Amanda Chung, Karl Ni & Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme is TEAM BUILDING, and six theme answers are the names of NFL teams, all clued as the combination of two unrelated words:
- 9a. [“Whatever You Like” rapper + Gets some color at the beach], T.I. TANS. The Tennessee Titans.
- 24a. [Frat dude + Cpls. and sgts.], BRO N.C.O.’S.
- 26a. [Actor Lundgren + Elected officials], DOLPH INS.
- 50a. [Butter square + Hilarious people], PAT RIOTS. Listen, if you’ve got some good butter comedy, I’m here for it.
- 52a. [London’s Big ___ + Ladies], BEN GALS.
- 66a. [U.S. soldier + Little scurriers], G.I. ANTS.
Half contain an abbreviation-ish word, half don’t (ergo, it’s balanced).
Hardest vocab in the grid: 61a. [Concerning both the moon and sun’s motions], LUNISOLAR / 58a. [Sentimentality], BATHOS. Dang it, I’d filled in PATHOS and didn’t bother to check the 58d crossing. PUG is just as much a word as BUG is. (You’ve got to check your crossings in a crossword tournament setting!)
Fave fill: Topical CHEERLEAD, GET OUT, “THE DOG ATE IT,” TENTH INNING, “I’VE GOT A PLAN.”
Three more things:
- 48d. [Operating system in the Linux family], UBUNTU. Gareth, can you believe this clue? I wonder if Amanda, Karl, and Erik had originally clued it via Desmond Tutu’s ubuntu theology.
- 59d. [“Exodus” hero], ARI. Wow, I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve seen ARI clued via the Leon Uris character.
- 1d. [“Twilight” werewolf], JACOB. Listen, I saw several minutes of one of the Twilight movies, and there was a meeting among a bunch of wolves, and they spoke English. That’s when I changed the channel.
Four stars from me.
Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Puzzle, Schmuzzle!” — Jim’s review
The title hints that the grid will be employing the linguistic construction known as “shm-reduplication.” But that’s not quite right. When it comes down to it, this is just an add-a-sound theme; it’s just that the sound that’s added forms the creation of words that come to us from the Yiddish language.
- 17a [Buck’s comedy routine?] DEER SCHTICK. Tick.
- 27a [Sucker who appreciates good books?] READING SCHNOOK. Nook.
- 44a [Mushiness over not being married?] SINGLE SCHMALTZ. Malt or possibly malts. This one’s a bit of an outlier because of that Z tacked on at the end.
- 60a [Junk in crosswords?] GRID SCHLOCK. Lock. Possibly the best definition for junk fill that we’ll come across, so I hope it catches on. I’d bet this was the seed entry for the whole puzzle.
Fun and playful theme. It’s probably a good thing that Jeff didn’t use MUCKETY MUCK or ALL NIGHT LONG as base phrases.
I’m really digging ARCHIMEDES [Man with a screwy invention] in the fill, though it was hard for me to see since I had SIX at 59a [High roller’s roll] for quite a while. The clue of course refers to the Archimedes’ screw which is a large inclined screw for transferring water (or other material) from a lower level to a higher level.
ANTISOCIAL is the corresponding long Down which, weirdly, is clued as a noun [Not a company man?]. SUCH THAT, MEL TORME (who rarely makes an appearance with both names), MYRIADS, and CASTLES round out the most sparkly stuff.
Not keen on AGLARE, but that’s about it for GRID SCHLOCK.
Oooh, hey look, if you move the initial E from 38a EMANATE to the end, you get MANATEE. Fun!
Good puzzle, but I’ve got to go catch a plane. 3.6 stars from me.
Francis Heaney’s AVCX, “Jazz Fusion” — Ben’s Review
Today’s AVCX feels like a marvel of construction, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from a Francis Heaney puzzle for this venue. It definitely earns its 4.5/5 on the difficulty scale, if only on the merits of utilizing a subject matter that I’m pretty sure isn’t in everyone’s wheelhouse.
Each of today’s theme answers is composed from the last names of multiple jazz musicians:
- 25A: “After I play, everyone I’m talkin’ to should hightail it to the stage!” — ME THEN Y’ALL IS ON (METHENY/ALLISON)
- 43A: “The captain in charge of our company is really ripping everyone a new one!” — CO REAMING US (COREA/MINGUS)
- 61A: “If you invite the red planet’s biggest celebrities, I’m not coming!” — MARS A-LIST OR ME (MARSALIS/TORME)
- 81A: “Greetings, ‘untouchable’ Eliot; hopefully my use of MDMA doesn’t bother you” — HI NESS, I’M ON E (HINES/SIMONE)
- 96A: “Reverend, forgive me for riding around in cargo vehicles that are smaller than trucks but can still fit a couch” — PASTOR I USE VANS (PASTORIUS/EVANS)
What makes this more impressive, to me at least, is that the grid also includes the first names of all musicians used elsewhere in the grid. This added an extra level of difficulty, since I could use the clues to determine what was going on in each theme entry, but didn’t know the full names of all of these jazz artists. It’s all very impressive, and it’s a cherry on top that the rest of the cluing/fill mostly avoids staleness.
“Jazz Fusion” makes me think of Steely Dan, and Steely Dan makes me think of Donnie and Marie singing “Reelin’ in the Years”, so now you have to experience what my brain has cued up too.
Gary Schlaper & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
I’m not a fan of this theme type. Dry definitions that you have to painfully piece together. In this case it’s five different verbs associated with sports (probably intended as relating to gridiron?) – BLOCK, CATCH, KICK, PASS and RUN.
I did enjoy the terse [Tiny Lab] PUP and [Forest ranger] ELK misdirections a lot. I mis-stepped with [Reason to purchase a new belt] putting WEIGHTloss first; some of us are more optimistic!
Although [Retired tennis pro Kournikova], ANNA is primarily remembered as a brief and overhyped singles player. Her doubles career, although equally brief, was more successful, with 2 doubles grand slam victories playing with Martina Hingis.