David Poole’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bar Hopping”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Synonyms for “drinking establishment” are found in the circled letters, split between adjacent entries.
- JOG BRAS + SERIES = BRASSERIE. I’ll be honest that I’ve seen the word BRASSERIE but never knew what it meant. Maybe I always thought it was a lingerie shop (since it’s a close anagram of “brassiere”). Speaking of which, this puzzle nearly lost me at JOG BRAS which googles at 1000 times less than “sports bras” (40k vs. 46M).
- GUSTAV + ERNIE = TAVERN.
- BALSA + LOONIE = SALOON.
- ASHCAN + TINA FEY = CANTINA.
I had a tough time at first with this theme mainly because I had OLD CHAP at 5d [Brit’s buddy, in dated slang] instead of OLD BEAN. That one error kept me second-guessing as to what was actually occurring in the theme. But the circled-square pattern and the puzzle title suggested that it wasn’t anything too tricky, and once I uncovered TAVERN, and realized all the clues were fairly straightforward, things started moving more quickly.
I like the fill today especially CILANTRO (yum!), LOAFERS, SLURPEE, CLAIRE FOY, RAW ONIONS (anyone else go with RED ONIONS first?), GETS ON IT, and the juxtaposition of GANGSTA and OLD BEAN.
There are a lot of proper names in that south central section with TINA FEY, LEN Goodman, BELA Fleck, and TONI Collette. I would rather see topical BIDEN instead of BID ON at 48d, but that would mean changing RENO to RENE. Too many names, I guess.
Clues of note:
- 6a. [Anthologies for theologians, e.g.: Abbr.]. ANAG. I only just realized these are anagrams. Bleh.
- 15a. [Option at the butcher shop]. LEAN. This was my other time-costing error. I went with VEAL which led to LOBE at 16d [Spot for a stud] instead of NOSE.
- 24a. [Takes in, or takes out]. SEES. Another clue I struggled with. I needed all the crossings plus a few extra seconds, but I admire this good, tough clue.
- 49a. [Depth charge, in military slang]. ASHCAN. Did not know this. Googling it, I just get pages of this or similar crossword clues. I did also learn that a depth charge is British slang for a pint of beer with a shot glass of spirit dropped inside and drunk in one go.
- 36d. [Pico de gallo ingredient] is the clue for CILANTRO, but RAW ONIONS, also an ingredient in pico de gallo, gets [Common burger toppers].
- 40d. [Darling dog]. NANA. From Peter Pan.
- 45d. [Scott of “Hawaii Five-0”]. CAAN. I was a fan of the old show and haven’t watched the new one. But I did remember that this actor is James CAAN‘s son.
- 55d. [Like diamonds]. RED. Good clue. Think playing cards, not gemstones.
Solid theme (aside from JOG BRAS), with nice fill throughout. 3.8 stars.
Dory Mintz’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
My son just dug up an old box of my papers from the basement and, since he’s done with midterms, he’s been entertaining himself with my old college papers, test score reports, and correspondence from friends. News flash: The political ills and inequality I wrote about for Prof. Paul Wellstone in 1987 (before he was elected to the U.S. Senate) are still with us. Is there a segue from this to the puzzle talk? Not really!
Dory Mintz makes his debut here, and is one of the many new constructors to have made use of the mentorship and support available via the Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory. The theme is geographical wordplay involving world cities:
- 17a. [Ways to cross a river in Switzerland?], BERN BRIDGES. Punning on burn bridges. We won’t quibble about how the Swiss pronounce BERN—in German, at least, it’s more a bear than a bur sound.
- 28a. [First showing at a film festival in France?], CANNES OPENER. Can opener.
- 44a. [Census taker in India?], DELHI COUNTER. Deli counter.
- 58a. [Police dragnet in South Korea?], SEOUL SEARCH. Soul search. This one feels a little off because soul searching is far more common.
Mostly a solid Wednesday theme.
Fave fill: FANFIC, “I CAN’T EVEN,” “EVIL WOMAN,” WORMY, KUMQUAT, DOG-SITS, LOCAL NEWS. And BUGLES! If those [Cone-shaped corn snacks] weren’t so damned salty, I would buy them too much. Less keen on dated GTE, prefix PHON-, EGEST.
Unfortunate duplication: 11a. [“We ___ loudest when we ___ to ourselves”: Eric Hoffer], LIE / 66a. [“___ Eyes” (1975 Eagles hit)], LYIN’. Should’ve at least clued LIE as the reclining verb, but it is a great clue.
Three more things:
- 39a. [Chinese dynasty circa A.D. 250], WEI. I rarely know the Chinese dynasties. Should probably spend some time on the Wikipedia page with their timeline.
- 6d. [American pop-rock band composed of three sisters], HAIM. There are not a ton of actual rock bands finding success these days. I’m not familiar with Haim’s oeuvre, so here’s a video I just watched. (Question: Is 15a. [College in Manhattan], BARUCH well enough known to be crossed by PBR and HAIM? I’m thinking no.)
- There’s sort of an overall global vibe to the puzzle, with AGRA, BABU, GENEVA, WEI, CAEN (which feels sort of like geo-crosswordese to me), SOCHI, and EUR. in the grid along with the theme. I don’t mind it but I don’t know how others feel about that.
3.4 stars from me.
Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Conversation from my couch going into this morning’s solve:
Me: Oooh, an Erik Agard puzzle!
Partner: Does that mean it’s going to be hard?
Me: Not necessarily, but it does mean there’s going to be a kickass woman of color in the middle of the grid.
As usual, Erik did not disappoint, with MISS MAJOR, a trans rights activist and all-around badass, occupying the central spot. We also have a gorgeous and unique grid design, loads of interesting entries and clues, and a few perfect colloquial phrase/clue translation pairs, all of which add up to one of my favorite New Yorker crosswords of the month.
The grid creates a lot of opportunities for long and medium-length entries in each segmented corner and a dazzling five-entry staircase in the middle. The 9-letter stacks i the NE and SW are THERE IT IS / BELIEVE ME / DISPLEASE and AS IF I CARE / CLEANED UP / HE SAID YES. I love the clues for THERE IT IS [“Right on cue!”] and AS IF I CARE [“And what about it?”], a reference (probably) to Ariana Grande telling someone off. HE SAID YES is also excellent, subverting (some) solvers’ heteronormative expectations that proposals involve a man proposing to a woman, instead of the reverse, or, perhaps, a man proposing to another man! The staircase is the highlight of this puzzle though, with LONGBOARD / FLOORED IT / MISS MAJOR / FIRE EATER / HOT MESSES cascading through the center of this puzzle.A few more things:
- Favorite clues:
- [Throat singer?] for FIRE EATER. I didn’t get this until afterwards, but damn that’s clever. (in this case, singer = one who singes)
- [Atakilt wat ingredient] for CABBAGE – I looked it up and it sounds delicious, so I have now downloaded an instant pot recipe for it
- [“I guess I’ll ___ your door …” (“Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” lyric)] for RAP ON. I just love the nested parentheses and wanted an excuse to nest the clue within MOAR PARENTHESES
- Representation: aced
- I appreciate the mini-theme of skepticism and trust in the cross-referenced BELIEVE ME / I’M SOLD / WE’LL SEE
Overall, all the stars from me. This puzzle is excellent!!! See you all on Friday.
Ed Sessa’s Universal crossword, “Inner Transformation” — pannonica’s write-up
Must. Not. Post… William. Shatner. Album.
Whew, this is tough.
- 36aR [Guy who has transformed … or any of the starred answers, based on the circled letters?] A CHANGED MAN.
- 18a. [*”Cocoon” Oscar winner (unscramble each set of circled letters)] DON AMECHE.
- 20a. [*Noted Spanish surrealist] JOAN MIRO.
- 57a. [*”Jurassic Park” star] SAM NEILL.
- 60a. [*Gomer Pyle portrayer] JIM NABORS.
I like how each scrambled M-A-N spans the two names, and especially how the letter order is never repeated. That’s really well done. Downside is that there are three actors and one artist, which is unbalanced.
- 2d [WWII flag-raising site] IWO JIMA. We get the whole name today, no partial.
- 3d [Period of social change named for a hashtag] ME TOO ERA. Also welcome in its completeness.
- 4d [Jazz great James] ETTA. I see this clue a lot, but she’s really much more of an R&B and blues figure. ETTA Jones, on the other hand …
- 21d [Biblical peak] MT ARARAT. No hint in the clue to the inclusion of the ‘title’ or that it’s abbreviated. Makes it a bit trickier.
- 39d [Invigorating force?] NEW BLOOD.
- 46d [Grew rapidly] BOOMED, but I had confidently plunked in SHOT UP.
- 61d [Check recipient?] BOX. Nice clue.
- 63d [What half the letters in “twenty” spell] TEN. Nice and clever clue!
- 44d [A round of drinks may go on one] TAB.
- 15a [“Farewell, mon ami”] ADIEU.
Can’t. Resist. Any longer…
Paulo Pasco’s AVCX, “Table For Two” — Ben’s Review
Paulo Pasco has today’s AVCX, and it was a nice 17×15 grid that went perfectly with my lunch hour. It’s got L-R symmetry rather than the typical crossword rotational symmetry, so that’s fun. Let’s poke around under the hood and see what the theme is:
- 19A: “I’d worked a long day in the research lab, so it was a breath of fresh air when I met her at an …” — OXYGEN BAR
- 26A/29A: “We decided we wanted to have a history together, so we started …” — CARBON DATING
- 35A: “Eventually, I proposed, and she said yes! We had a really pure wedding, exchanging …” — GOLD RINGS
- 52A: “And now, 25 years later, we’re celebrating our …” — SILVER ANNIVERSARY
- 62A: Emo band of the 2000s … and, perhaps, the title of the story told by this puzzle’s theme entries — MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE
Awwww, it’s a love story! Seriously, this was cute and just the right level of punny to make me smile the entire solve.
Hello! I was a teen at the exact moment MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE had their upswing on the music charts, so I was very familiar with what needed to go at 62A.
That’s all I have to say on this one – I just thought it was neat. Perfectly calibrated at 2/5 on the difficulty scale.
Mike Peluso’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Today’s puzzle features a pretty basic theme relying on a strong central revealing answer: SAFETYFIRST. Each of four other answers’ first words satisfy “SAFETY ___” – PIN, ZONE, GLASS and MATCH.
- [Soccer star Rossi], PAOLO. An unusual crossword soccer player who isn’t Pele. An order of magnitude less famous, despite a Silver Ball in ’78 and a Gold Ball in ’82 for MVP of the World Cup.
- [Capitol feature], CUPOLA & [NFL defensive end Ndamukong ___], SUH – hope that cross didn’t nail too many.
- [2000s TV forensic technician, to pals], DEX and THX – as cheap Scrabblefucking goes, this is pretty cheap.
- [Astro’s finish?], NAUT. That’s a pretty clunky suffix.