Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword, “Inside Out”—Derek’s write-up
My good friend Jeff Chen has this week’s Sunday NYT puzzle. Sometimes these Sunday themes leave me scratching my head, but this one is pretty clever. The title hints at what is going on: Common phrases are broken down into one word getting sandwiched by another, and all clues written as something “inside” something else. Let me show you:
- 22A [Lists about a port on the Black Sea] ROYAL TASTERS
- 28A [Neighborhood surrounded by crim] THE FAR EAST
- 43A [Metal pin stuck in parts of sinks] DRIVETRAINS
- 68A [Flourishes around monsoon events] BRAIN SURGEONS
- 92A [Fear among underground workers] MIND READERS
- 109A [Coming up in vetoes] NIXON TAPES
- 116A [Crew found inside again and again] THROWING RICE
The red letters represent the circled letters in the grid, which in this case don’t seem superfluous at all. This is a nice tight theme, this was enjoyable, and I wish I had Jeff’s constructing talent! I have never made a Sunday size puzzle; it just seems like so much work! But appearing in the NYT on a Sunday is a type of bucket list goal for me. Finished in just over 10 minutes, which is just tad faster than normal for me. Probably because I figured out the theme rather quickly this week. A solid 4.6 stars for this one.
- 7A [Per __] DIEM – We pay a lot of our workers a per DIEM. It isn’t taxed, so I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want it. You would have to plan your finances, I suppose.
- 36A [Laura of “ER”] INNES – I was not an ER watcher much when it was on. So I actually only know her from puzzles!
- 61A [Sliding item on a car] MOON ROOF – My next car may have one of these. My wife’s car has one, and I like it!
- 115A [Licorice-flavored extract] ANISE OIL – My least favorite entry in the grid, but if this is the worst, it’s OK. I can see why it was used: look at all those vowels!
- 123A [“Fawlty Towers” or “The Vicar of Dibley”] BRITCOMS – I do not get British humor. I am much more a fan of British mysteries, like Broadchurch or Midsomer Murders.
- 2D [Single-__ (like a certain health care system)] PAYER – One of these days our government will figure this out. Once they actually have people’s best interests and not corporate profits as a motive, it will be fine! (Translation: never!)
- 7D [Partner of a crossed “t”] DOTTED I – This seems new, but this is the fourth NYT occurrence of this, thanks to Jeff’s own site xwordinfo.com. Check it out if you never have!
- 29D [Hindu exercise system] HATHA YOGA – This is a new one to me, but feels like something I should know. One thing about being a word puzzle lover: you are constantly learning new words!
- 45D [“Fighting” collegiate team] ILLINI – Their football team hasn’t had “fight” in years. Ex-Bears coach Lovie Smith is the current coach, so that may change in the next few years. They finished 2-10 this year, winless in the Big Ten. Plenty of room to improve! (And no, I don’t want to talk about today’s Michigan game!)
- 48D [Another name for Dido] ELISSA – A real -life character in Virgil’s Aeneid who was the first queen of Carthage, according to Google!
- 83D [Magazine places] ARSENALS – I read this as “magazine pieces”, so I had ARTICLES in here first. I need a new scrip!
- 84D [Don Quixote’s unseen beloved] DULCINEA – Her name was on the tip of my tongue until I had several crossers. I will read this book someday!
That is all! Great to fill in for someone once in a while! I am sure Amy will be back to her speed-solving blogging ways soon! Enjoy your Sunday everyone!
Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Themeless No. 6” – Erin’s writeup
Nice snappy themeless this week. Gonna keep this quick, because I’m explaining to my toddler why he can’t have his sister’s food and drinks because they’re just going to come right back up.
Loves: BLACK LIVES MATTER, CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE, KIDS’ TABLE, ORANGEMAN. [Bit the mullet?] for ATE is gross at first and clever after I remember a mullet is a type of fish. Other gross thing: FROOT Loops Shake. Eww.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s CRooked crossword, “2 Much” — pannonica’s write-up
Rebus squares. Acrosses feature the bigram I·I, which can be read as 2 in the Roman number-writing system. Downs feature the trigram T·W·O, which is 2 spelled out. Two ways, see?
- 23a. [Speedboat sport] WATERSKIING.
6d. [Larva of a moth] CUTWORM.
- 25a. [Aloha State TV drama (1959–63)] HAWAIIAN EYE. Never heard of it.
13d. [Bottom-line value] NET WORTH.
- 51d. [Pueblo peoples] ZUNI INDIANS.
19d. [Doris Day ditty] TEA FOR TWO.
- 58a. [City Vesuvius buried] POMPEII.
59d. [Price of a stuck-in opinion] TWO CENTS.
- 78a. [Non-Sunni Muslims] SHIITES. Should be introduced with “some”.
72d. [“The Handmaid’s Tale” author] ATWOOD.
- 84a. [Suva’s archipelago] FIJI ISLANDS. I’m convinced some obscure but very crossword-friendly words are rolled out over time in clues to familiarize solvers with them so that they can be implemented later on. SUVA is definitely one of those.
68d. [Final say] LAST WORD.
- 112a. [Tiger flipped by Big Papi’s 2013 homer] TORII HUNTER. I, I … I don’t fully understand what this clue is saying.
87d. [“American Gothic” painter] GRANT WOOD.
- 114d. [Forcing into naval service] SHANGAIING. More of a generalized term these days.
110d. [Busy on a job] AT WORK.
I appreciate how both letter sequences vary substantially in whether or not they’re split across words. A fun crossword, no two ways about it.
- 61a [Marks below c’s] CEDILLAS. As I filled in the obvious C MINUSES, was getting grumpy about the duplication. But it turned out to be an oopslication.
- 77a [Red Skelton rube] CLEM Kadiddlehopper.
- 18a [Send out, as rays] EMIT. 103a [Issue forth] EMANATE.
- PSA: I’m not going to list the Boston references this week. Not an annoyingly high tally, but rest assured they are there.
- 74d [Set of dice] BONES. Felt this needed a qualifier. “Slangily” or “casually”, that sort of thing.
- 54d [Beckett’s no-show]
Erik Agard’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Outside Shots”—Amy’s quick write-up
It’s going on 10 pm, so I’ll be brief. Erik’s theme answers are phrases that start with P and end with IC—so a PIC is the 107d. [Shot surrounding the answers to starred clues]. For extra elegance, the most meta/apt themer is saved for the end: 104a. [*Like a 107-Down], PHOTOGRAPHIC. The other themers include Sealy POSTUREPEDIC, POST-APOCALYPTIC (I mostly solved this puzzle during The Walking Dead commercial breaks), PRACTICAL MAGIC, PIZZAHOLIC (I guess …), goofy PET PSYCHIC, PAPER OR PLASTIC (technically, PLASTIC alone fits the theme, but PAPER OR PLASTIC is livelier), and the ill-conceived PHILLIE PHANATIC. Rock-solid as these themes go.
Other notes: Erik can be relied on to expand the canon of what’s deemed crossword-worthy to move past the general “dead white guys” concept. And so we have the historical ZULU KINGDOM, HOODOO ([African American folk magic]), the Ava Duvernay series QUEEN SUGAR, ERIC clued as [Benét or Bellinger of R&B], and comedian CRISTELA Alonzo. Other entries I liked: “PROVE IT,” ALMODOVAR, VERACRUZ, PINCH-HIT, FOMO (fear of missing out, which I am mostly top old to give a rat’s ass about), and footy WEST HAM.
Favorite clues: 69a. [Brown rectangle?], QUAD (Brown University). 56a. [Good name for a funeral director?], MORT. 50d. [God head?], DEMI (prefix in demigod). 56d. [“Letter from Birmingham Jail” initials], MLK.
4.25 stars from me.