Leslie Rogers’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
What a fun puzzle! This appears to be Ms. Rogers’ second published puzzle, her first solo—and it’s so polished. Among the answers I liked best were RASHGUARD, FIRST STEP, PAD THAI, the I-would-never-do-it POLAR BEAR PLUNGE (Chicago’s next one is January 25, mark your calendar), MOLTO BENE, seasonal SKI SEASON, OLD-GROWTH forests, EARWORMS (I am wildly prone to these), DR PEPPER, “NEED A HAND?”, and FREE RANGE.
The only thing that made me grumble was the Stumper-esque 22a. [___ home], RAM—since I wasn’t 100% sure that Jung’s thing was ANIMA and that the theater fabric is SCRIM, and that RAM clue felt rather oblique. As far as junk fill, well, there really wasn’t any. Which is always a nice treat.
Five more things:
- 52d. [Actor Alfie of “Game of Thrones”], ALLEN. Couldn’t remember the actor’s last name, but could see his face clearly (he played Theon Greyjoy). I’m grateful any time ALLEN isn’t clued via the filmmaker who married his wife’s young daughter.
- 38d. [Mental notes?], EARWORMS. As in musical notes that exist not as soundwaves, just in your mind. Great clue!
- 40a. [Event studied in eschatology, with “the”], END. Eschatology is one of those words whose meaning I seldom remember. What’s on your list of words you’ve looked up but quickly forget the meaning of?
- 39d. [Game with a four-colored deck], UNO. Well, actually—the wild cards also have black, so there are five colors printed on the cards.
- 51d. [Upright, maybe], PIANO. I had a couple crossings in place and was thisclose to filling in PRONE, even though that’s the exact opposite of being bolt upright. It’s … been a long week, folks.
The people in the puzzle are mostly women, in a 5/4 split: actress INGA Swenson, entrepreneur SARA Blakely, TV character ETHEL from I Love Lucy, athlete Gabrielle REECE, and country legend REBA McEntire go up against Bob DYLAN, the BEAV, ALFIE Allen, and Edgar Allan POE. You like to see it. There also aren’t a ton of names in the puzzle, which I know appeals to many solvers.
4.4 stars from me. Smooth puzzle with some interesting fill.
Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Ok wow, well, this puzzle took WAY longer than it should have. I’m going to blame the Nyquil fog I’m still coming out of (and the headcold it’s supposedly fighting for me), because the puzzle itself seems pretty great, now that I’m done with it! Although, actually, there were a few crosses that I think were unfair (I spent ~4 minutes hunting down an error). So I guess my verdict is actually that it’s a fun puzzle packed with great long and medium-length entries and a few ??? moments scattered about.
Those long across entries (ASK ME IF I CARE / HOUSE HUSBAND) are fabulous, but I haven’t seen Incredibles 2, and I stared at ___EIFICARE for far too long (again, blaming Nyquil), so they took some time to fill in. The long downs (COCK AND BULL / HARD AS NAILS / BUREAUCRAT / PANTALOONS) also took me too long, but again, I’m pretty sure that’s a me-problem and not a puzzle-problem. For all four of them, too, I had parts of the entires that just didn’t want to fill out (HARD-, PANT-, COCK-,B___RAT). (Looking at those partials together now, I’m wondering if maybe there was an x-rated meta going on here!).
My main error/maybe unfair cross came at GOT ‘EM/ERWIN. I had GOT ‘IM/IRWIN, which seemed totally plausible. Again, that may be a me-thing, but I doubt most solvers know Schroedinger’s first name, so with the ambiguous vowel in GOT ‘EM, I’d have preferred for that to be edited out.
A few other things:
- RHEIN – I always forget that they spell it differently in Deutschland and had RHINE in there for, again, far too long.
- Loved the symmetry of SMELLIER Limburger and ESCARGOT (as well as the clue on ESCARGOT: Not-so-fast food?). Also liked seeing SMELLIER and STINKO, although I was unfamiliar with this meaning of STINKO.
- Other clues I loved: What you might use after someone takes the Pledge?(LYSOL) and Tinder obsession? (PYROMANIA)
- There is no such thing as enough RUPAUL in crossword puzzles. If every puzzle I ever solved referenced RUPAUL in some way, I would still want more RUPAUL. Please enjoy the musical stylings of the Glamazon herself, ft. Sharon Needles, Chad Michaels, and PhiPhi O’Hara:
Oh, the other entry I take issue with is MINABLE (With reachable ore). My brain just could not parse what “With reachable ore” could possibly mean. Like, is someone standing somewhere…with reachable ore in their hands? Even after I figured out the entry, I couldn’t make the two work together. I get it now, with some coffee and time, but “Containing reachable ore” would have been stronger, or just, maybe don’t use the word MINABLE?
Overall, this puzzle was stuffed with fun things that I was too brain-fogged to appreciate. Plenty of stars from me!
Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Present Day Dilemma” — pannonica’s write-up
To accommodate the key phrases, the grid is pared to 14×15.
- 16a. [Christmas-song line whose tune matches “You better watch out”] HE’S MAKING A LIST.
- 56a. [Gift-giver’s all-important categories, in song] NAUGHTY AND NICE.
- 26d/29d [… bringer of the item(s) at 36 Across] SANTA | CLAUS. “item(s)” – So prick up your ears—something’s going to be going on there in the center.
And sure enough, 36a is [Two possible stocking stuffers, covering the gamut of 56 Across]. How are we going to get two different things into the grid? A dilemma indeed. But thanks to 20aTNY [ ___ Schrödinger, deviser of a cat-based thought experiment] EDWIN, we can use his namesake formulation (as adapted for crosswords) to resolve that conundrum:
- 32d [Use intimidation tactics] could be either SCARE OR STARE.
- 37d [Anita whose stage name is pig Latin] O’DAY. From ‘dough’, as in money.
- 23d [Animated female title character] could be either DORA or DORY.
- 24d [Something a con artist develops] yields GUILE / GUISE.
- And so, depending on the crossings, the answer to 56-across is either COAL or TOYS—actually both simultaneously.
A quick swing around the rest of the grid:
- 1a [Half a waffle?] HEM. As in hem and haw.
- 4a [Dwarf planet with moons called Styx and Nix] PLUTO, named for the god of the underworld (Hades in Greek). Its largest moon is Charon, the ferryman over the Styx, the river of the dead. And Nix is the goddess of night.
- 9a [“The Clothed __” (half a Prado twosome] MAJA. The other is, naturally, The Naked Maja. Unwrapped, as it were. Both are by Francisco Goya and are in the Prado.
- 25a [“Killers of the Flower Moon” tribe] OSAGE. Subtitle of the book is “the Osage murders and the birth of the FBI“.
- 27a [Near-impossible NFL point total] FOUR. This would require one team to score two safeties and nothing else, yes?
- 28a/57d [Hulu streamers, for short] PCS / TVS, 60a [YouTube competitor] VIMEO, 30d [Aid for a long-distance relationship] SKYPE.
- 44a [Ending for fire or fly] TRAP. I enjoy when these clues have an extra playful dimension; here it’s that firefly is also a compound word.
nb: This is the only opportunity for the CHE to furnish a Christmas crossword, as it goes on break until 10 January, whereupon it will begin its final run of 8 puzzles before it’s retired.
Chase Dittrich’s Universal crossword, “I’m Gone!”—Rebecca’s review
THEME: ME has been removed from themers to create new, entertaining answers
- 18A [Rude infants?] BABY BOOmeERS
- 27A [Machines that jumble pennies?] CEmeNT MIXERS
- 50A [Fuel for the Greek gods?] OLYMPIC GAmeS
- 65A [Complicated explanation interruption, and a hint to 18-, 27- and 50-Across] YOU LOST ME
I loved this theme from the start with BABY BOOR such a great answer. All of the theme answers are great and the revealer is perfect. When I saw what was going on my first thoguht was something like “leave me out of it” but YOU LOST ME is fantastic here.
Really clean fill here too – I particularly liked SHOE STRING clued for potatoes over a budget and NOBLE CAUSE is a great long extra as well. The northwest and southeast are a little cut off, but both corners are really well constructed and fair so it didn’t bother me too much.
In honor of the title of this puzzle, here’s what comes to mind for me whenever I see the words “I’m Gone”
Victor Barocas’s LA Times crossword – Jenni’s write-up
Very quickly, since Shabbat is upon us:
Four theme answers and a revealer form a seasonally appropriate theme:
- 17a [“O Tannenbaum” and others?] are PINE NUMBERS (pin numbers)
- 24a [One trying to photograph a partridge during the holidays?] is a PEAR SHOOTER (pea shooter).
- 38a [Muchacho working with wood?] is an ELM NINO (el nino).
- 50a [Boob tube yule log residue?] is ASH SEEN ON TV (as seen on TV).
and the revealer: 60a [Do some holiday decorating … and what you need to do to four puzzle answers to produce familiar phrases?] is TRIM THE TREE. This is not entirely accurate. TRIM THE TREE would mean either reduce the name of the tree or add something to it. Each theme answer adds a letter to a word to create the name of a tree and thus make the wacky phrase. I liked the theme answers. The revealer ruined the theme for me.