (with)].
- 38d. [Los Estados Unidos, en México], EL NORTE.
On the down side, we’ve got D-TEN, T-TOPS, IRANI, 6-letter partial IT CAME plus IT IN, THAT ONE, less familiar KLU (12d. [1950s Reds star Ted, for short]), AUD., and ALP, along with that HOT IRON.
Four more things:
- 7d. [Get a lock on, e.g.], WRESTLE. This is about actual athletic wrestling and not figurative wrestling, isn’t it?
- 45d. [Like dales, but not glens], BROAD. You don’t say. Checking the dictionary … yep, a glen is “a narrow valley” while a dale is “a valley, esp. a broad one.” A dell is a small valley with trees. Odd fact: Dale and Glen(n) are both sort of unisex names.
- 49d. [Web content], SILK. Spider webs, not internet.
- 1d. [Saturday, in Seville], SABADO. Did you hear that Sabado Gigante is ending after being on Spanish-language TV for something like 53 years?
I did have fun with the puzzle despite the irksome bits, which counts for a lot with me. 3.9 stars, because the clunkers drop it below a 4.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Let Them Eat Birthday Cake”—Ade’s write-up
Welcome to Friday, folks! If anyone is celebrating a birthday today, then this puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin, is the perfect way to get the celebration started. In it, each of the four theme answers begins with a word that also usually is an element in a cake. Speaking of cakes, I haven’t made my devil’s food cake in a long time. Might need to get on it this weekend. (Yes, I sometimes bake cakes just for the hell of it!)
- CANDLE IN THE WIND (17A: [Elton John song reworked to memorialize Princess Diana])
- ICING THE PUCK (26A: [Hockey infraction]) – Perfect entry given that the Stanley Cup Playoffs are almost coming down the final stretch.
- FILLING A NEED (42A: [Useful])
- LAYERS OF MEANING (54A: [Allegory feature])
I’ve probably only heard of a tennis player being referred to a NETMAN about once or twice ever, and that was back during the time in tennis when players actually came to the net during rallies (43D: [Tennis player (or a moniker for a lepidopterist superhero)]). Also in that area, I got entangled when putting in ‘stoic’ instead of STONY (62A: [Expressionless]). So not only have I been to both NEWARK, New Jersey and Newark, Delaware, I also made sure to get the pronunciations of the city correct in both places (10D: [The Garden State’s largest city]). (The Delaware city is pronounced the way the word looks, ‘new-ark,’ instead of the Jersey version, ‘noo-irk.’) Just in case you weren’t in the celebratory mood with the theme, there were a couple of words that could fit your demeanor: PASSE (22A: [Out of style]) and ENNUI (29D: [World-weariness]). But all of you guys and gals are upbeat people, for the most part, so let’s all get ready to have another good weekend!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NASH (31A: [Former associate of Crosby and Stills]) – A shout out to all the Canadians out there, as well as one of the great athletes Canada has ever produced, recently retired NBA superstar Steve NASH. (Yes, Nash actually born in South Africa, but grew up in Canada.) Nash first ended up being known as a basketball star in the United States when he led his college, Santa Clara University, to an upset win over Arizona in the 1993 NCAA Tournament, the second time a No. 15 seed defeated a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. After a slow beginning to his NBA career, Nash blossomed in his final few years with the Dallas Mavericks, and then in his time with the Phoenix Suns, where he won back-to-back NBA Most Valuable Player trophies in 2005 and 2006.
Have a good rest of your Friday, everyone! See you tomorrow from the City of Brotherly Love!
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Going Coastal” — pannonica’s write-up
This was one of those crosswords where the title—and theme—saved me. Had the grid complete except for a large swath in the lower right. After belatedly dropping in the answers to some clues I’d missed reading earlier (119d [Class for budding painters] ART I, 126d [Like Haydn’s Symphony No. 46] IN – (turned out to be B), 111d [Gospel group] CHOIR), I was still at a loss for the three long acrosses and a couple of the key downs.
There’s a central revealer: 74a [Like many a resort (or a hint to this puzzle’s theme] SEASIDE. And sure enough the words comprising the perimeter of the grid are all names of seas. Naturally, they’re clued in nonmarine contexts.
- 1a. [Marine fish named for its silver color] ARGENTINE. Whoops, mostly nonmarine contexts. Certainly not explicitly relating to the bodies of water, anyway.
- 10a. [Jack of “School of Rock”] BLACK.
- 15a. [Home plates?] CHINA.
- 1d. [Shade of blue on some cars] AEGEAN.
- 53d. [Second avenue on a Monopoly board] BALTIC.
- 92d. [Prince in the Narnia books] CASPIAN.
- 130a. [Straight up?] NORTH.
- 131a. [Pink hue] CORAL.
- 19d. [Majestic steed] ARABIAN.
- 65d. [Pusillanimous] YELLOW.
- … annnnd … 104d [School of Greek philosophy] IONIAN (see also 107d [Member of a school of Greek philosophy] CYNIC; 132a [1989 James Michener novel] CARIBBEAN.
Had I not been looking for seas to complete those edge entries, it would have been very difficult indeed to complete the section. Look: 124a [More convincingly, in legalese] A FORTIORI (easy to see “stronger” meaning in retrospect); 129a [Famed royal yacht] BRITANNIA (“Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, in service from 1954 to 1997.” – Wikipedia. Not famed to me. Also, HMY is the operative abbreviation here—take note!); 103d [Smelting refuse] SCORIA; 124d [“Scandal” broadcaster] ABC; tricky 125d [File extension] TAB; oblique 110d [Red leader?] INFRA-. But eventually I was able to proclaim I’M DONE (102d).
The crossing central entry doesn’t inform the theme, but it’s a wry nod. 41d [Kayaking and windsurfing, e.g.] WATER SPORTS.
Quite a lot of medium-length fill. EHUD BARAK, GO IT ALONE, BENEATHA Younger from A Raisin in the Sun, the unusual STAIR RACE, Cohan’s OVER THERE, CASTING CALL, DRY VERMOUTH, CAESURAS, AIRHEADS, PRETENSE, ANISETTE, and more.
Don’t have time to write more at length, so I’ll just highlight one item. 83a [“The Lake Isle of Innisfree” poet] YEATS. This year marks the sesquicentennial of Yeats’ birth, and 13 June is the specific date.
Very good crossword.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Wow! You don’t often see a LA Times Friday set at approximately Saturday NY Times difficulty, but I’d say that’s what this is. The theme is subtle: add an E to the first part of the theme answer, making an -ED word, and creating a homophone; then clue the result wackily. I say subtle, I only completed the final two theme answers near the end of the puzzle so difficult to judge that. Also, COLLARD and COLLARED are not homophones the way I speak. Americans may (DO!) speak differently though. I’d call the set above average in entertainment value. It is:
- [Chorus of cows?], MOO(E)DMUSIC
- [Environmentalist priests?], COLLAR(E)DGREENS
- [Assessed penalties against nonconformists?], FIN(E)DTHEWAYOUT
- [Barbie after a bit too much bubbly?], WIN(E)DUPTOY
Things contributing to the high difficulty: the grid is very segmented; the themers were difficult to parse into answers; there are few gimme answers; there were also a few unusual names; and generally difficult clueing was used.
- [Psych ending], OTIC. Prefer the anatomical angle for this answer. This clue answers OSIS too; not a pleasant trick.
- [They may be seen on slides], AMEBAE. Weird hybrid spelling: American lack of an oethel, but then it ends in the Latin plural form. Who does that?
- [Black ___], SEA. Can be TEA
- [He dethroned Carnera in 1934], BAER. See Amy’s post above. Just wait till cruciverbalists discover the well of helpful names in cricket and Formula 1!
- [Cubist Fernand], LEGER. Not a name I know.
- [Noisy nesters], JAYS. Are there quiet nesters? Wanted BEES then RATS then BATS…
- [Apologia’s opposite], TIRADE. Opaque clueing angle for me.
- [“Suit the action to the ___…”: Hamlet], WORD. See above.
- [Shade on the links?], GOLFTAN. Appeared via crossers, eventually. I went “oh yes, that is a thing”. Good answer!
- [Actor Peters of “American Horror Story”], EVAN. Not an EVAN I know.
- [Bard order], ATALLONE. The “a” seems gratuitous to me.
- [To whom Chance said, “You’re not workin’ as many bees these days”], ULEE. That’s a long way to go clue-wise for ULEE!
- [Bridge call], REBID. Long-time crossword solvers all reflexively filled in ONENO, yes?
- [Shore seen on TV], DINAH. PAULY was my first answer.
- [“Awesome job, bro!”], YOUDAMAN. That needed a lot of crossers!
- [Like Lewis’ Aslan], FELINE. I suppose.
- [Baker’s variety], ICINGS. Cunning way to disguise a plural, though deflated somewhat by it being a clunky one.
- [2003-’11 Brazilian president, familiarly], LULA. All crossers. He/She didn’t get the press Dilma does!