Sam Buchbinder’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Either this puzzle’s markedly harder than the typical Friday crossword, or it was just pitched to a different wavelength than mine. I was stymied by the southwest corner for, so much so that it irked me like a Newsday Saturday Stumper for a bit. Oof!
Here’s where I floundered. 43d. [Prez with the same initials as an N.Y.C. landmark]? Eventually pieced together GWBUSH, which is not remotely a common way to refer to him, is it? People who aren’t from NY/NJ don’t much think about the George Washington Bridge or traffic reporter shorthand for that area. 57a. [Hwy. through St. Paul, Minn.]? I-35W goes up through the Twin Cities, and intersects I-94, and these are both major highways. US TEN is a terrible entry, both because it’s nothing people should be expected to know (and because it spells out its numeral. This corner also has the iffy AH I SEE (which could equally well be OH I SEE or OH YEAH or who knows what). And 45d. [Connection to the underworld] is a singular MOB TIE, just the one? Boo. “I only know one guy.”
Looking past that corner, the rest of the puzzle was markedly better. ECON MAJOR evokes the current economic Trump crash with the tricky [Student who might take a crash course?] clue. SPACE STATIONS is nice but would probably be better in the singular, since currently there is just the one. GODOT, gymnastics’ IRON CROSS (don’t unleash your biceps, pal!), SLEEP ON IT, EMO BAND, ON TOP OF THE WORLD (assume the SPACE STATIONS clue that echoes this entry was intentional, since these are the central Across and Down entries), and NARY A ONE.
Six more things:
- 10a. [Chills], HANGS. I was duped here. Wanted COOLS instead of slangy chillin’.
- 17a. [Leftovers from a Greek salad], OLIVE PITS. Gross. (I don’t like olives. Do Greek salads usually have olives with the pits still in?)
- 41a. [___ di Mare (Italian fashion label)], ARMATA. What on earth is this? Never heard of it. Its website tells me it’s fashion for the “metropolitan man,” and “shipping is currently only available in Italy.” Okay, then. I suspect a vast majority of solvers will piece this together from the (fair, thankfully) crossings.
- 48a. [Slangy response to a knock at the door], WHO DAT. It’s mainly a New Orleans Saints thing, “Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?” I suppose the editors decided that wasn’t familiar enough, or would be a 6-letter partial, but I don’t know who answers the door like that. If you’re gonna have the entry, I think you have to commit to going with the Saints in the clue. (I wouldn’t have objected to that whole corner being ripped out and redone, mind you.)
- 49d. [___ Scott College, one of the Seven Sisters of the South], AGNES. This was a gimme for me because a FB friend’s daughter just started there this fall. It’s one of two schools in the Seven Sisters of the South that I’ve actually heard of.
- 3d. [Party bowlful with a sour cream base], ONION DIP. Surprising thing I learned recently: If you shop for dip in the chips aisle rather than the dairy case, you can buy an onion dip whose first ingredients are water and oil. It is a decent simulacrum in terms of flavor and texture, but the ingredients list is nightmarish. Glucono delta lactone, anyone? Give me Dean’s French onion dip, please.
3.25 stars from me.
Annemarie Brethauer’s Inkubator crossword, “What She Herd”—Jenni’s review
I did this puzzle while listening to the Yankees try to hang on against Tampa, so I was a bit distracted. That’s my excuse, anyway, for not catching on to the theme until after I’d finished. Each theme answer is a female-farm-related pun on a recognizable phrase.
- 17a [Stall where Flicka reviews local legislation?] is OFFICE OF THE MARE (office of the mayor).
- 26a [Dolly’s demand for increased agency and clout?] is MORE POWER TO EWE. “Dolly” as in the cloned sheep.
- 44a [Flicka and Dolly’s ultimatum to surrender Cottontail?] is FORK OVER THE DOE (fork over the dough). Not sure what Flick and Dolly have to do with this except to connect it to the first two themers. And the base phrase is familiar if you watch old-time gangster movies, I guess.
- 58a [Offer the whole brood a mechanical nanny cleverly fashioned from old tractor parts?] is GIVE A TINKER‘S DAM. I’m married to a tinkerer so that’s what I think of – tinkering with old tractor parts. Is there another meaning I’m missing?
I like the general thrust of this theme. The clue for 44a and the answer for 58a seem a bit forced, which detracted from my solving pleasure. I still enjoyed it overall.
A few other things:
- 6a [Pop, to some] is drinks, not dad. It’s SODA.
- 24a [Denim fabric] is JEAN. It is? Really?
- I remember “Kukla, FRAN and Ollie.” It was one of my mother’s favorites.
- 30d [“You know, I speak ___!”: Dory] is WHALE. It reminds me of this, which now seems horrifyingly racist.
- Ah, for the days when the EPA was actually an [Anti-pollution org.].
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I had never heard of “Let the Right One In” which is apparently a 2007 romantic horror film from Sweden. I also had no idea about Revenants and Wynonna EARP.
Will Tobias’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
It is a
I can easily contain my excitement. However, since the constructor’s name is not already in FiendCo’s tag list, I presume it’s a debut of sort, and I should temper my antipathy apathy opinion.
It’s already going well!
- 59dR [Org. in which you’d hear the answers to the starred clues] MLB.
- 20a. [*Where to hang a lei on a rhino?] AROUND THE HORN.
- 32a. [*Bits of dialogue censored on network television?] FOUL LINES.
- 40a. [*Dracula after a hearty meal?] FULL COUNT.
- 51a. [*Crime of someone who wants folks to get lost?] STEALING SIGNS.
These deliberate misinterpretations are kind of cute.
Other baseballiana: 10d [Pitcher Warren with the most lifetime wins for a southpaw] SPAHN symmetrically opposite 48d [Judge on a diamond] AARON.
- Favorite clue: 3d [Given to plundering] PIRATICAL. As if it’s a habit or mere proclivity. Incidentally, not thematic, though of course there is a certain baseball team from Pittsburgh.
- 9d [Tall drink] HIGHBALL.
(Sound quality is not the best, but it’s super-nifty to see the instruments and performances. For better sound, check out this more recent recording.)
- 14a [Handmade blade] SHIV. m-w.com helpfully tells me that it’s an alteration of chiv, which is unknown origin.
- 27a [Uncertain time] CRISIS. I would like a little relative calm, please.
- 39a [“Strega __”: Tomie dePaola Caldecott winner whose title means “Grandma Witch”] NONA. Quite the idiosyncratic clue.
- 52d [River delta where the Rosetta Stone was discovered] NILE, 65a [Cairo native] ARAB. Usually clues such as the latter have a qualifier along the lines of “probably” or “typically”.
Haven’t got much else to say, so I’ll lean on the crutch of adding another musical selection. 12d [Quite unusual] OUTRE.
Adrian Kabigting’s Universal crossword, “Brush It Off”—Jim P’s review
This puzzle has an oral fixation. Each grid-spanning theme entry is a colloquial phrase clued with respect to a dentist.
- 17a. [Dentist’s greeting to a regular?] YOU KNOW THE DRILL. Ha! I can hear the sheepish patient’s reply, “Do I ever!”
- 40a. [Dentist’s reaction to shocking news?] WELL, SHUT MY MOUTH. Do you have a dentist (or a hygienist, for that matter) who keeps talking and asking you questions when you can’t respond? So annoying!
- 64a. [Dentist’s voice mail message while on vacation?] I’M OUT OF PRACTICE
I enjoyed this theme. All of these are fun phrases the way they’re clued, and they set the tone for a lively grid. Nice job!
The long fill is equally nice, especially GOING SOUTH and WALDEN POND. PEP RALLY and HOME LOAN are nice as well, and SYNAPSES, ETERNITY, and MEDIOCRE are better than MEDIOCRE, I’d say.
I like NIHAO, but not so much GSA [Federal property org.]. REDOS [Second chances] looks weird, but it feels modern in a slangy way.
Clues of note:
- 34a. [Made tense?]. What a gem of a clue! Of course, I only just figured it out. It’s asking for the tense of the word “made,” thus the answer is PAST.
- 60a. [___ Itt of the Addams Family]. COUSIN. Nice turning of the tables. We usually see ITT in the grid and “cousin” in the clue.
- 18d. [Bhindi, on Indian menus]. OKRA. I did not know that, and I enjoy eating Indian food. Glad to learn it.
Lovely puzzle from start to finish. Four stars.
If you’re going to give me a dentist-themed puzzle, then I have to give you Steve Martin’s dentist song. That’s the drill. Now spit!
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Extremely short and late writeup today, thanks for your patience!!! Today’s lightly challenging puzzle from Patrick Berry took me about a minute longer than Wednesday’s did, but YMMV. This is a well-made puzzle that I don’t have a ton to say about, which is fortunate given how little time I have to say it!
Long entries today include: FAMOUS AMOS / FLEA CIRCUS / TENTH GRADE / SABER TOOTH / ORANGE TREE / FIRE EATER / LINER NOTES / MOVIE MAKER. Nothing jumped out at me as particularly eye-catching or exciting in the long entries (or the short fill), but I did notice that EYE TO EYE also appeared in a recent New Yorker by Wyna Liu. I guess you could say she and Patrick Berry see… never mind.
A few more things:
- I liked the colloquial IS IT SAFE and its perfect clue translation [“Should we really be doing this?”]
- I miss Elizabeth WARREN. Please see https://twitter.com/nbcsnl/status/1236523965759262720?s=20 if you have not already (or even if you have)
Ok that’s really all I’ve got today, thanks for letting me off the hook today!