Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
What a fun themeless! (Speaking of that—the Boswords Fall Themeless League has had two terrific themelesses so far, and it’s not to late to join in!) Damon found a good way to include a couple 14s (often hard to wrangle) along with a 15, a pair of 10s, and a bunch of 6- to 8-letter entries. Among my favorites: sportsy BAT FLIPS, AMAZON clued as a warrior, “THEM’S THE BREAKS,” ED HELMS, the druggy-feeling pairing of HEAD TRIP and ACID TEST, “ACCIDENTS HAPPEN,” “JUST AS I THOUGHT,” ZEPPELIN, literary OZYMANDIAS, and EMPTY SUITS.
The closest things to entries I found annoying are MST and ZEE, not puzzle-wreckers. So much smoothness.
- 50d. [Belligerent, in British slang], AGGRO. We Americans should really adopt this word.
- 10d. [“We All Love ___: Celebrating the First Lady of Song” (2007 tribute)], ELLA Fitzgerald. I hope you’ve all heard (provided you’re able to hear) some of Ella’s duets with Louis Armstrong.
- 22a. [Key chain?], ISLES. Cute clue.
- 4d. [The “king of kings,” per a famous sonnet], OZYMANDIAS. Percy Bysshe (how is that pronounced, anyway?) Shelley, have a read.
- 15a. [Showboaty home run celebrations], BAT FLIPS. I’m almost certain I’ve never read nor heard this slangy “showboaty” word, and spellcheck doesn’t know it, yet the Oxford dictionary folks know it.
4.25 stars from me. Breezy and fresh Friday puz.
Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Happy Friday, fiendlings! Today we have a lightly challenging puzzle from Wyna Liu which taught me new things and made me laugh. All-around delightful solve!
The long entries here were my favorite– I didn’t HILMA AF KLINT, so virtually every letter was a new discovery for me that was aided by eminently fair crosses. As usual, this entry led me down a wikipedia wormhole, and I could probably now talk at length about HILMA AF KLINT‘s membership in a sort of occult artist collective and her “before her time” aesthetic. I *could*, but in the interest of everyone’s time, I won’t. I also love the juxtaposition of serious artist HILMA AF KLINT and the idea of a MILK MUSTACHE on Batman, Beyoncé, and Bart Simpson. It’s a silly idea and a lovely clue, and I appreciated it! Other good longish entries include HOW ON EARTH??? (punctuation added), IDIOMATIC, and TEA INFUSER.
A few more things:
- Acknowledging (without personally caring about) the dupe at LOOSEN UP and the clue on TEA INFUSER [Loose-leaf holder]
- I truly despise AMY MARCH. I saw the new Little Women with my sister, and when *the thing that Amy does at the very end that is super terrible* happens, we looked at each other and said “I would literally murder you if you did that to me.” That said, Florence Pugh is a powerhouse and the movie was awesome.
- Not convinced that E-BLAST is a thing
- Favorite clues:
- [☹️] for SAD
- [“What the . . . ?!”] for HOW ON EARTH????? (again, punctuation added)
- Representation: Great! We’ve got HILMA AF KLINT as a marquee entry, plus lots of other women (ISABEL Allende, Colette, Florence Pugh, etc), AFROPUNK, MATSUI
Overall, tons of stars from me for an enjoyable, smooth, educational solve. See you next week!
Joe Deeney’s Universal crossword, “Hops To It”—Jim P’s review
The theme answers HOLD MY BEER (61a, [Words before a stunt, and a hint to 17-, 28- and 46-Across]).
- 17a. [Very costly mistake] FATAL ERROR
- 28a. [Requiring a step stool, perhaps] JUST OUT OF REACH
- 46a. [Upper-ear jewelry items] CARTILAGE RINGS
Fun revealer. I’ve never heard the term CARTILAGE RINGS, but it was easily inferable from the clue.
Only four themers means there’s room for a lot of NIFTY fill. However, if proper names aren’t your thing, you might have struggled here with BELLA ABZUG, JIM PARSONS, and TORI AMOS. I do like CRISS CROSS, USHERED OUT, and SPECIOUS.
That Z crossing of BELLA ABZUG and AZOV seems pretty unfair. I didn’t know either name, to be honest, however Z was my first guess. It just so happened that I had a typo elsewhere in the grid, unbeknownst to me, and so I ended up running the alphabet for that square, only to find I was right in the first place. Sigh.
Clues of note:
- 43a. [Light gas, in two ways]. NEON. The first way is pretty clear to me—it’s a gas used in lights. The second way eluded me until I realized it was referring to neon’s weight; it’s lighter than air. Clever clue.
- 39d. [“Cornflake Girl” singer]. TORI AMOS. This song got a lot of airplay on alternative rock stations at the time (1994). The whole album, Under the Pink, is excellent, by the way, and got a lot of airplay in my CD player. Listening to it now brings me back to living in L.A. after college but before marriage and kids. Seems like a lifetime ago!
Good puzzle. 3.7 stars.
Steve Faiella’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
A 16×15 that—as one commenter has already noted—played tougher than usual.
- 55aR [Mental conflict … or what may be found in four long puzzle answers?] MIXED EMOTIONS. They’re anagrammed in the wackified phrases.
- 21a. [Text from one who can’t get out of Buy Buy Baby?] LOST IN DIAPERS (despair).
- 29a. [Comment after submitting yet another updated tax return?] WHAT A REFILE (relief).
- 36a. [Attendees of Biting Fly High School?] TEENAGE GNATS (angst). Wikipedia describes them as both biting and non-biting, then goes on to say that some entomologists consider only non-biting varieties to be gnats (linking to a page at the University of Kentucky entomology department).
- 45a. [Zombie field mouse?] UNDYING VOLE (love).
I found these to be only moderately entertaining. For a few of them it was tough to discern the one half or the other, which made it difficult to break through into some sections of the grid. Toughest by far was the northwest section where this was compounded by some abstruse cluing.
- 7d [Berry with three vowels and three syllables] AÇAI. Another short word with three vowels and three syllables is 54a [Motes] IOTAS. But not 33a [Man, in Milan] UOMO, which has a diphthong, nor 20a [Garlicky mayo] AIOLI, which has four vowels. There’s also ANAÏS in the clue for NIN at 40d.
- 11d [Shredded-wheat cracker] TRISCUIT. Factette: the name Triscuit is a combination of the words ‘electricity’ and ‘biscuit’.
- 36a [Audio equipment brand] TEAC, the Tokyo Electro-Acoustic Company.
- 38d [Bridge expert Culbertson] ELY. Have to check to see which is given and which is surname … Elie Almon Culbertson (July 22, 1891 – December 27, 1955). Uh, how current is this? Is he still considered an authority or something?
- 45a [Steel giant, from 1986 to 2001] USX. Prior and subsequent to that it’s been known as US Steel (United States Steel Corporation).
- In line with the tougher solving experience, it seems some clues are deliberately more recondite, especially for familiar crossword entries. I’m looking at 58d [Publisher Chandler] for OTIS (vs the elevator company, or cookie brand Spunkmeyer, or “Mrs __ Regrets”, etc), 18a [Mets outfielder Tommie] AGEE (vs writer James), 53d NINES with a pinochle clue, 52a [Bar owner, vis-à-vis selling drinks] LICENSEE, and more.
- 5a [Lennon comrade] STARR. Yeh, that clue’s not fooling anyone, tovarisch.
- 34a [Spelling of “BH90210”] TORI. This one, on the other hand, is just the right amount of befuddling to give the solver a pause.
- 46d [“Just What I __”: 1978 Cars hit] NEEDED. Here’s an apt Ric Ocasek song from 1986: