Matthew Sewell’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
A fresh Friday puzzle with lots of cool fill. My favorites: SQUAD GOALS, even though it feels like it might be three years out of date. An OUTSIDE CAT, which probably kills any number of birds out there. DINNER DATE. HELLION. ESCAPE ROOM, which is a thing I’ve only done twice and that’s wrong. GREEN-LIGHT. HETERONYMS, clued as [Polish and polish, e.g.], the capital-P Polish being pronounced with a long O that lowercase polish lacks—and then Polish popping up again in the PIEROGI clue.
Five more things:
- 49a. [Ruthless sort], OGRE. Shrek turned out to be a total softie, of course.
- 61a. [Actress Marsay of “Game of Thrones”], FAYE. No idea who this is … IMDb tells me she played the Waif in 11 episodes in 2015-16. I wasn’t watching those seasons attentively, but apparently (spoiler alert!) she attacked Arya on the regular, and then trained Arya, and then tried to kill Arya, and then was killed by Arya and lost her face.
- 1d. [Gin fizz ingredient], SODA. For the fizz. Raise your hand if you jumped at SLOE here, being well-trained by years of crosswords to do just that.
- 6d. [Warsaw Pact member west of Poland, for short], GDR. The German Democratic Republic, which was repressive and Communist. See also: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, aka the despotic land of North Korea. What’s up with this coopting of democratic?
- 27d. [Expression of regret], I RUE THE DAY. I feel like the phrase more often appears as “you’ll rue the day …” What say you?
Four stars from me.
Jim Holland’s Universal crossword, “On a First-Name Basis”—Rebecca’s review
THEME: Common phrases/things clued in relation to the names they end with
- 20A [Pulls a fast one on Mays and Nelson?] GETS THE WILLIES
- 40A [Smart and Harlow, when down in the dumps?] PAIR OF BLUE JEANS
- 56A [Bailey, Buck, White, etc.?] STRING OF PEARLS
I love this theme – really it’s a lot of fun and I found myself wishing it was a Sunday size puzzle so there could more of it. I think it would work slightly better if all of the answers were ____ OF ____ or if all three of them were nouns, but GETS THE WILLIES ends up feeling a little out of place because of how different it is. That said, it’s a great answer and clue – and that didn’t at all take away from the enjoyment I had coming across the answers in the grid, but was more a post-solve observation.
The east side of the puzzle fell much faster and easier for me than the west. I had no sticking points and almost every answer felt very natural while filling in answers like ANTIDOTES, MISLED and just about the rest of the fill on that side but as I moved down and left, I had the opposite experience while filling in answers like TRIMARANS and ELIDES. Nothing in the puzzle struck me as unfair, just a bit inconsistent in difficulty level.
As far as cluing goes, I loved the cross of STAN and SARA with them both clued as Lees – and overall the clues felt like they had a lot of personality. They really kept the puzzle moving and gave it a voice, which together with this theme made for a great solving experience.
Random thing I enjoyed a lot today: EGG ON next to NO ONE is visually very cool and somehow feels like it could be the basis for it’s own word puzzle.
I have always ADORED listening to PEARL Bailey as Dolly – here she is singing Before the Parade Passes By…
Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Jenni’s writeup
I mostly liked the theme, did not care for the revealer, and was not on the clue wavelength at all. Could have been the clues, or me, or both.
Each theme answer has IR added to a base phrase.
- 20a [Deity worshiped by backyard chefs?] is a BARBECUE SPIRIT (barbecue spit). Does anyone actually say “barbecue spit?” I know it’s a thing, but still wonder.
- 36a [7-10 split, to a bowler?] are IRKING PINS (kingpins).
- 44a [Distiller Walker’s treatise about a whisky grain?] is HIRAM ON RYE (ham on rye).
- 54a [Hester Prynne’s trademark milk-producing farm?] is the RED-LETTER DAIRY (red-letter day). This was my favorite.
I do not think this needed a revealer, and it especially did not need 65d [April 15 org., or, as a plural, a hint to four long puzzle answers]: IRS. Maybe it’s the clue that makes this seem clunky. I dunno. It clanked for me.
A few other things:
- 1d [Baseball Cards: Abbr.] is a fun clue for the ubiquitous STL. Nice win for the Cards last night! Wouldn’t want to be Ronald Acuna Jr today.
- I filled in DITS instead of NITS for 5a [Insignificant points], which made it very difficult to see the answer for 5d [Words to a growler], which is NICE DOG.
- I really struggled with the center west section. I wanted 27d [Get around] to be something like DRIVE. It’s actually SKIRT. I had no idea what 25d [Cops as a unit] was going for – FIVE-O was the answer I filled in. Google tells me this slang evolved from the TV show. Maybe a hint that it was slang would have helped me. Maybe not.
- 80s rock alert! We have DURAN, which is kind of weird and is clued as 9a [When repeated, Second British Invasion band] and Bon JOVI.
- Could have done without the double cross-reference in the bottom, with PORED and EGGS both connected to OVER. There’s no reason for that.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that FIVE–O is slang for “police.”
Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s write-up
I’m writing this from an airport gate waiting to board a flight to JFK, that famed airport located in its home of NYC, so that should give you a sense of how much I clicked with this puzzle (hint: a lot). As with so many New Yorker puzzles, this one hit on all the elements I love in a themeless puzzle: fresh entries, high-quality fill, and interesting or tricky cluing. Since I have to board that flight in a minute, I’m going to keep this relatively brief:
- Fresh entries: MEGAN Rapinoe (*swoon*), THEHATEUGIVE, WAKANDA, GOLDENDOODLE, SHADIER.
- High-quality fill: loved seeing PAN clued as PANsexual. Really, there was no bad three-letter fill at all! Just a few entries I wasn’t fond of (ORANT/MARIES/EGAL)
- Best clue: Mexican cheese? for DINERO
Overall, excellent and relatively easy puzzle, with just a small mark against for the only very occasional less-than-spotless fill.
P.P.S. If you somehow missed the banner at the top of this post, Queer Qrosswords 2 is now available! Check it out! You may even recognize some of the constructors ;)
Jason Mueller’s Chronicle fo Higher Education crossword, “Literary Bonbons” — pannonica’s write-up
Literature is of course one of the signature purviews of the Chronicle, so this theme is on-brand for the crossword.
- 58aR [Box of chocolates … or what the first words of the answers to the starred clues might represent] WHITMANS SAMPLER.
- 17a. [*Outdistances comfortably] LEAVES IN THE DUST.
- 28a. [*Together] OF SOUND MIND.
- 43a. [*Student’s moniker in TV’s “Kung Fu”] GRASSHOPPER.
And that (presuming it’s ok to just use the first word of the compound in 43-across) provides us with Leaves of Grass, probably the most well-known work of 19th century literary personage Walt Whitman. Potential replacements for GRASSHOPPER: GRASS SPIDER, GRASS SNAKES, GRASS SKIRTS.
- 10a [Olympian often depicted holding a pomegranate] HERA; symbol of fertility – one of her many attributes. 22a [Ibis-headed Egyptian god] THOTH; god of wisdom.
- 39a [Shade like cornflower] AZURE. “Can I get the icon in cornflower blue?”
- 48a [Opera __ ] (Handel genre)] SERIA, 52d [Last work performed by Leontyne Price at the Met] AIDA. 21a [Open architectural galleries] LOGGIAS, 39d [Court with a skylight] ATRIUM.
- 45d [Feed the neighbor’s cat, say] PETS IT. Huh? What does petting it have to do with feeding it?1
- 42a [Type of ham or chili pepper] SERRANO. The former originated in Spain, the latter in Mexico. For both, SERRANO (“from the mountain range”) refers to local geography.
- Walt: 5a [Leave the pier] CAST OFF, 7d [Prefix with conformist] NON-, 40a [NBA franchise welcoming Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in 2019] NETS, 23a [Electrical connections] HOOKUPS (maybe??).
- Sampler: 38a [Mike’s confectionery partner] IKE.
Interesting enough material and cluing throughout, but the theme feels a bit slight for a weekly showcase crossword.
1 It’s a joke. I certainly know about petsitting.