Lynn Lempel’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double Headers”—Jim P’s review
What a lovely puzzle, eh? Lots of goodies everywhere, so let’s get to it.
Lynn brings us two-word phrases where the first word is doubled and changes meaning because of it.
- 17a [Dentist’s journal submission?] TARTAR PAPER. I had to remind myself what
tarp apertar paper is. It’s used in roofing.
- 27a [Lead-in to a lively dance?] CAN-CAN OPENER
- 48a [Cruise for confectioners?] BONBON VOYAGE. Ha! Let’s hope they all returned safely.
- 64a [Fires set by frustrated math puzzlers?] KENKEN BURNS. Double Ha! I love this one. If a puzzle frustrates you so much you feel the urge to set fire to it, maybe it’s time to rethink your hobbies.
Now, I figured this theme had been done before, and sure enough, I found two previous versions in Cruciverb, both from 2008 as it turns out. Both of those also had CAN-CAN OPENER and BONBON VOYAGE. But 12 years is plenty of time to return to a theme, and since those were in different venues, the point is moot anyway. I’m not concerned about the duplication of theme answers because 1) based on her body of work, Lynn Lempel is a professional, and 2) any constructor who hit upon this idea of doubling the first word is bound to come up with those two specific answers, as fun as they are.
Moving on, how can one not like a grid that has PINOT NOIR and BRONZE AGE in it especially when that last one crosses ZOWIE at the Z? Elsewhere, there are MEDICI crossing RHINOS as well as SLAP ON, UNESCO, and George Washington’s Mt. VERNON. Plenty to like there, and not even a hint of anything close to questionable in the fill (okay, maybe ON A). Like I said, Lynn’s a professional.
Clues of note:
- 1a. [Sharks and Jets, e.g.]. TEAMS. Got me right off the bat. I went with GANGS.
- 6a. [Hunk on a wall]. PIN-UP. Well-played.
- 21a. [Programmers’ inelegant solutions]. HACKS. I’ve done some programming, but I’m not too familiar with this usage of this word. Most people associate hacking with breaking into a secure system. On the other hand, this word has gotten a lot of listicle usage lately by those purporting to demonstrate “life hacks” or similar. That would’ve been a funner clue, IMO.
- 37a. [It’s at the end of the line]. LURE. I only saw this clue just now. Cute.
- 54d. [Brown buildings]. DORMS. I didn’t fall for this one, but that doesn’t detract from its goodness.
- 65d. [ThirdLove product]. BRA. Hadn’t heard of this brand, but now that I know, I’ll keep an eye out for it.
Quite a fun and clean puzzle. Four stars.
Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
In this 16×15 puzzle with left/right symmetry, Erik assembles four food-related terms used for attractive people:
- 22a. [Hot food?], EYE CANDY.
- 40a. [Hot food?], STUD MUFFIN.
- 3d. [Hot food?], CUTIE PIE.
- 12d. [Hot food?], BEEFCAKE.
The puzzle, like pretty much any puzzle Erik writes, is noteworthy for its inclusivity. We have Ella MAI (“Boo’d Up” is super catchy, and her costar in the video is a stud muffin), EARP clued via female TV character Wynonna, Mahershala ALI, the Jackson 5, FELLOWS clued via the gender-neutral Genius Grant winners, black vocab BOUGIE (45d. [Concerned with wealth, possessions and respectability, in modern lingo]), LATINX (this is inclusive of Latino and Latina and also covers nonbinary folks; I believe it’s usually pronounced la-tee-nex), ARIANA Grande, and a generic GAYMER (new to me: [Portmanteau coinage for a queer-identified e-sports player, say]).
Eight more things:
- 25a. [Reason for seasonal shots], FLU. Yes! And you can still get one, folks. Most of the country still has high levels of flu-like activity going on, and wouldn’t it be nice to not catch the flu and end up self-quarantined for two weeks because you’ve got a fever and cough?
- 32a. [Sticky roll], TAPE. Dang it! Between the PECAN at 1a and two of the “hot foods” invoking pastry, I was envisioning sticky rolls with pecans and caramel, fresh from the oven.
- 63a. [Southern terminus of Amtrak’s Silver Meteor], MIAMI. Did not know, but it’s a neat way to clue a city.
- 1d. [Apt surname for a close-up magician?], PALMER. *groan*
- 6d. [Criticizes venomously], HATES ON. Current language. “Why are you hating on my puzzle?” a constructor might ask.
- 10d. [Ending of four state capitals [Can you name them all?]], CITY. Of course I can: Carson, Jefferson, Oklahoma, and … Salt Lake. And for countries, we’ve got Guatemala, Kuwait, Panama, and … at least one more world capital whose name is country name + “City.” Vatican City! And maybe another I’m forgetting?
- 24d. [Requirement for pink hair], DYE. Also for purple, the color of my highlights.
- 34d. [What MoMA knows best?], ART. Cute clue.
Stella Zawistowski’s Universal crossword, “Getting Wetter”—Rebecca’s review
THEME: Each theme answer ends with an increasingly severe rain
- 19A [Orange summer cocktail] APEROL SPRITZ
- 27A [Party that might involve making wedding dresses from toilet paper] BRIDAL SHOWER
- 43A [WNBA legend Sue Bird’s team] SEATTLE STORM
- 52A [Patsy Stone’s BFF on “Absolutely Fabulous”] EDINA MONSOON
Super fun puzzle today – but sadly I am very short on time. I loved this weather progression – and it felt appropriate to have so many women-focused themers for this month! I could go on and on about my thoughts on a wedding dress made from toilet paper so my fav clue definietly goes to BRIDAL SHOWER and favorite of the themers was EDINA MONSOON – both a great name and a great character.
Some Ab Fab moments to make up for my short review!
Bryant White’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
GREENBACK is the central revealer to today’s puzzle. Sure enough, four names, one fictional and three real, end in greens. The number of “___ GREEN” types is quite large, but I appreciate that all four are among the more “canonical” greens. Three-quarters of the themers also lend a ca. 1950 vibe to the puzzle.
I had some trouble with the name pile-up in the top left. Apart from fictional HARRYLIME, we have RIVA, RIYADH (that was at least an insta-get), BREN (immediately dropped stEN, causing a lot of pain), MARLOWE and LEW. Two of these continue where the themers left off…
Wyna Liu’s AVCX, “AVCX Themeless #45” — Ben’s Review
Wyna Liu has a themeless for today’s AVCX, guest-edited by Fiend’s own Amy Reynaldo! Much like a dark chocolate peanut-butter cup, this is two great tastes that go better together. Let’s poke around at the fill:
- We’ve got some nice long entries distributed through the grid in the acrosses – INTERNET FAMOUS, VESTED INTERESTS (“Horses in the race”), and REPEAT BUSINESS – and some more conversational entries in the downs: SEARCH ME, I’M HONORED, and IT HAPPENS
- The clue for XANADU references Citizen Kane and Kubla Khan, but mentions nothing about Olivia Newton-John or Gene Kelly. Missed opportunity!
- “Sight at the top of a Peninsula, say” is a fantastic clue for HOTEL SUITE
I’ll leave it there, but this was a clever, tricky grid to solve and I enjoyed every minute of it.
LOVED the AVCX. One of the best (and hardest) of theirs in recent memory.
NYT stirred my soul very little to almost none at all.
WSJ was a nice effort, but if it had had in addition to PINOTNOIR and REDS in the ENE somehow balanced by CHARDONNAY and WHITES in the SSW, I would have been awed. (Obviously clued ‘Burgundy Wines’)
White Burgundies are why nearly everyone nearly everywhere grows OK to horrid Chardonnay the world over. Much from California is just undrinkable. OR is getting better and better, but pricey.
Get one of your smartest wine geek friends to give you a good Premier Cru Bourgogne Blanc from a great vintage sometime so you can be utterly ruined for life.
AVCX – Very smooth and entertaining. More like Thursday difficulty for me anyway.
I did not care for today’s LAT crossword as it just had way too many proper names on top of an obscure theme. I know who Harry Lime and Lew Alcindor are but I’ve never heard of Kelly green or Hunter green or Tab Hunter and crossing Tab Hunter with Artie Shaw is a real barrier to solving the puzzle.
The first time LAT publication for Bryant White who was a successful NYT constructor in the 90s is not faring well here, but to suggest KELLY GREEN and HUNTER GREEN each with more than one billion hits on Google are fair is silly.
I felt uncomfortable with today’s NYT theme entries, which consisted entirely of terms that objectify people or reduce them to their physical appearance. (Even though they’re gender-neutral or skew male, contra the historic direction of objectifying crossword clues, it still feels off-putting to me.) Erik Agard’s efforts in making the crossword community more inclusive have been titanic, and today felt like a misstep coming from him. I would advise him and Will to avoid theme sets like this one in the future if possible.