Chase Dittrich’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I liked this puzzle! The clues are styled or punctuated to playfully suggest the theme entries:
- 20a. [Having a meal!], STRESS EATING. The exclamation point adds emphasis/stress to the phrase, but it’s also in italics in the non-.puz formats. STRESS EATING is also a great phrase to pop in a puzzle.
- 35a. [M i l i t a r y t r a i n e e s], SPACE CADETS. Military cadets, spaced out.
- 42a. [
Downward dog], STRIKE A POSE. Okay, that’s a yoga pose, but I have no idea how “downward” suggests STRIKE A. The .puz file can’t style text with bold, italics, or strikethrough, but the version on the NYT site or in the paper has strikethrough.
- 56a. [“Will you marry me?”], BOLD PROPOSAL. The .puz format can’t use bold, but the other formats bolded this clue.
Cute. Even though the clues I saw only offered me one “!” and the spacing to make the theme really add up.
I liked the fill overall. “I’D SAY SO” and CAST DOUBT were my fave non-theme entries, and the rest was generally smooth. (Plural abbrevs like SRAS, I could do without. TARE and ODEON are boring.) On the “modified Bechdel test” front, this puzzle comes out on the positive side.
Five more things:
- 36d. [Those, to José], ESOS. I am tired of “clue with male name points to male ESOS, clue with female name points to ESAS.” That’s not how Spanish works, is it? ESOS and ESAS take their gender from whatever they’re referring to, rather than from whoever is doing the referring?
- 38a. [___ Tometi, activist who co-founded Black Lives Matter], OPAL. Great shout-out! Somehow I am more familiar with the names Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Alicia Garza, the other co-founders of BLM. You can read about all three of these leaders here.
- 19a. [Devil-may-care attitude, in modern parlance], YOLO. This accounts for a good chunk of those new COVID cases among younger adults. People! Stay out of the damn bars, wear your damn masks, and stop making the world a worse place.
- 67a. [Ending with four or six, but not three or five], TEEN. How many centuries ago did threeteen and fiveteen get turned into thirteen and fifteen? Why do we have fourteen and forty, not forteen or fourty for one of those? This language is dumb.
- 58d. [Thunder], ROAR. You folks still hearing the thunder of (often illegal) fireworks? We heard some tonight. I’m over it!
Four stars from me.
Chuck Deodene’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Floating Points”—Jim P’s re-cap
I’m going to apologize up front because I need to keep this short, as I’m traveling today and don’t have much time.
The theme is GAS BUBBLES (31d, [What the circles represent, given the words they hold]).
- 3d. [From around here] NATIVE-BORN. Neon.
- 14d. [Classic Western ditty] HOME ON THE RANGE. Methane. Ha! That seems appropriate.
- 6d. [Loyal employees, in 1950s lingo] ORGANIZATION MEN. Ozone.
- 8d. [Dish with bacon, cheese and eggs] QUICHE LORRAINE. Chlorine.
I enjoyed this theme even with the outdated ORGANIZATION MEN.
Fun fill in LAMB CHOPS, IN LEAGUE, CABANA, CONFETTI, and SEPIA TONE.
Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Ok, so, this is what I’m talking about. Erik has made a beautifully designed grid, with entries and clues packed full of people I did not know, not a one of whom is a white man (!), that I still solved with relative ease, because every. single. crossing. is fair! The fact that the cluing is also playful and self-referential is just icing on this delicious, layered crossword cake. [Sidenote: is crossword cake a thing? My birthday is in two weeks so let’s get on that]
I love this rotational staircase pattern, which is both a pretty visual and a good showcase for when you want to use lots of middle-length entries, rather than one or two long marquees. The whole central section of this puzzle is crammed with fully excellent mid-length entries, including: GONDOLIER / ALICE BALL / PLANETARY / PROMOTERS / LIMBO BARS / DANCE TEAM / CARB LOADS / RADAR DETECTOR (ok that one is pretty long). My only question here is whether the term is CARB LOADS or CARBO LOADS. I’ve always used the latter, but google tells me they’re about equally common.
Another thing I love about this puzzle is that it treats make up and cosmetics, an industry worth over 93 billion dollars, as worthy of inclusion in puzzles. I know we occasionally see ESTEE Lauder in puzzles, but that’s likely due to the conveniently vocalic first name. I’ve never seen a mainstream puzzle treat LIP LINER (0 NYT appearances) with equal validity to, for instance, the parallel entry RADIO AD (4 NYT appearance), or GLAM clued as [Soft ___ (makeup trend)] instead of an allusion to GLAM Rock. It’s not ostentatious, but it’s definitely intentional, and I appreciate it. Similarly, BURQA and KURTA, in nearly parallel positions, have never been used in the NYT either (and KURTA seems not to have been used in *any* mainstream puzzle). Finally, we have some non-western cuisines featured prominently, including ARROZ caldo [___ caldo (Filipino rice dish)] and LIMEADE [Another name for the Guyanese beverage swank]. And again, LIMEADE could have been clued any old way, but it was clued to highlight a Guyanese beverage that most New Yorker solvers probably didn’t know before, and I think that is rad.
A few more things:
- White men: 0 (!) unless I missed someone??
- Everyone else: MC Lyte, ALICE BALL, Solange, Niecy Nash, ENID Coleslaw, UMA Thurman, Julia Edwards, GAEL García Bernal, Coumba Gawlo (9)
- Favorite clues:
- Change a letter to get the body part it goes on [BOOT]
- Constellation in the very middLE Of this clue, not counting spaces [LEO]
- Pronoun separators in many a Twitter bio [SLASHES]
Overall, all the stars from me. This puzzle was exciting and beautiful and inclusive and educational. Erik Agard, killing the game as usual 💥
Elizabeth Gorski’s AVCX, “Celebrity Crush” — Ben’s Review
It’s Christmas in July this week at the AVCX, with a 21×21 supersize grid from Elizabeth Gorski, who typically writes a holiday puzzle closer to the end of the year.
“Celebrity Crush” is a great title for this, with multiple mononyms getting packed into various corners of the fill:
- 22A: “Hmm, I see …” — VERY INTERE[STING]
- 24A: “Heaven Knows” singer — DON[NA S]UMMER
- 56A: Hermetically closes — [SEAL]S SHUT
- 68A: First city park in the United States — BOSTON [COMMON]
- 72A: 1988 NFL MVP quarterback — E[SIA]SON
- 74A: Folks get carried away in them — STRET[CHER]S
- 86A: Sack-seeking defender — PASS R[USHER]
- 122A: Teen comedy named after a 1981 Psychedelic Furs song — PRETTY IN [PINK]
- 125A: Pat Conroy bestseller that became a film — THE [PRINCE] OF TIDES
And that’s just the acrosses – the corresponding down fill (TA[STING] MENU, TU[NA S]TEAK, NAVY [SEAL], [COMMON] COLD, TUNI[SIA]N, PREA[CHER], [USHER]ETTE, S[PINK]S, and [PRINCE]LY) is also affected.
Another mononymic singer appearing in the puzzle, but not as a theme square: SADE
Elsewhere in the fill:
- I’m in the middle of reading Boom Town, a book tying together the rise of the Oklahoma City Thunder with the history of the city itself, and thanks to that I knew the team used to be the Seattle (Super)SONICS
- I got it entirely from downs and didn’t notice the actual across clue until later, but man, I hate roman numeral fill like CCCV, especially when it’s clued in a manner like “Miami area code, to a time-traveling Roman emperor”. I never want to do roman numeral math or transformations, etc. in the middle of solving a crossword. It’s never satisfying.
- I got really excited to see “Terre Haute sch.” as a clue, until I realized it was the school other than my alma mater in the city, ISU, being clued. RHIT is right there, constructors! It’s a well-regarded engineering school! It’s all the letters of RIT, which you love, plus an H!
Enjoy your Wednesday!
Margit Christenson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
As a general entry, I’d prefer LONGLEASH to ALONGLEASH, but as a revealer I think it works well. Each of three entries spell out LEASH in circled entries. With five letters to cram in, that requires them to be quite long.
- [Actress Chaplin], OONA. Related of course to Oona O’Neill. She’s about to play in the Avatar sequels so her profile is perhaps about to expand significantly…
- [Treatise on verse], POETICS. I thought it was a specific work, but no. Not heard of this word, but inferrable.
- [Confession about the last piece of cake], IATEIT. Not sure that’s an in the language phrase, rather than just an arbitrary statement.
- [App with pics, familiarly], INSTA. Recently installed to see our cattery’s page, but it’s horrible. Nothing is organised in any way shape or form so you can find anything…
- [Overwhelmed with diner orders, as a server], INTHEWEEDS. Excellent entry.
- [Domesticated farm squealer], PETPIG. I should try and find a photo of Jannie, our day old piglet surrender who is now a porker of leisure…
- [Beer named for a Baja city], TECATE. Not a brand I’m familiar with.
Lee Taylor’s Universal crossword, “Fantastic Directions” — pannonica’s write-up
Quickie today. Fictional locales.
- 18a. [To get here, go down the rabbit hole] WONDERLAND. Lewis Carroll.
- 27a. [… catch the train at platform 9 3/4] HOGWARTS. JK Rowling.
- 48a. [… go inside a speck of dust on a clover flower] WHOVILLE. Dr Seuss
- 63a. [… travel north on the Kingsroad from moat Cailin] WINTERFELL. George RR Martin.
More or less your typical categories type theme. Solid midweek puzzle.