Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Made in the Shade”—Jim P’s review
It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so it’s time for THE WEARING / OF THE GREEN (59a, [With 63-Across, famed Irish street ballad, and a hint to this puzzle’s theme answers]). The other theme answers “wear” a shade of green identified in the circled outer letters.
- 18a. [Feature of many a picture frame corner] MITER JOINT. Mint green.
- 20a. [“Pay attention!”] LISTEN TO ME. Lime green.
- 35a. [One might have a pair of flippers] PINBALL GAME. Pine green. I don’t hear of this color too often, but it’s in the encycolorpedia.
- 42a. [Kind of lieutenant ranking below a full lieutenant] JUNIOR GRADE. Jade green.
Solid theme and good choices for theme entries. Just about perfect for a Wednesday.
New constructors, note how veteran puzzle maker Mike Shenk laid out the revealer. Both parts are 10-letters long, so he could have split them up and put one near the top of the grid and one at the bottom. But it does make them easier to read when they’re together and it’s a better effect during the solve if you don’t hit the revealer until the bottom. It might have been more elegant if the first half was left-justified and the second half right-justified, but I’d bet the stacked letter combos led to clunkier fill.
The marquee fill spots go to GAS ENGINE and PATSY CLINE. BOOTLEG is good as well and somehow pairs nicely with IN A SHOE. Did not know ANITRA [Dancer in “Peer Gynt”], and AEROBE is one of those words you only see in crosswords, unless your line of work involves the study of bacteria.
Clues of note:
- 41a. [Baste, say]. SEW. I got this fairly easily, thanks to crosswords, but I can’t remember what the word “baste” has to do with sewing (and I don’t feel like looking it up at the moment). As you can tell, I’m not much of a seamster, though I can hem up a pair of pants if necessary. If anyone wants to educate me, I would not object.
- 42a. [Kind of lieutenant ranking below a full lieutenant]. JUNIOR GRADE. That’s in the Navy. In the Air Force and Army, the equivalent ranks are 2nd Lieutenant and 1st Lieutenant.
- 3d. [“I Fall to Pieces” singer]. PATSY CLINE. I would have that this song was older than it is (1961) since it’s one my parents probably listened to. See also OH ROB for another entry for that generation.
- 45d. [Model Emhoff who’s Kamala Harris’s stepdaughter]. ELLA. It’s good to have another option for cluing this common-for-crosswords name.
Solid puzzle. 3.6 stars.
Peter Collins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Fun theme! We play on famous people whose last names sound kinda like gerunds if you elide the G:
- 17a. [If you think actors have two left feet, you haven’t seen ___] TED DANSON. Dancing.
- 20a. [If you think country singers can’t do hair, you haven’t seen ___] DOLLY PARTON. Parting. I wouldn’t call parting the “doing hair.” What, the Red Sea was busy?
- 35a. [If you think pop balladeers can’t run fast, you haven’t seen ___] MICHAEL BOLTON. Bolting. (Who talks about people “bolting” in general, though?) Who’s the biggest current pop balladeer?
- 52a. [If you think economists don’t lose their cool, you haven’t seen ___] JANET YELLEN. Yelling. This goes straight to a meme I love.
- 55a. [If you think film directors are always satisfied, you haven’t seen ___] WES CRAVEN. Craving.
Fave fill: I always appreciate a HOT TOWEL, though I am rarely offered one. HIPSTERS, MAN RAY (and that’s not a dupe with “I’M A MAN,” as this MAN is short for Emmanuel).
Least fave: STOAT, ABBE. At least we’ve made it past Monday and Tuesday?
Five more things:
- 63a. [Hose problems], SNAGS. Do people actually mention hose/pantyhose/nylons anymore? I feel like most people don’t go near them anymore, but tights have their aficionados, and tights can snag, too.
- 1d. [See 2-Down], BIT / 2d. [With 1-Down, the smallest amount], ONE. Why? Why would you do this? When there are a bunch of ways to clue BIT and ONE without combining them into one phrase, why would you start the puzzle with a pair of connected x-refs? Was this fun for more than 3% of solvers?
- 11d. [Dal ingredient], LENTIL. Best dal I ever had was at my husband’s colleague’s house. I think she may have specified using two sticks of butter?
- 48d. [Removal of restrictions, informally], DEREG. Actually a fan of regulations for things like the environment and food safety. Who’s with me?
- 58d. [Loop loopers], ELS. Pfft. It’s the L, and plural LS is too short for crossword grids.
3.75 stars from me.
Wyna Liu’s AVCX, “AVCX Themeless #54” — Ben’s Review
Today’s puzzle from the AV Club is another fantastic themeless from Wyna Liu.
- The long fill throughout the grid has a great mix of clever cluing — “Hostess’s offerings” for SNACK CAKES, “Pelican’s marking?” for FLEUR DE LIS, and especially “It’s only passed in the absence of bodily fluids” for BREAKFAST TEST all jumped out.
- HALO EFFECT, ACTS NORMAL, BIKINI LINE, and INSTANT TAN provided a nice blend of familiar and unfamiliar phrases to balance things out
- I had just learned sometime in the last week that NACHOS are eponymous (named for Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya, the restauranteur who first came up with them), so it was nice to see that factoid pop up in the grid.
Ah, TRL, “Onetime MTV show associated with a boy band boom” that gave us crossword fill the likes of NSYNC.
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Rulemaking” — pannonica’s write-up
- 58aR [Structural safety standards, and what the starts of 20-, 36- and 43-Across are doing?] BUILDING CODE.
- 20a. [Business taxed separately from its ownership] C- CORPORATION.
- 36a. [Sharing rearing] CO-PARENTING.
- 43a. [Fishy health supplement] COD-LIVER OIL.
This seemed at first to be a rather weak theme, but the thing that legitimizes and even makes it admirable is the way the lead-in letters are always followed by a hyphen.
- 39a [People who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day] IRISH. My understanding is that it’s much more of a big thing among Irish-Americans. In general, the holiday is more of a deal in the US, right? Accessory to that, we have 70a [One might wear a kilt] SCOT. Of course, some Hibernians also don the kilt.
- 6d [Nickel isn’t the main one in nickel] METAL. It’s 75% copper and 25% nickel.
- Dose of meta clues: 21d [One may know you’re solving a crossword right now] PSYCHIC. 63d [Confident solver’s tool] PEN.
- 22d [Slangy response to a relatable tweet] IT ME. Wondering how this one plays generationally.
- 25a [“Blondie” boy] ELMO. We need some more Elmos besides the ubiquitous Muppet, this old minor comic character, and the patron saint of sailors.
- 16a [“Faster!”] HURRY, 18a [Goes down, like the sun] SETS. Now thinking of the unfortunate film Hurry Sundown, one of the saving graces of which was Faye Dunaway’s début.
- Finally, turning the sometime crosswordy convention on its head, the puzzle opens with [Inapt answer for 1-Across] END.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Goooood morning! Today’s puzzle was ok! There’s a lot to like, but a few sections that just didn’t totally work for me. Let’s talk about it:
First, the marquee entry is THAT’S THAT ON THAT. I guess this is kind of fun, but I’m not sure how much of a *thing* this is. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say it, but it’s also inferable from the clue, so…. I think it’s fine! The corners are pretty solid, with SECEDING / TROPICAL /ESCALADE and SAFE MODE / BRAND NEW / NATTIEST. Longish downs were COCA COLA / SLEAZIEST / HERMIONE / UNLOOSEN. I really dislike UNLOOSEN here, both because it’s not a common word but also because it makes no sense. UN- implies “the opposite of” and LOOSEN means “Free from restraint,” so you’d think UNLOOSEN would essentially equate to “tighten” but for some reason it does not! I guess that’s kind of cool but mostly it made me look at the puzzle like it was drunk.
There were a few patchy areas of fill that I could live without holding this puzzle together, and overall I’m not sure it was worth the tradeoff. RSTU / ASE / AS I in the SW are particularly not great, but we’ve also got some ERSE / MDI / AES scattered in there as well.
A few more things:
- I’m not a violent person but if someone ever said AMUSE ME to me I would probably slap them??
- I’m not sold that EL TORO as clued is great fill either. I see EL TORO as an option sometimes when I’m filling a grid, so I looked it up once, and apparently it’s a roller coaster, which is probably how it ended up on wordlists. But like, we can’t just say EL ___ with the Spanish name of any arbitrary animal and treat it like valid fill, so… Idk, not a fan of this entry.
- Also not thrilled to see ORTEGA in the grid given his regime’s violent repression of political protests and the detailed sexual assault allegation against him
- Interesting to see [Busting up a union?] as the clue for SECEDING as the New Yorker goes to war with its union
- Favorite clues:
- [Put-ons?] for APPAREL
- [Wine, to start?] for OENO
Overall, several stars from me, and THAT’S THAT ON THAT.
Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
I really appreciated that the revealer, DOUBLE(D)BACK, didn’t pair with the cliched approach of “words that combine with”. Instead, the last two syllables are the same, or at least similar. Two of three answers: THENOSEKNOWS and TABLEFORFOUR are top tier for my book; the first, HANDSOMESUM, was the slightly wonky wheel on the shopping cart.
The rest of the puzzle played easy and breezy, with ALLBETTER and STROLLER evoking cute parental imagery and MOCHI as new vocab that was easy to get with fair crossers.