Sam Ezersky’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Hope to see dozens of you at the Indie 500 crossword tournament on Saturday! It’s pretty much guaranteed to be a good time with great puzzles.
Really enjoyed Sam’s puzzle. Lots of fun fill and clues. I’ve got a morning flight tomorrow, so I’ll make this quick. Liked “OH, REALLY?,” FREEMIUM, “WHAT’S NEXT?,” FAM, BROADSIDE, COACH K, M.A. DEGREE, “AREN’T WE ALL?,” SPRINKLE, TYMPANI, “GOOD DOGGY,” BRO HUG, and HOKEY.
Fave clues: 55a OTTO, 63a ENEMY SPY, 7d ALUM, 28d FIRE-EATERS, 32d KNEE, the two [Verbal attack]s and two [Green hue]s.
Clue I don’t get: 2d. [+ 1], THREE.
4.2 stars from me.
David Alfred Bywaters’s Universal Crossword, “Catching Some Z’s”—Judge Vic’s write-up
ATTORNEYS’ FEES become ATTORNEYS’ FEZZES. Why? Because those fees catch twos Z’s. And hang onto them. For some reason. And then, the same thing happens to CHIP AND DALE–CHIP AND DAZZLE; FRENCH FRIES–FRENCH FRIZZES; and VERTICAL FILES–VERTICAL FIZZLES.
Two Z’s are added to four separate words (the title phrase could mean that catching Z’s equals physical addition of Z’s). The result is that four not very exciting phrases become four nonsense phrases. With really strained clues. IMO. YMMV.
UNMOOR still does not impress me.
AGE WELL feels like green paint.
OPEN CALL is kinda nice.
Elizabeth Gorski’s New Yorker crossword—Jim P’s review
I think this is a themeless grid (I don’t do New Yorker puzzles very often), but there appears to be a mini-theme going on at 1a and 66a: ARMY BOOTS gets a punny [Private property?] clue and, similarly, MESS TENTS gets [Private dining areas?] as its clue. Hmm. Not sure about ARMY BOOTS as a phrase. COMBAT BOOTS, yes (as in, what your mama wears). ARMY BOOTS? Not so much.
Loved seeing SIGOURNEY at 15a with a clever clue [Weaver of alien tales?]. And hey, there’s another parallel with 64a ALIEN RACE [Humans, to Klingons]. But there’s that clue/entry dupe of the word “alien”. Some people are bothered by this, others are not. At least they’re pretty far apart in the grid.
BIG FAT ZERO is a lot of fun, but I’m less sure about A LITTLE BIT. I guess it’s “in the language” enough. GRANT’S TOMB, YOUTUBER, TIE SCORE, DOG RUNS, ISOTOPE, and KAZOOS: all good. I didn’t know BOBBY SHORT [Café Carlyle’s feature performer for more than thirty-five years], but that gap in my knowledge base sounds like my loss; he was quite the entertainer as well as a champion of African-American musicians.
- 16a [When clocks struck thirteen, in “1984”]. APRIL. It’s been decades since I read that book, and I’m not recalling the reference. Anyone?
- 33a [“Gimme a high five!”]…said no one ever. But I guess the “high” is necessary to indicate we are going UP TOP, which I like as a phrase.
- 42a [Annie who voiced Bo Peep in “Toy Story”]. POTTS. Did you see that Bo Peep will return in Toy Story 4, out in a few weeks? Apparently, since being separated from the gang, she has turned into some sort of toy vigilante/superhero.
- 49a [Gives ten per cent]. I like this clue. Instead of the normal “gives 110%”, the clue conjures up an image of a total slacker doing the least amount possible to get by. But actually, it’s just talking about someone paying TITHES.
- 6d [Life-saving donations]. ORGANS. Last time I visited my mom, I tried to get her to let me donate her organ (she only has one) to Goodwill. She wouldn’t let me. (I’m talking about a musical organ, you sicko.)
On the whole, a fun grid. There were a few too many clunky bits (MGRS, I GET A, ASES, O COME, etc.), but still, a good time. 3.8 stars.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
I like ASSISTANTDA as an entry; as a revealer, it’s a little oblique, but creative. Otherwise, it’s a pretty standard letter addition theme, with the letters being DA as indicated in the circles. FRYINGPANDA was for me the strongest, with SAYITISNTSODA the most ambitious, though I don’t feel the clue quite seals the deal.
Partly due to the central theme, we have a fairly low word count puzzle, but with a lot of “helper” squares as Rich Norris calls them. There are quite a few large-ish stacks but mostly of inflected forms. MACARENA is a stand-out although it recalls a time when I thought my peers had lost their minds; it truly is a rank piece of music no matter how you look at it. Also in the longer entries, IMALONE is an unusually suggestive choice for a newspaper crossword. Not sure how I feel about the signals it is sending me.
Today I learnt: [Apollo’s birth island], DELOS. I know the term Delian League, sort of. I never knew what “Delian” meant in that context, but apparently it is “of Delos” an island in the Aegean.