Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
A couple summers ago, I went to Lowe’s to shop for a PORCH SWING. The swing offerings were meh, so my family and I opted for a set of patio furniture instead—loveseat, two big chairs, a low table. Now that good weather has arrived, after a long, cold COVID spring, we love to EAT IN out back (even if we’ve ordered carryout), but we didn’t do that much last summer. Have you got any pandemic niceties that enhance your quality of life?
Robyn’s got a lot of nice clues here. (Granted, some of them might have come from the editorial squad.) Among my favorites:
- 40a. [It sometimes runs in the woods], RESIN. Running in/on trees, not sprinting. Solid mislead.
- 42d. [Mr. Rite?], PRIEST. Friend of mine once dated a guy whose dad was a priest. Dad left the priesthood after his beloved got pregnant. Mr. Rite!
- 18a. [Option when one wants to move out of the house?], PORCH SWING.
- 34a. [Not go it alone?], RIDESHARE. Do you consider it riding alone when it’s just you and the driver, no other passengers?
- 36a. [Scratch (out), as a crossword answer?], EKE. Perfect.
- 10d. [Labs might offer them], PAWS. Cute!
Fave fill: FREE WI-FI, LOVESICK, RIDESHARE, UP TO SPEED, CHITCHAT, “ANYONE HOME?”, AFTERPARTY, SESAME STREET, “WHAT’S SO FUNNY?”, “I AM SO THERE!”, and delectable CROISSANTS. That’s a lotta great fill for one puzzle. The trade-off is some ungainly bits like TOR, ARTE, ONE G, and ENGR. Overall, though, a fun puzzle. 4.1 stars from me.
Gary Larson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The two-part revealer belaboredly spells it out: 63a [Golf strokes … and when combined with 48-Down and divided in four parts, a hint to four puzzle answers] PUTTS, and 48d is [Strong-arming] FORCE. Combining them and parsing appropriately yields “put TS for CE‘. In context of the theme answers they’re nearly homophonic.
- 17a. [Emulates Ogden Nash?] MINTS WORDS (mince words). All in service of art.
- 27a. [Imagined gifts?] PRESENTS OF MIND (presence …).
- 44a. [What cheerleaders lead?] SPORTING CHANTS (… chance). Raholé! Olérah!
- 54a. [Tracks on a lily pad?] FROG PRINTS (… prince). Article: ‘Asian elephant footprints serve as safe spaces for frog nurseries‘
See? Piece of cake. Theme’s more complicated to describe than understand.
- 5a [Like some firs] NOBLE. Abies procera.
Dated vibe with a bunch of clues. Checkit: 10a [After-school treat] MALT, 44d [“On Language” columnist] SAFIRE, 54d [Uploading letters] FTP (file transfer protocol). To be sure there are contemporary-feeling clues and answers as well, but these really feel as if they’re from days [Gone by] OF OLD (50a)
- I kind of liked these clues that weren’t quite fill-in-the-blanks but nevertheless imparted a complete-the-phrase sense: 3d [Certain keeper’s charge] INN, 19a [Early light time] DAWN.
- Favorite clue: 47d [Book reviews] AUDITS.
- I felt overloaded by EVOO, EEO, OTOE, with IOU and EELY assisting. (16a, 35a, 6d, 43a, 62a)
- Not bothered by the minor, implicit dupe of 13d [Tommy Tune’s ten] TONYS and 52d [Showbiz award “grand slam”] EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony).
- 12d [Bargain-basement] LOW END, 28d [Degree requirement, pehaps] THESIS.
Adam Vincent’s Universal crossword, “Onshore Structures”—Jim P’s review
This theme confused me at first. When we see a term like 18a BEACHFRONT, that usually indicates we’re looking for words that can precede or follow the keyword (“beach” in this case), depending on the wording of the clue. Or else it might mean that the first words in the theme answers are examples of that keyword.
Here, the first words seem to be related to beaches (SEA, WATER, and TIDAL), but they aren’t really beaches and they don’t precede or follow the word “beach.” Then I realized the other commonality of the theme answers, and that I needed to look at the whole revealing term, i.e. BEACHFRONT / PROPERTIES [With 61-Across, homes that often have great views … or a possible description of the starred answers?]. That other commonality is that the second word of each theme answer can also mean a type of building or structure. Making this discovery was a really fun aha moment.
- 23a [*Sailor’s song, as some spell it] SEA SHANTY. A shanty by the sea.
- 39a [*Turning point] WATERSHED. A shed by the water.
- 55a [*Wetland with cyclical flooding] TIDAL FLAT. A flat (as in a Brit’s apartment) by a coastal wetland.
I’m really impressed with this double theme. It took me a while to think it through, but I found it very rewarding. Finding these phrases with second words that can mean some kind of property (but don’t in their original phrases) and first words relating to the ocean and then having them all fit symmetrically without any unsightly plurals…well, constructors love that kind of serendipity! As a solver, I do too!
And then to top it off, we’re treated to a load of sparkly fill like DOODADS, GLASS JAW, MONSOON, THOMAS MORE, FLAWLESSLY, BEAVERS, CAVE ART, AVATAR, SAHARA, and “ALAS, NO.” Alas, yes. This is good stuff.
Cluing was mostly straightforward which allowed me to breeze through the solve, but I did like [Sail’s force?] for WIND.
This was a clean and smooth grid with fun fill and a deceptively layered theme, beautifully executed. 4.25 stars.
Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
What a beaut! This Friday puzzle from Aimee Lucido is right up my alley, packed with entries I love, fresh and fun cluing, and two impressive grid-spanners. Happy Friday to us!!!
First, those spanners: GOLDEN HANDCUFFS and EMOTIONAL AFFAIR are both super strong. Although I only vaguely recall having heard the term GOLDEN HANDCUFFS before, I knew GOLDEN parachute couldn’t be it, and eventually I filled in the blanks from the crosses. EMOTIONAL AFFAIRs, and whether they actually are a gray area (or if they are just… you know… actual affairs!) is the subject of much internet debate. Commenters, have at it. Other good long stuff includes ANTICLIMAX, WAFFLE CONE, and THAT SUCKS. AFFILIATES is kind of meh, but sometimes you need a meh long entry to make the sparkly ones work.
On the clue front, I loved that the clue at 1A had a :( in it. [Feeling :( ] is such a perfect clue for GLUM, and it kicked off the puzzle on a :) note. Also loved EXTRA [Like a drama queen, slangily]; the GAGA/FAWN cross-reference where the meaning of GAGA changed; the Feeling :( cross-reference for ONE-A; and [Rub the wrong way] for CHAFE.
A few other things:
- Magic MIKE XXL is a cinematic masterpiece. I own it on DVD and on Amazon Prime. I do not recommend watching it on a plane when you have nosy neighbors.
- I’M HUNGRY yes same
- BABA YAGA – such a lovely consonant-to-vowel ratio, surprised we don’t see this more in puzzles!
- TYRO(S) – in the New Yorker and the NYT today! Odd
- Names I didn’t know: DEON Cole, Abba EBAN
- Fill I could live without: NYER, RESAY, LESE
Overall, I really enjoyed this solve. Tons of stars from me. Please enjoy some tasteful dancing from Channing Tatum in Magic MIKE XXL.
I write this from our screened porch, which we added to the house two years ago. We were just talking about how much nicer it’s made quarantine for us. I spend as much time out here as I can. The hot tub we installed at the same time makes the resident college student less grumpy about confinement than she otherwise would be.
NYT was one of the best puzzles I’ve done this year – thanks Robyn!!!
Liked the NYT. Was stuck for a few minutes on xxxxSHARE, the possiblities I tried were either obviously wrong or, um… inappropriate. Was relieved when RIDESHARE finally occurred to me.
I also greatly enjoyed the NYT. I’m also glad I wasn’t the only one who had an “inappropriate” first guess for xIxESHARE.
NYT: Last week I felt like an idiot.
This week, enjoyed and loved it! And felt smart!
Re today’s LAT – in addition to some of the questionable fill cited by the reviewer (EVOO, FTP, OF OLD, etc), there were a couple of other pretty dubious clues or answers not called out:
– 25A. My understanding is that the term “garçon” (for “waiter”) is considered condescending, and the appropriate term to use is “serveur” or simply “monsieur.”
– 48A. True, the word “farness” is in the dictionary, but it’s rarely used.
– 10D. I suppose in some situations, giving a hospitalized patient MEDICINE might require help from an orderly, but a better clue would be “it may require some orderly help.”
– 48D. Not sure why this isn’t simply clued as “Strong-arm.” As clued, it seems like the solution would be “forcing.”
Somewhat surprised these made it through the editing process.
From my extremely limited experience learning French (from that green owl who probably has BPD), doesn’t that word just mean “boy”? That’s pretty daggum demeaning.
RM… Yes, it does mean “boy”, but from MY extremely limited learning of French 50+ years ago, a waiter/server in a restaurant is/was ” garçon” … No idea what a female server would be called.
“garçon, l’addition s’il vous plaît ” was one of those 101 phrases that stuck.
I think garcon was commonly used to refer to a waiter 50 years ago, but I don’t think that most Frenchpeople would use the term for a waiter today.
I am also not in love with FARNESS. Yes, it’s a real word, but it really sticks out and is not the best choice here.
My general sense is that the LAT crossword is less tightly edited than the NYT one. It’s not all that unusual to see some loosey-goosey stuff like the examples you mention – not glaring, egregious errors, but stuff that could be tightened up a bit. That happens with the NYT, but less commonly, I think.
Dictionaries pretty much still have only “garcon” for waiter (and maybe “servante” or “fille de service” for waitress), but the world is catching up with how to address adults a bit. You might now hear instead “serveur” (and “serveuse”).
NYT: The long answers were delightful, and I broke my Friday record. 9:21.
25A (BABA YAGA) in today’s New Yorker offering will ring a bell for classical music lovers, since it was one of the “pictures” in Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” (it’s also referred to as “The Hut on Hen’s Legs”). Here’s a terrific performance led by LA’s own Gustavo Dudamel:
Great piece of music — thanks for the post! Love PaaE!