Kameron Austin Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Ooh, a quick one from Kam this time. I really wasn’t expecting the solve to go so fast. I assume the whiz kids, like Stella and Erik and ’em, polished this off in under 3 minutes.
Fave fill: classical TROUBADOUR, funky GEODESISTS ([Experts in determining the exact shape and size of the earth]? I’ll take your word for it! I only knew the similar term geodesic dome, but appreciated learning this vocab), SNACKED (mmm, snacks), BARRAGE, TRUST EXERCISE, BIG YUKS, SAFE WORDS, TRAIL MIX, CUDDLE BUDDY, CHAIN LETTER.
Did not know 33d. [German philosopher Bloch], ERNST, nor 6d. [___ Barnes, W.N.I.T.-winning basketball coach], ADIA. She’s the head coach at University of Arizona, and lets cross our fingers that the team gets to NCAA March Madness in the future, to cement her crossword-worthiness. Much better to have a notable person than a song title for ADIA.
Five more things:
- 39a. [Like presidents with Bibles, maybe], SWORN IN. I think it’s weird to bring religious books into government, personally, but look forward to watching a new swearing-in two months hence.
- 51a. [Goes “Grrrr”], GNARS. One of those words I never use outside of filling it in when solving a crossword. I’m eyeballing some potential fill edits to replace GNARS but they include PUS at 41d and there are probably few constructors or editors who like to find PUS in the puzzle.
- 11d. [Many workers on Wall Street, informally], I-BANKERS. Is that short for investment bankers? Not a term I recognize. Internet bankers? Organ and tissue bankers specializing in corneas?
- 12d. [Slips and such], LINGERIE. The last time I wore a slip was most likely in the 1980s. Anyone still wearing a slip these days?
- 29d. [Old English dialect], SAXON. It’s late, but I kinda want to look up some Saxon vocab now. Anyone have a favorite Saxon word?
Four stars from me. You folks hit any trouble spots here, or was it easier than most Friday NYTs for you, too?
Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
How is Wyna so good at this??? Seriously, what did I even just solve?! This is just some next-level puzzle crafting– it almost has the feel of an indie puzzle, with the longer clues and personal touches, but with the polish of a mainstream crossword. I’m not sure I can fully catalog the intangible feeling of all-around excellence I got from this puzzle, but let’s try:
First, the mini-theme of JOHN LEWIS and GOOD TROUBLE is lovely and timely, and this is definitely a case of necessary cross-referencing. Second, the other long entries: OUROBOROS, THUNDERDOME, PEEP SHOWS, PAPARAZZI, STREET CAR, POOL TABLE, DELINEATES, ZIPLOC BAG, APHRODITE, RASH GUARDS. All pretty fabulous on their own, but I think it’s the combination of the entries with the longer, editorial clues that really makes these entries shine. As in [Hemispherical arena where “two men enter, one man leaves,” in a “Mad Max” film]. Hemispherical! That’s how you know it’s a dome! [Voyeuristic fixtures of Times Square’s seedier past]. Such rich detail crammed into this clue! [Goddess born out of foam, after Uranus was castrated and his genitals were thrown into the sea]. Mythologically accurate and also so *vivid*! And it’s in clues like this that we can see another different between the New Yorker and the New York Times. The word count on clues for the NYT is definitely far lower, likely due in part to the constraints of the print edition. Since the New Yorker is only available online, the constructors can play around with these sorts of clues with no fear that they’ll be chopped down.
- The clues are just so good! I’m going to keep listing them. And for once, my favorite clues are not the ones with ?s. They’re just witty, cute, original clues for things that get blah clues all the time!
- [You’ll need brains for this test: Abbr.] for EEG
- [Out on a limb, literally] for TREED
- [Chestnut you can’t eat] for ADAGE
- [Fluffy-looking floater] for CLOUD
- [Two-jar sammies] for PBJS
- [Act like a hot dog] for PANT
- IPADS *are* awkward things to take selfies with! Have 100% seen people do this (back when doing touristy things was a thing one could do), and it always cracked me up
- Another mini-theme with the MCA / DALAI Lama Tibet content
Ok I have to stop and go do my real job, but this puzzle gets all the stars from me. Wyna, please keep making puzzles just like this one. See you all next week!
August Miller’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The three sets of circled squares are an immediately evident indication that something unusual is going on.
- 52aR [Lone survivor … and a hint to the puzzle’s circles?] LAST MAN STANDING. So it turns out that the tail ends of the longest entries take a 90° turn—that’s what the constructor is up to here. And those extra bits can precede “man” to reference superheroes.
- 20a. [Deficient in a certain enzyme] LACTOSE INTOLERANT. Ant-Man
- 24a. [Brit’s “Don’t get upset, now”] KEEP YOUR HAIR ON. Iron Man. Is the phrase related to “don’t flip your wig”? Wait, is that even a saying?
- 45a. [Hand-to-hand battle] UNARMED COMBAT. Batman. Lot of testosterone, feels like.
Can’t say it’s the most innovative theme or that it floats my BOAT (to use that word as a different metaphor than the one suggested by 40a [Situation, metaphorically]. I’m not one of the Fiendsters who typically tallies 0r highlights male/female and cis white/non-white ratios in the write-ups, but this one is particularly stark. Also, yesterday I read this interesting report, which is full of quantitative analysis of the subject; the subject is more in the forefront of my mind today.
Beyond that, I’m not keen on the use of a lesser-known Briticism as a key themer.
- 17a [They have taxing jobs] IRS AGENTS, neatly crossing 15d [Fig. on a return] SSN.
- 33d [School primer] ABECEDARY. Nice entry.
- 35d [Still, as a day] CALM. Crossing the aforementioned BOAT, which would make for good circumstances for that situation.
- 39d [Collapsible headwear] OPERA HAT. Also called a chapeau claque or—get this—a gibus. The latter is also derived from French; it’s the eponym of one of the hat’s inventors, Antoine Gibus.
- 66a [2010 Ringo Starr album] Y NOT. Wow.
- 36d [Whack] STAB. Pretty sure this is again metaphorical, here for ‘try’. But in the context of the theme and themer UNARMED COMBAT, plus other entries such as 5d [Blows up] GOES BOOM …
Adam Aaronson’s Universal crossword, “Small Screen”—Jim P’s review
I like this theme a lot! Each theme answer is a common spoken phrase that ends in a word that is also the title of a recent movie. These titles also happen to be two-letter words hinted at by the revealer at 65a: SHORT FILMS [The movies at the starred answers’ ends, based on their titles’ lengths?].
- 17a. [*”This 2009 animated movie is too complicated!”] “I CAN’T GET UP“. Funny. Must be the talking dogs.
- 23a. [*With 54-Across, “Don’t eat all your popcorn during this 2019 thriller’s first scene!”] “SAVE SOME FOR / THE REST OF US“. A fairly cumbersome clue, but there’s a good payoff, so it’s worth it.
- 40a. [*”We gotta discuss this 2017 horror movie!”] “LET’S TALK ABOUT IT“. I still haven’t seen this one or its sequel. I did like the miniseries from the ’90s.
A fun theme. I especially like that all of these films are fairly modern, and they’re all two-letters long. What other short one-word films do you think might have been considered for this theme? Off-hand I can think of the old B-movie Them!, but I can’t come up with a phrase to make it work with the theme. And, at four letters, it’s twice as long as the others.
In the fill, I’m loving the brash “I WENT THERE” [“You heard me right!”]. FETA CHEESE and AIRPORT TAX make for good fill, too, but are decidedly less good in real life.
One clue of note: 49d. [View, as thou would]. SEEST. Shouldn’t that be “as thou wouldst”?
An enjoyable grid all around. Four stars.
Lita & Tass Williams’s Inkubator crossword, “She’s Fresh”—Jenni’s review
Sisters Lita and Tass Williams have teamed up to give us a fresh offering indeed. There’s a string of circles in a diamond shape in the middle of the grid. 1d and 55d tell us what we’re looking for.
- 1d [With 55 Down, a string of “fresh” connections] – DAISY CHAIN.
So I figured the circled letters had to be a CHAIN of DAISYs. It took me a minute to figure out where to start even though it’s the obvious place – at the top. Going clockwise, we have
- MAE from “Li’l Abner.”
- FUENTES, the first Latina VJ on MTV and an international superstar.
- RIDLEY, who plays Rey in the most recent “Star Wars” trilogy.
- BUCHANAN, Jay Gatsby’s obsessive love interest.
Fun! I like the variety of reference points – old comics, classic American literature, 1990s pop culture, and current movies.
A few other things:
- Ripped from the headlines: 20a [Carolyn Bourdeaux flipped one for Georgia on 11/3] is SEAT.
- [Prefix with -pathy] is HOMEO. We would also have accepted “discredited 19th century non-scientific medical prefix.”
- 47a [Crisp a pie crust in the oven before filling, perhaps] is PARBAKE. I have not heard this term before. I’m not sure if the “perhaps” means that there are other ways to crisp a pie crust or PARBAKE has other meanings. When I bake the crust before I fill the pie, I call it “blind baking.” Wikipedia tells me that parbaking is specifically partially baking something and then rapidly cooling it for frozen storage, and that it also applies to bread dough, not just pie crust, so maybe that’s where the “perhaps” comes in. That is analogous to “parboil” and makes sense.
- I enjoyed seeing [Syrah stopper] as the clue for CORK because that was my father’s favorite varietal. He died in 2006 and we’re still drinking some of the syrah (and petite sirah, which may or may not be the same grape, depending on who you ask) that he cellared.
- I’ve been watching a lot of “The Great British Baking Show” on Netflix so now I heard PLAIT in a British accent and think of braided bread.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: PARBAKE. I also did not know that AUDRE Lorde said “Revolution is not a one-time event.”