Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Seeing Zhouqin’s byline typically means “here comes a good crossword,” and this puzzle is no exception. It took me awhile to make sense out of the theme—I had parts of the first three themers filled in, no idea what to do to complete them, and it finally clicked as I filled in 63a. [IRATE], APPRAISER. How on earth does the answer fit the clue?? Read the clue as “I rate,” and the APPRAISER is one who might thusly describe what they do. The other three use different pronouns:
- 17a. [HEBREWS], BEER MAKER. He brews.
- 24a. [WEAVER], TRUE BELIEVERS. We aver. I really like TRUE BELIEVERS as an entry.
- 52a. [SHERIFFS], JAZZ GUITARIST. She riffs.
That [HEBREWS] clue led me astray on the heels of 1a BEBE, which also contains no vowel but E. Two long entries nearby are “BEEN THERE” and “THE NERVE!”, also with those E’s (and also great entries).
Anyway, fun theme, with maybe a little more challenge than the typical Wednesday theme (I’m not complaining).
Five more things:
- 55d. [Printed slips], TYPOS. Good clue. Slips as in errors, printed text.
- 32d. [Help for pulling an all-nighter], NODOZ. NoDoz and Vivarin pack a punch—200 mg of caffeine in a single tablet. Too rich for me! (If you dig around on Amazon, you can find 100 mg caffeine tablets, so much more reasonable.)
- 26d. [Some recurring YouTube journals], VLOGS. Jay Smooth’s Ill Doctrine YouTube channel was the first vlog I followed. Another vlog I’ve enjoyed is Rebecca Watson’s SkepChick, for science, feminism, and critical thinking (hat tip to Jon Delfin for bringing her to my attention). I’ve posted a recent video of hers (caution! she drops the F-bomb a few times!) below.
- 43d. [“Get ready!”], “EN GARDE!” I hereby move that organizers of crossword tournaments should say this instead of “Begin” or “Go” when it’s time to start puzzling.
- 19a. [“American ___ Warrior” (NBC competition series)], NINJA. NBC draws on its Olympic broadcasting experience to show maudlin clips of competitors’ sad or inspiring personal stories, which … probably accounts for a good chunk of the show’s popularity. Plus, those obstacle courses are beyond bonkers. (Shout-out to crossworder Jeff Chen, who completed a backyard Ninja Warrior course a year or so ago—I hope to see him on NBC sometime!)
4.4 stars from me.
Paul Coulter’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Job Market”—Jenni’s review
I was in the perfect mood for this theme. It’s silly and amusing and fun to solve.
Each theme answer is a job description for produce.
- 17a [Position for which the lettuce applied at the restaurant?] is HEAD WAITER.
- 24a [Position for which the artichoke applied at the hospital?] is HEART SURGEON.
- 49a [Position for which the asparagus applied at the opera company?] is a SPEAR CARRIER. That’s a term for a “supernumerary” or extra in an opera – the guys in “Aida” who carry the spears.
- 58a [Position for which the bananas applied at the palace?] is HANDMAIDEN. Turns out the correct term for a cluster of bananas is a HAND.
It made me giggle. That’s a good thing.
A few other things:
- 6a [Site of the 1969 World Series victory] is SHEA. I’m not saying anything about the Mets current season. Nope. Not a word.
- The long downs are good – LARGE SCALE and DEEP-SEATED. Not particularly difficult and interesting at the same time.
- 38a [Jay’s sound?] took me a while to parse. It’s LONG A. For a while I thought Jay Leno had some kind of odd catchphrase I’d never heard of.
- 52a [Family life, figuratively] is HEARTH, as in HEARTH and home.
- 65a [Small sci-fi spaceships] is a nice non-vegetal clue for PODS, keeping the foodstuffs for the theme entries.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: a HAND of bananas. I also did not know that Inspector Gadget says WOWSERS or that the Australian army wears SLOUCH HATs.
Lee Taylor’s Universal Crossword, “On the Double”—Judge Vic’s write-up
THEME: Put the word double before eight words in this puzzle, and you’ll created eight ILSA’s.
FACT THAT CANNOT BE DISREGARDED: There are lots and lots of ILSA’s that start with double.
- 19a [*Very hot water (think twice to interpret each starred answer!)] (DOUBLE) TROUBLE
- 21a [*Four-person nuptials] (DOUBLE) WEDDING
- 37a [*1980 Lennon/Ono collaboration] (DOUBLE) FANTASY
- 53a [*Characteristic that complicates understanding] (DOUBLE) MEANING
- 55a [*Stiff drink] (DOUBLE) MARTINI
- 9d [*Oxymoronic card game] (DOUBLE) SOLITAIRE
- 24d [*Extended cinema offering] (DOUBLE) FEATURE
- 33d [*Like many hotel rooms] (DOUBLE) OCCUPANCY
The parenthetical in the clue for 19a is clever as a theme revealer. Ultimately, though, we have a theme of 7-7-7-7-7-11-7-11, or 8/64, with all one-word answers. And, in the non-theme fill, there are a large handful of unexciting answers, such as BSA, TSAR, FUNGI, and REINKS.
I was neither wowed by nor bitterly disappointed with this puzzle.
Dan Schoenholz’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Thank you Dr. Levy for filling in last Friday. The wind/rain storm took out the entire town’s (actually a couple of towns) power supply for six hours plus which put paid to blogging…
CAKEMIXES – as a revealer it works – but it is yet another “scramble letters and span them across words” theme. I feel like we’re getting far too many of these of late? Anyway, the cakes are COFFEE (which has no coffee if you’re American???), POUND, SPONGE and LAYER. Even the most boring theme can be spiffed up by interesting entries. None of NICEOFFER, LOADEDUPON, TAKINGONESPLACE or FISCALYEAR fit that bill for me either. Sorry to be such a downer.
Erin Rhode’s AVCX, “All Aflutter” — Ben’s Review
This week’s AVCX is from Erin Rhode, and it’s a pretty straightforward 3/5 difficulty theme:
- 21A: Headline the day after Mark Mothersbaugh and bandmates got followed by the cops? — DEVO TAILED
- 47A: Answer to an inquiry about who discovered Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, and Cory Monteith? — A GLEE SCOUT
- 3D: Produce produced collaboratively? — WIKI FRUIT
- 32D: Border structure to keep out mendacious politicians? — LIAR FENCE
- 35A: Obscene gesture, or what each of this puzzle’s theme entries is doing — FLIPPING THE BIRD
The FLIPPING of BIRDs in the grid is cryptic-style anagramming rather than a straight flip of the word, so we have common phrases (DOVETAILED, EAGLE SCOUT, KIWI FRUIT, and RAIL FENCE) where the name of a bird has been anagrammed in an amusing way. It’s fine? It’s fine.
The rest of the fill in the puzzle is of a similar sort. There’s personal details in some of the clues (“Carter whose “Did I Shave My Legs For This?” album was a mainstay in my high school car” for DEANA, “Formal wear I considered for my friend’s Indian wedding next month, before settling on a lehenga” for SARI) that helps add ornamentation to some oft-seen fill, but not in a way that feels like it really adds anything to the clue but some bulk.
This was a fairly breezy solve, which was nice, but it didn’t satisfy as much as the last few weeks of the AVCX has.
Lana DEL REY is a Cancer, not a Gemini, per 42A.