Emily Carroll’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
That’s two Friday NYTs in a row constructed by women, and this one’s got a cool-looking grid. Neighboring 15/11 pairs crossing a 13-letter crossbeam which in turn crosses a 9, plus stacked 7s in every corner.
My favorite fill: SODA POP (but not “pop-ups” in a clue for OUTS, plus for me, [What most pop-ups are] is about online ads or pop-up books or pop-up restaurants and not godforsaken baseball), ROMULAN, FERRETS with an etymology clue ([Animals whose name is derived from the Latin for “little thief”], ha!), CARSICK (ugh, I have a road trip coming up), STYMIES (I love that word), Rick MORANIS, GOOFUS (please be a Gallant, my friends), DEMOLITION DERBY (fun clue, [Smashing good time]), ACUPUNCTURE (got that one off just the A, [Some needlework]), FASHIONISTA, and the BRITISH INVASION (which I was just looking up for work purposes today—do you consider the Who to be part of the British Invasion, or did they come after it?—and yes, my job is fun).
Utterly new to me: 32a. [Romantic gray area], SITUATIONSHIP. Apparently you’re in a situationship when it’s not quite a relationship, doesn’t have that expectation of seeing each other every weekend, is maybe just a notch beyond a booty call scenario.
Six more things:
- 8a. [Where to find free spirits], OPEN BAR. Great clue.
- A two-fer: 40a. [Bad thing on a record], WARP (on a vinyl record album) / 47a. [Bad things on records, for short], DUIS (legal records).
- 54a. [“Almost finished!”], “ONE TO GO.” Not sure how I feel about this entry. I think it’s probably not great, not well-established as a phrase that stands alone.
- 5d. [Hardly measures up], PALES. My skin’s melanin content PALES in comparison to most people’s.
- 27d. [Some of them are described as red and yellow, but not orange], SEAS. I don’t like the clue. Are the Red Sea and the Yellow Sea “described” as red and yellow, or just named that way?
- 37d. [“Black Jeopardy!” show, for short], SNL. I loved the one with Tom Hanks.
3.9 stars from me.
Kristina Lustig’s Inkubator crossword, “Location, Location, Location”—Jenni’s review
Kristina’s debut is fun! The theme answers are all locational idioms with literal-minded clues.
- 20a [High point?] is TOP OF THE MORNING.
- 39a [Halfway point?] is the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.
- 55a [Low point?] is the BOTTOM OF MY HEART.
Three solid 15-letter phrases placed appropriately in the grid. Well done! I look forward to more of Kristina’s puzzles in the future.
A few other things:
- 2d [Political research against the other side, slangily] is OPPO.
- 6a [#___ on Instagram for 18-Across, e.g.] is WCW. 18a is Sarah SILVERMAN. I am old and I have no idea what this means. Luckily the crossings were obvious, even to a fogy like me.
- I find the word DODGY delightful. In my head it is always pronounced with a British accent.
- 31d [Emotions, in teen speak] are FEELS. Once it’s in a crossword, it’s no longer teen speak definition, even a crossword as hip as the Inkubator.
- 43a [Word before acceptance, positivity, and activism] is FAT. One of the reasons I love the Inkubator editorial stance.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that there is a city in Sierra LEONE named Freetown.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Jenni’s write-up
I didn’t understand the theme until after I’d finished the puzzle. I knew it was a letter or sound substitution but couldn’t figure out which one. Turns out it’s sounds: W for Q.
- 16a [Colbert et al.?] are WITS FOR THE NIGHT (quits).
- 29a [Part of a candlemaker’s design process?] is WICK DECISION (quick).
- 34a [Outdoor wedding guests on a steamy day?] is a WILTING PARTY (quilting). This one doesn’t work for me. QUILTING BEE, sure. QUILTING PARTY, no.
- 51a [What a hiker might do after a nap on the trail?] is WAKE IN ONE‘S BOOTS (quake).
Three out of four is spectacular if you’re a baseball player. It’s not so great if you’re a theme writer.
A few other things:
- 1d [“You’ve heard this from me before … “] is AS I SAY, which also clanks for me. Is this a phrase in common usage? AS I’VE SAID, sure.
- 7a [Eponymous explorer of Australia] is TASMAN. I don’t know much about good ol’ Abel, but if I extrapolate from what I know of early Europeans in the Americas, I suspect “colonizer” might be a better term that “explorer.” Next week is Thanksgiving in the US. It’s a good time to question the conventional wisdom about white “explorers.”
- I don’t know why I knew that the [First known asteroid] was CERES but I did. The hippocampus is a weird and wonderful thing.
- TIRE CARE is a little roll-your-own. So to speak.
- 29d [Bic’s __-Out] is WITE, of course, and on the list of “things my kid has never heard of.”
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that absinthe is flavored with FENNEL.
Elizabeth Gorski’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
This is going to be a fairly quick write-up, because, as Gorski’s puzzle so kindly reminded me, I have a deadline on a manuscript that was returned for revisions that I need to resubmit or I will surely die. Because, you know, PUBLISH OR PERISH. (Sidenote: I’ve always found it kind of funny that the process of publishing crossword puzzles is so similar to academic publishing: you work hard on a thing you care a lot about, send it off into the ether, and 2-4 months later get a rejection from Will Shortz…er…I mean… some editor, who may or may not provide useful feedback. And then even if it does get published, people on the internet might say mean things about your work! It’s a hard life).
Anyways. I liked this puzzle! It’s a solid, clean themeless, just as you’d expect, with some fun trivia scattered throughout. Most of the entries weren’t all that exciting (IRON RICH, MARRIOTT, LIFELESS), but the construction and fill are both much better than a B-MINUS (which pairs nicely with the B-PLUS from the other Friday themeless we review on this site!).
I don’t know if this is a coincidence, or the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, or just the cumulative effect of nothing-but-politics on everyone’s brain (including the constructor’s), but I sure did notice INDICTS and ELECTION NIGHT in the grid together and it gave me mid-solve agita.
A few other things:
- I’m not sure EMPTY JAR is a standalone phrase. I put EMPTY cup, which seemed equally plausible.
- I do think AMISH QUILT is a standalone phrase, but that didn’t stop me from putting AMISH honey on my first pass (and that is definitely not a standalone)
- Lol’d when I realized that NORD is (Sud’s opposite?)– I spent at least ten second thinking “how could a sud have an opposite??
- Some early morning blasphemy for you: I can never remember if it’s INRI or INRE, as if the note were a memo nailed to the cross (ATTN: Jesus IN RE: Crucifixion)
- Names I didn’t know: RIC Burns, Hermann HESSE, Eugene O’NEILL (yes yes uncultured brute etc etc)
- I didn’t know that “Jack Kerouac’s second language” was ENGLISH! Fun literary trivia! The hotel birth/death thing for O’NEILL also falls in this category
Overall, I enjoyed the solve. Several stars from me!
Sean Griffith and Jeff Chen’s Universal crossword, “Covering All One’s Bases”—Rebecca’s review
THEME: Baseball theme today – we have a PITCHER and all the bases in the grid
- 10D [Day for many pranks] APRIL FIRST
- 17A [“Right now!”] THIS SECOND
- 28D [Low-grade] THIRD CLASS
- 57A [What one might say after a long vacation] HOME AT LAST
- 36A [Hurler at the center of this puzzle’s theme] PITCHER
I appreciate the thought that went into this puzzle – the grid art baseball diamond and the placement of each base with the PITCHER in the center is beautifully done. That said, I would be happy to go the rest of my life and never see another baseball-themed puzzle. I understand I’m likely in the minority here, but really it just feels like we get so so so many puzzles about baseball and I almost immediately lose interest in them.
As I mentioned above, the most impressive thing about this theme is the placement of FIRST, SECOND, THIRD, and HOME all located around the parts of the diamond where they would be on a field. Had it not been for that I would’ve absolutely hated the whole thing.
Got a kick out of the clue for LOCKSMITHS [Key figures?] and there was plenty of fun fill here, TED TALK, TIP LINE, SCHLEMIELS and COOL CAT were the standouts for me – just wish we could put a moratorium on baseball themes.
Warren Houck’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Nontraditional Approach” — pannonica’s briefest-of-brief recaps
Inserting the trigram A-L-T (helpfully pre-circled) into existing phrases yields wackified results:
- 20a. [Smartphone for a grizzled sailor?] OLD SALT MOBILE (Oldsmobile).
- 30a. [Watering hole with an embarrassingly limited selection?] PALTRY BAR (prybar).
- 37a. [NFL cornerback’s mantra?] HALT ALL PASSES (hall passes).
- 45a. [Where Estonians keep sheep?] BALTIC PEN (Bic pen).
- 57a. Enthusiastic verdict on a tankard of stout?] MALTY PLEASURE (“my pleasure”).
Mixed bag among the themers. Ballast fill is solid.
Got to go now.