Amanda Rafkin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Settle In”—Jim P’s review
IT’S A LONG STORY (34a, [“We could be here for a bit…,” and a hint to each circled word]) indicates that the circled words in the other theme answers are words that mean “a long story.”
- 16a. [Flight delay notification, perhaps] TEXT ALERT
- 22a. [Comment at the end of a fun night out] LET’S DO THIS AGAIN.
- 46a. [Become involved in something] ENTER THE PICTURE
- 55a. [Nickelodeon cartoon with a nine-year-old title character] “HEY ARNOLD!” My kids never watched this show, but I certainly remember it if only for the kid with the football-shaped head.
I don’t know that I would call a TALE or YARN necessarily long stories, but for the purposes of the theme, they don’t bother me. I do like the inclusion of the 15-letter grid spanners. Seems appropriate.
There sure are a lot of phrases ending in prepositions in the grid—enough to be noticeable. NEXT TO, ACT AS, SETS IN, CHARGE TO, SPUR ON, and RAN BY. Each one on its own is fine, but together they get a little clunky.
Clues of note:
- 5d. [“What have we here?!”]. “HELLO?” Fun clue.
- 15a. [Catherine of “Schitt’s Creek”]. O’HARA. I haven’t watched the show, but I know Amy loves it. Here’s a nice profile of Catherine O’Hara from January of this year.
And of course, you know I wasn’t going to let you out of here without some Hall and Oates.
3.6 stars from me.
Peter Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Theme: Four phrases of varying familiarity that contain both a 2-letter chemical symbol and the name of the corresponding element.
- 17a. [Six-time All-Star for the Arizona Diamondbacks (2013-18)], PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT. I don’t know the name.
- 27a. [“Moonbeam,” for a flashlight, e.g.], MILITARY JARGON. Filled in SLANG before I realized it was a letter short of the end.
- 43a. [“Are you as jazzed as I am?”], “ISN’T IT EXCITING?” “Isn’t this exciting” feels a bit more “in the language” to me.
- 57a. [People are protected when they’re in it], SAFE ENVIRONMENT. Feels a bit green-painty, no?
Theme’s okay, not great.
The fill felt like it was a lot of stale stuff PILED up. OMANI ULNA ISL NOG OOP RHOS SANA (more often transliterated as Sanaa, no?) TSAR ENL OSSA AVIA OLIO STET, with some of those crossing one another. Meh.
Three more things:
- 42a. Kingdom of horsemen in “The Lord of the Rings”], ROHAN. Tolkien fans know this. I did—did you?
- 3d. Some creases on the face], LAUGH LINES. Pretty sure you will find said wrinkles to be more prominent in people with more sun exposure…
- 15a. Org. that supported the Lovings in Loving v. Virginia], ACLU. We just marked Loving Day on June 12, the 53rd anniversary of that (correct and overdue) Supreme Court decision.
2.75 stars from me. Would really have appreciated smoother fill.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword
Welcome to Wednesday and a moderately challenging puzzle from Patrick Berry. As of yesterday, I am a year older than I was on Monday, so let’s see if I have acquired any new wisdom! …. nope, and in fact, I have very little to say about this puzzle, so I will say it quickly!
This puzzle contains a bunch of long/ish entries in a grid design pretty typical of New Yorker themelesses. These entries include :
- Middle: PIERCE ARROW / CHINESE FOOD
- NE/SW corners: CAMERA CASE / CLAP-O-METER / OSCAR MEYER / TEARS APART
- NW/SE corners: CHEWBACCA / RADIO SHOW / AT ANY TIME / PORTFOLIO / SHORT FILM / IOWA STATE
None of these are *particularly* exciting, although it was interesting to learn that CHINESE FOOD takeout containers are call “oyster pails.” I’d never heard of PIERCE ARROW (or Packard or Peerless), so there was some guessing involved in the middle section, which I finished last.
A few more things:
- Did a bit of a double-take on BOY TOY
- Is that how you spell POSERS? I always thought there was a U in there somewhere?
- Representation: I think this puzz is another example of the ostensibly-but-not-actually neutral
- Names I Didn’t Know: Johnny MERCER, Sylvia SYMS
- Curious about the clue on YAM [Veggie grown primarily in Nigeria] — “Veggie” seems to indicate that something is being shortened, but isn’t the full name of a YAM just YAM?
Kate Hawkins’ Universal crossword, “It’s a Bust” — pannonica’s write-up
Standard-style theme here, a these-words-can-all-precede-this-other-word jobby.
- 61aR [Mermaid, say, on a ship … or a hint to the starred answers] FIGUREHEAD. That is, the beginnings of the theme answers can provide a ‘head’ for the word ‘figure’.
- 17a. [*Automatic alternative] STICK SHIFT (stick figure). I guess they aren’t so standard anymore, alas.
- 24a. [*Bonanza] MOTHERLODE (mother figure).
- 39a. [*Franks] BALLPARK HOTDOGS (ballpark figure).
- 49a. [*It may be captured in midair] ACTION SHOT (action figure).
- 21a [Gingerly avoid, as kids’ toys] STEP OVER. Nicely evocative clue.
- 66a [“Let Me Blow Ya Mind” rapper] EVE. Fresher clue for common fill.
- 68a [Rich ice cream] GELATO. See also 15a [Boot-shaped country, to locals] ITALIA and 19a [Capital of 15-Across] ROMA.
- 34d [You may crop or rotate one] PHOTO. Cleverly distracts by putting the notion of crop rotation in your head. Also, good non-dupe with themer 49a.
- 40d [People who go from one party to another?] LIAISONS.
- 53d [German idealist philosopher] HEGEL. I heard he couldn’t keep up with David Hume, let alone Schopenhauer.
- 35a [Country whose cuisine has Indian and Tibetan influences] NEPAL. Comports with the geography. Similarly, Burmese food often seems like a logical blend of Chinese and Indian cuisines. Asian foodie vibes continue with 18d [Food, or the start of a Chinese’ dish’s name] CHOW (fun, mein, et al), and 4a [Rice dishes that my contain raisins] PILAFS (would you add raisins to (42a) SYRIA-style pilaf?)
I figure this is a reasonable theme, and executed well.
Byron Walden’s AVCX, “E for Effort” — Ben’s Review
I can tell my crossword solving prowess must be improving because Byron Walden and I are consistently on different wavelengths and I still managed to get through this oversized AVCX grid from him in ~13 minutes instead of at least 20 like it used to. This played a little harder for me than the 3.5/5 difficulty rating it was given, but your mileage may vary. The title of this puzzle is “E for Effort” and that hints at what all of the theme answers here have in common:
- 24A: Drunk grandpa? — LOADED FOREBEAR
- 31A: Googled “what happens when you default on a mortgage”? — SEARCHED FORECLOSURE
- 51A: Guys who lead juries to righteous decisions? — JUST FOREMEN
- 63A: Book intros with overly ornate prose? — TOO BEAUTIFUL FOREWORDS
- 80A: Warmup provided by a coin-op vibrator? — PAY FOREPLAY
- 95A: Sneak preview of a company’s quarterly report? — ACCOUNTING FORETASTE
- 107A: What zombies do after having a big bowl of anterior lobe chili? — SHIT FOREBRAINS
I had figured out there was a “Phrases with FOR, but with an E added” theme going on, and jokingly thought about the prospect of “shit for brains” showing up, and then hit 80A and remembered this was the AVCX and not the NYT, so it was fair game. Other phrases getting the same transformation include “loaded for bear”, “searched for closure”, “Just For Men”, “too beautiful for words”, “pay for play”, and “accounting for taste”.
“7” is off of Prince’s Love Symbol album, and if you look at the Love Symbol which appears in the lower corner of the video, you’ll see it does include an ARROW.
AS A WHOLE, this was pretty good. There were some choices of fill I disagreed with (NORMANDIE? Going with ASTR instead of ASTRO as a “Far-out STEM field?”), but this was pretty SOLID and I know that the way Byron clues tends to throw me off.
Zachary David Levy’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
Colour-based puzzle themes are generally considered a cliche. Today’s puzzle is very tightly conceived though, and finishes on a clever, if loose, groaner. Four answers are in the form COLOUR:ANIMAL, but all four are not literal animals – and important degree of separation for a theme. They are found INTHESHADE since they each have a colour. Of the four, I know BLUEBUFFALO only from its terrible reputation amongst American veterinary professionals for being aggressively marketed but causing a disproportionate number of health issues.
Discussion: is two terrible I partials too many? I winced at IDID but WAYI made it a theme!
Other unusual clues / answers:
- [Polite sneeze], CHOO. Is that in the dictionary sans a-?
- [Six-term Delaware senator], BIDEN. Odd in not mentioning any recent career developments?
- [South Korean carrier], ASIANA. New to me. With so many vowels, I’m surprised I haven’t seen it before.