Aimee Lucido’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
So, I sure didn’t know 1-Across today! 1a. [YouTube star Chamberlain, whom The Atlantic called “the most talked-about teen influencer in the world”] is apparently named EMMA. I missed that Atlantic story, my collegiate son doesn’t follow her and considers “influencer” a fake job, and I am too old to give a rat’s ass about any influencers out there. But congratulations to EMMA on making the top of the NYT crossword!
Fave fill: BAR TRIVIA (which maybe I can go to in person in 2022 or 2023?), BITTER END, SPIN ART (see video below for some SPIN ART being birthed), EAR CANDY, DROVE NUTS and BANANAS (anyone else hungry from these three?), TIDES OVER (some NUTS might tide me over till morning), NAVEL GAZERS, “FOR ALL I CARE,” and PHILISTINES.
Not so keen on DESC, ERNESTS, DIRER, OR IN, and SOYAS.
- 48d. [Kind of medical exam], AURAL. This feels wildly wrong to me. I’m hard of hearing and I’ve seen multiple otolaryngologists or otologists in my life. I’ve had audiologists conduct hearing tests. I can’t say I’ve ever had something anyone’s called “an AURAL exam.” Doctors, audiologists: What say you?
- 41d. [Length of time spent on hold, it often seems], EON. Is there anyone at all who cannot relate to this?
- 17a. [When it’s all *finally* over], BITTER END. Maybe tomorrow? Maybe in January?
- 20d. [Had done, as a portrait], SAT FOR. I got an email today about having my photographic portrait taken for a book version of the Folded Map Project. I’m hoping that photographer Tonika Johnson won’t mind waiting till, say, next summer. When I might actually make it back into a salon for a haircut. Or maybe my husband can start studying YouTube tutorials and learn to cut my hair well?
- 33a. [Sides of a conversion], FAITHS. And here I thought this would be about math. Converting fractions, measurements, etc. As for FAITHS, I’ve been enjoying the Hulu show Ramy, which is centered on a young American Muslim man who takes his faith seriously but also flouts some of the rules. I’m almost done with season 1 (10 half-hour episodes), and the great Mahershala Ali is in season 2. Check it out if you haven’t seen it. Speaking of streaming TV I’ve been watching lately, if you have HBO Max, lend your eyeballs to The Great Pottery Throw Down. It’s basically The Great British Bake Off without sugar and with much hotter ovens.
3.8 stars from me. Fun puzzle.
Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
This puzzle was such a breath of fresh air! And possibly my fastest New Yorker solve ever, at 3:25. Just smooth as butter and fun and silly, which is honestly exactly what I needed to cut the tension of the week that this has been.
One incredible thing about this puzzle is how many A+ long entries it managed to cram in without sacrificing fill. We have a central staircase of CUBAN SANDWICH / POLAR OPPOSITE / WEST SIDE STORY, two long downs of PICNIC BASKET / HEADS OR TAILS, and corners stuffed with MILK CARTON / BALANCING / NARRATIVE / BUSY SIGNAL / MINOTAURS / ACTUARIES / RADIO CITY / OVER ICE / PERMIT ME / COSMONAUT. How! Is this puzzle! So clean!!??
I also appreciate that this puzzle right out of the gate is like [Bra part] WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT and follows it up many clues later, when you least expect it, with [Bra part] AGAIN. Could these entries have been clued with zero references to bras? Absolutely. Are bras something that at least 40% of the adult population put on their bodies at least once a week (pre-pandemic)? YES THEY ARE. They belong in puzzles.
A few more things:
- Literal lol on the clue on MILK CARTON: [Moo-juice container].
- Other favorite clues:
- [Question asked at the beginning of the Super Bowl] – why not!
- [“There once ___ a man from Nantucket . . .”] – this is also hilarious given the next line of this particular limerick
- [Dungeons & Dragons race based on a half-bull/half-human creature of Greek myth] – Not to be nitpicky, and I’m so pleased to see D&D in a crossword puzzle, but technically MINOTAURS are not a race, per se, in the game. They’re a monstrosity and generally not playable, whereas a race refers to a type of creature that can be played by players.
- Fill I could live without: YAH
Overall, my favorite puzzle of the week. All the stars from me. See you next week, when hopefully the world is a more stable and kind place.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Universal crossword, “Pass Line”—Jim P’s review
The title of this puzzle is a craps term which was buried deep in my little grey cells since I haven’t played craps in years. But the puzzle doesn’t really have anything to do with that game.
Instead, each theme answer is a colloquial phrase meaning, “Pass,” or more accurately, “No.” Each one is clued humorously via a dialog between two parties involved in a literal interpretation of the phrase.
- 18a. [Wilbur: “Can I train to be a pilot?” / Instructor: “___”] WHEN PIGS FLY. Fun. My favorite of the bunch. I’m envisioning Charlotte as the instructor writing the words in her web.
- 24a. [Archaeologist: “The ‘Pharaoh’s Curse’ will harm no one” / King Tut: “___”] OVER MY DEAD BODY.
- 38a. [English teacher: “You will write formally” / Student: “___”] AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN. I love that this is a grid-spanner.
- 46a. [Pottymouth: “C’mon, cuss!” / Prude: “___”] NO CHANCE IN HECK. At first, I thought “cuss” was being used as a vocative, but I decided it’s an imperative.
- 57a. [Casino patron: “This is my lucky day!” / Dealer: “___”] DON’T BET ON IT. Nice one.
I’m partial to puzzles with colloquial phrases as theme answers because they always feel so lively, and this one’s no exception. I enjoyed this theme.
In the fill, WASTELAND and the SPACE-TIME continuum make for a nice pairing. Also nice: RAPIER wit and and old SOFTIE. We’ve seen OH HI quite a bit, but this is the first I’m seeing OH HEY. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but the clue is spot on: [“Just noticed you there!”].
One clue of note today: 56a. [Superfan]. STAN. Wow, not even a “slangily” for us old folks. We’d better keep up!
Lively and fun puzzle. 3.8 stars.
Kevin Christian’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Just some collective nouns for some animals incorporated into theme answers.
- 17a. [Lions in the city?] CIVIC PRIDE.
- 25a. [Fish with experience?] OLD SCHOOL.
- 36a. [Bees behind bars?] PENAL COLONY.
- 47a. [Whales on the run?] ESCAPE POD.
- 58a. [Wolves with a clean lair?] VACUUM PACK.
Modest, functional theme.
- 4d [White ___ ] NOISE. Is it time reread Don DeLillos’ masterpiece? Hmm. 38a [“Do you and I need to clear the air?”] ARE WE OK.
- 30a [Luke and Leia’s mother] PADME. Gosh, I can’t believe this wasn’t clued as [Om mani __ hum], a popular Sanskrit mantra. Aren’t we all a bit tired of Star Wars clues?
- 39d [Dish with arborio rice] RISOTTO, 36d [Italian bacon] PANCETTA. There are many recipes for RISOTTO with PANCETTA, not surprisingly.
- 41a [Starr man] RINGO, 33d [Hurt in a ring] GORED. Tut-tut.
- 56a [Novel ending?] -ETTE. Couldn’t find a non-watermarked version of this classic:
- 13d [Bothers] HASSLES.