Jamey Smith’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Moving right along to the list, as I’m not feeling that paragraph vibe tonight:
- 13a. [Second word of a game name that rhymes with the first], ALAI. Blurgh. We don’t need ALAI in both the Wednesday and Friday puzzles from the same venue.
- Fave fill: TAKE THE HIGH ROAD, SPECIAL SAUCE (ketchup and mayo?), ON THE REBOUND, POLAR BEAR PLUNGE (enjoy! I never will), FAKE MEATS, LAND GRAB, GROUP THERAPY.
- Fave clue: 23a. [What happens when two people miss each other a lot?], PHONE TAG. Do people use voice calls enough that this is still a big thing, though? I feel like my personal phone tag has involved only doctors in past few years. Another good clue: 44d. [Class ring?], BELL.
- 35a. [Meme animals], LOLCATS. Feels very 10+ years ago. See also: 12d. [“‘Sup, dude”], “YO, DOG.” First of all, not DAWG? Second, my son says nobody says this anymore.
- 55d. [Kamala Harris’s college sorority, for short], AKA. Alpha Kappa Alpha, a distinguished organization. Check out the notable members! The Congressional picture hints at the AKA colors being pink and green.
- Easily avoidable dupe I’m giving side eye to: 19a. [Superpower of Cyclops in the “X-Men” films], EYE BEAM (I needed crossings) / 30a. [Eye, slangily], PEEPER. The little frog called the spring peeper was ready for service!
Didn’t care much for LAL, AHL, EEE, NUTSO.
3.75 stars from me.
Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Man I love a Wyna puzzle. The long stuff is great, the clues are fun and clever yet totally accessible, and as far as I can tell this is the first time the word “orgasm” has appeared anywhere NEAR a mainstream publication. I also tore through it in near-record time, so I had to appreciate the clues retroactively.
Long entries today: LETITIA JAMES / LA PETITE MORT / SNAIL MAILS / MARASCHINO / IM ALL EARS / GLASS DOOR / CABINETRY / NEAT FREAK. With possibly the exception of CABINETRY (?) these are all bangers. My favorites are probably SNAIL MAILS (I love a good retronym) and my own state’s fearless AG LETITIA JAMES. People unfamiliar with her may have struggled with the Valerie JARRETT crossing, but imo both of these women are pretty high profile and the letter of intersection is definitely inferable.
A few more things:
- Favorite clues:
- [Burn, in a tasty way] for CHAR – LMAO at the use of “tasty”
- The one-two punch of [“Yes, tell me!”] and [“You told me that already”] for I’M ALL EARS! and YEAH I KNOW
- [It sidles sideways by the seaside] for CRAB
- Here is a picture of Salvador Dalí’s OCELOT Babou, to which I say [Face with Tears of Joy emoji]
- Haven’t seen OLLA in a puzzle in some time! I think it’s the only Fill I Could Live Without in this puzzle.
Overall, tons of stars from me. Loved this puzzle from start to very quick end, and love it more after getting to spend some time with it for this writeup!
P.S. These Puzzles Fund Abortion will be released **tomorrow** so be sure to donate here if you have not already! The pack features 3 New Yorker constructors (Robyn Weintraub, Natan Last, and Erik Agard), as well as 11 other constructors you’ll recognize, and if I do say so myself, it’s pretty excellent.
Brian Gubin’s Universal crossword, “Left Side”—Jim P’s review
It’s FRIDAY, and you know what that means. Yes, it’s time for a crossword puzzle. (Of course, it’s always time for a crossword puzzle in our world.)
But this one is FRIDAY-focused (12d, [When you’re likely solving this puzzle, and a phonetic hint to the starred answers’ starts]). Of course, I solved this on Thursday, but be that as it may, let’s look at those starred answers.
- 16a. [*Youngest Stooge] CURLY HOWARD
- 27a. [*Business run from home] COTTAGE INDUSTRY. I never knew what this phrase meant. Thanks, crosswords.
- 47a. [*Close-to-the-ground baseball play] SHOESTRING CATCH
- 64a. [*Restaurant chain that uses a lot of syrup] WAFFLE HOUSE
What do they have in common? Each phrase starts with a word that can precede “fries.” Get it? FRIDAY / “fry day”? We have curly fries, cottage fries, shoestring fries, and waffle fries. I admit to not hearing “cottage fries” very often (if at all). Maybe it’s a regional thing.
What I still haven’t figured out is the title of the puzzle? What does “Left Side”…oh, wait. Fries are usually a side order, and these are on the “left” of each theme answer. That must be it.
Top fill: Easily, it’s TREVOR NOAH [“Born a Crime” memoirist]. I can’t recommend this book enough. And even better than the book itself is the audiobook read by the author. It’s humorous, interesting, and dare I say, important, and to hear it all with the author’s pronunciations and accents and timing is just superb. It’s laugh-out-loud funny and thought-provoking as well.
Nothing else stands out in the fill, but nothing rankles, either. SO MEAN is on the roll-your-own side, but the crossings are fair enough.
One clue of note: 35a. [Word hidden in the Wendy’s logo]. MOM. Neat bit of trivia. I was fixated on MOO, it being a burger joint and all, and that made seeing the crossing DEPARTMENT really hard. Looking at the picture, I guess you can argue that’s MOM. I think I’d like it better with MOO in it.
Cute, enjoyable theme. 3.75 stars.
David Alfred Bywaters’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
- 66aR [What’s taken in some court proceedings, and also (in two ways) from the answers to the starred clues] FIFTH. Or more accurately, the Fifth (Amendment).
- 17a. [*French cheesemonger’s luggage?] BRIE CASES (briefcases).
- 22a. [*Potemkin village?] REALTY SHOW (reality show). I’ve long joked about finding a real estate firm called Potemkin Realty, so I’m partial to this one.
- 35a. [*Top performer who’s hopelessly off course?] LOST ACE (lost face).
- 48a. [*Heresies?] HOLY ERRORS (holy terrors).
- 55a. [*PETA protestor’s emotion?] COAT ANGER (coat hanger).
So it’s quite evident that the letters dropped (“taken”) from the original, non-wacky, versions of the phrases spell F-I-F-T-H, but I’m failing to see how—oh wait, it’s the fifth letter each time, isn’t it? Why yes, yes it is. That all builds a substantially tight theme. Well done.
- 31d [Vehicle for some ’60s trips] LSD, not a VW microbus.
- 35d [Napoleonic Code part] LOI. Have not seen this one in a while.
- 40d [Home to the van Eycks’ “Adoration of the Mystic Lamb”] GHENT. In fact, it’s most commonly referred to as the Ghent Altarpiece. It’s a big deal in art history™.
- 14a [Missouri’s ___ de Terre Lake] POMME. Does it look like a potato? … Wikipedia tells me it’s named for the Pomme de Terre River, so now I’m checking on its name origin… “Pomme de terre is French for potato, a food Indians harvested in the area. Before the French explorers, the Osage people, who were historically indigenous to the region, had called it a name meaning Big Bone River, referring to the fossils of mastodons and other ancient creatures which they found along its eroding banks.”
- 26a [ __ bargain] PLEA. Taking the Fifth could be part of that negotiation, yes?
- 27a [Female monster] OGRESS. Is this the only English noun that can be feminized by adding an S to the plural form?
- 42a [Chartbuster] BIG HIT. Seems a tepid entry.
- 54a [Old-style “Listen Up!”] HEARYE. 57a [Of yore] OLDEN.
- 65a [Lays down the lawn] SODS. Nice subtle pun, and it echoes the theme a little bit.
Sara Cantor’s Inkubator crossword, “Springtime”—Jenni’s review
The title is not seasonal. Each theme answer contains a JACK in a box – a rebus.
- 17a [Mild cheese from California] is MONTEREY [JACK], crossing 8d [Netflix’s “____ Horseman”], BO[JACK].
- 29a [Historical drama about a gender-nonconforming entrepreneur] is GENTLEMAN [JACK], crossing 13d [Flag on some London double-deckers], UNION [JACK].
- 45a [First Lady from 1961-1963, [JACK]IE KENNEDY, crossing 45d [Animal portmanteau of North American folklore], [JACK]ALOPE.
- 82a is a revealer that includes the rebus. [Toy with a surprise…or a hint to four squares in this puzzle]: [JACK] IN THE BOX.
I figured it out with the first set of theme answers in the NW. I still enjoyed it. All the theme answers are solid and the rebus was fun.
It’s not that late but I’m very tired, so I’ll leave it here. What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that SANDRA OH plays Eve in “Killing Eve.”