Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme of the day is 66a. [“Language” that explains the answers to the six starred clues], PIG LATIN. Find a word that answers the theme clues, convert them to Pig (feral hog!) Latin and Bob’s your uncle.
- 17a. [*Scarcity], EARTH DAY. Dearth.
- 23a. [*Futuristic film of 1982], ENTREE. Tron. Unusual to have the “ay” sound spelled as ÉE for just the one.
- 25a. [*Amazement], UNDER WAY. Wonder.
- 40a. [*Lay waste to], ASHTRAY. Trash.
- 53a. [*Magnificent], EAGLE RAY. Regal.
- 55a. [*Oaf], OUTLAY. Lout.
Fair enough. Not the first Pig Latin theme we’ve encountered over the years, of course.
Five more things:
- 42d. [Yellow citrus fruit used in Japanese cuisine], YUZU / 51a. [Rice-shaped pasta], ORZO. Know your foods! Or else struggle at that Z crossing. If you should find yourself in a Filipino restaurant or market, try the calamansi juice—another Asian citrus fruit that’s yummy.
- 19a. [Ready to turn in], SLEEPY. Nice clue—it had me thinking of a homework assignment that’s completed rather than a tired person!
- 5d. [Grader’s tool], RED PEN. I think this is more of a lexical chunk than, say, GREEN PEN would be.
- 26d. [In the vicinity of], NEAR TO. Blech. A lifeless (INORGANIC!) entry.
- 48d. [Louis ___, South Africa’s first P.M.], BOTHA. I’ll bet no more than 1% of Americans have heard of this particular world leader from a century ago—but I S’POSE it’s better than including racist asshoel (that typo looks like an Afrikaans spelling, doesn’t it?) P.W. Botha instead.
3.5 stars from me.
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword—Nate’s write-up
What are we dealing with today in today’s “Deal With It” puzzle?
16A: DILETTANTE [Dabbler] – Ante
30A: SCAFFOLD [Construction site sight] – Fold
39A: APPRAISE [Evaluate] – Raise
10D: DOWAGER [Violet Crawley on “Downton Abbey,” for one] – Wager
38D: SHERBET [Frozen treat] – Bet (and a sure one at that!)
56A: THE GAMBLER [1978 Kenny Rogers hit, and a hint to the ends of the starred answers]
I liked this theme! I’ll admit I wasn’t familiar with the song (don’t judge me), but I appreciated that the poker-related words were hidden in the second halves of words rather than used as the second words in two-word phrases like we usually see. I also liked that the poker-related terms used in the theme were probably the most common and relevant words to the game. Deal me in!
Other random thoughts:
– There were more women in this grid than we normally see – ANI DiFranco, Tracy and EDNA from “Hairspray,” Eartha KITT, Violet Crawley, Artemis, ERICA from “The Goldebergs” – but there were almost as many men mentioned in just two clues combined – [Barry, Robin, or Maurice] BEEGEE and [“Don Carlos,” “Don Giovanni” or “Don Pasquale”]. There were plenty more men than that throughout the grid, so it still feels unbalanced as a whole. Fill like RHEA or SIREN could have easily been clued with respect to women as well.
– I liked the clues for TEA [It’s served in spots].
– I wasn’t a fan of A FIRST. I know partial phrases are relatively common, but I feel like adding a/an to a word and including that as part of the fill is a stretch (especially when A WHIM is also in the grid).
Pam Klawitter’s Universal Crossword, “Tarzan Does the News”—Judge Vic’s write-up
See if you can figure it out from the title (Tarzan fans who watched old movies and TV should have no trouble):
- 17a Tarzan’s report on sinkhole damage? HOUSE BROKEN
- 27a Tarzan’s recap of a typical baseball game? BATTING AVERAGE
- 45a Tarzan’s review of an exceptional new film? PICTURE PERFECT
- 60a Tarzan’s reaction to an acceptable book-borrowing place? LIBRARY FINE
Pam found 2-unit phrases and compound words that would parse into Tarzanesque language (Tarzanese?)–sentence fragments that go [Noun adjective].
Other stuff I took note of:
BEEHIVE, CERES, ETDS, BOOK I, DEARIE, DRS.
Nothing too awful. Nothing too crunchy.
P.S.–FWIW: At a meeting a couple hours ago (this is being written on Aug. 6 at 10 p.m.), a sophisticated crossword solver (a woman in her late 70’s who was just learning to work NYT puzzles in the aftermath of a stroke 12 years ago when she took a crossword course I was teaching) asked me what I thought of “the new New York Times puzzle” in the local paper. She was referring to the Universal Crossword. She mentioned that many of her friends had stopped working it, because it simply “ran off and left them,” a reference to the perceived level of difficulty. She, on the other hand, would have nothing to do with the Universal when the previous editor was in charge, but is now working it regularly.
Ben Tausig’s AVCX, “TrivIA Repeats” — Ben’s Review
This week’s AVCX is from editor Ben Tausig, and I think the 5/5 difficulty rating was right on the money – this took me about twice as long as the AVCX normally does, but I really liked the theme once I caught what was going on:
- 10A: Trivial talk — CH [I/A] T
- 17A: Trifling thing — KN [I/A] CK
- 21A: Waste time doing nothing important — D [I/A] LLY
- 37A: Cheaply made, as a house —
T [I/A] CKY
- 49A: Nonsense — F [I/A] DDLE
- 66A: Confused mixture — M [I/A] SH
All of these are terms that are in a sort of throw-away kind of way to suggest triviality, reduced to fit in one set of grid squares where the I and A share one square- CHIT-CHAT, KNICK-KNACK, DILLY-DALLY, TICKY-TACKY, FIDDLE-FADDLE, and MISH-MASH. The down fill uses both the I and A in that order – TRIATHLON, FACIAL, I ASSUME, TIA CARRERE, SIAMESE, and MEDIA. Solving this felt like a themeless where I could tell something was going on under the surface, and I liked the “AHA” it required midway through to figure out what was going on with the downs affected by the theme.
Some things I learned while filling in this grid: I can’t spell PNHOM Penh correctly to save me life (I keep wanting to swap the N and H), LYON is known for its coq au vin, HAYDN was a contemporary of Mozart, and CHIA PETS were made of terra cotta (I tried PLANTERS there first, which feels technically correct, but I thought said faddish planters were made of some material that merely aped terra cotta)
RACHEL ROY (4D, “Designer once, er, linked to Jay-Z”) is rumored to be the “Becky with the good hair” referenced by Beyonce in “Sorry”
Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Simple enough theme today, PLUMBERS, and what they work on : a TRAP, a TAP, a PIPE or a SINK. Cleanly executed, despite the subject matter. Our PLUMBERS have been fighting a war against the roots, but because the offending pipes aren’t directly on our property everything has become political.
I don’t think I’ve seen ALLBRAN in a puzzle, which seems surprising from my angle, as it’s a heavily marketed brand here. Nice to have some roughage in your breakfast entertainment.