John Guzzetta’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t much enjoy this puzzle. It started out with the fairly dudecentric TIE TACK atop baseballese SOLO SHOT crossing blah entries like TSAR, IOLA (!), and ELLS. To the right, plural GIRTHS sat on plural IDAHOS, with weird BEDAMN (which is an ARCHAISM, not that I recall encountering the term ARCHAISM before). Three rows into the puzzle, and it had lost me already.
I did like the SHAGBARK hickory, MINOTAUR, and BRISTLECONE PINE a lot.
Five more things:
- 40a. [What a person in trouble — or performing on stage — wants], a HAND. Gotta have that indefinite article there. Without it, I’m reminded of the Seinfeld episode about George lacking “hand” in a relationship. (Clip below.)
- 2d. [Joe Hardy’s girlfriend in the Hardy Boys books], IOLA. Oof. Deep cut.
- 10d. [Sides of Pac-Man’s mouth, essentially], RADII. Indeed, it’s a circle whose mouth is a pair of radii that chomp open and closed.
- 30d. [Inscribed pillars], STELAE. Such stale crosswordese. Flatter than a TIE TACK.
- 60a. [Pippi Longstocking types], TOMBOYS. Uh, WTF? Pippi is no tomboy. She’s just a bad-ass girl who does a lot of wild and inventive stuff.
2.5 stars from me.
Brian Temte & Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
- 71aR [Garden-variety, and a hint to what’s hidden in 18-, 43- and 65-Across] AVERAGE. Hint is right, because two of the three hidden words are related but not synonymous.
- 18a. [“The Shape of Water” director] GUILLERMO DEL TORO. mode: the most frequent value of a set of data.
- 43a. [Snapchat marketing expert, in modern lingo] SOCIAL MEDIA NINJA. median: a value in an ordered set of values below and above which there is an equal number of values or which is the arithmetic mean of the two middle values if there is no one middle number.
- 65a. [“Watch your mouth!”] DON’T GIVE ME ANY LIP. mean: a value that is computed by dividing the sum of a set of terms by the number of terms.
I really like all three of these long answers.
Further, underneath each hidden word is another element to the theme:
- 22a [Below 71-Across] BLAH, which is literally below MODE.
- 47a [Below 71-Across] SUBPAR, under MEDIAN.
- 72a [Below 71-Across] POOR, beneath MEAN.
More deviations from the norm: 4a [Smaller-than-life depiction] ICON backed by 8a [Larger-than-life creations] COLOSSI.
There is some strain showing in the grid, perhaps due to the abundance of theme: stuff like LAL, ALII, I’D BE, ID NO, TIP UP, AARE, EOE, and -ANE. Regression to the mean?
- 51a [Cabbage in a French café?] EUROS. The actual French word for cabbage, the vegetable, is chou, which you may recognize from choux pastry in baking, or perhaps gathered/knotted ribbons in fashion and giftwrapping.
- 38d [Bartleby, notably] SCRIVENER. Ha, how else are you going to clue this?
- 62d [Roadie’s haul] AMPS. Roadies and amps, they go together like peanut butter and chocolate (if that’s your jam).
- Nice to see something different for NRA. Neither firearms nor New Deal; it’s 70d [Food service trade org.] the National Restaurant Association. Not great, but at least different. However, for gratuitous violence there is 20d [Cheer for a banderillero] OLÉ – that’s the person who sticks the little flags in the bull’s shoulder. Why have this context when 50d [Spanish soccer association that means “the league”] LA LIGA is right there in the grid?
Quite the extensive puzzle and theme. Let’s go so far as to say it’s above average, eh?
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Today I’m particularly grateful for the reversed polarity of the difficulty of puzzles between the New Yorker and the NYT, because I always do the NYT first and it took me so much longer than usual that I was worried I wouldn’t have time to write this one up. Fortunately, the New Yorker Weekend puzzles are easier than their Weekday puzzles, and I made it through this one relatively painlessly. I don’t actually have all that much to say about it, though! This is a solid, easy-ish themeless with a great central staircase.
The long stuff here is great: AIN’T I A WOMAN (clued for bell hooks *and* Sojourner Truth) and INALIENABLE natural rights in symmetrical locations, with ANGELA DAVIS in the middle, gives this puzzle a feminist flair that I appreciate. The central staircase is also solid, with GENERATION Z and SMART PHONES bookending ANGELA DAVIS. Other long stuff: NORDIC NOIR is not a term I was familiar with, but if there’s a New Yorker article about it, it must be a thing, right? I’ve gone back and forth on how I feel about CAN WE HELP, which is so colloquial as to be bordering on “green paint” (aka a sort of arbitrary phrase), but I think I like it? ADOPTIONS is also lovely, see photo for my animal-shelter happy ending.
- The NE corner is kind of scrabbly, with VLAD the impaler and an AD BLITZ and J-LO all hanging out. Also, not a fan of REBS unless it’s clued as “Losers of the Civl War”
- Glad to see some NIH representation. Don’t drink bleach, kids.
- Had an error that it took me a while to hunt down at SECONDO because I had SECONDI and didn’t bother to check the cross at NOSY. Oops.
- Anyone else see “Big D…” at 1A and go “uh, what?!”? No? Just me?
- Lol @ BETO getting clued for his rock band
- Names I didn’t know: Just Calder (35D: Many a Calder work — MOBILE)
Overall, I enjoyed this puzzle, especially after having a significantly less enjoyable experience with the NYT. Plenty of stars from me.
Pam Klawitter’s Universal crossword, “Food Storage”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Well-known phrases are altered to include a sound-alike food item, and each second word is a container of some sort.
- 17a [Place to store spherical legumes?] PEAS KEEPER. Peacekeeper.
- 21a [Place to store a stuffing seasoning?] THYME SLOT. Time slot.
- 37a [Place to store a T-bone or porterhouse?] STEAK HOLDER. Stakeholder.
- 54a [Place to store a German sausage?] WURST CASE. Worst case.
- 61a [Place to store a Wisconsin cheese?] CHEDDAR BOX. Chatterbox. Wisconsin? Cheddar originated in Cheddar, England, where it’s aged in caves in Cheddar Gorge..
This is really good. Not only do you have the food puns (which are all strong, if not necessarily original), but look at the container words. Each of them also changes meaning from a figurative sense to a literal sense. If any of them is a little iffy, it’s the SLOT in THYME SLOT, because who stores things in a slot? (Maybe a knife or mail?) But I’m willing to give that a pass, because everything else is so nice. Fun theme.
EYESORE, TRAITORS, REUSABLE, and GRANOLA make for fine long Downs, and LATRINE, GROTTO, and Missy ELLIOTT add interest in the Across direction. Plural PGS is rather unsightly, and there’s a smattering of crosswordese (EMEND, ERST, ETE, ETAT, ESTEE, etc.), but the theme already won me over.
Clues of note:
- 41a. [Pair of pants?]. LEGS. Cute.
- 69a. [Revolutionary time?]. YEAR. Not an era in history, but the time it takes the Earth to complete one revolution.
- 45d. [Place to make tracks?]. STUDIO. My fave clue of the grid. Nice one.
Cute theme with enjoyable puns. 3.7 stars.
“I didn’t much enjoy this [NYT] puzzle”
Can’t say it wowed me or was unusually entertaining, but outside of BCUP/BRISTLE I thought it was a top Friday.
Me, too. Joe Hardy’s girlfriend was pretty obscure, and there was lots else I didn’t recognize, such as SHAG BARK, ABBA crossing BAIO, or the formulation BRITISH RAJ. BEDAMN feels a bit arch. But I rather enjoyed learning some of this.
Yeah, should’ve added that SHAG BARK/GEER and ABBA/BAIO are problems, though I’d be surprised if daily solvers didn’t know at least one of the latter.
I think I’m partial to this puzzle, in part, because it was more challenging than usual.
NYT: though i didn’t know it, i enjoyed learning a bit of hebrew rather than the usual clue for ABBA. and clue for RADII made me smile.
TIETACK+SOLOSHOT though.. yikes
What’s not to like about STELAE? Probably one of the first bits of crosswordese I learned at Nana’s knee when we would do a puzzle together. It’s like seeing an old friend when it makes an appearance. I’ll take STELAE over GIRTHS any day. :)
Add TRALEE and Will GEER to the pile of less-than-satisfying material in the NYT. CATTLE RUSTLERS was nice and nicely clued.
Surprised not to find a discussion of how essentially (eerily, perhaps?) identical the theme of today’s LAT is to that of yesterday’s Fireball…
NYT: The SHAGBARK/GEER crossing is inexcusable in my book.
Will you please post the answers to the Inkubater meta from “Grading the Curve” from April 23rd? It’s not posted anywhere. Thank ewe!