Caitlin Reid’s Inkubator puzzle, “Themeless #2″—Jenni’s review
Caitlin Reid is a classically trained pianist currently home full-time with four children (according to the constructor info that came with the puzzle) and both of those vocations show up in this delightful puzzle.
- 1a was a gimme for me. I’m not sure if that’s a professional advantage or a sign that I’ve done a lot of crossword puzzles. [Prepare to be depressed?] is SAY AAH.
- 14a [Back to original speed, in music] is A TEMPO.
- 7a [“The herpes of craft supplies,” per comedian Demetri Martin] is GLITTER, and all the parents in the audience are nodding their heads. One of my favorite things about day care was that I didn’t have to deal with the glitter; they did it.
- 32a [Age of reckoning, at long last!] is THE ME TOO ERA, and exactly what I’ve come to expect from the Inkubator. In a few months, they’ve established a clear style. Nice work.
- 52a [“You can bend but never break me/ ‘Cause it only serves to make me/ More determined to achieve my final goal” anthem] is I AM WOMAN. Of course.
- Blatant self-promotion: Temple Grandin, Brené Brown, and Jane Goodall delivered TED TALKS – and so did I.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that David Bowie played the King of the GOBLINS in “Labyrinth.”
I leave you with this. Of course.
Stan Newman’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Stan edits (and sometimes writes) the Newsday “Saturday Stumper,” but that wouldn’t let him run a themeless centering QUEEN VICTORIA‘s bicentennial on her birthday, since his Fridays are booked with themed puzzles. Happy 200th, QV!
Nine more things:
- 1a. [Too fast to be careful], SLAPDASH. Kinda wanted HEEDLESS here, but SLAPDASH is a much cooler word (and the ST ELMO crossing kept me from entering HEEDLESS).
- 14a. [Gaze at, as someone’s eyes], STARE INTO / 13d. [Not moved at all], DRY-EYED. I know Will doesn’t care one whit about that eyes/EYED dupe, but I do.
- 17a. [“___ LANDS!” (headline of 1927)], LINDY. Charles Lindbergh, that is. I’d filled in KEPT TO at 9d, but I did an 8th grade history report on the 1920s so the clue was a gimme once I saw it. Also: The 2020s start in just over 7 months, in case you feel like the 1920s weren’t that long ago.
- 60a. [Fictional land named in some real-life international law cases], RURITANIA. Why did I know this? What sort of law cases?
- 65a. [Some descendants of 62-Acrosses], MEXICANS / 62a. [Worshiper of the war god Huitzilopochtli], AZTEC. Hey! I know at least one person who’s descended from the Aztecs (and also someone whose mom is Mayan). Any of you readers also Aztec or Mayan? And my Peruvian friend, huh, maybe she’s part Inca. Our social studies textbooks when we were kids may have made it seem like these civilizations all disappeared, but while the Spaniards, Portuguese, and other European colonizers may have killed tens of millions of people in the Americas, there are many millions of individuals descended from those peoples.
- 11d. [Mass movement], AGNUS DEI. A Catholic/Latin thing that I don’t actually know anything about, other than that it means “lamb of God.”
- 22d. [Rickrolling or the Dancing Baby, e.g.], MEME. Wow, old-school! Dancing Baby is from 1990s Ally McBeal, and Rickrolling is over a decade old.
- 24d. [London or Manchester], WRITER. Jack London and … singer/songwriter Melissa Manchester? Not thinking of a book writer named Manchester.
- 61d. [Sam Spade, e.g., informally], TEC. Isn’t this TEC’s second appearance in an NYT puzzle this week? At least this time it’s not in a puzzle that purports to be easy.
4.25 stars from me.
Tim Schenck’s Universal Crossword, “Stop Order”—Judge Vic’s write-up
Hmm. I believe I have seen a similar theme here or elsewhere recently. The reveal:
- 38d [“Enough!”… or how to make sense of each starred answer] CUT IT OUT. The non-reveal themers:
- 18a [*Religious houses] PRIORITIES. Why, that makes no sense … unless and until you cut IT out; then, you’re left with groups like the one Dan Brown wrote about in The Da Vinci Code.
- 29a [*Sun shade] VISITOR. Who wants IT in a visor?
- 42 [*Beekeeper’s injury] SITTING. Cutting IT out of sitting makes a sting.
- 54 [*On the throne] REIGNITING. Without IT, reigning reigns.
- 4 [*Not obvious] SUBTITLE. This one I worked on for a bit before figuring out the theme. I knew the answer had to be subtle, just didn’t know how subtle it was.
The editorial question is why are we inserting IT in these various words? I’ll let y’all discuss this.
Other stuff of note includes OINTMENT, NIGHTCAP, WANT AD, and OP ART.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—Judge Vic’s writeup
By my count, no fewer than 18 elegant ILSA’s inhabit this remarkable themeless crossword, which felt like a Monday Times difficulty, yielding to my plodding approach in just under nine minutes. Those, plus clues that kept me smiling throughout, made for a good start to a three-day weekend. Take a look (and I’ve decided not to type in the clues–I cannot copy-paste from this venue, and it takes too long with too much margin for error):
- 15a FAIRY TALES
- 18a FILTER TIPS
- 19a HULA GIRL
- 21a AT SEA
- 22a OLD FOGY–I liked that the clue here was gender-neutral.
- 23a MADE HAY–I liked that the clue here was non-racy.
- 25a WAYLAY
- 29a SUPERSONIC JET
- 38a NEST EGGS
- 45a DIEBOLD–Often, a single name can be an ILSA.
- 48a BIG AND TALL
- 52a I CAN’T DANCE
- 1d TV SHOWS
- 3d I TOLD YOU
- 4d MEGA-FLOP–Arguably not an ILSA, since mega is a prefix, but what the heck. There’s bound to be a reason for an exclusion when the root word is equal to or shorter than the prefix.
- 20d GO APE
- 28d V-SIGN
- 32d JUMBO CDS
- 33d ELBOW OUT–Feels a tad green-painty, but has three things going for it: (a) gets lots of Google hits, (b) is recognized as idiomatic by The Free Dictionary, and (c) is not in the Urban Dictionary.
- 34d TEA LEONI–What a great name, spelling-wise–5/8 vowels!
Great work, Patrick! 4.5 stars.
Jake Scheele’s The Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Whirred Pairs”–Judge Vic’s write-up.
I like this crossword, but I have to start out with a nit. It’s a funny, punny puzzle, which depends for its primary effect on homophonics. And yet, it does the one consistently controversial thing that is so often done in this category of wordplay: It treats aitches (H’s) that are supposed to be pronounced as though they were silent. Whirred is not a homophone of word; nor is whales a homophone of Wales. For the balance of this review, I will adopt the “Close enough” principle and share with you the fun I had solving.
- 15a [Rhyming nickname for the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner] RG III–Fun clue unlike any I’d seen for this answer, which has only appeared a small handful of times.
- 17a [Sign a petition asking that a dress code allow short sleeves?] WRITE TO BARE ARMS–Great double-pun, this!
- 20a [Co-star of 2019’s “Long Shot”] SETH ROGEN–I saw this movie a week ago … and laughed out loud in a theater shared by two other people.
- 24a [Found a safe house for an agent from Prague?] CACHED THE CZECH–Even though I flew through this puzzle, when I faced this one, I’d not fully answered 17a. I didn’t get this one immediately, but I knew it had to have CZECH in it, and I knew 17a probably had WRITE in it. So, from this point on, I was alert for double-puns.
- 42a [Art on a marine biologist’s walls?] PRINTS OF WHALES–This one I nailed and then was off to the races, for me, anyway–and I was, and still am, running late with my Fiendish sideline of puzzle reviewer.
- 50a [It’s often said while raising a child?] UPSA DAISY–I had UPSY at first and, based on my hearing of this throughout my life, still believe that with UPSA, it’s a variant.
- 56 [Round Table of wildebeest?] THE KNIGHTLY GNUS–Laughed out loud at this one! Reminded me of a gnus news theme puzzle I did years ago.
- 4d [#1 hit used in “American Graffiti”] AT THE HOP–This song was huge in my childhood development. Or lack thereof.
- 5d [Tweedy fellow in “The Wind in the Willows”] MR TOAD–This character was huge in my childhood development. Or lack thereof.
- 29d [“Talking Into the ___ a Donkey” (Robert Bly book)] EAR OF–And I thought I was familiar will all of Bly’s body of work. Now, I must stop by the library later today. It’s nice to learn something from a paltry partial such as this.
- 38d [“I can’t remember when I’ve had such fun!”] WHAT A GAS–This phrase was huge in my childhood development. Or lack thereof. Or was that phrase “Watt a gas!”?
- 43d [“No harm done”] I’M OKAY–And so are you!
Nice job! (Except for that H thing.) 3.6 stars.
Evan Kalish’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
In a way, this puzzle theme is like those clue/answer reversal puzzles, but is far more interesting in a number of ways. All of the clues have the format “___ statement” but are all creative “?” style clues. The four answers all have punch too, particularly the opening and closing sixteens (!): [Mission statement?], REMEMBERTHEALAMO; and [Closing statement?], COMEBACKTOMORROW. The former I first encountered in the video game Scorched Earth, and only learnt of the context much later. The other pair is [Position statement?], YOUAREHERE and [Impact statement?], OWTHATHURTS.
- [Muscle at one end of the Achilles tendon], CALF. More precisely, the gastrocnemius, which is a mouthful no matter which way you look at it.
- [Baseball mascot originally titled “Lady”], MRSMET. I’m not going to look up how this differs from MRMET.
- [La, in the key of E], CSHARP. This clue is greek to me. Answer is also a programming language, though normally styled C#.
- [What many dress in during winter], LAYERS. Clever clue angle.
- [Mixologist’s tools], BARSET. No idea what those could be. A mixologist is a bartender.
- [Large animals whose taxonomic order is obsolete], PACHYDERM. Something of a zombie taxon, since it hasn’t been valid since the early 1800s. The elephants got their own order, the rhinos moved to the odd-toed ungulates, and the hippos to the even.
- [Downer?], BLUER. Huhh?? That clue is seriously tortured.