Alex Eaton-Salners’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Ladies First” — Jim P’s review
We have a re-parsing theme today in which words starting with the letter string MISS- have those letters separated from the remaining portion of the words in order to form an unusual nickname.
- 16a [She might deliver a jab] MISS POKE. Good nickname for a phlebotomist…or someone who likes to annoy other people on Facebook.
- 25a [She has her pluses and minuses] MISS IONS. This is the only entry whose base word is not formed with the prefix MIS-. Clever clue that took some thinking to put it all together.
- 37a [She’s just waiting around] MISS PENDING. I was going to ding this one for resorting to the gerund form, but it actually makes more sense that way than if it was just MISS PEND.
- 49a [She loves pastries] MISS TART. I’m not keen on this one because I can’t think of anyone ever using the word MISSTART.
- 60a [She likes hides] MISS PELT. She must be British, because otherwise she would be MISS PELLED.
Cute theme that’s not hard to suss out and mostly works, minus the couple little nits I mentioned above. I generally like re-parsing themes, and this one works well.
There are loads of long Downs today, some more interesting than others: SNO-CONES, MASSACRE (thankfully getting a game-related clue [Beat 72-3, say]), GRIMACE, OIL SPOT, FISHNET, DWELLS ON, SUPPORT, SOCIETY, RADIOING. Plus fun shorter stuff: LYNXES, TATTOO, CORFU, CABALA, SLEUTH, PEE-WEE, AX HEAD, SCRIMP.
Some of the shorter stuff is stale (OSS, INS, ONO, TET, etc.) but that’s to be expected. I needed all the crossings for LILA [Kedrova of “Zorba the Greek”], but as that is one of my all-time favorite books, I don’t begrudge the puzzle.
Clues of note:
- 7a [Pool cry]. MARCO. The corresponding cry being “Polo!” of course.
- 18a [Page turner]. READER. A literal interpretation of the phrase. Shouldn’t it have a question mark?
- 6d [Shaved treats]. SNO-CONES. For some reason, I went with SLURPEES first, and it fit.
- 27d [Retiring]. SHY. I’m still not sure I see how these two are synonymous.
Solid puzzle with a cute theme and strong fill. 3.7 stars.
Seth Abel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The name of the game is ANAGRAM, like 38a. [Each asterisked clue vis-à-vis its answer].
- 20a. [*Acts phony] anagrams to SYCOPHANT, and a sycophant may act phony. (This violates the standard crossword rule whereby the clue and answer are the same part of speech.)
- 52a. [*Hint: hotel], THE HILTON.
- 11d. [*A trails nut], NATURALIST.
- 28d. [*Bag manager], GARBAGEMAN.
Cute. I like anagrams. Those tend to be the easier parts of cryptic crosswords for me.
Fave fill here: PODCAST (even though podcasts are of little use to me—”pivot to video” without captioning, podcasts without transcripts … these piss me off), SCOOB as Scooby-Doo’s nickname. I would like “SPREAD ‘EM” if we had equitable policing in this country, but we don’t.
Not loving crosswordese OENO-, unfamiliar-at-least-in-this-country ALETAP.
Just one more thing:
- 38d. [One of seven for New York City], AREA CODE. Dang! That’s a lot of area codes. Chicago has three, one of which is the overlay area code 872 that I don’t think I’ve ever encountered. I wish the nearby TEN hadn’t been clued 63a. [Start of many CB radio codes], because the 8-letter AREA CODE made me acutely aware that “code” was already in the puzzle. I know Will and his team don’t care about such overlaps. Many of us do.
3.25 stars from me.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
Today we have a synonym puzzle, with five words in longer phrases meaning, broadly, lowland. The answers are often used in that sense in the puzzle, which is not ideal, though there aren’t too many other angles for DELL (the computer?) and VALLEY. The puzzle theme felt like it started off ok, but there weren’t enough valid answers, so it became whatever fitted. DOTHEHULLYGULLY seems to be a song from a minor dance craze circa 1960; I’ve dimly heard of the dance, but the song didn’t even make the billboard charts that I can see. Um. GORGEONESELF is also something that one might do, but especially with ONESELF, sounds rather forced.
[“That’s precious!”, ITSAGEM] – also just seems a made-up thing someone might theoretically say. Also looked skeef at USNACADET and REDLIPS, which left the same, “not really a phrase” flavour in my mouth.
Rebecca Falcon’s AVCX, “Color Me Surprised” — Ben’s Review
Bear with me on my grid for this one – the revealer promised circled letters, but my .PUZ file had none to be found. Let’s take a look at what Rebecca Falcon’s cooked up in her guest AVCX:
- 18A:Gemstone with asterism that gives its name to many a DC villain — STAR SAPPHIRE
- 42A:Top-10 Village People single of 1979 — IN THE NAVY
- 48A:Spirits, from the Latin — AQUA VITAE
- 76A:How this puzzle’s circled surprises come — OUT OF THE BLUE
In the PDF grid, 19D, 44D, and 48D are shaded — these are (SURPRISE) PARTY, (SURPRISE) NEWS, and (SURPRISE) ATTACK, all of which cross various shades of BLUE going accross – SAPPHIRE, NAVY, and AQUA. Nicely done!
Have you seen the movie Can’t Stop The Music? It’s the story of how the Village People happened, while the Village People were in their prime, and it is terrible. It does not feature “IN THE NAVY“, but it does feature this.