John Guzzetta’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Solving time inaccurate, as I was listening to Chelsea Clinton while working the puzzle. Maybe a tad harder than the typical Fri NYT, and maybe right on target. Who knows?
Let’s see. What did I actually absorb while solve-TVing? Likes: MOXIE, great TEACHABLE MOMENT, SPY KIDS, BAUBLES, QUICHES, BIOLOGICAL CLOCK, the ONE PERCENT, GRAY MATTER, HANGDOG expression, a little COGITATING, CHURCHY, THE BEE GEES (check out this a cappella performance in 1998 on a TV show, these brothers had some pipes!), and ANGLOPHONE.
Clues I liked:
- 59a. [Roughhouse?], SHACK.
- 60a. [Eponyms of the week?], GODS. E.g., Tyr, Odin.
- 12d. [Shoppers’ headache], LINE. Do you have a knack for choosing the worst line? I do.
- 19d. [Rail hubs?], MARSHES. Rails meaning birds, not train tracks.
Clues I didn’t much like:
- 18d. [Cry after “One, two, three,” maybe], “HIT IT.” Better if we didn’t have ONE PERCENT at 2d.
- 45d. [Make furniture-safe, in a way], DECLAW. It’s basically amputation, you know. Ow.
- 25a. [Symbol of virility], CHEST HAIR. Meh. Plenty of virile men are smooth-chested, and there are also women who have some wiry chest hairs but are not remotely virile.
Overall, solid fill, mostly good cluing. Four stars from me.
John R. O’Brien’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
I think it’s safe to say solving this on ones PC made the theme considerably easier. Even without that, I found the rest of the puzzle much easier than most Fridays, except for the small top-right, where I struggled for traction.
The conceit is two-fold. First, we have clue-answer reversal where each clue is a number. This is further obfuscated by transcribing them using the letters above them on a keyboard – accessed by pressing the SHIFTKEY when typing them.
I appreciated 3/4 of the theme answers:  is a JUMBOJET;  is a GAMBLINGGAME;  is a BROADWAYMUSICAL. Those are all, broadly, things known by numerical names.  is the KEYSONAPIANO – odd man out, and the most awkward answer to boot.
Some interesting trivia clues today:
- [Ancient time-telling device], CANDLE.
- [Hastings Ismay was selected as its first leader…], NATO.
- [Carroll’s stammering self-caricature…], DODO.
- [“She loves me” bit], PETAL. Wasn’t paying enough attention and put YEAHS at first – as in “She Loves You”.
- [Multi-day devotion], NOVENA. Not knowing this vocab word made that section very difficult!
- [Bubbly-textured Nestle chocolate bar], AERO. Very common here, and if I were writing crosswords for a South African audience this would be my go-to AERO. I was under the impression it was not sold in the U.S., except occasionally as an import (in the same way there is one shop here selling Reese’s Pieces, but at 6x what any local chocolate costs… Too pricey just to try it at those prices!)
- [Hall of Fame golf course architect Pete], DYE. Also, [Hall of Fame golf course architect Alice]… Creators of among others TPC @ Sawgrass and Whistling Straits.
Definitely a more interesting and layered puzzle than most, with just the one weak theme entry as a demerit.