Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Robyn also constructed one of this weekend’s ACPT puzzles. It’s always a treat to solve her puzzles and I’m hoping she’s got the finals puzzle because I especially love her themelesses. (Don’t we all?)
I inadvertently frittered away most of the evening so I’m late to the puzzle. Let’s be brief! (Am I ever brief when I promise to be? I suspect not.)
Neat grid with the matrix of 13s and 14s intersecting. Fave fill: LIME WEDGE, BRUSHFIRE, FRONT ROW SEATS, HOT APPLE CIDER, MASERATI, MANCAVE, I DON’T CARE, TEDDY BEAR, EARLY FROST (also annoying: a late freeze, such as the Midwest and Northeast have just had), “WHAT’S FOR DINNER?” and AFTERTASTE. The CIDER and FROST make the puzzle feel like it should have run in October.
Just three clues (hard to choose! there are at least five question-marked clues):
- 38a. [Mammal that can hold its breath up to eight minutes], OTTER. Good to know!
- 51a. [What meat and dairy both lack], FIBER. Eat your fruits and veggies!
- 2d. [Snap, crack or pop, maybe], BREAK. I’m suddenly in the mood for Rice Krispies.
4.5 stars from me.
Amanda Rafkin’s Inkubator crossword, “Twitter Alert”—Amy’s recap
It’s Amy filling in for a vacationing Jenni, with a quick recap of the puzzle. Theme revealer is 59a. [Nelly Furtado hit that begins “You’re beautiful, that’s for sure…” and a hint to 17-, 24-, 38-, and 49-Across], “I’M LIKE A BIRD,” and those themers are bird similes:
- 16a. [*Pretty sagacious], WISE AS AN OWL.
- 23a. [*Pretty bare], NAKED AS A JAYBIRD. So … covered with feathers, then?
- 37a. [*Pretty boastful], PROUD AS A PEACOCK.
- 48a. [*Pretty poised?], GRACEFUL AS A SWAN.
Somehow, the ostrich, emu, rhea, and cassowary are left out of the simile party. Dangerous as a cassowary?
The fill is peppered with pop culture: Music’s Janelle MONAE, REO Speedwagon, composer Erik SATIE ([French composer Erik who purported to have only eaten white foods]); TV and/or film’s ABE Maisel, Time LORDS, DONNA REED; Broadway’s AARON Tveit, “She USED to Be Mine” from Waitress, and “Me and the SKY” from Come From Away; a ComicCon (etc.) NERD; multidisciplinary Jane FONDA and Yoko ONO; literature’s ARE You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and a specific contemporary ODE (see below); and video games’ LUIGI. I enjoyed it all.
Fresh clue for ODE: 58a. “___ to the Female Reproductive System” (Sharon Olds poem)]. OMG! I had not heard of this poet before, but I checked out the table of contents for her Odes book, and there are dozens of odes in this volume. “Ode of Withered Cleavage,” “Ode to Menstrual Blood,” “Ode to the Word Vulva,” and many more. Well! I navigated straight to my local indie bookstore’s website and ordered myself a copy.
Four stars from me.
Caitlin Reid’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Happy Friday folks! We’ve got a fun and breezy puzzle from Caitlin Reid, master of entertaining, easy themelesses with shiny entries and engaging clues. What a great puzzle to kick off ACPT weekend!
The longer stuff today includes GIVE IT A REST (my favorite) / STRIKE ONE / LAST MINUTE / WHAT A SHAME / WINE GLASS / TIMESHARE / DIRT CHEAP. GIVE IT A REST is so evocative! And the clue [“Oh, stop complaining already”] is a great translation. These are all great long entries, sprinkled throughout the puzzle instead of in stacks, which made for a pretty smooth and straightforward solve. I always find those little staircases-with-an-extra-long step funny because they remind me of my basement stairs, which I have been informed are a “health hazard” and “not up to code.”
A few more things:
- Favorite clues:
- [Whence a famous garden snake?] for EDEN – why is the word “whence” so funny??
- [“You hate to see it”] for WHAT A SHAME – perfect 1-to-1 colloquial translation!
- [Items spotted in a casino?] for DICE – because they have spots, see
- [Expert in crown molding?] for DENTIST – yep this rules
- Fill I could live without:
- This isn’t *really* fill I could live without, but I do always chuckle a little when EAST LA shows up in puzzles because I know how often Crossfire tries to get me to use it. Such great letters! But at this point maybe a crossword cliché that appears more often than its cultural relevance outside of LA would merit? Regardless, it’s valid and I definitely *can* live with it, but I do notice it!
- Otherwise clean as a whistle! (Are whistles particularly clean? I never understood this expression).
- Enjoyed BAA BAA and BOW WOW and appreciate that they were not cross-referenced
- Truly despised Ren and STIMPY as a kid and have no intentions of revisiting this opinion as an adult
- I have to say, I searched for the MEN at Work “Who Can It Be Now?” video to include with this post, expecting to just copy the embed code and move on, and then I sat transfixed for 3 minutes and 27 seconds watching the entire thing because it’s amazing and hilarious and wow I just highly recommend you also watch this full video to start your day:
Overall, tons of stars from me; this was a fun, easy, well-clued-and-gridded themeless Friday. Good luck at ACPT to those who are competing, and pick up your BAF puzzles if you have not yet done so!
Chris Gross and Mark McClain’s Universal crossword, “It’s All Greek to Me”—Jim P’s review
Well, it’s not all Greek—only the beginning part of each theme answer wherein we find two Greek letters put together that sound like the original words from the original phrases.
- 20a. [The “Terminator” remake featuring Achilles won a Saturn Award for best …] PSI PHI MOVIE. Sci-fi movie.
- 37a. [When Zeus was unhappy with life, he was …] DELTA NU HAND. Dealt a new hand.
- 57a. [When Athenians settled on the Nile, they named their town …] CHI RHO EGYPT. Cairo, Egypt.
On the one hand I wanted another theme answer because I thought these were interesting. On the other hand, the clues are on the unwieldy side, and when you’re solving for time in order to practice for the ACPT (you’re “going,” aren’t you?) trying to wrangle a squirmy clue takes a bite out of your time. Still, these were goofy but fun.
Having only three themers I would hope to see plenty of zippy fill, but the blocks on either end of an 11-letter central entry put some limits on what can be done on the sides of the grid. As a result, this puzzle doesn’t feature long marquee non-theme answers, but it does have some hefty corners, and they’re nicely filled. I like the MEMPHIS / AVOCADO stack.
Clues of note:
- 14a. [Word with a double meaning?]. DUAL. Good clue. At first I thought it was referring to the fact that it sounds like “duel,” but no, DUAL means “double.”
- 51a. [“Bye-bye,” to a Brit]. TATA. I lived in England for seven years and never heard anyone say this. Of course, I wasn’t around upper-crust types who are the ones we imagine saying TATA.
- 32d. [Many have round bodies and narrow necks]. The leading U made me think UKES, but it’s URNS.
- 47d. [Matchbox plaything]. Ha! Don’t play with matches, kids. This clue is referring to a TOY CAR.
Nice clean grid though it’s light on theme and long fill. 3.6 stars.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LOs Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
A 15×16 grid accommodates the two-part themer in the central rows. I didn’t understand what the theme was until finally completing that section, though to be honest as I was flying through the crossword, only half an eye was focussed on what the theme might be.
- 15a. [Judicious use of an Egyptian goddess?] ISIS MANAGEMENT.
- 20a. [Source of some cruise ship beer?] AFT BREWWERY.
- 35a/40a [… good advice for correcting a manuscript] EDIT WHERE | EDIT IS DUE.
- 52a. [What a theater hopes its “Bus Stop” revival will be?] INGE WORTHY.
- 58a. [Audiophile’s flat, say?] AMPED APARTMENT.
So these are all obviously missing an initial CR: crisis management, craft brewery, credit where credit is due, cringeworthy, cramped apartment.
- 1d [Franchise whose opening themes are songs by The Who] CSI. Did not know this, as I haven’t seen any of the shows. Wikipedia tells me that “all four … are remixes of songs performed by The Who: “Who Are You”, “We Don’t Get Fooled Again”, “Baba O’Riley”, and “I Can See For Miles”. And now I’ve figured out a C-R musical selection to share (I really didn’t want to settle for the cheesy Bacharach/David theme to Casino Royale.) Terry Riley’s most famous work and an influence on “Baba O’Riley”, “In C“:
- 5d [Where Mark Whatney was stranded for about 560 sols, in a 2015 film] ON MARS. That’s a lot of sciencing.
- 14d [Kierkegaard, e.g.] DANE. Last night I watched a Danish film whose premise was based on a Norwegian
philosopher’spsychiatrist’s hypothesis that humans inherently have a blood alcohol level deficiency of 0.05%. 23d [Stupefy] BESOT.
- 24d [Nomadic shelter] YURT. Did you know that there’s a modern yurt movement? It’s associated with the tiny house aesthetic. These structures tend to be more permanently located than their traditional Mongolian ancestors.
- The two tricky short downs, plus a rather open-ended third, in the center area ensured that the two-part themer—and hence the theme itself—would elude me until the very end of the solve. 30d [Just what the doctor ordered] MEDS, 31d [U.S. Cabinet-level dept.] EDUC, 32d [Family __ ] TIES.
- 1a [Opening for recorded music] CD SLOT. Cute.
A perfectly omulent ossword.