Alex Eaton-Salners’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
So it’s basically a themed Friday puzzle, with 38 theme squares plus grid art. SAINT / BASIL’S CATHEDRAL in Moscow is in RED SQUARE, and it has nine ONION DOMEs. The (singular) clue for ONION DOME is 35d. [Prominent feature of 5-/17-Across depicted in this puzzle’s grid], and yeah, I guess I can see that, with a QUE PASA/KITCHEN gap.
CARR SAINT/BASILSCATHEDRAL ASIA ERDOS REDDY SEARS SEAN MARIO ASSAM CABOT REDSQUARE DESDEMONA PANAM SOUSA SATIE ELENA BADLANDS—that’s about 18 proper nouns, which means the puzzle is pretty name-dense. The CARR/CABOT crossing of two names right off the bat at 1a/1d probably vexed a number of solvers.
Three more things:
- 25a. [“Grand Old Opry” airer], TNN. About that—TNN stopped airing the Opry nearly 20 years ago, and it stopped being a cable channel then, too. Constructors, please delete TNN from your wordlists. (Opry fans, take heart: there are now some digital broadcasts, whatever that means, of the show!)
- 62a. [Imported European wheels], EDAMS. Ah, yes, the “wheel” gambit. Could be an actual wheel, could be slangy wheels (a car), could be the head honcho, or it could be cheese. However! You can get domestic edam in the U.S.
- 43a. [Stat affected by smog levels: Abbr.], AQI. Sending good (rainy, not windy) thoughts your way, Californians and Coloradans! I hope your wardrobe of face masks are helping you manage the smoke a bit. California is struggling to fight the wildfires because COVID has knocked so many prisoner firefighting crews out of commission. Those folks did dangerous and grueling work for $5 a day(!), and they’re not eligible to become firefighters after release despite their experience.
3.25 stars from me. I expect a themeless puzzle on Fridays! Yes, this is a 72-worder, but the fill is so constrained by the grid art and the inclusion of 38 thematic white squares.
Caitlin Reid’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Sometimes these Friday puzzles go by so quickly that by the time I’m done, I have very little to say about them because I barely noticed the entries or the clues while solving! This is one of those days. I totally enjoyed solving this puzzle, but nothing jumped out at me as particularly exciting OR particularly bad, so I’ll keep this brief!
Of the long[er] entries, I liked that middle sort-of staircase of PIANO TUNER / NEED A HAND? / CHERRYPICK best. I also liked I FOR ONE / FIXATES / OVER HERE / AIRHEADS, and I was glad to see this last clued as the candy and not an insult to someone’s intelligence (although DODOS were not quite so lucky). OVER HERE is a fun subversion of the forever-entry PSST, which I appreciate a lot.
A few more things:
- Representation: Very few people in this puzzle, but we’ve got Medgar EVERS, DEMI Lovato, and George Eliot
- Favorite clues: [Series finale?] for CREDITS and [Bit of bad spelling?] for HEX
- The fill on this puzzle is *super* clean. Not a single entry I’d prefer to live without. This kicks my grade up a full star for this puzzle!
Anyways, that’s about it. Overall, lots of stars from me for some cute wordplay and an incredibly clean grid. I just made homemade bagels for the first time, so I’m going to go see how they turned out!
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
This 16×15 grid features grid-spanning themers featuring minimal clues, all of a feather.
- 18a. [Byrd] SOUTH POLE AVIATOR. That’s Admiral Richard E Byrd.
- 26a. [The Byrds] TURN! TURN! TURN! BAND.
- 49a. [“The Birds”] HITCHCOCK CLASSIC.
- 62a. [Bird] FLIER IN BADMINTON. aka shuttlecock. I thought it was called a ‘birdie’ but after having done a cursory inquiry (57d [Browser’s find] SITE) I see ‘bird’ is also used. Fair enough.
- Thing that bugged me the most: 37a [Power source] SOLAR. I’d call that a type of power source, although I can see how an argument could be made, citing colloquial use of SOLAR as a noun: “My house runs on solar.” Far worse: proximate to this in the gird is 42d [Roman sun god] SOL. Yeesh.
- Another peeve: the twofer of 3d [Atlanta sch. fielding the Panthers] GSU and 27d [Sch. with an Asheville campus] UNC.
- 4d [Defeat] OUTGUN. m-w defines it thus: “: to surpass in firepower | broadly : OUTDO“.
- 5d [“Major Crimes” force, briefly] LAPD. I don’t know the reference, but am supposing it’s a television show or film.
- 23d [Granola relative] MUESLI (or müsli). I know someone who (mis)pronounces it mū·sə·lē, transposing the s and e. Is this common?
- 45d [Woolgatherer?] SHEARER. Cute clue. Oh look at this minor thing I found.
- 29d [Insensitive, in a way] NOT PC. Got this one instantly, as it was clued identically—or nearly identically—in another crossword today.
- 21a [Female beast that sounds like a river] TIGRESS (that is, the Tigris River).
George Jasper’s Universal crossword, “Cold Snap”—Jim P’s review
The theme is a WINTRY MIX (59a, [Perilous forecast for travelers, and a hint to the starred answers’ scrambled letters]). The other themers have various forms of wintry precipitation scrambled within.
- 17a. [*Noted Senate testifier in 1991] ANITA HILL. Hail.
- 25a. [*South Carolina military college] THE CITADEL. Ice.
- 35a. [*”Are we finished here?”] WHAT ELSE IS THERE? Sleet. The phrase is clued literally, but I feel it’s more often used rhetorically, as in, “What alternative do I have?”
- 48a. [*Sweet ingredient in glazed ham] BROWN SUGAR. Snow.
I feel like WINTRY MIX isn’t a very common in-the-language phrase. It only googles at 677k. However, it does have an OED entry, so what do I know.
Would you rather have a WINTRY MIX theme in the dead of winter or the heat of summer? As I write this, I’m visiting my parents in the Bay Area with wildfires burning up the hills behind us, smoke clouding the sky, and an evacuation area less than 2 miles away. A WINTRY MIX sounds like the preferred alternative right about now.
Fill-wise, the most interesting features are the stacks of 8 in the NW and SE corners with only REACTIVE being on the more blah side. The others, TUNA FISH, SRI LANKA, and EGG TIMER, are assets to the grid.
Clues of note:
- 47a. [Indian Ocean’s Bay of ___]. BENGAL. Where’s the Bay of Biscay? Because that’s what I put first. Ah, it’s bordered by northern Spain and western France.
- 11d. [Raiders’ new home state]. NEVADA. Good grief, they moved again?! Can we get a petition started to rename them the Nomads?
- 27d. [Tell the playground monitor]. TATTLE. Well, if little Timmy is doing something dangerous or harmful to someone else, that isn’t tattling.
There isn’t anything that I would call thrilling in this grid, but it’s solid and well-executed. 3.3 stars.