Yacob Yonas and Chad Horner’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
It’s another Thursday with a puzzle by a duo!:
- 20A: Express one’s view — COMMITMENT
- 26A: Kick off — STAY ALERT
- 40A: Sends — SUNCHIPS
- 57A: Reacts to an amazing magic trick, say — GAS PRICES
- 65A: Emulate Ferris Bueller…or a hint to understanding the answers to the starred clues — SKIP SCHOOL
If you “SKIP SCHOOL” in each answer, the remaining letters make much more sense with the given clue. COMMITMENT without the MIT is COMMENT, a much better fit for “Express one’s view”. Likewise, you can remove YALE, UNC, and RICE to make START, SHIPS, and GASPS from the other theme answers to make them work with their respective clues. I feel like I’ve seen this sort of theme before, but this was a well-executed take on it that was a lot of fun to solve.
- I learned from the puzzle that 11 pharaohs have been named RAMSES.
- The mention of a SALSA BAR at 39D (“Taqueria fixture”) has me craving a burrito.
- “Pack of smarties” was a cute clue for MENSA
Be well, all! Heed the clue for 54D and “Make the world a better place”.
Rob and Mary Lou Guizzo’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Novel Women”—Laura’s review
Laura here, sitting in for Jim, had to stop myself from looking for the meta, since that’s what I usually blog!
We’ve got a rebus theme in the Wall Street Journal, which is a little frustrating since the WSJ’s web app doesn’t support rebi! (rebuses, rebusodes, rebuxii) In their page on “How to work the crossword” (Is it worth it? Lemme work it.), they advise solvers that “Occasionally, a puzzle includes squares that must hold more than one letter, in these cases use the first letter in those squares.” In this case, that did the trick, and I got the happy finish screen.
The title is “Novel Women,” and there are five women novelists rebused into squares in the grid:
- [17a: Stubborn title princess of opera]: TURANDOT. Ayn Rand.
- [20a: Bought it, so to speak]: KICKED THE BUCKET. Pearl S. Buck.
- [28a: Cuisine featuring olives, sesame seeds and chickpeas]: MIDDLE EASTERN. Harper Lee.
- [47a: Finish]: GO THE DISTANCE. Amy Tan.
- [56a: Problem for a wordsmith, and a clue to five figures hidden in this puzzle]: WRITER’S BLOCK
- [68a: With consequences]: AT A PRICE. Anne Rice.
Each crossing down entry also expands the rebus, respectively: STRAND, SAWBUCKS, LEERS, SANTANA, TRICEP. Nice work Rob and Mary Lou!
Paul Coulter’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
In my opinion, this is the better way to interpret a repeated clue puzzle theme. We get [“No idea”] as the clue for five answers, and each one is a typical way you might express that: HOWSHOULDIKNOW, IMSTUMPED, SHRUG, ITBEATSME and IDONTHAVEACLUE. Note the odd-one out is the non-verbal centrepiece. There’s a sort of meta-commentary on crossword-solving line as well.
The grid has an unusual design, with 46 black squares, including two “tetroids” in the top-right and bottom-left corners. The two long downs: BANKMANAGER and TEACEREMONY then both intersect two theme answers in the same area.
Jeff Eddings’s Universal crossword — “It All Adds Up”
THEME: Three word phrases where the first two form a common phrase and the last two form a common phrase (with UP being the last word).
- 17A [Salmon hatchery robbery?] FISH STICK-UP. FISH STICK / STICK UP.
- 25A [Core exercise done with your pooch lying on your feet?] DOG SITUP.
- 39A [Supermarket employee’s physical?] CASHIER’S CHECKUP.
- 51A [Preflight prep for a fast plane?] JET SET-UP.
- 63A [Quick end of a relationship?] FAST BREAKUP.
Not my favorite theme type, though it was a nice twist to have the UP part in common across the themers. Made a nice little “Aha” connection with the title.
I found this one quite a bit more difficult in the clue than the average Universal! Not sure why… in retrospect, the solves always seem easier, right?
Had FRIARS for PRIORS, which caused a hiccup. For the life of me, couldn’t get WE GET IT, though it’s a perfectly fine clue/answer set. Really fun, good fill all around and I enjoyed the challenge.
Universal is great at including unique clues with “oh, I never noticed that” stuff in them, like 32 A [Eerie writer, or the first three letters of his profession] POE. Though I hate to see the founder of the detective story pigeonholed as a poet, it was a fun clue.
Also, how do you pronounce GIF?
3.2 stars from me.
Enjoy the holiday weekend!
Paul Coulter’s Fireball Crossword, “Start Fresh”–Jenni’s write-up
This was a fun puzzle (constructed by a man, of course). I went through it quickly and didn’t see what was happening with the theme until I got to the revealer. It made me laugh, which is always good.
Each theme answer is part of a phrase that starts with “it,” and the “it” is removed.
- 3d [Result of sneezing while cycling?] is SNOT ABOUT THE BIKE. “It’s Not About the Bike” is the title of Lance Armstrong’s autobiography.
- 5d [Dress down in an open area?] is SCOLD OUTSIDE (it’s cold outside).
- 25d [Recommendation for what to do in Sodom?] is SIN THERE (it’s in there).
- 27d [Lemon lover’s delight?] is SOUR PLEASURE (it’s our pleasure).
- 12d [Dissatisfied conductor’s direction at a rehearsal … and a hint to this puzzle’s theme] is TAKE IT FROM THE TOP. All the theme answers are Downs, so IT does come off the top.
I enjoyed this theme – it was cute and original and fun to solve.
Since it’s so late I’ll skip right to “what I didn’t know before I did this puzzle.” I had forgotten that Anwar SADAT was Time’s Man of the Year in 1977.
NYT: Cute theme… Finished it late at night and was too tired to go back and remove the schools from the answers.
I love that Ferris Bueller movie, but nowadays scenes of people packed together and singing make me nervous. Covid-19 has messed with my mind.
WSJ: Loved it. Shouldn’t you have given it props for the women theme, since all of you criticize puzzles for a male imbalance? Not an opera person, so 17A baffled me, but after I caught the theme at 20A, I went back and it made sense. Sneaky to have two of the themers in such short answers, but not at all inappropriate for a Thursday. I gave it a 4. Can you up that to a 5 please? This was a really fun puzzle.
I agree, Norm…terrific puzzle!
Maybe my favourite of the week so far – a lovely variety of use of the rebus, clear at TURANDOT – because we love Opera.
btw, commenter Glenn provided the rebusized .puz file posted here. The wsj site doesn’t support rebuses at all, so the data file that we use to create the AcrossLite version has no information about them, so Glenn adds that info manually. Those solvers who prefer their litzed versions rebusized owe Glenn their thanks.
LAT – Thanks, Gareth. I’d like to put it out there that my original submission had a twist. The first four theme answers each were clued with ( ) The revealer IDONTHAVEACLUE was clued as “No idea” and what 16, 26, 38, & 51 might say about the parentheses following 16., 26., 38., & 51. In other words, each phrase that doesn’t have a clue means “I don’t have a clue.”
Thank you, Glenn!
I always thought the correct spelling for the Egyptian pharaohs was RAMESSES. As it turns out there are three acceptable spellings. Rameses is the third. Maybe by the time they reached 11, they needed an abbreviated version.
I thought this puzzle was very clever.
I enjoyed this week’s Fireball puzzle, and (no great surprise) the theme entries reminded me of the Gershwin song ‘S Wonderful. I felt compelled to search out a recording, and Ella Fitzgerald’s performance was the obvious choice: