Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Trade Proposals”—Jim P’s review
Fun theme in which phrases of the form “___ FOR ___” are re-imagined literally.
- 17a [Pirate captain’s offer to a board game collector?] MATE FOR LIFE. I was confused by the presence of a pirate captain in the clue, but I guess no other sea captain would have the authority to trade away a crewmate.
- 23a [Chef’s offer to a philosopher?] FOOD FOR THOUGHT. Ha! I know who’s getting the better end of that deal!
- 35a [Pillow maker’s offer to a Sesame Street puppeteer?] DOWN FOR THE COUNT. Another “Ha”! The Count was voiced by Jerry Nelson who also created Snuffleupagus, Herry Monster, and Floyd, among others. He died in 2012.
- 49a [Painter’s offer to an elephant trainer?] WORK FOR PEANUTS. I’m pretty sure the elephant/peanut thing is a myth, probably due to the proximity of both things in circuses.
- 57a [Dramatist’s offer to a newsstand owner?] PLAY FOR TIME. Another good one. It doesn’t say much about your confidence in your work if you’re willing to trade it away for a magazine.
Like I said, a fun theme. I love a good re-purposed phrase, and this theme delivered the humor. Nicely done!
Clean and fun fill, too. I liked seeing RAT TRAP, “JUST SO,” STRANGE, PIXIE, and Boring, OREGON. Nice start at 1a with BIJOU as well, and the OOF and OW OW one-two.
I had a fun WHA!? moment right at the end of my solve because I thought 10a [“You gotta be…!”] was AHA. That, of course, was WRONGO [“Goodness, no!”].
Not keen on stale crosswordese AGLETS and EERO Saarinen, but at least they were gimmes, allowing me to brush right past them.
Clues of note:
- 47a [Shingles sealant]. TAR. As in, shingles on your roof, not shingles on your body (*shudders with flashbacks*).
- 48a [Dances at a ceilidh]. JIGS. Thought for sure that was a typo in the clue, but then I decided it looked Celtic or Gaelic. Apparently it’s pronounced “kay-lee” and is a traditional dance night featuring Scottish, Irish, or even English bands.
- 55a [Malibu fluid]. GAS. The last thing Malibu, California, needs is GAS flowing in the streets since they’re so susceptible to wildfires there. However, the clue is referring to the Chevy Malibu.
- 4d [State with a town named Boring]. OREGON. I’ve driven through Boring. Can’t say that it looked any duller than any other smallish town.
Good puzzle. Four stars.
Amanda Yesnowitz & Joon Pahk’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I must be missing an angle in the theme. The revealer is 60a. [What’s an uncommon blood type … or a hint to this puzzle’s theme], AB POSITIVE, and the three themers have A.B. initials. I don’t get where the POSITIVE comes into it, because only one of the six words in those themers is overtly a positive one:
- 17a. [Early warnings of danger], ALARM BELLS.
- 26a. [Radiant display also called the Northern Lights], AURORA BOREALIS.
- 47a. [Now-discontinued Chili’s appetizer with a rhyming name], AWESOME BLOSSOM. Had no idea they discontinued the horrific giant fried onion.
So what am I failing to see here?
Fave fill: MMMM GOOD, Alexandria OCASIO-Cortez, the inimitable MR. TOAD.
Five more things:
- 10d. [“Very Bad Things” and “Swingers” actor Jon], FAVREAU. He’s probably better known in Hollywood as a director now—two Iron Men and two Disney live-action remakes in his oeuvre.
- 28d. [One might sleep on it], AMBIEN. One might also sleep-walk on it, and sleep-eat. Weird things happen.
- 2d. [Darth Vader’s son-in-law Han ___], SOLO. Son-in-law! That is the main way we think of him, yes. (And if you think you have in-law problems …)
- 6d. [iPhone alternative, once], TREO. Ha. A mobile device from 2002 to 2009. This is an entry I’d like to see retired, along with those Oldsmobile models.
- 50a. [Oscar-winning composer Jule], STYNE. This is in Amanda’s wheelhouse—she’s a lyricist working in theater.
I’ll withhold a star rating since I think there’s a theme level I haven’t grasped.
Pam Klawitter’s Universal crossword, “Breezy”—Rebecca’s review
THEME: Homophones have common terms re-imagined
- 20A [Infamous headline about the 1948 election] STARE MASTER
- 11D [Where Lady Godiva does her shopping?] BARE MARKET
- 29D [Rabbit farmer’s kin?] HARE RAISER
- 57A [Rabbit farmer’s kin?] HEIR POCKETS
Quick write-up today. Clever theme answers here with each one enjoyable and a full set with all of the homophones rhyming. BARE MARKET was my favorite of the bunch with HARE RAISER a close second.
Some tricky parts for me towards the bottom of the puzzle, but overall smooth – any tricky answer was crossed fairly and the grid had a nice flow to it.
Nate Cardin’s AVCX, “All Rise” — Ben’s Review
Happy Wednesday! Nate Cardin has this week’s AVCX puzzle – if you haven’t already picked up Queer Qrosswords 2 or followed his French bulldog Eero on Instagram, I suggest you fix that post-haste – both will brighten your day.
This week’s puzzle is a 4.5/5, but it was enough in my wheelhouse that it didn’t feel quite that difficult. There’s some funny-business in the grid, though – multiple down entries were clued with “-“, which suggested something happening in the across entries that intersected with these:
- 21A: Craft that rises very quickly — SPACE SHUTTLE
- 38A: Thing that often rises at a birthday party — HELIUM BALLOON
- 53A: It might rise due to stress — BLOOD PRESSURE
- 58A: Condition of rising stocks — BULL MARKET
- 37A: Classic late-night text or, read homonymically, a hint to this puzzle’s theme — YOU UP
Reading “YOU UP” phonetically as “U UP” and taking that as a direction to keep entering each of the affected answers up was the key to finishing this grid.
Since the grid specified Wham’s FREEDOM, here’s that instead of George Michael’s later “Freedom ’90”
I liked the construction here – this was a clever theme, and though I was initially confused by the inclusion of 2-letter entries (typically a no-go in a grid), the integration of this into the theme meant I didn’t mind their inclusion. I also liked the consistent way of hinting at the “rise” across the theme clues.
Also nice in terms of fill inclusion: ISSA Rae, KAMALA Harris, WRIER (which I always want to spell with a Y), TATI Westbrook (who I recognized from being vaguely aware of her whole drama with fellow makeup Youtuber James Charles last year), and TONIs Morrison and Collette (the latter of which is fantastic in Knives Out).
Robin Stears’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Gareth’s without electricity (it’s time for the “load-shedding” they do in South Africa), so I’m filling in on this one. Robin’s theme is famous people whose last names double as the English names of letters in the alphabet:
- 17a. [“Killing Eve” star], SANDRA OH.
- 21a. [Award-winning “A Raisin in the Sun” actress], RUBY DEE.
- 36a. [“Full Frontal” host], SAMANTHA BEE.
- 55a. [First chief justice], JOHN JAY.
- 61a. [“Take Good Care of My Baby” singer], BOBBY VEE.
Straightforward and simple. It’s nice that 60% of the themers are women and 40% are people of color. Representation matters.
The grid’s got more open swaths than you see in most mid-week puzzles. That accommodates some cool stuff like CONJURE, SWOONED, and SUNSHINE, but there are also overly dry bits like OSE, CSU, L-BAR, SRA, and NAVE.
Three more things:
- 65a. [English Channel swimmer], EDERLE. Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to swim across the English Channel, in 1926.
- 2d. [Decorative neckwear], CRAVAT. I filled in CHOKER first, as I’m more inclined to think of jewelry than uncommon men’s silken accessories.
- 37d. [Live-in helper, perhaps], NANNY. Anyone else fill in NURSE first? I suppose home health nurses are not too likely to sleep on site.
3.75 stars from me.