John Wrenholt’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I’m just not finding any crosswordy words tonight. DASHES OFF ([Writes quickly]) is exactly what I’m not doing here.
Couple things were out of my wheelhouse: 17a. [Skateboard piece that connects the wheels to the deck], TRUCK. I had a skateboard around 1979, but it probably came from Sears and there was no relevant terminology to know. 13d. [State of invincibility enabled by a cheat code], GOD MODE. Kinda ballsy to not even include “in a video game” in this clue, isn’t it? Must’ve been nonsensical to a lot of solvers.
Liked the clue for WILL.I.AM, 23a. [2000s music star who writes his name with four dots]. With lowercase, that’s Will.i.am, two periods and two tittles on the i’s.
Reckon I’ll just move along and get ready for BED (32a. [It has four legs and a head]). 3.5 stars from me, standard Friday difficulty. How’d you like the puzzle?
Jeffrey Wesler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The revealer at 45-down is potentially ambiguous: [V-shaped cut … or, in two parts, a hint to four long puzzle answers] NOTCH. Setting aside the superficial confusion resolving a NOTCH and something being cut in two, there’s the question of where to parse the division. In most crosswords with a theme in this vein it’d be NO + x. Here that would be NO TCH, but in fact what we need is NOT CH.
Accordingly, the four referenced entries—in their original, non-wacky versions—end in -CH. However, to muddy the waters, two of them (including the first overall) end in -TCH.
- 18a. [Result of severe yoga class over-registration] THREE ON A MAT (… on a match). In this era of social distancing? Are you kidding?!
- 30a. [Jeweler’s assurance about mounting one’s flashing gem?] IT’LL DO IN A PIN (… in a pinch).
- 36a. [Show whose wit is quicker?] BEAT TO THE PUN (… to the punch). Oh sure, I’ve been among folk like that.
- 52a. [Dander-sensitive visitor’s query at the doorway?] IS THERE A CAT (… a catch).
Confusion aside, the themers are all rather good and entertaining.
- 46a [Musical with the song “Endgame”] CHESS. Aside from the revealer, the only actual instance of CH in the grid.
- 1a [Italian sausage choice] MILD. If it’s what I’m thinking of, the binary I typically encounter is hot and sweet.
- 12a [As of today] TO NOW. Interesting ambiguity. Could also be taken to mean FROM NOW.
- 14a [Batman after Michael] VAL. Read an interesting profile of Kilmer recently. That said, wouldn’t have minded a nod to Representative Demings of Florida.
- 48a [Obvious flirt] OGLER. Obvious euphemism is obviously bad.
- 59a [Word before now and then] EVERY. I liked this one because of the misdirection; you kind of expect a word that can precede now or then but it’s the actual phrase (now and then) as a unit.
- 7d [Leaving word] TA-TA; 56a [Volga-Ural ethnic group member] TATAR. 21a [Natural resource] ORE; 55a [UK singer Rita] ORA.
- 13d [Felt-tip marker pioneer] PENTEL. Was not aware of that, but it certainly makes sense.
- 24d [Shellfish entrée] PRAWNS, 41a [Whale’s mouthful] KRILL.
- 26a [Break] HIATUS. “Hiatus comes from ‘hiare,’ a Latin verb meaning ‘to gape’ or ‘to yawn,’ and first appeared in English in the middle of the 16th century. Originally, the word referred to a gap or opening in something, such as a cave opening in a cliff. In the 18th century, Laurence Sterne used the word humorously in his novel Tristram Shandy, writing of ‘the hiatus in Phutatorius’s breeches.’ These days, ‘hiatus’ is usually used in a temporal sense to refer to a pause or interruption (as in a song), or a period during which an activity is temporarily suspended (such as a hiatus from teaching).” –m-w
- 39d [Logical Queen] ELLERY. I confess to not readily deducing the answer.
- 54d [Court game word] ALAI. Had never investigated the etymology of the name until just now. It’s Basque (which I sort-of knew), from jai festival + alai merry. Interesting!
And just because I can’t let go of the -tch thing, here’s the etymology of TCHOTCHKE: Yiddish tshatshke trinket, from obsolete Polish czaczko.
Amanda Rafkin’s Inkubator crossword, “Glad You’re Here”—Jenni’s review
The Inkubator kicks off Pride Month with an Email reminder that Stonewall was a riot kicked off by trans women of color protesting police brutality.
There’s also this lovely puzzle. The theme answers:
- 19a [*Listening event for Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange,” e.g.] is an ALBUM RELEASE,
- 25a [*Initial screening of a Lena Waithe flick, e.g.] is a MOVIE PREMIERE.
- 52a [*Unveiling of Warhol’s “Large Campbell’s Soup Can”, e.g.] is a GALLERY DEBUT
- 57a [*First official presentation of a Kate Bornstein performance piece, e.g.] is OPENING NIGHT.
There’s a central revealer that ties it all together: 36a [Celebration intended as an introduction to society, and a hint to the starred answers]: COMING–OUT PARTY. Each of the artists in the theme clues is a member of the LGBTQ community. We’ve come a long way from Oscar Wilde – and we still have a long way to go.
This is a message puzzle, and the Email spells that out: “And to anyone reading this who may be struggling with the subject matter of this puzzle, please feel free to reach out if you need an ear. Find Amanda on Twitter at @amandarafkin”
Once again, the Inkubator crew shows us that crosswords can be part of the fight for social justice without compromising the quality of the puzzle.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of Lena Waithe , Carrie KEAGAN, or RHEA Butcher. Also did not know that SNAPCHAT has “Ghostface Chillah” as a mascot in homage to “Ghostface Killah” of the Wu-Tang Clan.
Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
It’s FRIDAY folks, and we have an Erik Agard puzzle to kick off the weekend, so at least there’s that! Erik has been doing some cool experimentation around L/R grid symmetry lately, and that is on full display here, where we have an innovative grid pattern that I’ve never seen before.
This puzzle does a fantastic job of highlighting black women, including ELLE Duncan, OCTAVIA Butler in the top row (along with SPELMAN College), and the marquee entry for this puzzle (insofar as it has one, given the L/R symmetry!), NICOLE BEHARIE. I didn’t know ELLE Duncan or NICOLE BEHARIE, but both were entirely gettable from perfectly fair crosses. I hadn’t realized that in addition to 42 and Sleepy Hollow, NICOLE BEHARIE is also in the Hulu series Little Fires Everywhere.
Other timely entries include AGITATE [Stage a protest, for example] and the MLK quote [He wrote about “a positive peace which is the presence of justice,” for short]. I appreciate the nuance on the clue for NAME CHANGES [Parts of some transitions], which recognizes that while NAME CHANGES can be an important and affirming part of gender transition, they aren’t necessarily important for everyone who transitions.
A few other things:
- Favorite clue: [Undercover asset?] for MATTRESS PAD
- Second favorite: [“Sh-h-h, too many people around”] for NOT HERE. Just a perfect 1-to-1 colloquial translation
- Third favorite: [Fun run unit] for KILOMETER, which made me think of those 0.1 stickers some people get for their cars after “beer runs” or other very short “fun runs”
- Names I didn’t know: NICOLE BEHARIE, ELLE Duncan, MAGDA Szabó
- [Boulderer’s concern] for FOOTING — I miss rock climbing :(
Overall, tons of stars for this puzzle, which was also possibly my fastest New Yorker solve ever? Top five, for sure.
Stella Zawistowski’s Universal crossword, “Me, Me, Me!”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Three “Me”s in the title, three “me” sounds (pluralized) tacked on to the ends of various phrases. In a move toward consistency, each sound is added to a three-letter word ending in -AM.
- 17a [Muscles exercised on a leg day in Norfolk, slangily?] VIRGINIA HAMMIES. Wait, hamstrings are muscles? I thought they were tendons or something. Wait, they are tendons. So…tendons are muscles? Not according to the interwebs which says tendons connect muscle to bone. Medical types, want to weigh in on this? Is this clue just wrong or do you consider the hamstring to be a kind of muscle?
- 37a [Sleepwear with a red fruit printed on it, slangily?] TOMATO JAMMIES. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of tomato jam, but I’m intrigued. I imagine it involves adding a lot of sugar. TOMATO JAMMIES sound cute, and hey! They exist.
- 61a [Picnic foods enjoyed near El Capitan, slangily?] YOSEMITE SAMMIES. My favorite entry, both for the Yosemite Sam reference and because picnicking at (and exploring) Yosemite National Park sounds pretty ideal right about now.
Cute theme. What is it about adding the “me” sound to the end of a word that makes it cute? See: Mommy, gummy, tummy, Jimmy. ?
Ooh, hey, I just noticed the dupe at 9d SHAME ON ME. It’s probably not ideal to have this in there when the whole theme is based on “me,” but the fact that I didn’t noticed until now means it might just be okay. Plus, it’s a really fun entry. And just maybe it’s a tongue-in-cheek meta reference by the constructor for putting in a dupe. Other goodies: ROGUES, “IF I CAN,” ROMANCES, ALLEGRO, “BOOYAH!,” BATMAN, and OPERA HAT.
Clues of note:
- 29a. [Teddy alternative?]. Not clothing or children’s toys but names, ergo THEO.
- 10d. [“Humble” album]. DAMN. Kendrick Lamar’s widely praised 2017 album for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Music.
- 59d. [Bird seen in the afternoon?]. TERN. Cryptic-style clue since TERN can be found in the word “afternoon.”
Fun puzzle. 3.8 stars.