Nam Jin Yoon’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
It’s always cool to see a name I recognize from the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory pop up in a puzzle byline! Mr. Yoon impressed me with his modified “Bechdel test” approach to vetting his own puzzles to make sure he’s not perpetuating the overrepresentation of the straight white male contingent.
Fave fill: KAMA SUTRA, AT IT AGAIN, cofee-talk FLAT WHITE, LAWYER UP, DRUMBEAT, BANKRUPT, SWAN SONG, PREGGO, PELL GRANT, EYE-OPENER atop “DON’T STARE,” KAFKA, GALOSHES, LIFE’S WORK, GROUP CHAT, and “STOP THAT.” That’s a lot of crisp, fresh material for one grid.
What else? Six things:
- 36a. [Fancy serving platter at a sushi restaurant], BOAT. I needed crossings here. I don’t do sushi. (Don’t @ me.)
- 52a. [French term of endearment that literally means “cabbage”], CHOU. I dunno. What vegetable would you rather be called?
- 53a. [Agenda for a vet visit, maybe], SHOTS. Or for pharmacy visits—flu shot season is upon us, and I encourage you to get this taken care of in September or October.
- 1d. [“A Hunger Artist” writer], KAFKA. All these years, and there’s a KAFKA work I haven’t heard of? Ah, it’s a short story and you can read it here. I did not know there was ever an actual thing called hunger artists, people who starved themselves for the entertainment of paying audiences. That is messed up. Seems like it would be popular on Instagram now, no?
- 11d. [His sister, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, was the first female president of the U.N. General Assembly], NEHRU. I’d never heard of her, but I’m glad to learn about her. Turns out I have never heard of any of the people who’ve been president of the G.A.
- 14d. [Opposite of bottled], TAP. As in water.
Nothing to dislike in this puzzle. 4.25 stars from me. Keep ’em coming, Nam!
Jerry Edelstein’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Second write-up in a row where I’m seemingly not grasping the entire theme. This one seems to be just puns, but I can’t find a major point of cohesion in either content or mechanism.
- 17a. [Drove by the campsite?] PASSED TENTS (past tense).
- 25a. [Johann Sebastian and Johann Christian?] MALE BACHS (mail box).
- 35a. [Carpenter’s work station?] PLANE SITE (plain sight).
- 49a. [Bird popularity surveys?] FOWL POLLS (foul poles). 24d [Foul line watcher, at times] UMP. Really?! I mean, really.
- 58a. [Wildebeests coming to a screeching halt?] BRAKING GNUS (breaking news).
Best I can do is note that each entry is a two-word phrase and in all instances both are replaced by homophones. It doesn’t feel like enough.
- 1a [Peak on the 1,000-yen note] FUJI, of course. Quite so (excuse the digital watermarks):
- 20a [Half a cocktail hour pair] TONG. Yikes. That’s 64a ICKY. I’d rather have seen a reference to Chinese immigrant secret societies, or at the very least TONG in the same general sense as the clue’s version, but as a verb.
- 27a [Soap opera plot staple] AMNESIA. Without reading the clue I originally filled in the final two letters to make AMNESTY.
- Similarly, my first attempt for 13d [It might contain an inbox] was DESKTOP rather than DESK SET. Have not seen the 1957 Hepburn/Tracy film of the same name.
- 35d [Some tablets] PILLS. Thankfully not another iPad reference/clue.
- 40d [Donald Duck and Winston Churchill wear them] BOW TIES. Huh. I guess in my mind Donald Duck’s neckwear was some sort of sailor’s ascot, to match his jacket and cap.
- 42d [Bulbs’ pre-bloom condition] LATENCY. Didn’t know the term in this context, but it makes perfect sense.
- 52d [James, since 2018] LAKER. Oho, that’s LeBron James. See? I know my sports (but I don’t feel much smarter – sorry, Ade!).
- 56d [1,000 Holidays] INNS. Sneaky capital letter there.
- 34d [Big game, say] EVENT. Yay, not a casual hunting reference.
- 38a [Scotch-Brite cleaning product] DOBIE. I knew this, but I suspect that a significant percentage of solvers wouldn’t.
- And because I feel like sharing some more music, have some SYD (61d [Barrett of Pink Floyd], but not the one from the clue:
Kate Hawkins’s Inkubator crossword, “Rearrangements”—Rebecca’s review
- 17a [*Screw the gender binary! (or: Devastating farewell?] is HEARTRENDING BYE.
- 37a [*Smash the patriarchy! (or: Wretched Styles?)] is PATHETIC HARRY
- 42a [*Break the glass ceiling! (or: Rental woes?)] is LEASING GLITCHES
Fun puzzle today – with anagrams taking a cluing style that reminded me of crypitcs, using Screw/Smash/Break to indicate that we should anagram – and added alternative wacky clues. It took me longer than I care to admit to see the anagrams – I think having the word ‘the’ included in them threw me off a little bit, but these are fantastic answers and both of the clues for each are fantastic. Of the three, my favorite has to be PATHETIC HARRY, but they all work so incredibly well for this concept.
As for the rest of the puzzle, we had some great fill here. I think this is the first time I’ve seen DENTAL DAM in a puzzle, and it’s a great inclusion here. The clue for PIE CRUSTS (Fruit wrappers of sorts) was great – clever and took a minute to figure out, and the other long downs – SCRIBBLED and WHOLE MILK made the puzzle open enough to get a smooth solve, even when the anagrams hadn’t clicked for me yet. This grid shape, with fewer but longer themers and plenty of room to play is one of my favorites so it was nice to dig in here and travel throughout the puzzle and enjoy every part of it.
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
It’s Friday and tomorrow is Lollapuzzoola! Today we have a lightly challenging puzzle from Anna Shechtman, and I have mixed feelings about it. I loved all of the long entries and the grid design, but the fill left me a little cold.
Just briefly, I think the grid is super cute. I love the little pattern of black squares in the middle, and the number of middle-to-long entries that it demands is definitely ambitious. And for the most part, this puzzles pulls it off! In terms of the long stuff, there’s some really fabulous entries like APRICOT JAM / LUNCH POEMS / STREET MEAT in the NW and STUDENT DEBT / INNOCENT MAN in the long down positions. I’m not as hyped about the SE corner, with the kind of awkward WISING UP TO and the less-interesting LATE CAREER, but it’s still pretty good!
My main issue is with the fill, which was less than ideal. I know we do what we need to in order to make low-word-count themelesses work, but I can’t say I enjoyed M-STARS/ JEERERS / NEH / STEN / ALS / RNR / UIE / DO I / N-TEST. Also AMOEBOID?
A few more things:
- I thought the ASTROs were cancelled?
- I always thought the “12 Days of Christmas” lyrics was “My true love gave to me…” but I see both versions on the internet
- Representation: pretty good! The ALS Green and Jarreau, PAM GRIER, ISIAH Thomas, Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Overall, an enjoyable solve, if not my favorite of the week! Still plenty of stars from me. See you all at Lollapuzzoola tomorrow, yes??
George Jasper’s Universal crossword, “Find the Constellation”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Constellation names are hidden in well-known phrases. Hidden constellations seem quite apt since I always have a hard time trying to discern any constellations in the sky other than the Big Dipper. (Pity my poor wife who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa which means she has terrible night vision. She’s only ever seen a maximum of maybe five stars at one time, and that’s on the clearest, most star-filled nights.) Oh, there’s also a pseudo-revealer of SIGN IN [Log on, and a theme hint].
- 20a. [Chess match, e.g.] BATTLE OF WITS
- 37a. [Best Actress winner for “On the Waterfront”] EVA MARIE SAINT
- 55a. [Grand Caravan, e.g.] DODGE MINIVAN
Nice. A hidden LEO at only three letters doesn’t seem like much of a big deal, but I’m duly impressed by the other two, especially the last one. Those are nice finds.
Nothing in the fill felt scowl-worthy at all, and some of it is quite nice: LA BAMBA, ITALIAN, “I’M GAME,” MOVE ON, and DAISIES. I did not know Mike WOLFE of American Pickers. I thought it would be a show about guitarists, but no, it’s about antiques and collectibles on the History Channel.
Clues of note:
- 62a. [Toymaker with Super Mario sets]. LEGO. This is a brand new line of Legos with gyroscopes, sensors, screens, and speakers. Looks really cool. I bet any little kid (and some adults) in your life would enjoy the heck out of them.
- 63a. [Role of Nichols?]. UHURA. I wasn’t sure why there was a question mark here, but I guess the clue sounds like “roll of nickels.”
Solid grid. Only three theme answers, but it’s still a fun time.