Brandon Koppy’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
I’m in a bad mood, so I’ll be brief. The theme is a mishmash of compound words and two-word phrases split into short entries around the edges and clued with cross-references aplenty, with both 1a and 1d being LIFE. 1/5a. [Means of survival], LIFE/BOAT. 5/9a. [place to yacht-shop], BOAT SHOW. (This is the New York Times, which absolutely caters to the wealthy, so sure, “yacht-shop” is legit for that audience.) 9a/5a is SHOWBOAT, but that doesn’t get a clue. 9a/16d, [decisive confrontation], SHOWDOWN. 16/39d, [minimize], DOWNPLAY. 39/62d [lie motionless], PLAY DEAD. 62d/71a [traveling music fan of old], DEADHEAD. 71/70a marching backwards, [call it a night], HEAD HOME. 70a/69a [advantage in sports], HOME GAME (but I think the advantage is the home court/stadium/field and not the HOME GAME). 69a/50d [athlete’s intense expression], GAME FACE. 50/27d [Apple app], FACETIME. 27/1d [company named for two magazines], TIME-LIFE. 1d/41a [generational sequence], LIFE CYCLE. So the words cycled around from LIFE to LIFE. Ultimately I found the theme not too satisfying.
- 32d. [So-called “third stage of labor”], AFTERBIRTH. Placenta time! I assume there are people getting the vapors from this entry. Me, I had to work the crossings. Emergency C-sections don’t need any labor process. I assume they yoinked the placenta through the incision?
- 3d. [Cooling off period?], FALL. As in autumn. Bring it on! Weather where wearing a face mask is comfortable.
- 51d. [Rainforest dweller, in brief], ORANG. I hate this entry. Who actually uses this in real life??
Plural CARLAS? Stand-alone ABRA (and not clued as the psychic Pokémon)? Three stars from me.
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Whether or Not”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Punny weather homophones.
- 18a. [Troops for “Braveheart”?] GAEL FORCE. This one’s not bad. Gale force.
- 24a. [Junior’s advancement in the family business?] SON RISE. Sunrise. This was the first one I solved, and it did not impress me.
- 37a. [Familiar family trait?] HEIR QUALITY. Air quality.
- 54a. [Spiky hairstyle feature?] DO POINT. Dewpoint.
- 59a. [Regime collapse?] REIGN FALL. Rainfall.
I didn’t get much out of this theme. The puns don’t feel fresh and offer nary a chuckle.
The fill has some good high points though, especially HAWAIIAN, SPENSER, EAR CANDY, and EAT HERE. I always like seeing that “annoying little Belgian” as Dame Christie once referred to POIROT, and the clue [“Macbeth” prop] does double duty for both DAGGER and CAULDRON. Nice.
However, I Naticked at the crossing of SHECRAB [Kind of soup, in Southern cuisine] and HAWS [Turns left, as an ox team]. I’ve been driving all day and my little grey cells couldn’t come up with anything but YAWS for that last answer. Clearly, SYECRAB wasn’t right, but no other reasonable alternative seemed forthcoming. Other tired entries: SNEE, ETAILED.
Clues of note:
- 5d. [Soccer great Lionel]. MESSI. Hey! You should all know this name from this recent puzzle.
- 39d. [It might be taught for naught]. TYPO. Tricksy clue! Good one! Though it made me think of why on earth I chose to take Latin as my language course in high school.
The theme didn’t turn me on and the fill offered a mixed bag. 3.2 stars.
Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
This was fun! The long entries are all really excellent, and the cluing was nice, particularly the clue translations of the colloquial entries [I’M SHOCKED, CAN WE?, PSST]. Aside from a couple of minor nits, this was a solid (if not actually) moderately challenging puzzle (it was actually moderately quite fast!).
The long stuff today included: POST HASTE / I’M SHOCKED / ALAN MOORE / SEMANTICS / BLEEPED OUT / BONG JOON HO / INNUMERATE / SWITCHEROO / THUMB WARS / HOME DEPOT. We just saw BONG JOON HO in another New Yorker a few weeks ago when I was utterly unable to remember his name, so I definitely got it this time. The rest of these entries are quite fun, with my personal favorites being SWITCHEROO, BLEEPED OUT, and THUMB WARS. I must say, though, the clue on THUMB WARS is maybe too clever for its own good. you don’t win a THUMB WAR hands-down! You win it when your thumb is on top of someone else’s thumb which is down. This puzzle also got me to read ALAN MOORE‘s wikipedia page. Apparently he is an anarchist!
A few more things:
- I’m not sold on LACER as a thing
- A few inelegant plurals: EDIES / PEATS / ULNAE
- Is TARGET ON redundant?
- Slowed down a bit by putting in TENDON instead of TENSOR for [Muscle type]
- Always down to see my buddy KANT in puzzles, and very much love The Good Place. I think today’s NYT one-upped the philosopher reference with Hannah ARENDT though
- Fill I Could Live Without: SSR / CTO/ DEO / A TOE
- Representation: Good! BONG JOON HO, Marie Kondo, SENATOR (for now!) Kamala Harris, several EDIES
Overall, many stars from me for a fast and enjoyable solve. See you Friday!
Trent Evans’ AVCX, “I’m Down” — Ben’s Review
Today’s AVCX is an AVCX debut for Trent Evans! Something seems to be missing at first glance from a number of entries:
- 16A: Feeding frenzy with satellite trucks — DIA CIRCUS
- 35A: Gladhanding event — ET AND GREET
- 51A: Tendency toward nastiness — AN STREAK
- 62A: Rolling Stones hit of almost 40 years ago, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme — START ME UP
Looking right above the theme entries (and hinted at by empty down clues), there’s a ME above each of these entries that “starts it up” – MEDIA CIRCUS, MEET AND GREET, and MEAN STREAK.
The Rolling Stones’ “START ME UP” only peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts.
This felt NYT-adjacent in theme, though there’s some cluing that’s distinctly AVCX – you can’t clue PEG as “Use a strap-on on” and pass the breakfast test. Elsewhere, I loved the conversational I MEAN COME ON (26D, “Like, really, there’s just no way …”) and a mention of Mocedades’ ERES TU (47A, “Spanish-language hit with a title meaning “you are””), a song I strongly associate with Spanish class in high school.
Nina Sloan & Ross Trudeau’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s recap
The revealing answer is EGOCENTRIC, but more precisely, there are three more answers that are SELF-CENTRED
The I shape led to a preponderance of mid-range fill answers. Highlights included the ALDENTE, EARWORM (the best way of serving them) drenched in TABASCO as well as a quaint BRASSIERE. One answer, SNARFED, will have tripped several of you up, as it did me; SCARFED seemed so right!
A couple of tough shorter names today:
- URIEL the [Archangel who guarded Eden with a fiery sword] – he’s only found in the Apocrypha and some Hebrew traditions.
- [Model/actress Sastre] is INES. I don’t think I’ve been introduced to her, even though her letters are very convenient!
Robert H Wolfe’s Universal crossword, “Being Shellfish” — pannonica’s write-up
Oho, lobster puns. Wasn’t expecting that.
- 20a. [Lobster trap foilers?] ESCAPE CLAWS (escape clause).
- 11d. [Where lobsters keep their eggs?] ROE HOUSES (rowhouses).
- 57a. [Steamed green part of a lobster] HOT TOMALLEY (hot tamale).
- 34d. [Not-so-meaty lobster posterior?] TAIL OF WOE (tale of woe).
And there you have it, your astacidean pun quota for the month. The tomalley one is my favorite, as it’s the most specific to the organism.
- Uhm. 24a [Dingy dwelling] RATTRAP is right under themer 20a, which has trap in the clue.
- 60a [Dinghy mover] ROWER. From dingy to dinghy. Thought this might end up being OARER.
- 12d [What a summer does?] ADDS. >groan<
- 44d [One may eat at your place] TERMITE. Okay, this one was pretty clever.