Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
This is my kind of puzzle. Appropriately not-too-hard for a Wednesday with a funny wordplay-based theme. It’s a sound-alike theme focused on food.
- 16a [“Don’t worry about my cheesy chip”?] is ITS NACHO PROBLEM (it’s not your problem).
- 24a [“We should discuss your Qdoba order”?] is LETS TACO BOUT IT (let’s talk about it).
- 42a [“Should we settle this dispute over toppings outside?”] YA WANNA PIZZA ME? (you want a piece of me?).
- 55a [“That Italian dessert truly boggles the mind”?] I CANNOLI IMAGINE (I can only imagine).
The only problem with this theme is that it made me hungry. The base phrases are all solidly in the language, the foods all fit pretty well, and each one made me grin.
A few other things:
- 1a [All that ___] JAZZ now has the song running through my head. I’m gonna rouge my knees and roll my stockings down….
- 5a [Balkan native] is one of those clues that makes me put in the S and then check the crossings. This time it was SLAV, not Serb.
- 6d [Where to be among the Hmong] is LAOS. If you don’t know the history of the US exploitation of the Hmong during the Vietnam War, you should. After the fall of Saigon, the US government accepted Hmong refugees and resettled them in various towns across the country, including Fresno, CA. The resulting cultural collision is described in “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” by Anne Fadiman. The book tells the story of a Hmong child with a seizure disorder, and the disastrous intersection of Hmong culture and American medicine. I read the book when it was published 20 years ago and it changed my approach to – everything.
- Are ARTSY people always [Culturally pretentious], or just in crosswords? Maybe that’s the difference between ARTSY and artistic.
- 48d [Common sights at pants knees] are RIPS. My kid buys her jeans with the rips pre-installed.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’d never heard of ALTOcumulus clouds.
I shouldn’t be the only one with the song in my head.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Naughty, Naughty!” — Jim’s review
Well, apparently Zhouqin’s been keeping a LIST of your 2017 accomplishments and you’ve been very naughty. Today she gives you your comeuppance.
“SHAME ON YOU!” she says at 61a [“That wasn’t nice!” and a hint to a trigram hidden in the asterisked answers]. What do we find in those answers? TSK TSK TSK TSK.
- 17a [*Sight on a clear night] STARLIT SKY
- 30a [*Leg-revealing attire] SLIT SKIRT
- 37a [*It’s susceptible to sunburn] LIGHT SKIN
- 45a [*Lake resort activity] JET SKIING
I noticed the repeated SK in each answer during the solve, but it wasn’t until I got down to the revealer that the light bulb came on. And when it did, I thought it was a cute theme.
Lots of fun fill stacked in the corners today: GOTHAM, LIAISON, LIBERIA, UNICORN, GASKET, FERRARI, JACKAL, and “SILLY ME!” I also love the presence of author Neil GAIMAN whom I admire greatly, not only as an author but as a reader of his own audiobooks; he’s got a great voice for his particular works of the fantastic and macabre. (Oh, now I see the Minnesota connection: Both Burnikel and GAIMAN are transplants into the Land of 10,000 Lakes.)
- 28a [Face throwing a kiss, e.g.]. EMOJI. Without any context, that’s a crazy clue. Until it makes sense.
- 64a [Pentagon figure]. AREA. You wanted someone from the armed forces, didn’t you? Well, the answer calls for mathematics, not the military. Tricksy.
- 66a [High Sierra runner]. IMAC. Another good bit of deception. At first glance, this sounds like some sort of flightless bird in the California mountains. Nope, it’s the latest Mac operating system. Come on, keep up!
- 67a [Market aid]. LIST. Ha! Again, being the WSJ, you’d think this had to do with the stock market. Nope. Just a shopping LIST. And by the way, it still amazes me that I see people in stores with hand-written lists. Isn’t this what smartphones were created for?
- 2d [Robin’s home]. GOTHAM. Not the bird, but Batman’s buddy.
- 6d [Potato pancakes]. LATKES. If you didn’t know this, watch the video below.
- 12d [Creature on Gothic tapestries]. UNICORN. This clue reminded me of my bedroom where you’d find one such Gothic tapestry. Because a man’s home is his wife’s castle.
- 57d [It can be cured]. MEAT. Ha! Not an affliction, but food (for some). And well, maybe an affliction for others.
Cute theme, good fill, fun cluing. Good puzzle overall. And Zhouqin, we will all try to do better this year.
Paolo Pasco’s AVCX, “AVCX Themeless #22” — Ben’s Review
Happy New Year! I was ecstatic earlier this week when Ben Tausig announced over email that Paolo Pasco would be joining the regular rotation of constructors for the AV Club. He writes excellent themelesses, and his first official one as contributor is no exception. It definitely earns its 4/5 difficulty rating, but there’s some lovely fill in here:
- I think what slowed me down most on this one is that I haven’t seen “Lady Bird” yet, so I didn’t know that her actual name in the movie is CLAUDIA Johnson, the solution to 1A
- MASLOW (and his hierarchy of needs), CICERO, BEDOUINs and MAORIS all make appearances in the across clues
- I loved the vertical stack down the middle – IPHONE CASE, CLICKHOLE, and SWISS ROLLS are all lovely relatively modern fill.
- You won’t be able to get Donkey Sauce, Guy Fieri’s take on AIOLI, in Times Square for much longer – his big restaurant there is shutting down
- Other bits and pieces of fill I liked: JORTS, FANGIRL, AP TESTS (It’s January, Paolo, those aren’t until spring and it’ll be FINE), ASSHAT, EL NORTE, and ICE DANCES
45A‘s “JOLENE“, at 33 1/3 RPM
Ed Sessa’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
Today’s MOVINGVAN theme cuts a diagonal swathe through the grid. The entries themselves: VANDALIZE, HAVANACIGAR, TAKEADVANTAGEOF and MANSERVANTS were a touch on the bland side though.
The opposite diagonal played more like a themeless, with big corners and long non-theme answers like PANTOMIMED and PETERLORRE. I found I enjoyed solving the non-thematic corners more! BEANO as clued means nothing to me, but if clued as the home of Dennis the Menace (the proper one)… Weirdest (but inferrable) word: MENTEE.