Paolo Pasco’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I inadvertently left a square blank and it took me maybe 15 seconds to spot it, so my solving time should be even quicker than this crazy-fast-for-me time. The puzzle will be polarizing, with people who dig social media, pop culture, and au courant fill loving it and people who prefer more classical fill finding it quite off-putting. Me, I enjoyed the hell out of Paolo’s crossword. Tons of gimmes, lively fill, crisp clues.
These are a few of my favorite things: PO-PO (which I learned from a 2006 episode of House and have been using ever since), JEAN SHORTS (we would also have accepted JORTS), ESCAPE ROOM (can you believe I’ve never been??), “RADIO GA GA,” BATCAVE, QUAALUDE (banned in the US in 1984, in the news in recent years thanks to Bill Cosby), “KNEW IT!”, NINJA (throwing) STARS, AP CREDIT, THE ELEMENTS, and SUBTWEET (that’s when you tweet about someone without including their Twitter handle, knowing that people who follow you and the other person will know what’s what).
Did not know: 21a. [Tupper of Tupperware fame] was named EARL. Also did not know 31a. [Kim ___-jung, recipient of the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize], DAE—but actor Daniel Dae Kim is familiar to me, so DAE is a plausible part of a Korean name.
Four more things:
- 41a. [Frustrating thing to open], PUZZLE BOX. Tricky constructions, typically crafted from wood, that you have to manipulate in very specific ways in order to open. Perhaps the clue should be [Frustrating thing to try to open], as you’re no longer frustrated once you’ve managed to open it.
- 46a. [News ___ (media giant)], CORP. This is the company where Rupert Murdoch is CEO. Did you hear that his Bel-Air vineyard/estate was damaged (destroyed?) by the Skirball fire this week? Those California wildfires are something else.
- 13d. [Sign of availability], TO RENT. No, no. This entry is junk. TO LET might be legit in the UK, but in this country, the signs invariably say FOR RENT.
- 8d. [Refrain syllables], NA NA NA. As heard in “Hey Jude.”
4.3 contented stars from me. Nice work, Paolo! (Except for 13d.)
Mark McClain’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Why Switch?” — pannonica’s write-across
Swap out the letter Y for X.
- 17a. [Candle-factory safety rule?] DON’T GET IN THE WAX (… way).
- 24a. [Results of a vote on weapon preference by medieval warriors?] THE AXES HAVE IT (… ayes …). The theme itself can be seen as an X-Y axis transposition, though there aren’t any Xs in the original phrases to confirm.
- 42a [Generic liquor-cabinet item?] BRAND X SNIFTER (brandy …). Only one of the four that entails a change in spacing.
- 54a. [Couple leaving divorce court?] FRESH PAIR OF EXES (… eyes).
Simple idea, but I feel the clever whimsy of the clues elevates it. Some Ys—but no Xs—appear in the non-theme material.
- 39a [Zeniths] APICES. Variant plural of apex. Mildly echoes the theme. 51d [Wheel turner] AXLE does so more strongly.
- 16a [Palette feature] HOLE. Momentarily eluded me. Not exactly the first thing one thinks about, the thumb hole. Or at least far from the first thing I thought of.
- 36a [“Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies,” e.g.] POEM. By EDNA St Vincent Millay.
- 50a [Curled-up Angora kitten, e.g.] PUFFBALL. Reasoned this was the noncewordish PURRBALL. Why not clue this as the fungus?
- 11d [Hollywood family name in an A&E paranormal reality show] LOWE. There are so many levels of me not wanting to know anything more about this.
- 23d [Pseudonymous Dickens illustrator] PHIZ. Indeed it was adopted to ‘harmonize’ with Dickens’ own pseudonym, Boz. Oh and the guy’s real name was Hablot Knight Browne—what a mouthful.
- 27d [How fish may be packed]
IN OIL, ON ICE, IN ICE. Okay.
- 47d [Outlying postal rtes.] RFDS. “Rural Free Delivery”.
- 49d [Co-worker of Alice and Flo at Mel’s Diner] VERA. What a fount of crosswordy names was that show. Plus, VIC Tayback. See also 14a [Natural soother] ALOE.
- 5d [Department or river in eastern France] AIN. Didn’t know this, thought it was going to be AIX, which is a name component of various localities, but not a river.
Paul Coulter’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Things associated with two unrelated famous people with the same name are juxtaposed with AND. That is the theme. Rocky of children’s TV is associated with NATASHA, Rocky of film CREED. Homer poet, poetry; Homer cartoon character MARGE. Spock TV LOGIC; spock author BABIES. Blondie comics DAGWOOD; Blondie music MUSIC.