Ari Richter’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Hello! It’s late. First up, a request: Please share your favorite POTTY HUMOR (56a. [Crack jokes, perhaps?]) jokes in the comments. Butt-crack allusions are optional.
Other entries I liked: EXTRA POINT (if the clue, 18a. [Something about which you might say “It’s good!”], sounds weird to you, imagine “It’s good!” shouted by an overexcited NFL announcer), “DON’T GET ANY IDEAS,” IN ONE GO, PREEMIES (like my kid, back in the day), SCRATCH-AND-SNIFF (though I feel the clue, [Like some perfume ads], might be a bit off? the last time I was encountering many magazine fragrance ads, you’d tear open a strip to unleash the scent rather than doing scratch-and-sniff, but I’ve only gotten one smelly ad in the last few years so I could be wrong), new-to-me MOONQUAKE, and GOTHAM CITY.
- 35a. [A home?], OAKLAND, as in the Oakland A’s / 21d. [Penguin’s home], GOTHAM CITY, as in Batman’s nemesis rather than the Pittsburgh Penguins. The constructor pulled the old switcheroo on us!
- 42a. [Like some masks], CLOTH. How many do you have in your wardrobe? I have maybe 15 or 20, not that I go out 15 times a week. I keep trying for a better fit, better construction. I do like the flannel-lined ones from this Etsy maker. She swaps out the fabric patterns seasonally—I bought fall prints, and now there are winter/Christmas ones. What will spring bring?
- 46d. [What two X’s make], SCORE. X being the Roman numeral for 10, and a SCORE being 20? I think that’s the angle this clue is taking.
- 25d. [___ drop (British sweet treat)], PEAR. A candy I’ve never heard of, being American.
- 8d. [“Feel the ___” (onetime political slogan)], BERN. A fresher clue than the capital of Switzerland.
4 stars from me.
Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
You guys, I think Robyn just asked us all out on a date?? I have to say, an old-fashioned DINNER AND A MOVIE in a restaurant and then a theater that both contain lots of people will probably not feel safe for a long time, but it’s nice to be reminded of The Way Things Were. As for the puzzle, I agree with Robyn when she says LET’S DO THIS AGAIN — I would do a Robyn puzzle every day of the week, honestly, and I don’t think I’d ever get bored of them!
The non-marquee long entries today were pretty excellent, although one felt oddly familiar. We have: BONUS TRACK / TRUE TO LIFE / NOVEL IDEA / COIN TRICK / AHA MOMENT / SALTWATER / TRAGEDIES / SNIFF TEST. We just had SMELL TEST in yesterday’s NYT, so I wrote that in here, too, which thoroughly screwed up that region of the grid (for about 20 seconds– this is, after all, a New Yorker lightly challenging Friday). I think of the two, I am more familiar with SMELL TEST than SNIFF TEST, but I think they’re equally valid. My first write-in for TRUE TO LIFE was TRUTHINESS (thanks, Colbert). Sidenote, I used the word verisimilitude *conversationally* yesterday when discussing these extremely uncanny valley masks that you can put over medical manakins to make them look more TRUE TO LIFE and mirror the actual diversity of hospital patients. Creepy AF but also better than having all white male manikins.
A few more things:
- PUNCH UP – I like this entry, although I think of PUNCH UP as meaning “attack someone higher than you in a hierarchy” rather than [Add some pizzazz to]
- I appreciate Robyn’s clue on OGLE [Stare that might warrant a call to human resources] as possibly the best way to clue this word. It’s not jokey or cutesy, it just tells it like it is. Don’t OGLE. I HATE IT.
- Fill I could live without: TGEL clued for dandruff shampoo (although I am very open to TGEL clued as hormone replacement therapy)
- I looked up the Barbie DIA De Muertos doll (Mattel début of 2019) and here she is
Overall, really fun solve, despite a few hiccups on my end! Tons of stars for a smooth, clean grid and crunchy solve.
Fritz Light’s Universal crossword, “Promises to Pay”—Jim P’s review
We have a debut puzzle, and the poor constructor is strapped for cash. He’s filled all his theme answers with IOUS. Well, maybe now that he has a publication, he can pay his friends back.
- 16a. [Dull lecture?] TEDIOUS TALK. TED Talk. Ha!
- 36a. [People who read up on what they discover?] STUDIOUS FINDERS. Stud finders. An admirable quality to have.
- 58a. [Marine mammal that won’t stop barking?] FURIOUS SEAL. Fur seal. The fat and the furious?
Only three themers, but they were all enjoyable. Out of curiosity, I looked up some other words that might lend themselves to this theme. Potential alternatives might include cop and copious, vic and vicious, facet and facetious, and vicar and vicarious. But changes in parts of speech probably preclude most of them from working.
There are a few nice things in the long fill and, curiously, they’re all clustered in the center. DRUM SOLO, SOY SAUCE, OPEN SEA, and AL FRESCO top the list with IN LIEU OF and AT FIRST rounding things out. It’s surprising to have all that nice fill close together with very little to show in the way of a price to pay. I guess since there are only three themers, there’s more allowance for fun fill.
- 7a. [Role, metaphorically]. HAT. Cluing felt a tad tougher than I’m used to for a Universal grid, and they had some interesting angles. This is an example of that.
- 29a. [Cook, Rice or Curry]. TIM. Fun clue. But I went with ANN first. Of course, it’s Anne (with an E) Rice, and there does not appear to be a famous Ann Cook.
- 30a. [Move like a promotional tube man]. FLAIL. I was thinking of the Tube in London, not that air-blown spasmodic alien outside of tire shops. I didn’t know there was a term for him.
- 39a. [Word before “plane” or “plate”]. PAPER. I’m noting this one because I don’t think we normally see quotation marks in clues like this.
- 42a. [___ Royale National Park]. ISLE. I was thinking this might be in Hawaii, but nope, it’s in Michigan.
- 51a. [“Odyssey” femme fatale]. CIRCE. I also recommend the 2018 novel of the same name by Madeline Miller.
- 65a. [Does some sole searching?]. FISHES. Cute.
- 12d. [Apt answer for clue number 12]. DOZEN. I couldn’t understand the use of the term “clue number 12,” but I guess it makes sense.
Fun little theme, strong fill, and fresh cluing. 3.9 stars.
Jonathan Potter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
This one took me longer than usual to solve, even though I don’t report my times.
- 58aR [Educator’s concerns … or, a phonetic hint to how four long puzzle answers were derived] ABSENTEES, or absent Es. The dropped vowel occurs at the end of each theme entry.
- 17a. [Annual assembly of breakfast lovers?] WAFFLE CON (waffle cone).
- 11d. [Strategy for holding it while in the bathroom line?] WAIT AND HOP (wait and hope). Being the first theme entry I was close to completing, I figured the gimmick was puns and that this was WAIT AND PEE (from wait and see). The actual base phrase is less familiar to me. Here’s an Ngram analysis:
- 37a. [Bathroom fixture trial version?] TEST TUB (test tube). More bathroom hijinks!
- 28d. [Mess made while melting down old jewelry?] GOLDEN GLOB (Golden Globe). Ironic that it took me a long while to see this one, as I habitually refer to these awards by that name.
It’s a solid theme that works well enough.
- 1a [Draft sources] KEGS, 26a [Draft pick] LAGER, 43d [Draft source] BEER TAP.
- 44a [Former flier with a NY/Newark/DC/Boston shuttle] EASTERN. 56d [Santiago-to-Buenos Aires dirección] ESTE. Hmm. As an aside, I would have preferred that ‘to’ were also replaced by the Spanish equivalent, á.
- 1d [Only bird whose beak has nostrils at the end] KIWI. Nice bit of trivia. Kiwi rely heavily on their sense of smell and hardly at all on their eyesight. They are able to detect prey underground without seeing or feeling them.38
- 8d [“Le déjeuner des canotiers” painter] RENOIR. Perhaps you know the English translation of the title, “Luncheon of the Boating Party”.
- 16d [“Dark Sky Island” singer] ENYA, 57a [Keys] ISLES. Ouch. Better editing could have easily averted this duplication.
- 21a [Exhaust, as a welcome] OUTSTAY. Here’s an Ngram of outstay vs. overstay (his/her/their/one’s) welcome.
- 51a [Real asset … or no asset at all?] BIG HELP. All dependent on the level of sarcasm. I liked this clue.
- 24d [Camouflage wearers, at times] HUNTERS. I am also reminded of this tweet that I saw earlier this morning:
- 26d [Edelstein of “The Kominsky Method”] LISA. Unfamiliar with both the person and the title.
- 38d [Pin in the back] TEN. I was prepared to say that I had no idea how to interpret this clue, but now I understand. It’s bowling.
- 42a [Electric __ ] EEL.
Brooke Husic’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #14″—Jenni’s review
Sorry this is so late! I’ll sneak in just before Saturday’s post goes up. This puzzle deserves better than I can give it right now. It’s a really good puzzle that was pretty difficult for me; despite the “Themeless” tag, there’s a strong musical vibe that was not at all on my wavelength. I’d blame it on my age, but that’s not the whole story.
- 1a [“____, moody, nasty” (Megan Thee Stallion lyric)] is SASSY
- 4d [Empowering 2004 jam from Kelly Clarkson] is SINCE U BEEN GONE.
- 20a [Deceptively upbeat 2010 bop from Robyn] is DANCIN ON MY OWN.
- 26d [Rihanna album between “Rated R” and “Talk That Talk”] is LOUD.
- 35a [Beyoncé assertion that follows “everything I see is you”] is IT‘S DEJA VU. And until I typed that out I thought it was DE JAVU. It’s been a long week.
- [Gin berry] for SLOE and [Bowl berry] for ACAI.
- [Make over?] for OUTEARN.
- [Single stream specification?] for ON REPEAT.
- [Go off screen, maybe?] for DETOX.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above for all the music references that were new to me. I also didn’t know that that three SIXES mean “excellent” in Mandarin, I’d never heard of poet Nikita Gill, and I didn’t know that the OSAGE Nation has the U.S.’s oldest tribally-owned museum.