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Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Sometimes I’ll grouse about seeing the same byline pretty soon after the last time that person had a puzzle in the same venue—but I was pleased to see another Robyn themeless two weeks after her prior Friday NYT (that one had a cute mini-theme). Plus, her byline is cool because the name Robyn Weintraub is “supervocalic”—it includes each vowel (including the Y, for a bonus) exactly once.
This puzzle won me over right away with the gimme at 1a. [Dreamhouse resident], BARBIE DOLL. My sister and I had the version that was a three-story dwelling with no stairs, just a string-operated elevator to get from one floor to another.
And then Robyn threw some things at me that were harder to suss out. I wasn’t familiar with the term 53a. [Like cooking that goes whole hog?], NOSE TO TAIL—eww. 45a [Sword grips], you never know if it’s HILTS or HAFTS till the crossings fill in. I didn’t know DEWARS scotch was a 7d. [Bacardi brand]. But most of the puzzle was more in my wheelhouse, and I liked it.
AVERAGE JOE, a LIVING WAGE, ERITREA, ROLLER RINK, CROSSBONES, IN RARE FORM, SEA TURTLES, Himalayan PINK SALT, and START SMALL were all nice additions to the grid.
Seven more things:
- 23a. [Neighbor of Djibouti], ERITREA. Eritrea is much in the news this month because its leader and Ethiopia’s finally made peace after decades of hostility and zero travel between the adjacent nations. Perhaps Ethiopia will someday regain a smidgen of access to the Red Sea? They lost their coastline when Eritrea became independent, and have been paying Djibouti for port access. #thingsyoulearnfromcabbies
- 36a. [Israeli-born Jew], SABRA. This is a word I learned long ago from crosswords. Today, I see it more often in the grocery store, as a major hummus brand (I’m a Cedars hummus proponent myself).
- 39a. [Chad’s place], BALLOT. Did you want AFRICA here? I sure did.
- 4d. [One who’s happy about acquiring a few extra pounds, informally], BRIT. In Britain, pounds are money and stone are a unit of weight. Why you’d want to use a unit of measure as big as 14 lb as your basic weight unit, I can’t say.
- 5d. [Janis with the 1975 hit “At Seventeen”], IAN. Janis Ian is still performing, and she’s on Twitter as an engaged citizen as well. Here’s the song (below), which I somehow don’t remember at all from my childhood.
- 43d. [Five-letter capital written as two words in its native language], HANOI / 38d. [Language similar to Thai], LAO. Speaking of Thai and national capitals written as multiple words, did you know that Bangkok is called Krung Thep Maha Nakhon in Thailand? You’re probably wondering what they call Washington, D.C. in Thailand now. I can’t read Thai, but here’s the Thai Wikipedia page on Washington.
- 49d. [Appreciation], GAIN. As in “this has appreciated/gained in value.”
Four stars from me. The ENOL couldn’t overpower the BARBIE Dreamhouse vibe.
Jim Leeds’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Feta Accompli” — Laura’s review
Cheesy jokes this week from the CHE:
[17a: Cheesy prime minister of England?]: ANTHONY EDAM. Anthony Eden served as PM from 1955 to 1957, and was in a position to advise the young Queen Elizabeth II during the early years of her reign. Jeremy Northam plays him in The Crown. Edam is a Dutch rinded cheese that you know from crossword grids.
[20a: Cheesy imp in the Brothers Grimm?]: RUMPELSTILTON. Rumpelstiltskin. Naomi Novik, one of my favorite fantasy writers, has a new novel out called Spinning Silver, which is based on the Rumpelstiltskin tale. Stilton is a blue-veined cheese from the English Midlands. It’s tasty.
[35a: Cheesy written argument?]: LEGAL BRIE. Legal brief. Some varieties of soft French cheese, such as brie, are illegal to import into the United States.
- [52a: Cheesy Pushkin play?]: BORIS GOUDANOV. Boris Godunov, written in the 1820s, is a play about the 16th-century tsar/czar of Russia of the same name. You may remember his counterpart, Boris Badanov from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. Gouda, like edam, is a mild Dutch rinded cheese. It’s gouda nuff to eat!
[58a: Cheesy basketball legend?]: COLBY BRYANT. Kobe Bryant played for the LA Lakers for twenty years, retiring in 2016. Colby is a type of cheddar made in the cheesy state of Wisconsin. At souvenir shops in Wisconsin, you can buy many items, including Colby cheddar, in the shape of Wisconsin.
Only one fill note today, since I’m full of cheesy goodness:
[27a: Cream soup with mussels]: BILLI BI. I saw a recipe for this years ago in Barbara Kafka’s cookbook, Soup: A Way of Life (note: Soup is a way of life with which I am down), and have never seen it anywhere else, until today.
Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
It’s funny, but it feels like for me that letter deletion themes are a lot harder to make “land” than letter addition ones. The answers just looked weird as I fill them in, so I solved around them. It doesn’t help that WRESTLING(ME)ETS really looks like it wants to be MATS. As the revealer, 16 letter LEAVEMEOUTOFTHIS, suggests, a ME has been subtracted from four theme answers. GA(ME)SOFTHEOLYMPIAD, RO(ME)OANDJULIET, CO(ME)DYSKETCH. Two of the new words made were names, which suggests this was difficult to make work.
A few more:
- [Is not wrong?], AINT. I didn’t realise there was anything wrong with that. I tried AMNT.
- [Fix, as a toy], SPAY. Really tiny dogs are stressful to anaesthetise. Tiny cats on the other hand… usually no sweat (I may regret saying that).
- [Losing purposely], ONADIET. Good deke, though I suspect I’ve seen it before.
- [Handy initials], DIY. Not WCH.
- [Star __], PUPIL. That is a really unhelpful (and uninteresting) clue.