John Guzzetta’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Gonna start right off calling bullshit on 16a. [Feebleness], ANEMIA. Sure, my hemoglobin level runs low, but if you call me “feeble,” I’m coming for you. You can trot out all the thesauruses you want, holler that this is about feeble excuses rather than feeble people, but it’s not going to make me like this clue one bit.
Fave fill: I always like CAVORT. “HOW RUDE!” is good. BARE ARMS are a thing, as is EVERY BIT. The NONES, as in people whose religious affiliation is “none,” that’s a term that I’ve been seeing off and on over the last decade or so. I like a good DEATH STARE—my mother-in-law has a great one that’s combined with side-eye. TWITTERATI, SNORKEL, CANOODLE, OVEN MITT, a HOT MIC, MOON ROOF—also on my likes list.
Dislikes: “OH ME,” EMBAR.
Did not know: 30a. [4K], ULTRA HD. Is this about TVs or monitors? I honestly have no clue.
Five more things:
- 22a. [Single-___], PAYER. As in the proposed Medicare for All plans.
- 25a. [Terse response accepting responsibility], “I DID.” Don’t care for this at all. “I did!” is something a kid would say when it’s suggested that they didn’t complete their chores.
- 33a. [Private R&R], ME TIME. Dang it! I really thought this was about leave for people in the Army. Nope, just private as a regular ol’ adjective.
- 55a. Like well-connected investigative reporters, say], LEAKED-TO. Would have preferred this clued as a verb phrase rather than this awkward adjectival nonsense.
- 15d. [Greek city visited by Paul before Athens], BEREA. Had no idea! I know Berea only as the Kentucky liberal arts college where the students, all with demonstrated financial need, pay nothing for tuition, and as the town it calls home.
3.6 stars from me.
Annemarie Brethauer’s Universal Crossword, “Spread the Dough”—Judge Vic’s write-up
Let’s go straight to the starred clues and figure it out as we go:
- 17a *Commotion HULLABALOO
- 19a *Tiny tot TYKE. Given the reveal below, I think we’re supposed to see here that LOOT is split between 17a and 19a
- 23a *City on Jordan’s coast AQABA
- 25a *Entryway table CONSOLE. Here, divided between the two answers, we have BACON, as in “bring home the ….”
- 34a *SAT prep focus VOCAB
- 36a *Piece of luggage BAG
- 37a *How theremin music may sound EERIE. Three answers here feature the spanned word CABBAGE.
- 50a *Marin County’s San ___ ANSELMO
- 52a *Charlie Chan portrayer Warner OLAND. MOOLA may be found broken by a block between these answers.
And now …, the reveal:
- 59 Eat, or a hint to the cash synonyms hidden across each starred row BREAK BREAD.
Tres cool! A clever offshoot of a standard synonym theme. And it’s Thursday tricky!
Other stuff that grabbed my attention:
- 3d Like obsidian and pumice VOLCANIC. A word not seen much in crosswords.
- 5d Have some booze IMBIBE. I first inserted TIPPLE.
- 38d Most lanky REEDIEST. As 8-letter words with 4-letter suffixes go, this one is okay by me.
- 22a King Arthur’s father UTHER. I learned something here.
Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword—Jenni’s review
This is a delightful, breezy puzzle from Aimee to welcome the weekend. My on-call week ended just before I solved it. I’m sitting on the screened porch in lovely not-very-humid air. Ahhh. Friday morning.
The core of the puzzle is the staggered stack of 10-letter answers in the middle: DROP THE BEAT, SPACE PIRATE, and BEASTLINESS. They’re all fresh and were fun to solve.
I moved fairly smoothly through the puzzle. It’s easy without being dumbed-down, a difficult feat that Aimee performs well every time.
A few other things:
- Requisite intellectual New Yorker clue: 10d [Hypothetical material said to account for twenty-five per cent of the universe’s total energetic density]. It’s DARK MATTER.
- 17a [Yogi in the New Jersey Hall of Fame] is BERRA, who famously did not say everything he said.
- 22a [Garbanzo bean] is CHICK PEA. For years, I used CHICK PEA and refused to say “garbanzo bean” out of some misguided allegiance to the language of my youth. I gave that up a while ago.
- My favorite clue/answer pair: 40d [“… except the exact opposite of everything I just said”]. It’s BUT NOT.
- I also really liked 55d, [Act out?] for MIME.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’d never heard of Megan AMRAM. I didn’t know that ENBY was a texting term for [Gender fluidity]. That’s ENBY as in NB as in non-binary.
Alicia Bachman & Kurt Krauss’s LA Times crossword – Jenni’s write-up
This was a really fun puzzle! It’s on a par with the best NYT Thursdays and it’s one of the harder LAT Fridays I’ve done. What a great way to start the morning! Alicia’s not in our database, which makes me think this is her debut. I look forward to more from her.
I knew something was weird when I had KR to start 5d. I left it alone and kept working through the puzzle, only to find that I had HC to start 10d. Also weird. I took out the C and then filled in the rest of that corner, and the penny dropped. All the theme answers are Downs that actually read Up.
- 5d is [Preliminary drudgery], and the KR told me it ended with WORK. It took me a long time to realize that the whole phrase is SPADE WORK.
- 10d [Layered lunch order] is CLUB SANDWICH.
- 21d [Regal headpiece] is DIAMOND TIARA. By this time I’d figured out the trick and this was a gimme.
- 37d [EKG reading] is a HEART BEAT. If your EKG has only one HEART BEAT, you’re in big trouble.
There’s a revealer at 25d: [Gets ready for the big game … and a hint to four puzzle answers], and at first I thought it also read up, but it doesn’t. It’s SUITS UP. All the up-going themers start with the names of card suits. Such a fun theme!
A few other things:
- 1a [i follower] is POD. Shouldn’t that have an [obs] tag these days?
- 15a [Cry from a toon sombrero wearer] is ARRIBA. For the record, Speedy Gonzales is a racist caricature. The puzzles steps around that and I don’t have a problem with the entry or clue, but let’s be clear.
- 24a [Westchester County city known for its Playland] is RYE. I spent many of my happiest teenage hours at Playland – I grew up just up the road in Port Chester (now the part called Rye Brook). It’s definitely, as 47a points out, a BURB. Playland makes an appearance towards the end of the movie “Big.”
- 55d [Queen’s home] is next to DIAMOND TIARA, but it’s a different kind of queen. The answer is HIVE.
- Funniest clue: 68a [Vinny famously called them “utes” in a “My Cousin Vinny” courtroom scene]. It’s YOUTHS, of course.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that TRALEE is the seat of County Kerry.