We see a lot of comments along the lines of “I can’t do metas,” and last Sunday’s Washington Post crossword had an easier-than-usual meta that solvers were happy to have cracked. If you want to try a different sort of meta, the WaPo is currently testing out a Mini Meta puzzle format from Pete Muller and Andrew White. (1) Solve the mini crosswords from Monday through Friday. (2) Take one word from each of those grids, in order, for a five-word clue. (3) Solve the Saturday mini and then find the answer (a word or phrase of 5+ letters) by zigzagging up/down/left/right in the Saturday grid. The Post is seeking your feedback on the Mini Meta during this three-month testing period.
Sid Sivakumar’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Kinda felt like another Friday puzzle, didn’t it? I was expecting/hoping for more of a challenge!
Lots to like here: TAG-TEAMED (and with a general clue, [Worked on together], rather than referencing pro wrestling), HIDDEN TALENTS, GLOMS, current pop star RITA ORA, THE COLTS, the classic POTATO BATTERY, DELETE KEY, HIGH HORSE, “I’M SUCH A JERK,” ADOBE READER, SNOGS, and (maybe—or is it contrived?) a CORNY JOKE.
What else is lurking here? These seven things, among others:
- 22a. [Skills that not many people know about], HIDDEN TALENTS. My superpower is coming up with excellent rationales to help people not feel guilty about saying no to something. What’s your hidden talent?
- 50a. [Barb], JAB. I’m loving how many Americans have adopted the Brits’ “jab” for an injection.
- 59a. [What “M” and “F” are both short for], DAYS. Yes indeed, Monday and Friday.
- 5d. [Traditional feature of a Hindu bride], BRAID. Hey, I didn’t know that. Good thing to learn. I also didn’t know that GOAT was 25d. [Main ingredient in the curry dish kosha mangsho], but I never really glance at the meat sections of Indian restaurant menus (and when I do, not that many Chicago restaurants offer goat, I don’t think).
- 26d. [Curling target], LASH. As in eyelash curlers. Shoot! I was assuming this was the Canadian-friendly sport of curling.
- 31d. [Like most of Mars], ARID. I heard they named the Perseverance rover’s landing site after sci-fi writer Octavia Butler.
- I didn’t know this song but it wasn’t too hard to guess the answer. 52d. [Lizzo title lyric repeated three times before “Make a girl go crazy”], BOYS. Enjoy the video!
4.25 stars from me.
Lee Taylor’s Wall Street Journal, “That Bugs Me” — pannonica’s writeup
- 25a. [Squad on a pitch] CRICKET TEAM.
- 27a. [Bargain hunter’s destination] FLEA MARKET.
- 47a. [Frida Kahlo feature] CATERPILLAR BROWS.
- 86a. [First-aid kit item] BUTTERFLY BANDAGE.
- 109a. [Head shop purchases] ROACH CLIPS.
- 111a. [A vascular surgeon may examine them] SPIDER VEINS.
- 16d. [Real peach] BEE’S KNEES.
- 79d. [Slender midsection] WASP WAIST.
- 11d [Like some colonies] APIAN; 54a [Insect attack] BITE.
Joe Deeney’s’ Universal crossword, “Out of Order” — Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: Words in common phrases are flipped and clued wackily
- 17A [Change the direction of one’s somersault?] SWITCH A FLIP. Flip a switch.
- 32A [What two sculpture gallery curators may do?] MOVE A BUST. Bust a move.
- 38A [Doubt some yoga instruction?] QUESTION A POSE. Pose a question.
- 45A [Determine the correct coverlet size?] FIT A THROW. Throw a fit.
- 62A [Worry about time off?] SWEAT A BREAK. Break a sweat.
At first I thought there were a couple layers to this puzzle based on the first two themers. Because in SWITCH A FLIP, not only is the answer reversed, but the answer itself is describing what’s happening. That works for MOVE A BUST too, since the word BUST is being moved. But it doesn’t seem to work so well for the others, unless I’m missing something. It seems there are so many phrases one would be able to flip like this and find a way to clue ? style (POSE A STRIKE! [Suggest a union action?]) that I’m wondering if this set has anything more unifying that I’m simply not seeing.
The puzzle is just fine though! This is one that is excellent for newer solvers, and I’m always on the lookout for those since I make it a mission to turn at least two or three high school students into crossworders every year. Easy-to-grok theme and not too laden with crosswordese, though I have a feeling that SW corner would be problematic for many who aren’t familiar with grid-language.
Overall, no major gripes. I do feel like I may be missing something though…
3 Stars from me.
Jamey Smith’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
This is, I believe, a new byline that I have not seen before. If I have, I don’t seem to remember it, so at the very least it seems new! As I have mentioned before, I cannot possibly solve every puzzle, so this may or may not be a debut, but whatever the case this is a quite fine puzzle, and I am anxious to solve more with this byline! This one took me a tad longer than normal, indicating that the LAT may actually be trying to be a little tougher on Saturdays, as opposed to the “Stumper” puzzle, which is now trying to be a little easier. Or maybe I am just getting a little slower! But we are still having fun! 4.3 stars.
A few notes:
- 18A [Law enforcement tool that may be triggered by a siren] BODY CAMERA – Why can’t they just stay on all the time? We would have a lot of video of cops buying doughnuts, perhaps!
- 31A [Yani __, youngest golfer to win five majors] TSENG – Another crossword clue referencing the sheer dominance of Asian women in professional golf. It really is quite something.
- 53A [Barista’s concoction] CAFFE MOCHA – Now I want Starbucks …
- 59A [Reference for budding meteorologists] CLOUD ATLAS –
- 3D [Citrus liqueur] LIMONCELLO – I thought this second letter was an E. I don’t drink this!
- 4D [“Truth is … “] “TO BE HONEST …” – Great casual phrase!
- 27D [Prime spot for stargazing?] OSCAR PARTY – I like this clue. Possibly my favorite of the puzzle!
- 37D [Jazz group guy] SIDEMAN – I like jazz, but I am not as up on it as I would like to be. I am not totally familiar with this term.
- 45D [Artist Modigliani] AMEDEO – Who??
- 49D [Big name in apple products] MOTTS – This was also tricky. Notice the uncapitalized letter A, though!
- 51D [“The Girl Who Played With Fire” author Larsson] STIEG – Never seen this movie or read the book. But it is on Netflix, I think!
That is all for now!
Stanley Newman’s Newsday crossword, “Themeless Saturday” – Derek’s write-up
Is Stan going to ditch the pseudonyms? They have pretty much gone away, unless there is a collaboration puzzle, and even then the Newsday is the only regular gig I know of that still uses them. Perhaps things are changing? We shall see. Normally Stan’s puzzles are a shade easier than normal, and this one played about as tough as I would have imagined. A little thorny, but all fair in the end. I used Across Lite on this one, and you can see a few error marks in my final grid. One is a typo, but the others were brain-dead errors that I am going to blame on the vast amount of driving I did today! 4.5 stars from me.
- 11A [School of whales] GAM – I thought it was a POD of whales? Maybe it’s both!
- 20A [Compliment on a comeback] TOUCHÉ – I thought this was “YOU ???”, but only near the very end did I get this changed!
- 24A [Choice words] EITHER OR – I must check to make sure this is IN my word list! (I checked, and it is!) Great entry.
- 36A [Travel assistance at airports] MOVING SIDEWALKS – I had some sort of shuttle in mind, and I totally blanked on these gizmos. Maybe because I haven’t been in an airport in many months!
- 62A [’90s toon Manx] STIMPY – Can you say “wheelhouse”?
- 5D [Dendrochronology study] TREE RINGS – I tried TREE ROOTS here at first, but this makes much more sense. It is also way more interesting!
- 12D [Defensive weapon descriptor] ANTI-TANK – This is one that made perfect sense only AFTER it was solved. I had no clue for a bit on this one.
- 13D [Focus of Euro spring festivals] MAYPOLES – I tried TADPOLES. I am so stupid sometimes!
- 26D [Makes a tailoring update] RELINES – This was tough. It is technically correct, as a tailor might do this to a suit, perhaps. I tried RESIZES in here, even with the ugly Z since it made more sense.
- 43D [Electrician/politician/Nobelist] WALESA – How did I not know he was an electrician?
Everyone have a safe and healthy week!