Brooke Husic’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I don’t know about this. A Brooke Husic puzzle on a Friday, where the clues are eased up vs. Saturday? Brooke is so innately Saturday! Her Boswords puzzle was gnarly, and I mean that in the best way. I was hoping to struggle through this puzzle, but nope, standard Friday difficult. Shortz et al, let Brooke run free with Saturday clues!
Note the symmetry here—the mini-theme of 14s, OUT OF LEFT FIELD and INSIDE BASEBALL, intersect at that I, and the axis of symmetry is the diagonal line that I is on rather than rotational symmetry or left/right symmetry. Brooke explained in her post-Boswords constructor interview that this symmetry lets her include more 14s and 12s, entries that are hard to accommodate with a rotationally symmetric grid. And there are some great phrases and names with those letter counts!
Fave fill: “IT’S SO YOU,” BACARDI (with a clue alluding to Cardi B, [Liquor brand that inspired the name of a Grammy-winning rapper]), Christina AGUILERA, PALO ALTO, Maya ANGELOU.
Seven more things:
- 14a. [Activist Copeny known as “Little Miss Flint”], MARI. Mari Copeny is 13 now (Can you believe she’s been an activist for five years already?), and she’s still organizing and raising money for Flint. People in Michigan still need water filters and young Ms. Copeny has a GoFundMe for that, along with an Amazon wish list for books for the kids of Flint. Her website has links for both of these philanthropic ventures. (I follow her on Twitter. She’s terrific.)
- 23a. [Rhythmic], CADENT. Not sure I’ve seen this adjective form before. Have you ever used it?
- 44a. [Lets, say], REDOS. As in a let in a tennis match, a serve that you have to redo. Let’s not, say, and say we did.
- 59a. [Ab ___ (absent, in Latin)], ESSE. Not a phrase I knew. Apparently it’s used in a longer phrase from logic and philosophy. I’ve never been excited to see ESSE in a grid.
- 3d. [___ moment (crowning achievement)], PROUDEST. Assignment for commenters: Tell us your PROUDEST moment in crosswords.
- 22d. [Parts of a restaurant’s overhead?], TOQUES. As in chefs’ tall hats.
- 43d. [Having the same number of karats, e.g.], AS PURE. Meh. I’m not keen on “AS [insert random adjective]” entries.
That’s all from me tonight. 3.75 stars.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword – Rachel’s writeup
Hello we made it to Friday! It’s about to be a weekend in May! And we have a very fun Friday puzzle from Patrick Berry!
This is a very clean, lovely grid with wide-open corners crammed full of fun stuff. The long entries filling up those corners are CHEF’S KISS / HURRIES UP / IDRIS ELBA // DINING CAR / ONE MINUTE / FIRE LANES, with SCREEN TIME / KEEPS HOUSE as long bonus downs. I think CHEF’S KISS (and its clue [Appreciative gesture involving bringing one’s fingers to one’s lips]) are *CHEF’S KISS*, and I’m always here for a full-named IDRIS ELBA in the grid. I also love the abundance of X’s in the NW, which reminds me of (spoiler alert) Ricky Cruz’s Boswords puzzle (which, if you haven’t solved, you should immediately stop what you’re doing and go solve).
A few more things:
- Fill I could live without: CIGNA. I think that’s it. I just don’t think anyone needs to see CIGNA in a grid, you know? But of course it’s totally fine, it’s just boring! Obviously well worth the trade-off for holding together that SW corner.
- Favorite clues:
- [Reproduced in a flash?] for XEROXED
- [Seedy figure?] for CHIA PET
- [It’s tough on your skin?] for CALLUS
Overall, so many stars from me. What a great day for themeless puzzles!! Enjoy your weekend!
Catherine Cetta’s Universal crossword, “Tennis Open”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Tennis terms “open” the theme entries.
- 17a. [Like a blunt refusal] POINT BLANK.
- 25a. [One who catches poachers] GAME WARDEN.
- 49a. [Unchangeable] SET IN STONE.
- 61a. [Fixer-upper?] MATCHMAKER. Great clue.
I have no doubt this theme has been done before in other venues, but I’m not going to go look for other examples. This one is nicely structured.
I was a little thrown off by the other long Across answers, though they’re all great: LAKE ERIE, TAKE TEN, and MINT OREO. Speaking of great fill: RAISE CAIN and RICE CAKES (an R.C. mini-theme?) plus IMMERSE, THIRSTY, MAGENTA, and ASTOUND. Oh, and SNACKS and SALAAM. That’s a fairly astounding amount of long nice entries in one themed grid. Only ELS and ETAT represent the crosswordese. Nice job on the fill!
Clues of note:
- 19a. [Button you may click before a Zoom lecture]. MUTE. I like the modern reference. Who ever heard of Zoom before this past year?
- 45d. [Sunflower oil, perhaps?]. ART. Another good clue.
Pretty sure I’ve seen this theme before, but no doubt it’s new to Universal. It’s solidly made though. The fill is the standout in this grid with plenty of fun entries and a minimum of kludge. 3.75 stars.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The theme here is rather self-evident.
- 16a. [Tight deadlines may make an electrician’s job ___ ] GO DOWN TO THE WIRE.
- 24a. [An electrician who is testing results may become a ___ ] SWITCH HITTER. I’m familiar with the phrase hit the switch, but this themer still feels like a bit too much of a stretch.
- 42a. [An electrician resolves legal matters at ___ ] CIRCUIT COURT.
- 56a. [A stressed electrician may need an ___ ] EMOTIONAL OUTLET. Am now recalling the various types of pareidolic wall outlets.
You may be shocked to hear this, but I was not
grounded floored by this theme. It does the job, but didn’t excite me (or my electrons). Okay, technically if I had any sort of reaction to it, perforce it did some electron-exciting in there. So, fine.
- 7d [Kicks up one’s heels] FROLICS.
29d [Sit a spell] REST.
- 11d [Comics dog that sounds like two letters] ODIE. Can’t say that I’ve seen this common type of clue before for this common crossword entry. Although I’d be truly surprised if it had never been done before.
- 13d [Wichita-to-Memphis dir.] ESE. Clues/answers like this are like a more constrained Roman numeral mathematics quiz.
- 22d [Cocktail word with a tilde] PIÑA simply being the Spanish word for pineapple.
- 25d [UPC bar code developer] IBM. Makes sense.
- 47d [Creator of an iconic bear] MILNE. Today is No Pants Day.
- 43d [“Wait, what?”] I’M LOST, 48d [Understood] CLEAR.
- 58d [Number of World Series wins for the Astros] ONE. Sounds as if someone has an agenda.
- 1a [“Fear the Walking Dead,” e.g.] SPINOFF, but ignorant me thought it was merely a TAGLINE.
- Favorite clue: 39a [Link to another story?] STAIR. Really excellent, this one. Runner-up: 62a [Person well over 70, probably?] SPEEDER.
- 37a [Poetic devices] SIMILES. Not to be confused with metaphors, which dispense with the explicit ‘like’ and ‘as’ indicators …
Priyanka Sethy’s Inkubator crossword, “Curb Appeal”—Jenni’s review
This is a charming debut from a new constructor. Welcome, Priya! I look forward to more from you!
We have four theme answers and a revealer.
- 17a [Unexpected story element] is a PLOT TWIST.
- 25a [Has an unsuccessful at-bat, in softball] is GROUNDS OUT. Yes, it’s the same in baseball. This is the INKubator, so the clue is from a woman’s POV. If that seems jarring to you where baseball would not….that’s the patriarchy talking.
- 37a [Warm-up before a run] is a QUAD STRETCH.
- 50a [Directive from a judge] is a COURT ORDER.
And the revealer: 60a [Lawn that faces the street…and the theme of this puzzle] is FRONT YARD. Each theme answer has a synonym for YARD at its FRONT. Nice! This is indeed lightly challenging, as the INKubator team assured us it would be.
A few other things:
- 2d [Queens and empresses] are RULERS.
- 11d is another clue you wouldn’t see in a mainstream puzzle – [Average menstrual cycle, more or less]. It’s ONE MONTH.
- 18d [Foot of fish?] made me laugh when I realized the answer is TUNA SUB.
- 51d [Like cool comebacks?] is RETRO.
- I pay HOMAGE to the INKubator team. The puzzles are consistently solid with a wide range of themes and difficulty levels, and the POV is consistent and much-needed. Brava.
What I did not know before I did this puzzle: that STADIA were ancient measures. I also did not know that Elizabeth Warren’s birth name was HERRING.
‘Karats’ are weight for diamonds or gems, purity for gold… so somewhat misleading. Nice puzzle.
Maybe they are considered variant spellings for each other, but in general usage, “karat” seems to apply to purity of gold and “carat” to weight of diamonds (one of the “four C’s” – or is it five?).
NYT: Excellent puzzle, and it felt remarkably easy for me.
I liked CADENT… glad it’s legit… I’m going to start using it.
Do you have words that you wish were legit because they render a meaning faster than the usual phrasing? My 4 yo grandson said: “This is nervousing” and I thought: Yes, we need that word! Why doesn’t exist?
I agree, Huda. I am feeling quite nervoused myself at the moment, as I will be getting vaccine #2 later today, during an appointment time when severe thunderstorms are predicted. Those are nervousing conditions.
Your grandson sounds delightful!
Spelling Bee has provided me with an opportunity to coin more words, and some of them seem like ones the language could use. I should really be writing them down.
I loved the puzzle too! I found it harder than did Amy, needing two cups of coffee to wrangle it into submission. The clues were excellent and I liked the arrangement of long entries.
CADENT new to me, too, and almost my last to fall, before MARI. But yeah, nice to know it exists.
Fascinating to see a new grid symmetry. That alone was worth the ballpark ticket.
PROUDEST moment in crosswords
Some years ago, I went to visit my elderly grandma with some other family members. She was in really bad shape physically and would quickly lose the thread in conversation.
She wasn’t really saying much during our visit — she was very dour — and then OUT OF LEFT FIELD, she lit up, turned to me, and said, “I loved your crossword puzzle! I showed it to all my bridge friends. They were all so impressed!” She was referring to an NYT Sunday puzzle I made a few years prior.
For the remainder of our stay, she would bring up my crossword puzzle every few minutes, forgetting that she had just mentioned it. It was weird at first — as if a crossword puzzle isn’t worthy of a “last conversation” — but then it became sweet and endearing and kinda funny, and I think the rest of my family actually appreciated it. It was just so nice to see her animated and happy about something — even something frivolous like an old crossword puzzle.
It was the last time any of us spoke to her; she died a few days later.