David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Trickery”—Jim P’s review
Nothing too DEEP or tricky in this theme, just a little bit of repetition.
- 17a [What powers Robin’s flashlight?] BAT BATTERY. Given the comic book hero’s penchant for naming things “bat-” such-and-such, this one works quite well.
- 27a [Commuter’s banter?] RAIL RAILLERY. I may have heard the word “raillery” before, but I couldn’t have told you what it meant before this puzzle.
- 44a [Inadequate adulation?] FLAT FLATTERY. We also would have accepted [Praise for a London apartment?].
- 59a [Setting for portraits of square dance women?] GAL GALLERY. What is it with the word “gal” and square dancing. This would’ve been much nicer clued [Portraits of Gadot?].
Good consistency in the theme in that none of the short words are etymologically related to the longer words (as far as I can tell). However, the repetition makes me feel this would have been better suited as an earlier-in-the-week puzzle. But still, I don’t mind it.
The long fill is quite nice with ADULTERER, GOOD OLD DAYS (I wanted GOOD OL DAYS), and BREAK THE ICE. There’s almost nothing to complain about in the fill either (except maybe EMEND and YIPS). My biggest trouble came when I misread the clue [Number of vowels in “Deutschland”] as [Number of syllables in “Deutschland”] and wrote in ZWEI instead of DREI.
Cluing is pretty straight, but [Setting of the sun] for SKY is worth noting.
All in all, a light theme, but it’s executed consistently, and the grid is clean and sports shiny long fill. 3.7 stars.
Jake Halperin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme revealer is 62a. [Phrase in an article on grown-up child stars, perhaps … or a hint to this puzzle’s circled squares], THEN AND NOW. The four themers are words or phrases that contain circled words that are past and present tenses of some basic verbs:
- 17a. [Australian wind instrument], DIDGERIDOO. Contains DID and DO.
- 24a. [Decorative garden element], WATER FEATURE. Feels like one of those jargony sorts of terms, but I’ve encountered it before. ATE and EAT.
- 37a. [Petulant], WASPISH. WAS and IS.
- 51a. [“Grease” song with onomatopoeic lyrics], WE GO TOGETHER. GOT and GET. I don’t recall this song at all. Fair game as a crossword entry, or no?
In the fill, FIRST SNOW angered me because Chicago, ridiculously, got way more than a dusting on Halloween, which is in October, people. So we’re 6 weeks into winter here, and it’s technically still fall. *sob*
Other fill just disappointed me because it’s lackluster: STARER and HIDER (that combination is creepy, call the cops), SSR, plural abbrev ENCLS, ALDO (that ALDO/LEDA crossing at the L probably snagged some solvers), SLO, SOR, obsolete GCHAT, O.P.A., French ELEVE, dull ANODES. And HE-GOAT!
Three more things:
- 6d. [Mafia don, for one], CRIME BOSS. >insert impeachment-related allusion<
- 29d. [Reuters or Bloomberg], NEWS AGENCY. Bloomberg, ugh! Dude, spend your tens of millions on something more useful to society than an ego-driven run for president.
- 2d. [Target for a phlebotomist], VEIN. Do you have a favorite phlebotomist? I have two. Pro tip: If you get regular blood draws, remember the names of the folks who are great at sticking you, and ask for them each time.
3.25 stars from me. Good night!
Aimee Lucido’s AVCX, “Falling Stars” — Ben’s Review
Happy Wednesday, all! We’ve made it to the middle of the week, Friday is in site, and today’s AVCX puzzle by Aimee Lucido is pretty fun. And it’s 17×17, so there’s extra fun to be had with the theme:
- 19A: “Singer Louis, meet ad exec Draper”?(after rubbing elbows with a hip-hop legend from Queens) — PRIMA, DON
- 34A: Sleepytime, when the chamomile runs out? (after hanging out with the diva behind “Believe”) — SUBSTITUTE TEA
- 45A: Large shopping center where you can buy fishnet stockings, strainers, screen printing tools, etc.? (after drinks with the singer of “Chandelier”) — MESH COMPLEX
- 61A: Twist something in the manner of pork? (after playing tennis with the singer of “Loser”) — BEND IT LIKE HAM
- 78A: Casually mention, as the famous musicians you know personally, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme — NAME DROP
The revealer is a good hint to what’s going on with the parentheticals in each of the theme clues – a celebrity’s name has been dropped from each of the goofy phrases provided by those clues, and restoring it makes them common phrases. PRIMADONNAS, SUBSTITUTE TEACHER, MESSIAH COMPLEX, and BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM. All of them being musicians (as suggested by the clue) is an extra level of tidiness here, though there tend to be more mononymous singers than other entertainers.
If you’re not watching The Masked Singer, you are missing out on what is certainly television.
- The Knights of Ren get their power from the DARK SIDE. Yes, it’s a Star Wars thing!
- “Truth Hurts” singer LIZZO just got named Entertainer of the Year by Time Magazine. Well deserved!
- I LOVED seeing a shout-out for SCI-FI author NK Jemisin in today’s puzzle, even if I’d maybe classify her more on the fantasy side of things. Her Broken Earth trilogy is great, How Long ’til Black Future Month has a great “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” homage amongst its many stories, and she has a new book out next year that’s already on my to-read pile.
- Also on my to-read pile: “Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey bestseller” SHE SAID. I was underwhelmed by Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill, also about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, but I’m excited to read about the process behind the NYT’s breaking of that story.
Michael Schlossberg’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
JOBHAZARDS is a dry technical revealer, but aptly describes what the theme is about: >JOB<‘s >MALADY<, 3 of them. FARMERSTAN may or may not be strictly a malady, but it is a colourful phrase. ATHLETESFOOT is a term for any ringworm species found on the foot. WRITERSCRAMP is self-explanatory.
Not a fan of several short kind of contrived phrases: CARAD, DOASET, UMNO, ERDOC. One might not attract too much attention, but four…