Alex Bajcz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme anagrams city names into verbs and creates goofy phrases that are clued accordingly:
- 18a. [Work as a metropolitan health official?], DIAGNOSE SAN DIEGO.
- 29a. [Works as a metropolitan census taker?], COUNTS TUCSON.
- 44a. [Work as a metropolitan traffic engineer?], HASTEN ATHENS.
- 55a. [Works as a metropolitan reclaimant?], SALVAGES LAS VEGAS.
The theme feels uneven to me, as three of the cities are in the American Southwest, among the 35 largest cities in the country. And then there’s ATHENS, which is either the capital of Greece or a Georgia city that is much smaller than these other three. I guess there aren’t a ton of cities whose names can be anagrammed into verbs, but still.
The grid is 16 squares wide to accommodate the 8×2 themers.
Five more things:
- 15a. [Boaster’s retort to a boast], SO CAN I. SOCANI looks bonkers in the grid, doesn’t it?
- 37a. [Extra-large], OBESE. I don’t care for this clue at all.
- 38a. [Operator of weather.gov], NOAA. Severe Thunderstorm Warning! (In effect right now for Chicagoland.) I like the NOAA’s data and I hope their funding and science are able to continue as before.
- 12d. [Dessert that’s often topped with berries], CHEESECAKE. Mmm, cheesecake …
- 38d. [Snuggle (against)], NESTLE UP. This feels far less natural to me than “snuggle up.” I don’t think that UP really wants to be there with NESTLE.
I would like to channel my grandmother and chide this puzzle. “Such language!” DAMN, BUTT!
Not much else to chat about here. 3.4 stars from me.
Jim Quinlan’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Statements” — Jim’s review
After his WSJ debut just one week ago, Jim Q. is back. This one’s also quite fun and re-imagines various verbal statements which contain two-letter words that are equivalent to certain states’ two-letter abbreviations.
- 17a [“Mind your manners, Buckeye State!”] “OH, BEHAVE!” Said in your best Austin Powers voice, natch.
- 24a [“Hands off, Pine Tree State!”] “DON’T TOUCH, ME!” Yikes, these states are getting a little handsy.
- 37a [“Exercise caution, Gem State!”] “ID, BE CAREFUL!” Another naughty state.
- 52a [“Leave nothing behind, Hoosier State!”] “TAKE IT ALL, IN!” Wait, I think we’re sending mixed messages.
- 58a [“Look it up online, Sooner State!”] “OK, GOOGLE.” Unfortunately, this one breaks away from the sub-theme of “states behaving badly.” Would’ve been nice if it could’ve continued.
Fun theme, I knew three of the states off the bat, but it still was some work to figure out exactly what was going on and where the state abbreviations would land. Also, I never heard “OK, GOOGLE” before, but I guess that’s the equivalent of “Hey Siri” and…what? “Alexa”? Is that how you get Alexa’s attention?
I’m a sucker for a theme that takes existing phrases and re-jiggers them into something else, so I enjoyed this quite a bit.
And there’s a lot to like beyond the theme. SADISM is a bold start at 1a (clued as [Practice with whips?]). There’s also DEADPOOL, SHORT RIB, CEZANNE, FU MANCHU, and INDULGES. That’s a beautiful set of long fill. Also good: ZENDA, DEVIOUS, SPECTRE, MACH ONE, AL ROKER, “TOLD YA!,” LAP DOG, ARAGON, and of course, ARETHA.
Not a fan of ERSE or AAH with two A’s, but them’s small potatoes compared to the good stuff. DR NO usually gets a lot of flak as crosswordese, but here it’s nicely tied to SPECTRE via the clues ([First film in a 24-film series] and [Latest film in a 24-film series] respectively). Nicely done.
In the “not in my wheelhouse” category, we have: VEDIC [Form of Sanskrit] and SALADA [Lipton alternative]. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that brand of teas in stores. While I would categorize these as really uncommon bits of fill, I don’t mind, as long as they’re edifying and they’re not pervasive throughout the grid. And of course, the crosses have to be fair, which they are today.
Clues of note:
- 32a [Square between two primes]. FOUR. One for the math nerds!
- 36a [Lancaster emblem]. ROSE. One for the history nerds! The Lancasters were of the red rose and the Yorks were of the white, hence the War of the Roses, in which each house laid a claim to the English throne. Both had been supporters of the House of Plantagenet which held the throne for 300 years. (I loooove the name Plantagenet; it sounds delicious!) The war eliminated the direct male lines of both families (good job, guys!). Eventually, Henry Tudor of the Lancastrian faction wed Elizabeth of York and became Henry VII, and they all lived happily ever after (ha!).
- 65a [Himalayan foot]. PAW. I assume this is referring to some sort of an animal (though not a yeti), but I leave it to the interested solver to look it up.
- 2d [Kingdom of Ferdinand and Isabella]. ARAGON. Another one for the history nerd.
- 34d [King Rudolf V of Ruritania’s place of imprisonment]. ZENDA. This one is fictional from the book, The Prisoner of ZENDA. My daughter gave me this book, and I started it, but haven’t made it very far I’m sad to say.
- 49d [Changes from green to red, say]. RIPENS. Tricksy!
A fun theme and lovely grid with outstanding fill. 4 stars from me.
Aimee Lucido’s AVCX, “Raising Dough” — Ben’s Review
It’s Wednesday! We’ve made it midway through the week. The .PUZ version of this week’s AVCX was missing the shading of the PDF version (or it’s just the solving tool I used not picking the circles up), so I’ve highlighted the entries in red over in the screenshot.
Aimee Lucido’s “Raising Dough” is a 2/5 on the difficulty scale which was made a little trickier by the lack of circles for me. It’s a vertical theme, which is a fun twist on the usual expected structure for this sort of thing:
- 3D: It may be prepared alla bolognese — RAGU SAUCE
- 9D:”Hamilton” character played by Jonathan Groff — KING GEORGE
- 37D:Hidden London train sometimes called the “Mail Rail” — SECRET TUBE
- 44D: Calcium oxide, in common parlance — QUICKLIME
- 16D: Result of mixing the ingredients found in this puzzle’s circled words — UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
I’m a little underwhelmed by this theme. I would’ve liked to have seen FLOUR somewhere in the grid (probably not as a theme clue – RUOLF is a tricky patch of letters to hide), since MILK, BUTTER, EGG, and SUGAR will get you something that’s definitely GLUTEN-free but doesn’t quite qualify as a cake. In addition, RAGU SAUCE is redundant (RAGU is a sauce genre) and SECRET TUBE feels oddly greenpaint-y, even if it is an actual thing.
Here are the pants described in the clue for 27D’s “PYNK” (which is, as the kids these days say, a “bop”)
Let’s chat about some of the other fill:
- AFRO crossing FROM felt odd
- Hello I would like to bingewatch season 1 of “FESTOON My Chariot” IMMEDIATELY.
- MPS, AKI, QVC, OCS, STA, LSU: MEH
Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s theme summary
I am not feeling at all good. I will explain the theme at least. SHORTCHANGE is using CHANGE as an “anagram indicator” and the letters in short can be found in other theme answers rearranged across both parts. So: BOOSTE(RSHOT), GI(FTHORS)E, FIS(HSTOR)Y, and N(ORTHS)TAR.