Sam Trabucco’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
A themeless that starts off with a zippy 1-Across? That’s GOOD STUFF, all right. Singular ODOR-EATER is a little bogus, but hey, we’ve seen singular Q-TIP in a zillion puzzles despite the trade name being Q-tips. I like PERKY, HEGIRA, PUFFER FISH (can you imagine if humans could inflate when feeling threatened? life would be a lot more entertaining), TAROT CARDS, NEVER EVER, “I DON’T MIND,” the CONEHEADS, slippery BANANA PEELS, GRAND RAPIDS, a DRY RUN, ULTRASONIC, FRESH-FACED, an ALEWIFE (been years since I smelt an alewife die-off in Lake Michigan), and SORORITY ROW. And HELLA! It started out west (Oakland? Seattle? not sure) but has gone national. As in “this puzzle is hella good” or “this constructor is hella young and fresh-faced.”
I cannot accept TAKE A SNOOZE as legit. I guess it Googles up okay, but it just sounds so wrong to me. The verb is “snooze,” not “take a snooze,” people. Check out the synonymous phrases put forth in a 1965-1970 language survey at the Dictionary of American Regional English site, though. “Catch ten-twenty winks,” “ketch a wink,” “lay down and lose myself,” “crap out for a while,” and the inexplicable “going off for a minute in a chair” have all been attested.
Overall, the fill’s quite smooth.
- 35a. [Like much sandpaper], TAN. Not sure I’ve seen that one before.
- 47d. [State capital on the Indian Ocean], PERTH. We don’t often get asked for state capitals outside the US.
4.25 stars from me.
Samuel A Donaldson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today, Sam gives us a simple enough letter addition theme, where AC is added to four phrases. There’s no clever revealing answer to tie everything together, so the puzzle lives and dies by its entries. UMBILICALACCORD and ACCOUNTINGSHEEP are both winners, and ACCOSTCONTROLS and BAGGAGEACCLAIM are functional. Two hits is better than average as these puzzles go, I find.
I’m not sure if it was eagerness to get TABOULI into the grid, but USOC/EEOC is quite a patch of alphabet soup, with ASEA running across it, and NOOB, which I imagine will trip up many older solvers. LARC is also a biggish clunk. There are four long across themers, and that generally translates to most of the rest of the puzzle being damage control.
Man Shortz et al are on a roll. This is two back-to-back winners. Yesterday’s was a star, and while this isn’t quite in the same league, man it’s a beautiful grid. Yes TAKE A SNOOZE was contrived, but only slightly, and it didn’t bother me since literally every other long entry was at worst solid (DEHYDRATE) or at best terrific (PUFFERFISH, SORORITY ROW, BANANA PEELS to slip on …)
The cluing was also spot-on, esp. the three different senses of “Test” (ASSAY, DRY RUN, TRY), which is elegant cluing — I’m not always a fan of the same-clue-for-multiple-entries trick, but this was pulled off nicely: each one of the answers was a different meaning of “Test”. Also the two senses of “John Hancock” was pretty: the insurance firm and the pen used to sign your John Hancock with…. And the clue for puffer fish is perfect
The 34A clue “John Hancock competitor” for AETNA is too clever by half, as Aetna is not a competitor of John Hancock in any meaningful sense. John Hancock is a life insurer and Aetna is a health insurer. There may be some very small overlap in products, but their core businesses are very different, and nobody in the industry would consider them competitors.
There’s some interesting background and history to HELLA and related terminology at this Language Log post. The comments cover a lot of ground.
As a long-time DC area resident, I can say that I never use the term myself and don’t recall ever hearing it used (also, I am 60 so don’t tend to know what the young kids these days are saying).
I liked the puzzle — I started off in the NW and breezed along on a generally SE heading, but slowed down in the SE corner. I guessed PATNA for PERTH, but then I tried NEVEREVER and the rest fell.
NYT: Beautiful, beautiful grid. Lots of fun from start to finish.
But I agree about TAKE A SNOOZE, especially since, with only CLOAK and PUFFERFISH in place, I confidently plopped in CATCH SOME ZS, and it fit! If I had had DOZE in place, I would’ve been even more perplexed!
NYT: My best Friday time yet, at least in 2 years of using the app. Enjoyable, smooth, fill and now I get to feel smart for the rest of the day, at least until Saturday puts me back in my place :-)
Wonderful puzzle!; Sam hit a home run with his first NYTimes themeless.
Perhaps it’s only in common usage among New Englanders but, “I’m going to TAKE A SNOOZE”, is often heard from those heading for an afternoon nap.