Sawyer Tabony & Ashton Anderson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The constructor’s notes at Wordplay tell us that Sawyer’s prior puzzle was a marriage proposal for a solving audience of one (she said yes, they’re married now!), and now he’s teamed up with seasoned constructor Ashton on a themeless. It’s a really nice themeless, too, and should get your Friday the 13th off to a lucky start.
I need to be brief here (always a challenge for the wordy) because I haven’t played medication mancala yet (the filling of the pill organizer for the next two weeks) and it’s almost bedtime. Fave stuff: LET’S DANCE, Wikipedia STUBS, “I’M ON A ROLL,” “NO WORRIES,” DEEP CUTS, WHOLE HOG, TEMPEH, PRESS ‘SEND,’ casual “UP TO YOU,” NORA clued via the Awkwafina show (which I still HAVE NOT watched) and more.
- 27a. [Pan … or a word that follows pan], ROAST. Roast someone with criticism, or the verb phrase pan ROAST from cooking.
- 31a. [Word often said after a wild tangent], “ANYWAY …” Part and parcel of the spoken-language vibe throughout this puzzle. I enjoyed it.
- 11d. [Prominent feature of a babirusa (“deer-pig”)], TUSK. I don’t think I want to come face to face with any tusked boar-type animals. SCHNOZ and WHOLE HOG feel related to this, don’t they?
4.5 stars from me. Hope to see more puzzles from these two!
Tina Lippman’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
This is a well-established theme type, and the revealer is exceedingly literal (which is fine).
- 52aR [What inspired three long puzzle answers] PAIRS OF SHOES.
- 19a. [London apartment for a snake?] MOCCASIN FLAT.
- 29a. [One who watches Grand Canyon pack animals?] MULE SPECTATOR.
- 37a. [Spy at a centuries-old school?] OXFORD SNEAKER.
Just smoosh together two types of shoes and clue à la wack.
Slightly distracting is the crossing of 45a [Brit’s grilled sandwich] TOASTIE and 38d [Did a trainer’s job] RETAPED. The former was obscure to—but not completely unheard of by—me, while the latter was vague enough that it was far from clear that we were talking about physical therapist/coach type person. Primed to be thinking of Briticisms—and aware of the theme—I was preoccupied by their term for SNEAKERs.
- Some nice stacking of nines: WHO CAN SAY / AIREDALES, and SNOOP DOGG / MINNESOTA.
- 2d [Georgia home of the Tubman Museum] MACON. Looks as if the Biden administration will be introducing the pettily-delayed Harriet Tubman $20 bill, replacing Andrew Jackson.
- 16d [Pertaining to the abdominal cavity] CELIAC. “Latin coeliacus, from Greek koiliakos, from koilia cavity, from koilos hollow — more at CAVE” (m-w.com)
- 24d [“The Killing” actress Mirielle] ENOS. Guess it’s good to have a new clue for ENOS, but I was unfamiliar with the actress and the … (looks it up) … television show. Oh, I see she was also in the recent BBC adaptation of Good Omens, of which I have an opinion.
- But speaking of war goddesses and tired clues, maybe we could get a change from 10d [Nursing school subj.] ANAT? She was kind of a big deal in the ancient world. Meantime, have some peaceful music by a namesake:
- 41d [Kangaroo player] Bob KEESHAN. This is old-time children’s host Captain Kangaroo.
- 46d [Woolf’s “___ of One’s Own”] A ROOM; then, a mere three clues later: 49d [“In the Bedroom” Oscar nominee] TOMEI. *sigh*
- 52d [Shot glass] PONY. Sort of? But they are kind of different. Oh wait, I see there a few distinct things called ponys. I was thinking of the PONY beer glass, roughly 5 imperial oz, whereas the stemmed cordial called a PONY is essentially equivalent in size to a common shot glass. It’s also a measurement equal to a half-jigger.
Jim Holland’s Universal crossword, “Safety Last”—Jim P’s review
Each theme answer ends in a word that is a part of SECURITY SYSTEMS [Protective setups suggested by the final few letters of 17-, 27- and 50-Across].
- 17a. Really fun group, it’s said] BARREL OF MONKEYS
- 27a. Porridge thief in a fairy tale] GOLDILOCKS
- 50a. Uruguay’s capital] MONTEVIDEO
I don’t think I noticed the title of the puzzle until after the solve. When I did, I felt it tied everything together nicely and was even good for a little chuckle. The only nit I’d pick is that keys and locks go together, leaving video out on its lonesome. And there are other implements that could be employed (sensors, cameras, alarms, etc.), though getting them to work with this theme would be difficult if not impossible.
Fill highlights: HENHOUSE, TROTS OUT, and TAKES TEA [Has an afternoon meal]. I lived in England for a few years and it took a while for me to understand that they use the word “tea” for “dinner.” Q: “What are you having for tea?” A: “Bangers and mash.”
TITLISTS [Champions] is not the golf ball (that’s spelled “Titleists”) but I’m immediately reminded of the Seinfeld scene where George recounts his whale-saving adventure. Some trivia about this episode: The preceding scene where George walks into the ocean was supposed to be the end of the episode, but it didn’t get much of a laugh from test audiences. The final scene was written at the last minute by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, and Jason Alexander delivered it perfectly in one take without rehearsal. It remains one of the iconic moments (for me, anyway) of the show. “The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli.”
The rest of the fill is quite clean and the cluing straightforward making for a speedy solve. 3.5 stars.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
Hello! It’s Amy filling in for Rachel, who is being a good citizen today and volunteering for some election-related duties.
I’m seldom expecting a themeless puzzle to fall in a Tuesdayish amount of time, but it’s amazing what a difference the cluing can make. The grid’s a bit heavy on proper nouns (people and some places), which often means it’s a breeze for me but others may get mired down, particularly where names intersect.
Did not know: 38a [“The Battle of San Romano” painter Uccello], PAOLO.
Fave fill: BENDY straw! DIRTY MONEY (raise your hand if you started with DIRTY LUCRE, though now I realize “filthy lucre” is more familiar), LINEBACKER, ACTION HERO (did you know Gal Gadot did some of her own stunts in the Wonder Woman movies? and that the Wonder Woman 1984 sequel is COVID-delayed but something to look forward to in 2021), HOPE CHEST, GO ON A DATE (do not sign up for the Goon-a-Date app, the guys are all terrible), “Grace and FRANKIE,” BORSCHT.
Not sure about 46a [Nervous collapses] as a clue for CRACKUPS. Does this marginalize people who have breakdowns or is it fine?
Not wild about the entry AS ARRANGED. Doesn’t feel natural to me.
Three more things:
- 47d. [Number in quotes?], PRICE. Nice little trick here. Not quotation marks, but price quotes.
- 23d. [M.L.B. team supported by Bleacher Bums], CUBS. A gimme for me! I’ve never sat in the bleachers at Wrigley, but my husband and son did once. They were surrounded by rowdy drinkers till an attendant waved them over to a spot at the edge with a better view and fewer people.
- 8d. [Message that can be pinned], TWEET. Here’s my pinned tweet.
Four stars from me.
Noel Grisanti and Masten’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #13″—Jenni’s review
I’m SO sorry I missed this on Thursday evening! It showed up in some other part of my Email box and I didn’t see it. I’m glad I found it because it’s a fun themeless. Here’s the grid. Neither of the constructors is in our database, so I’m guessing this a debut. Can’t wait to see more from this talented pair!
I really enjoyed this. I got hung up in the middle of the east section because I’ve never seen READ used in this context – the clue is [Wittily disparage, to a drag queen]. And I didn’t remember the name of Marilynne Robinson’s third “Gilead” book (LILA), which I haven’t yet read. Loved the first two.
It’s a fun grid with four 15s, all lively – COCKTAIL PARTIES, BACK TO SQUARE ONE, RENEWABLE ENERGY, and LAST BUT NOT LEAST.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: drag queen slang. I’ve also never heard of Icona Pop. They appear in the clue for DYADS.