Four brief announcements:
- Boswords is holding an online Winter Wondersolve tournament Sunday, 1/31, 2-5 pm Eastern. $20 to register ($5 for students and the otherwise strapped-for-cash).
- The Muller Monthly Music Meta for 2021 begins next Tuesday, 1/12. Sign up here.
- The Browser newsletter is launching a weekly cryptic crossword (ed. Dan Feyer; constructors include Andrew Ries, Stella Zawistowski, Will Nediger, Nate Cardin, Sara Goodchild, and Paolo Pasco) for subscribers. I sampled one by Ries; it took me about 2-3 times longer than an NYT cryptic, so check it out if you crave challenging cryptics.
- Also for cryptic fans: Longtime cryptic puzzlemaker John de Cuevas died in 2018 and his website archive of puzzles has been restored at Dan Chall’s site. I know nothing about these puzzles, but if difficult variety cryptics are up your alley, 200+ puzzles await you.
Evan Kalish’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Dang, I used up much of my blogging time gathering the four links above. Also, news. It remains pretty consuming, doesn’t it?
Fave fill: DO THE DEW and its rhyme BIENVENUE, “THIS GUY GETS IT,” a NOOGIE, CRAWDAD, THE SHIRE, “HAPPY NOW?,” “WOULDN’T YOU AGREE?,” MANI-PEDI, and COOL IT. Architect Zaha HADID is always welcome in my puzzle; in Chicago, I’ve only seen a temporary installation she designed for Millennium Park. Not loving the AS I SEE IT/THIS GUY GETS IT crossing ITs plus COOL IT.
Singular VESPER ([Evening prayer]) feels wrongish. ALKANE is blah. “Slap on the wrist” sounds better than WRIST SLAP. “Yes, and …” also sounds more familiar than “YEAH, AND …” to me.
- 27a. [Lead-in to brain or body], PEA. Odd to combine a peabrain and the name Peabody this way. Unexpected.
- 66a. [Rechargeable city transport], E-SCOOTER. These were piloted again in Chicago last summer, and my family laughed at the idea of calling them “e-scooters.” They go with “scooter” or “electric scooter.” Is this a regional term used in your area?
- 1d. [Home to the so-called “Silicon Docks,” a European equivalent to Silicon Valley], DUBLIN. I should’ve known this but I didn’t and had to lean on the crossings.
Four stars from me.
Kyra Wilson’s Universal crossword, “Critical Thinking”—Jim P’s review
Everyone’s a critic in this grid. Each of our theme answers is a common-ish phrase whose last word can also mean “criticism.” Thus, the clues are wackified.
- 17a. [Series of remarks like “Your message is loaded with typos!”?] EMAIL BLAST.
- 27a. [Series of remarks like “Mary never liked you much anyway!”?] LAMB ROAST. It took me way to long to associate Mary and lamb. First, I had Shari Lewis on the brain then I was trying to think if there was someone famous named Mary Lamb (there kind of is). But damn! Poor widdle wamb!
- 42a. [Series of remarks like “Your donut tastes awful!”?] FRYING PAN. Hmm. Donut is your go-to fried item? I’ve never made homemade donuts before. But I fry rice a lot and eggs. Fish would work, too.
- 54a. [Series of remarks like “Your sonnet is 11 on the boring meter!”?] POETRY SLAM. I looove this clue. (Obligatory “These go to eleven” link.)
All in all, a fun theme. I admit I didn’t catch on during the solve because I was trying to be quick (my 12-year-old was standing over my shoulder) and the clues seemed wordy. But once I looked closer, I liked it quite a bit. I’m not so sure the clues need the “Series of remarks” part. [“Your message is loaded with typos!” e.g.?] works for me.
Loads to like in the fill, too, such as DAD JOKE, “AH, BLISS,” “ALL SETTLED?,” G. I. JANE, BABKA, “TOP THAT!,” “CAN IT BE?” and Caddyshack’s “BE THE BALL” (even though I’ve never seen the full movie). I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase ROAD JERSEY, but it makes sense. I didn’t recognize the name Sara PAULSON either, but I have heard of her show Ratched, the Netflix series which is a prequel of sorts to Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. If you’ve seen it, let us know what you think of it.
Clues of note:
- 37a. [Belg. neighbor]. GER seemed like the safe answer, but this go-round, tiny LUX gets some grid time.
- 14d. [1997 film about a woman who trains to be a Navy SEAL]. G. I. JANE. I haven’t seen this film either. Question. Why is a Navywoman referred to as a G.I.?
Fun theme in a grid loaded with sparkly fill. 3.9 stars.
Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Hi everyone, gonna be a quick one today because the New Yorker didn’t get this gem of a puzzle up until after my working hours started, but let me just say, this was a *delight*. Cool grid shape, crunchy long stuff, clean short stuff, basically everything you could want from a lightly challenging New Yorker puzzle.
- The marquee entry ANYONE LISTENING??? (?s implied) is excellent
- The stacks in the N and S are also fabulous: AWKWAFINA / SCREEN IDOLS / UNCANNY VALLEY and LEAVES IN A HUFF / STOP ON A DIME / SWING SETS
- Favorite clues:
- [“I have eaten / the ___ / that were in / the icebox . . .”: William Carlos Williams] for PLUMS
- [Go immediately from sixty to zero] for STOPS ON A DIME
Overall, a fresh, quick, beautifully-crafted puzzle to kick off the weekend.
Ps., Brooke Husic and I made today’s USA Today crossword, if you feel like doing another lightly (read: not at all) challenging puzzle this morning!
Dyland Schiff & Mark McClain’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Quick summary in pannonica’s stead.
Theme revealer is OVER/UNDER, 38a. [Sports bet based on total points scored … or a hint to answering four puzzle clues]. Each of those four clues has two answers, one including the circled letter above the black square interrupting the entry and one with the circled letter below:
- 20a. [Source of some TV content], MINISERIES and MINISTRIES. A miniseries is content, not the source thereof. And ministries—I guess we’re talking about televangelists et al? Maybe a vague [They might be seen on some TV channels] would fit better?
- 26a. [Genetic connection], LINKAGE and LINEAGE. Linkage feels a little nonspecific to genetics, but perhaps a scientist will disagree with me on that.
- 52a. [Impediment to walking down a hallway], CLUSTER and CLUTTER. Clutter on the floor, cluster of people blocking the way. Nice one.
- 58a. [Recommendation for better health], MEDICATION and MEDITATION. Also nice.
UPBRAID is my favorite bit of fill. Lots of stuff I didn’t care for, but with each themer affecting four entry spaces in the grid, that’s sort of 16 themers, so it’s probably gonna be rough to fill. ALPE, ENSILES, VEET, SOOTED, and APSE right at 1-Across, meh.