Owen Travis & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Golden Touch”—Jim P’s review
Theme: The circled letters in the grid “touch” entries (both Across and Down) which normally start with the word “Golden.” Further, the five circled letters spell out the name MIDAS.
- 6a [General Mills cereal with ridged pieces] GRAHAMS crossing 11d [Ideal position between two extremes] MEAN. Golden Grahams, golden mean. Golden Grahams I know, but if I ever knew golden mean, it’s buried deep. The term originates with none other than Aristotle.
- 18a [California Historical Landmark since 1987] GATE BRIDGE crossing 14d [It was driven by Leland Stanford on May 10, 1869] SPIKE. Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Spike. Neat little factoid in the latter clue.
- 39a [Yellow fruit featured on a 2013 series of stamps] DELICIOUS APPLES crossing 24d [Huge blast from the past] OLDIE. I hope whoever named golden delicious apples and their cousins red delicious apples was drummed out of the fruit-naming business. As a kid you’d think, “Wow it even has ‘delicious’ in the name! This is going to be great!” only to find it tastes terrible, and then you’re put off of apples for years until you learn there are so many better apples out there. My current favorite is the Rockit Apple. Most stores here in western Washington carry these. Do you have them where you are? If not, what’s your fave apple?
- 57a [Prize for “1917” in 2020] GLOBE AWARD crossing 60d [Senior, informally] AGER. Golden Globe Award, golden ager.
- 68a [Shiny prizes found in five special Wonka Bars] TICKETS crossing 58d [Blondish retriever mixes] LABS. Golden Tickets, golden labs. ?”I’ve got a golden ticket! I’ve got a golden twinkle in my eye!”? Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of those movies I can and have watched over and over again. Recently I learned there’s a whole subreddit focused on hating on Grandpa Joe. It’s hilarious.
Multiple layers to the theme and a very nice aha moment made this fun to solve. And if you’re going to reference Willy Wonka, you get my vote. Well done, guys.
In the fill NEURALGIA [Shooting pain] is a new word to me but I’m glad to learn it. EASY READS and “I GIVE UP” are the other nice entries. I didn’t know LEVITRA [Its 2004 ads featured Mike Ditka] nor AVENUE B [1999 Iggy Pop album written while he lived in New York’s Alphabet City] which made that SW corner tough to crack.
Clues of note:
- 1a. [Nice place to get curled up?]. SALON. I was thinking bicep curls the whole way. Good clue.
- 69a. [Controversial missionary Junípero]. SERRA. Not only was he a missionary, but he was canonized as a saint in 2015 by Pope Francis. Having grown up in California, I’ve been to a number of missions over the years but never learned about the abuses SERRA is accused of such as forced conversions, corporal punishment, and cultural assimilation. The recent activism sparked by the murder of George Floyd spilled over into Native American activism resulting in the toppling of a number of statues of SERRA.
- 12d. [Volleyball stats] SETS and 13d. [Volleyball stat] DIG. Can you have a singular stat? Wouldn’t that be the same as saying a touchdown is a football stat? Doesn’t work for me.
- 48d. [Buffalo wing, e.g.]. SABRE. Ah, I just got this one. Hockey. Tricksy.
- 56d. [“___ plaisir!”]. AVEC. Translation: “With pleasure!”
- 59d. [Low dam in a river]. WEIR. Constructors, I’d say author Andy WEIR is crossword-worthy enough for a clue. He wrote The Martian which was adapted into a Matt Damon film and his latest is Project Hail Mary which is in the works as a Ryan Gosling vehicle. Both are excellent sci-fi books, and I especially enjoyed the latter one.
Wow. I was especially loquacious today. I’ll try not to do that again. Anyway, a nifty puzzle. Four stars.
Joe Deeney’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
Joe Deeney’s puzzle for today’s NYT is a big deal. No, literally, it’s a big deal. We have four sets of raised squares in the app version of the puzzle, and I suspect the print version looks like this as well:
- 20A: “I can’t believe I said that” — ME AND MY MOUTH
- 30A: “Hold it, buster!” — WHAT’S THE IDEA
- 39A: “This favor doesn’t come cheap” — YOU OWE ME TIME
- 51A: “Really can’t count on it, I’m afraid” — THAT’S A VERY IF
The slightly larger squares are indicate the word enclosed is BIG – ME AND MY (BIG) MOUTH, WHAT’S THE (BIG) IDEA, YOU OWE ME (BIG) TIME, and THAT’S A VERY BIG (IF). It was a nice AHA when I solved this, but I’m not sure the formatting of the grid really feels “big” to me.
In case you haven’t seen an ophicleide (the instrument largely replaced by the TUBA), now we’ve both learned something!
Other grid bits of interest: OWLET delightfully clued as “A little snowy, perhaps?”, curling RINKS, the ST REGIS hotel (which I was parsing forever as “Stregis?”), HOW ON EARTH, STAY ON TASK, and VLOG.
Ross Trudeau and Chandi Deitmer Universal crossword, “Change the Covers”— Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: The word TOPS is anagrammed at the top of theme answers.
- STOP DROP AND ROLL
- POST MALONE
- SPOT ADS
- OPTS OUT
- POTS OF GOLD
- (revealer) CONVERTIBLE TOPS
The theme isn’t anything new here, but the construction of this is remarkable in that there is A LOT of real estate being eaten up by all that theme, which (way more often than not) usually results in very cruddy fill. The fill here, however, sparkles for the most part.
UZO Aduba, DATING APP (with a stellar clue), JUMP ROPES, HALAL, AOC! Lots to like.
Not much to grumble at either. Chris CUOMO is now the CUOMO of choice in crosswords, though I find his lack of coverage about his brother’s misgivings off-putting (I wouldn’t care much were it not so juxtaposed with his lavish praise and constant invitations for guest spots on his show during the height of the pandemic). And I don’t think I’ve seen OOPSY spelled like that before. I’m more of an OOPSIE kinda guy.
I learned that AKITAS clean themselves like cats. That’s fun.
Enjoyable one today. 3.9 stars.
David Poole’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
A fairly typical LAT theme is offered today by David Poole. LOOSE is an uncommon scramble signaler, but in any case, the revealer is LOOSELEAF and the word LEAF is hidden across four entries. Either A in PRIMALFEAR could be used to make LEAF, though the very specific text of the revealer suggests we use the second. The other entries are the obsolescent? YARDOFALE, the trickily clued as a standard PIRATEFLAG and PERSONALEFFECTS, which I don’t really associate with property insurance specifically, despite the clue.
With five theme entries, the grid was somewhat crowded, so not much too flashy. It felt like a lot of the medium length entries were names, albeit accessible ones.