Sam Ezersky’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
“NIGHTY-NIGHT” is a mighty compelling entry at 11 pm, isn’t it? It sure is. My plight is that I can focus on pretty much anything except this crossword blog right now. Let me make a slight effort and fight through this before lights out.
Fave fill: I tell ya, as far as international currencies go, RUPIAH is among the coolest-looking words. I always like an ESCHEW but wanted this entry to be ESCHER when I had the first 5 letters. Most kids today may never know the nerdy joy of leafing through a WORLD ATLAS for fun. BATGIRL is good. The STAIRMASTER has been shunted aside by other brands of step machines but I feel like it’s the Kleenex or Xerox of its category. “CLOSE ONE!”, whew.
Name I did not know: 57a. [Evans who was the 2009-10 N.B.A. Rookie of the Year], TYREKE. Was booted out of the NBA last year because of drug use, can apply for reinstatement to the league after two years.
Vocab word I never, ever remember the meaning of: 18a. [Explanation for the existence of evil in God’s presence], THEODICY. The atheist’s explanation is simpler.
Five more things:
- 31a. [___ kick], ON A. I am on a jigsaw puzzle kick this spring, and not at all on a book-reading kick. Also not on a crossword kick.
- 43a. [It comes to light], MOTH. Great clue.
- 46a. [Certain Afrocentrist, informally], RASTA. I totally misread the clue as having Afrofuturist instead and was perplexed by the answer. Black Lives Matter, even if you aren’t particularly Afrocentrist. It’s just about respect for humanity, which seems to be in short supply in some circles. (Don’t you dare whine about this remark “politicizing” things or “shoving P.C. culture down our throats.”)
- 10d. [Thrombus, more familiarly], CLOT. I nearly always nail the medical terminology in crosswords. (Just don’t clue ANEMIA as weakness, a STENT as a surgically inserted thing, or an EEG or ECG as a “scan.”)
- 23d. [Lightning unit], VOLT. Yep, I filled in BOLT first.
Four stars from me. Nighty-night!
Alan Massengill and Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Left-right symmetry on this one. Each themer clue contains a word that is idiomatically ‘separated’ which in the answer is literally separated, as highlighted by the circled squares:
- 17a. [Feeling upon being stretched thin] UTTER EXHAUSTION ( t h i n ).
- 26a. [Earth-shattering realization] THE AWFUL TRUTH ( e a r t h ).
- 44a. [Cutting-edge fashion icon] COUTURE DESIGNER ( e d g e ).
- 59a. [Exhibit widespread political appeal] WIN BY A LANDSLIDE ( w i d e ).
Pretty well done.
I realize some editors are unconcerned by duplications, but when it rises above triviality and is easily averted, it seems to be there should be no excuse for such distracting inelegance. This crossword has 40a [Cook in fat in a closed pot] BRAISE and 49a [Spare tire makeup] FAT. I never know whether to ascribe it to indifference or sloppiness, but it’s certainly disruptive to this solver. Duplication in-grid is seen with 50a [Hoops hanger] NET and 2d [ISP suffix] DOT NET, in which NET is abbreviated from network, a compound of net + work.
Contrast those with 15a [“Killer, dude!”] AWESOME, which duplicates the root word in AWFUL in 26a—I would have preferred this, too, was avoided, but I don’t find it quite as transgressive.
- 42a [Cary Grant’s chin dimple et al.] TRAITS.
- 4a [Like a honeymoon couple’s bed, perhaps] PETALED. I get it, but that seems like a strange construction to me.
- 22a [Browses] SURFS, 34d [Browsing target] SITE.
- 4d [Not all there] PARTIAL. Good, subtle misdirection.
- 36d [Animal house] CAGE. I never care for such framings and typically call them out whenever I encounter them.
- 46d [Water brand] DASANI.
“Coca-Cola uses tap water from local municipal water supplies, filters it using the process of reverse osmosis, and adds trace amounts of minerals, including magnesium sulfate (epsom salt), potassium chloride and sodium chloride (table salt). Coca-Cola announced they would be distributing Dasani water in new packaging made of 30% plant-derived plastics. Unlike other plant-based packaging, the bottles are compatible with standard recycling plants and represent up to a 25% reduction in carbon emissions compared to standard water bottles, though this still represents 2000 times the energy usage of tap water.” – Wikipedia
- 43d [Cantaloupe coverings] RINDS.
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
I loved this puzzle.
To get right to the heavy stuff, I think the central entry of PRISON ABOLITION feels particularly apt today, as we are flooded with images of the natural result of the structural violence our current carceral system inflicts against black and brown people in this country. I’m grateful to Natan for highlighting this [Cause for Angela Davis and Ruth Wilson Gilmore], and I’ll save my HOT TAKES on the righteous uprisings against police brutality for another day. Also filed under “heavy stuff”: TENT CITY, clued here as “Many a Palestinian encampment post-1948 expulsion.” YUP.
It’s a little tonally challenging to transition from that to the less-heavy stuff, but here we go: the central staircase! It’s great. I’m a little miffed because *I* am building a puzzle around DINE AND DASH right now, but I suppose there’s enough dining and dashing to go around. I really liked TIDAL BASINS as well, and although I had never heard of MEMENTO MORI, it’s pretty clear what it means, and it’s awesome. Other excellent long entries include FINAGLING and PROP COMIC, the latter of which had my favorite clue of the day [One who has a thing for jokes?]. I also lol’d at the clue on OMANIS [Muscat-eers?].
A few other things:
- I think some solvers may be unfamiliar with the *extremely online* (callback!) neologism DIRTBAG Left, but hopefully there were enough breadcrumbs in the clue [___ Left, neologism for some progressive vulgarians] for people to piece it together?
- Names I didn’t know: AMIS Kingsley, COREY Glover
- Ok this is super nerdy and niche so feel free to skip this bullet point, but I only knew TESS was [Della Reese’s character on “Touched by an Angel”] because of a Dungeons & Dragons podcast called The Adventure Zone where one of the characters can cast a spell that calls down a guardian angel to protect him and they call her Della Reese..?
- I cannot overstate how much I loved both the entry and clue for DELINT [Tend to a fuzzy navel]
- One quibble: does DOWN ON imply that one was previously *up* on? I’m not sure it does, so the “anymore” in the clue [Not into anymore] feels superfluous. But maybe you have to have been up on something to be down on it?
Overall, pretty much all the stars from me. No bad fill, lots of strong entries, A+ wordplay. So good!!!
P.S. Thanks to pannonica for filling in for me on Monday!
P.P.S. The NYT has converted its Sunday Travel section into a Sunday “At Home” section, and will be running 3 minis and a midi each week. Soooo if you want to see my print NYT debut, look for my midi there this weekend!
Debbie Ellerin’s Universal crossword, “4G”—Jim P’s review
Theme: The title says it all. Each theme entry has four Gs.
- 17a [Catchphrase for a bumbling cyborg inspector] “GO GO GADGET!” This was a fun one to discover since my kids watched a lot of this show way back when.
- 27a [Group that illegally transports goods] SMUGGLING RING
- 43a [Scolding with a single digit] FINGER WAGGING
- 57a [Travel bag ID] LUGGAGE TAG
Simple and clean with fun entries.
I’m loving KER-PLOP, SMIDGENS, DOO-WOP, and WASABI in the fill. BROCHURE ain’t half bad either. Nothing to grumble about too much beyond the partial NOT ON.
There’s a definite and welcome positive vibe in the fill and clues: See [Gentle souls] for LAMBS, [Become well] for HEAL, CURES, ANNIE singing “Tomorrow”, [“Eat ___ Love”] for PRAY, [“Love conquers all,” for example], MERCI, AMIGAS, and [“___ the Rainbow”] for OVER. In these days of sickness, pain, and violence, even words of peace from a crossword can be healing. This was much appreciated by me.
One clue I’ll note: 61a. [“I’ll have what ___ having”]. SHE’S. From that memorable When Harry Met Sally scene. Did you know that the woman speaking the classic line was director Rob Reiner’s mother?
A fine, easy, breezy Friday puzzle. 3.6 stars.
The “OVER the Rainbow” clue which immediately followed OAHU can’t help but bring to mind the classic version of the song by IZ. I’ve heard it countless times but never saw the video. It seems like a hopeful aid in dark times.