Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Well, that’s a new one: the Scowl-o-Meter (i.e., my face literally crinkling in mild disgust) was triggered by two foodstuffs I don’t care for. GOLDEN DELICIOUS apples are an inferior hybrid, and I’m not a fan of DILL, on potatoes or elsewhere. (I like EDAM, have not tried ACAI, drank a lot of RC COLA as a kid.)
I couldn’t make headway in the opening corner, and filled in the whole rest of the puzzle before getting many letters here. Is GIN SLING an actual cocktail? Doesn’t ring a bell. Didn’t know McCartney composed an ORATORIO. Went too broad for the Bactrian camels (ASIA instead of GOBI), 4d [Fretful thing to be in] could be a SNIT as well as a STEW, and I opted for explosive TNT instead of IRE. Was also reading 5d. [Turns down] with the rejects meaning rather than LOWERS. Oof!
Fave fill: BODE WELL, PRECALC, DO A JIG, full UKULELES, “NICELY DONE,” PLAY IT SAFE (wear your mask! wash your hands! stay home if you can!), JAINISM, HOLI, FIZZLES OUT, and FUZZY WUZZY the hairless bear.
Could sure do without: ESSO, LEO X.
Did not know: 33a. [Half brother of Tom Sawyer], SID. I did read Huckleberry Finn a few years ago for the first time. Also didn’t know 41a. [1968 swimming gold medalist Debbie], MEYER.
Overall vibe, 3.5 stars.
Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
True to form, Erik has given us another beautifully crafted themeless puzzle that is a tribute to a woman of color whose work and achievements more than deserve the spotlight they receive here. As is often the case with Erik’s puzzles, I had never encountered NTOZAKE SHANGE, but every crossing was perfectly gettable and fair, so my own unfamiliarity with her barely slowed me down going through the middle. Also as usual with these puzzles, I ended up down a Wikipedia rabbit hole reading about NTOZAKE SHANGE‘s work and choreopoems, and I feel like a more educated human because of it. Man I love the New Yorker.
Aside from that signature central entry, we’ve got some other fun longish stuff: THREEPEAT (with an *excellent* clue), BLIZZARDS (lots of Z’s in crossworld today, eh?), TÊTE-A-TÊTE, WHAT A MESS!.
- [Win-win-win?] for THREEPEAT
- [Event that takes a friendship from URL to I.R.L., perhaps] for MEETUP
- [They might be run or passed] for TESTS
- [Big strong bag] for SACK – I don’t know why, but this one made me laugh out loud. Big strong bag!
- I can live with all of this fill!
- My time is a little off for this one because my cat refused to move off my lap, so typing was a bit harder than usual. (also my cat is now on instagram because what else is there to do, really, so you can follow him at @helloyesiamoliver)
- Also, my cat did not appreciate the dogcentrism of DOGSPA at 1d. Other animals have paws too, you know, so PETSPA (my initial guess) is purrfectly reasonable.
- I wasn’t familiar with the essay “The CRANE Wife” but I sure am familiar with The Decemberists album “The CRANE Wife” so here is the song “The CRANE Wife 1 & 2″ off that album
Overall I am having a hard time finding any nits to pick with this puzzle. Personally, I’m gonna give it all the stars. Happy Friday!
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The letter Y is suffixed to the first word of two-word phrases, to humorous effect.
- 18a. [Escargot gatherer’s bounty?] SLIMY PICKINGS (slim pickings).
- 21a. [Harvest worker needing a bath?] GRIMY REAPER (Grim Reaper).
- 40a. [Much ado about nothing?] ARTIFICIAL FURY (artificial fur). Great clue. The base phrase is more typically rendered fake fur or faux fur.
- 44a. [Successful gem seeker’s cry?] THERE’S THE RUBY (there’s the rub). A second Shakespeare reference.
Furthermore, Ys are absent from the rest of the grid. Elevates the theme.
Looking for a tie-in, I found a 2019 genetics paper, “Copy Number Variations of Four Y-Linked Genes in Swamp Buffaloes” but as you can imagine it’s rather technical and not too much fun for our context. But at least referencing it affords me an opportunity to share a photo of Bubalus bubalis.
- Mid-solve I was preparing to be upset by 13a [Large envelope] as MANILA—because I happen to be fond of standard-size manila envelopes—but it turned out to be MAILER.
- 58a [Kindly] PLEASE. Funny how that one word can put me in mind of a minor lyric and then get a whole song stuck in my head.
- 6d [Kisser] TRAP, 10d [Kissers] LIPS.
- 11d [It offered soldiers Hope: Abbr.] USO. Bob Hope, but maybe also hope hope.
- 22d [Big name in animation] HANNA. William HANNA, who collaborated with Joseph Barbera.
- 45d [ __-watch: continue viewing a show you no longer like] HATE. One can also HATE-solve a puzzle. Not that that applies here.
- 48d [All the __: popular] RAGE. Oh look, more Americana.
- The left-middle is a sorry-looking area, with THEO-, -INE and RIV. making appearances. The price for HAIRINESS and ENDIVE, I presume. (21d, 26d, 25d; 30a, 33a)
- 32d [“You ain’t gwyne to drink a drop— __ single drop”: Twain] NARY. That’s from Pudd’nhead Wilson. More colorful phrasing with 41d [“You have some crust!”] I NEVER.
- Okay, let’s end with some ‘higher’ culture. 28d [Verdi baritone aria] ERI TU, from Un Ballo in Maschera. You see it often in crosswords, may as well listen to it.
Teve Mossberg’s Universal crossword, “'(S)top Thief!’”—Jim P’s review
The title tells us that an S is removed from our theme answers, but it does more than that. Since the entries are all in the Down direction, it tells us that a thief took the starting Ss (esses?) from the top.
- 4d [Fry ingredients at a food court restaurant?] MALL POTATOES
- 9d [People who spread empathy?] CARE MONGERS. We could do with a lot more of these people in our country.
- 22d [Biennial yearning?] EVEN-YEAR ITCH. Ha! I expect those people who love to watch Olympic competitions suffer from this—and they’ll have to wait a whole extra year this time.
- 24d [Alternative to bobbing for apples?] PEAR FISHING. Ha! This I’d like to see.
Fun entries, and I love how the title supplies the motivation for the theme. A very enjoyable concept and equally entertaining execution. Well done!
In the long fill, “IT DEPENDS” and GETS AHEAD are the stars of the show, and a dejected “WE LOST” adds color. I did not know YAEL [Stone of “Orange Is the New Black”]. In fact I’ve never heard that first name before, but there is another actress with that name: YAEL Grobglas of Jane the Virgin.
Cluing felt pretty straightforward, so there’s nothing I feel is particularly noteworthy, but everything flowed smoothly and cleanly. This was an enjoyable grid. 3.8 stars.