Tracy Gray’s Inkubator crossword, “Please Be Flexible”—Amy’s write-up
In this 16×15 puzzle, the four full-width theme entries double each letter in a word that gets lengthened, more or less, in a familiar phrase:
- 18a. [Chewy Boardwalk treat, literally], PULLED TTAAFFFFYY. Stretch that taffy, people.
- 28a. [Oddsmaker’s figure, literally], PPOOIINNTT SPREAD. I think a point spread is more a range of numbers than something being spread, but whatever.
- 46a. [Almost-like-home hotel type, literally] EXTENDED SSTTAAYY. Gotta love a hotel room with a full-size fridge, oven, etc.
- 61a. [Trendy body modification, literally], EEAARR STRETCHING. I will confess that I didn’t know this was a term, but I’m familiar with earlobe holes being stretched to accommodate a disk rather than just an earring post.
I like that Tracy alternates between the first and second word being the stretched noun, and that PULLED and EXTENDED are adjectival while SPREAD and STRETCHING are nouns. Nice balance.
Women abound in the puzzle: Rene RUSSO, UTAHN Marie Osmond, rocker LITA Ford, two RHEAs in one clue, Shakira in the LIE clue, a dame’s TA-TA, TERI Hatcher (cute clue: [Hatcher of plots?]), KEIRA Knightley, Kelly RIPA, the Emilia Clarke movie SOLO (it was a Star War), LEAH Remini, MAYA Angelou, ODIST Sharon Olds (I don’t know how much her work is actually odes, but here is “The Fear of Oneself”), ELENA Kagan, Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie in the COANCHOR clue, filmmaker Mira NAIR, random Frenchwoman Aimee in the ETRE clue, and seismologist INGE Lehmann. Commercial things women may tend to know more about include flat IRON, ULTA, and ELLE.
Three more things:
- 40d. [Freely and bravely advocates for her ideas, say], SPEAKS UP. Also on brand for the Inkubator puzzles.
- 9d. [Home of Northwestern University], EVANSTON. Nice little city there.
- 27d. [Evine and QVC rival], HSN. I had not heard of the shopping channel Evine, but with those letters, I can’t help thinking it’s destined for grids.
4 stars from me.
Jamey Smith’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
St. Patrick’s Day is this weekend, and we’ve got the EMERALD ISLE at 15a. So much nicer than that bar I passed tonight advertising its Saturday morning drinking (reservations required)!
Fave fill: HAPPY CAMPER, old-school SCHAEFER beer, ME TIME, PIG LATIN ([EBay ashtray, e.g.] … so that’s “be trash” in pig Latin? seems awkward), ATOM SMASHER, a handy AIDE-MEMOIRE, an OUTSIDE SHOT, and the HUDSON RIVER.
Didn’t exactly know that CALORIE BOMB was a thing, though it makes sense, or that the PINK MARTINI was a thing.
Three more things:
- 18a. [Onetime sister channel of CMT], TNN / 62a. [Suffix in biology], OME. Constructors, do yourselves/your solvers a favor and remove TNN and OME from your word lists and your memory banks. They’re going to be little blights upon your grid.
- 40a. [Regatta host], ROWING CLUB. Ah, yes! The sort of people who might have been recruited for a college crew team. *side eye*
- 60d. [“___, little darlin’, don’t shed no tears” (lyric in Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry”)], ERE. Hang on. Is that an elided (h)ere? I guess I’m just glas 62a OME wasn’t clued as Cockney (h)ome.
3.5 stars from me.
Sam Buchbinder’s Universal Crossword, “Juiced Up”—Judge Vic’s write-up
Clever theme, if a bit loose. Consider the reveal:
- 62a [Different types of them are associated with each starred answer] CHARGERS—Associated with? Hmm, that’s loose enough to cover lots of stuff.
And then consider the theme entries:
- 17a [*Spanish city frequented by Hemingway] PAMPLONA—Pamplona is famous for the running of the bulls. Not the running of the chargers. Or even the charging of the bulls. Though, bulls can, and do, charge. I happen to think of that more in the bullring context. So, … associated with? Okay, I guess bulls can be considered as chargers. Loosely.
- 21a [*Entertainment center?] LOS ANGELES—The NFL’s Chargers are now in Los Angeles, having relocated there from San Diego. And I am not getting the word play or trickery signaled by the question mark.
- 38a [*Viper and Durango seller] DODGE DEALERSHIP—A Dodge Charger is a model of automobile.
- 56a [*Genius Bar locale] APPLE STORE—Apple Stores sell chargers. For phones and stuff.
Pamplona feels different from the others and not just because it is one word, rather than a phrase. I want to replace it with a 2-word, 8-letter thing that is clearly associated with something that is a charger. How about VISA CARD? [Popular cash alternative]
Other items worth mentioning that I liked:
- 28a [Former Milky Way competitor] MARS BAR
- 45a [“Single Ladies” singer’s fan army] BEY HIVE
- 8d [Lose your marbles] GO INSANE
- 22d [Christopher Robin’s creator] A.A. MILNE
Not enough marginal stuff to mention.
Andy Kravis’s The Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Number One Singles, Doubled”–Judge Vic’s write-up.
So, we have here a delightful array of new song titles emerging from the crossing of two older ones. In each instance, as the title indicates, the older ones were #1 at some point in time.
- 20a [Crazy Town (2001) + Prince and the Revolution (1986) = Affectionate eyelash contact] BUTTERFLY KISS–Not to be confused with the song “Butterfly Kisses.” Plus, I just love this clue … and this answer does not appear in Ginsberg!
- 27a [Flo Rida (2007) + Jay Sean ft. Lil Wayne (2009) = Scuttlebutt] LOWDOWN–ILSA that can go with or without a hyphen–noun one way, adjective the other.
- 34a [Michael Jackson (1987) + Fleetwood Mac (1977) = What late-night snacks may cause] BAD DREAMS–In the world of Jungian psychology, it is said that there are no bad dreams, as even nightmares contain good and useful information. Interestingly, this answer has appeared only once before, it seems; as a singular concept, only four times.
- 49a [Edwin Starr (1970) + Mariah Carey (1993) = Many a decorated soldier] WAR HERO
- 55a [Santana ft. Rob Thomas (1999) + Christopher Cross (1980) = Comfortable progress] SMOOTH SAILING–I don’t recall ever before seeing ft. in a crossword clue–and it’s in two of the ones listed here. It means “featuring.” Another first-time, this answer.
In addition to the above, this grid gives us CIAGATE, PRO BOWL, STAY CALM
ACID TEST, and AGESPOT, in the ILSA arena. Non-ILSAs with some fun about them include the sideways stack VATICAN, OBESITY, and WEASLEY in the upper right, and, scattered elsewhere, COMMODE, LABORED, and VEGGIES.
Seeing all this good stuff in there made me take a second look for something to natick. Sorry. I’m just not finding anything that I object to. Very clean grid all-around, with what feels to me like a really unusual theme.
Good job, Mr. Cruciverbalist-at-Law and Editor Brad!
Susan Gelfand’s LA Times Crossword – Grid & theme summary
Four themers using synonyms for athletic venues in other contexts are clued wackily as though they refer to athletic venues: SUPERIORCOURT, FAMILIARRING, ONLINECOURSE and MAGNETICFIELD.