Adam Fromm’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
It’s late, my head hurts, three things and I’m out:
- 32d. [Country superfans], JINGOISTS. When jingoists are threatening freedoms in so many countries, a cutesy clue for the word grates.
- 30a. [Summer broadcast for ESPN], MAJOR LEAGUE GAME. Is ESPN not already broadcasting MLB games at the beginning of the season, when some games have been postponed on account of cold and snow? Ridiculously late spring, at least in my area. I can scarcely imagine summer arriving.
- 10d. [Bubble and squeak ingredient, slangily], SPUD. Do the Brits use SPUD as slang for potato?
3.9 stars overall.
Wren Schultz’s Universal Crossword, “Wedding Traditions”—Judge Vic’s write-up
So, what Wren has going on here is signaled by the traditional wedding “Something old, something new” poem having its presence in the clues. As in:
- 17a [Something old] STALE JOKE
- 28a [Something new] LATEST TREND
- 45a [Something borrowed] LIBRARY BOOK
- 62a [Something blue] ROBIN’S EGG
Sweet! A couple more nice ILSA’s in the Across field:
- 21a [Sure things] SAFE BETS
- 52a [Focuses on at college] MAJORS IN
Among the Downs, we find
- 5d [Capital of Israel?] SHEKELS
- 10d [Joyously unrestrained] EXUBERANT
- 36d [Conquers] OVERCOMES
Given the modest theme content, I expected more.
Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword—Judge Vic’s writeup
For a second Friday in a row, the New Yorker was comparatively easy-breezy for me–just over twelve minutes, though I did finish with one mistake. And I really liked the puzzle except for one clue. I will be interested to see if others weigh in on it. Here are the highlights of my solve:
- 17a [Some influencers, say] YOUTUBERS–I’d not heard this term, but it resonated immediately. And it looks like it has its own Wiki page.
- 35a [The other woman, in somewhat objectifying slang] SIDE PIECE–Sidepiece (one word) has been around since the 16th century. A part forming the left or right segment of something. I was in elementary school, probably, when I first heard the phrase getting a piece on the side. I cannot recall ever, to this day, hearing or reading the phrase side piece in this vein. But … this phrase is in the Urban Dictionary, crudely defined, as so much of its content is. I cannot but wonder why constructor (and editor?) chose to spend time writing a brief, apt, coherent clue that casualizes the other woman concept and, in essence, legitimizes a shorter objectifyingly slang term for the concept and the people contemplated by its usage.
- 40a [Friendly in a non-threatening way] AVUNCULAR–I guessed this one when I had nothing but AV from crossers and thought, “Nah,” then watched it materialize.
- 58a [The Maltese Falcon, for one] MACGUFFIN–Hitch would be so proud!
- 3d [Purple-drank ingredient] COUGH SYRUP–Never heard of purple drank, but inferred it was something from the dark side and/or the Urban Dictionary. Indeed the top definition in the latter merits your attention, but I won’t quote it here in full. Suffice to say the writer of said definition concludes with “not to be sipped by suckas!!!!!” [sic]. I assume the hyphen in the clue is to show that the two parts of the term are used here as an adjective. My top test-solver (a multi-year winner of the ACPT) would disagree that a hyphen is needed here (we clashed on this point, he and I, but over time, he convinced me he was right).
- 6d [Spot remover?] CLEARASIL–Great clue with the question mark, as this product didn’t really remove, but simply covered up, as I recall. Notwithstanding that it was in my medicine cabinet when I was an adolescent, I had it misspelled, with a second C, for the longest time, refusing to believe that the other woman clue was going where it went.
- 9d [Drinking game also known as Taps] FLIP-CUP–This was my one mistake. I had FLIP-R-UP, which made perfect sense (I assumed the crosser [“The Velvet Underground & ___ (1967 album)] was a Laura NIRO project that had left my memory). I don’t study the Urban Dictionary enough to know of this game. As for NICO, I now know, he was a German singer who collabbed with V.U. in the late ’60s, not the Romanian singer who seems still to be active these days.
- 30d [Stretches toward] REACHES FOR–A bit green-painty, this answer, and a tad inapt, this clue (imo, toward precludes its being substitutional), easily overlookable, given the other good stuff in the grid.
- 34d [Personality test with nine possibilities] ENNEAGRAM–I’m prejudiced here, having just completed a 10-week course on this topic. And my instructor would wince and explain that this clue way oversimplifies the Enneagram concept.
I count only seven ILSA’s in the fill. That’s a low number, comparatively, for enjoyable themeless puzzles. But, other than the one clue, I really enjoyed, and learned a lot from, Aimee’s puzzle.
Mike Peluso’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
I have never understood clue reversal themes, especially naked ones. So today, we have four ways to define [Chipper]. I am familiar with the (wood-)chipper that makes mulch, and the quaint adjective meaning INAJAUNTYMOOD. And then apparently there is a JONESOFBASEBALL and a GREENSIDEIRON. The latter seems to be a non-standard club that is mostly banned.
High-end crossword-ese: [Gemini rocket stage], AGENA. Remember when you last saw that?
Do the Brits use SPUD as slang for potato?
Yes, and so do Australians. You mean Americans don’t?
Yes, but we don’t make bubble and squeak. The clue seemed to be calling for an exclusively British usage, but that was merely misdirection. Had it not been British usage at all, the clue would have been bad.
I primarily associate both bubble and squeak and “spud” with the Irish?
The first citation for “spud” as a name for potato is from New Zealand (1845). It seems to be used universally in English-speaking countries.
The first citation for bubble and squeak is from a British cookbook of 1806.
I wonder if the Major League is MLS rather than MLB or both. Amy’s comment would apply to both. I rarely if ever hear MLB abbreviated to Major League, but I almost always hear MLS referred to as Major League Soccer game. Both are on ESPN.
Though I’m sure plenty of folks have already noticed it, it seems worth mentioning here that the Friday NYT had a mini-theme in the triple stack: the answers start with MAJOR, PRIVATE, and GENERAL.
LAT: More than most of us ever wanted to know about the specialty golf club called a chipper can be found in the FAQ section at https://thegolfwedge.com/best-golf-chipper/. Only the single-faced version is legal for tournament play. The “two-way” chipper and the combination chipper-putter are not legal for sanctioned competition, but are used in informal play.
New Yorker: Nico was a woman.
And Laura NYRO is spelled with a Y.
I don’t get how META is “Self-referential” in the Wedding-themed puzzle. I looked up meta in the dictionary and as a prefix it stands for behind, beyond or later in time.
Check out the first definition here: https://www.thefreedictionary.com/meta
Or even here:
It’s quite a variable etymon.
Vic, regarding the hyphen: As a longtime editor, I’m here to tell you that the hyphen is needed, and The Chicago Manual of Style backs me up. And so does the outstanding copy desk of The New Yorker.
In this instance, you’re differentiating between “purple drank ingredient” (a purple ingredient of drank) and “purple-drank ingredient” (an ingredient, color not specified, of purple drank). People who dislike hyphens typically don’t know how to use them; people who value verbal logic treasure them because they bring clarity. (No disrespect intended toward your anti-hyphen tester, who clearly is very bright and capable.)
Ambiguity in this instance (a brief clue) wouldn’t be the end of the world, but in long, complex sentences with necessary compound modifiers, ambiguity slows and frustrates the reader. Just as a guardrail on a steep path helps walkers travel safely and at good pace, so punctuation helps readers take in info easily and at a good pace. Writers who respect their readers understand and use punctuation.
Did they not do the WSJ one for this day? I finished it, but I’m confused about the contest answer.
We never blog contest puzzles before their deadline.