Kyle Dolan’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Kyle Dolan! How the hell are ya? I was literally thinking of you earlier today.
Am unmotivated to blog, so let’s get this done:
Fave fill: POP-UP STORE, colloquial “I HOPE TO GOD,” bowling-alley BALL RETURN (still vexed that the ball I was using last time I went bowling just … got sucked in and never returned), ROAD-TESTED, PROM NIGHT, LONGBOARDS, NEST EGG.
- [Series of tweets] pulls double duty for 24a THREAD (on Twitter) and 27a BIRDSONG (in trees). Love it!
- 37a. [Didn’t use the can?], LITTERED. Ha! In these toilet paper–obsessed times, who among us didn’t read this as can = toilet?
- 4d. [Little pointer], PUP. I went with TIP first, a non-mammalian sort of pointer.
- 14d. [Word after “take a” or “take the”], STAND. This is a lovely clue.
- 15d. [Africa’s largest city that’s not a national capital], LAGOS. Pro tip: It’s pronounced with a long A sound, lay-gose rather than lah-gose. Because it’s not even a Nigerian name! It’s from the Portuguese.
Closing out with an old Police song whose chorus you can sing at anyone who threatens to come inside your six-foot radius.
3.8 stars from me.
Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s write-up
Of course Erik Agard would write a crossword puzzle that would make me cry before 8am. If you’ve not read the poem referenced in the central entry by WARSAN SHIRE, you can do so here. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking poem about forced migration and becoming a refugee, and it’s a good reminder that even with *waves hands* all THIS happening in the world, there are still over 70 million forcibly displaced people facing the horrors described in this poem *and* the coronavirus.
As for the crossword itself, it was clean and fresh and full of entries that might have ended up on the cutting-room floor of some other publications for being too unfamiliar to solvers (see: KONDO). Erik’s puzzles almost always move the needle on what merits inclusion in crosswords, and this one is no exception. Much of #crossworld has been clamoring for puzzles like this for a long time, from OG Rex Parker to our own bloggers here at Fiend and the broader crossword internet, and I think we are lucky to have constructors like Erik and publications like the New Yorker that are fighting to make this happen.
- The first thing I noticed about this puzzle was the grid design. What weird shapes growing out of the N and S! It’s cool and different-looking. I dig it.
- The whole central staircase is awesome. WARSAN SHIRE / I HATE IT HERE / LINE SISTERS are all fabulous, and although I didn’t know LINE SISTERS, it was fairly inferable once most of the crosses were in place.
- One entry in this puzzle that directly resonated with me today: STAMPS. I am buying a house today (!!), so I saw the clue [“Forever” purchases] and just wrote in HOUSES. And then had to erase it.
- Loved the clue on ANAGRAMS. Clever and also lovely imagery!
- I feel personally attacked by the clue on POLITE [Like hoping your email finds someone well]
- The clue on ATTA [Palindromic flour] is so much better than the typical [Lead-in to boy or girl] we often see!
- More excellent inclusion: BALL clued for a drag ball
- Was not sure how OREGONIANS was going to end, which somewhat slowed my filling-in of LINE SISTERS
- Also wasn’t sure whether it was WARSAN SHIRE or WARSAr SHIRE, so had TERSE for TENSE for a bit. Figured it out when I had an error at the end!
This puzzle gets all the stars from me.
Allison Uttaro’s Universal crossword, “Gardeners”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Famous women with plant-based first names.
- 17a [She scored the final goal in the 2019 Women’s World Cup] ROSE LAVELLE
- 29a [“Under the Net” author] IRIS MURDOCH
- 45a [Anchor on “CNN Newsroom”] POPPY HARLOW
- 61a [Voice of Elastigirl] HOLLY HUNTER
I only knew one of these names (the last one), but that’s probably more an indication of my general lack of knowledge than anything wrong with the puzzle or these women’s crossword-worthiness. What bugged me a little bit more than that was that three of these plants are known for their flowers while one is known for its spiky leaves and berries. It would have been more elegant if there was more consistency. Lacking any other wordplay in the theme, that discrepancy really sticks out.
I’m liking the fill with TALISMAN, MEAL PLAN, AP SCORES, ICE WATER, and DASH CAM. NO NOISE feels a bit arbitrary though.
Clues of note:
- 29d. [Needing a shower, say]. ITCHY. I’ve never considered that as a reason for needing a shower before, but I guess it’s plausible?
- 45d. [Minecraft or Hearthstone]. PC GAME. Can you really call those PC GAMEs when they’re playable on numerous types of devices? My son played Hearthstone on an iPad, my daughter plays Minecraft on a Mac.
I wish there was a little more consistency in the theme, but otherwise, a pleasant puzzle. 3.25 stars.
Brian Herrick’s LA Times crossword – Jenni’s write-up
I’m late! I’m late!
The theme is WINDFALL: each theme answer turns the corner and a synonym for WIND FALLs down.
See grid. You can click to embiggen.
Martina Waluk’s Inkubator crossword, “Can We Talk?”—Rebecca’s review
So excited that my (almost) post-Covid puzzle to review is this wonderful debut by Martina Waluk! Before I get into it – just a friendly reminder to stay home if you can. I consider myself unbelievably lucky, and even as a healthy person, this virus was scary. On to the puzzle!
THEME: The names of famous women with talk shows are hidden in each theme answer
- 17A [2008 tune in which P!nk assigns blame] IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT
- 29A [Like Harvard’s coffers and many adult film stars] WELL ENDOWED
- 44A [Power nap of 15 minutos or less] MICRO SIESTA
- 57A [Score given after examining a company’s promotion and retention of women, ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ+ employees] DIVERSITY RATING
This was a great theme, with some fantastic theme answers. SALLY was the least known host of the four for me, but easy enough to get from the longer theme answer. I’ve definitely been a fan of a micro-nap, and haven’t heard of it referred to as a micro-siesta, but a fun one to fill in there. Favorite theme answer, with a great clue was WELL ENDOWED. When I solved the puzzle I was going to take this chance to mention Harvard laying off much of the staff in these difficult times, but thankfully they seem to have caved to pressure and will not be moving forward with the lay offs.
I enjoyed the shape of this grid too – broken in up in an interesting way that made the fill smooth and kept me engaged from start to finish. Favorite fill included STAR MAPS, OSPREY, ELVISH, TOMEI, and F-BOMB.
I knew I had to include a TIGER King clip as soon as I saw 43-across. If you haven’t started watching yet – it should be your weekend quarantine activity!