Adam Vincent’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
The name of the game is sales spiels, with familiar phrases clued as if they’re promotional spiels:
- 17a. [“Please continue your generous support of the church”], MASS APPEAL. An appeal for money, during Catholic Mass.
- 27a. [“This device makes prepping cherries a breeze”], PITTER PATTER. Patter about a cherry pitter. I forgot to eat any cherries today! They’re in the fridge waiting for me.
- 44a. [“Students should report to the gym for a special presentation”], ASSEMBLY LINE. OK, this one’s more of an exhortation than a sales pitch.
- 58a. [“This medicine will reduce your temperature in no time”], FEVER PITCH. Word to the wise: Don’t overdo it with ibuprofen as it can damage kidneys, and don’t overdo it with acetaminophen as it can damage livers. Moderation!
Fave fill: DYSTOPIA, DNA SAMPLE (ptoo, ptoo), and BLUE STATE (though I wouldn’t have minded a blue-less clue for AZURE).
Informational clue: 65a. [Word that comes from the Lakota for “dwelling”], TEPEE. Know your native etymologies!
3.6 stars from me.
Tom Locke’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “S-Mashups”—Jim P’s review
Car makes are mashed together to create new phrases.
- 16a. [Beach volleyball, e.g. (Chevrolet, Range Rover)] MALIBU SPORT.
- 22a. [Canadian bush pilot (GMC, Lincoln)] YUKON AVIATOR.
- 34a. [Ranch job (Ford, Jeep)] MUSTANG WRANGLER.
- 46a. [Steak (Subaru, Kia)] OUTBACK FORTE.
- 56a. [General Sherman decoration (Toyota, Nissan)] SEQUOIA LEAF. The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park, not the actual General Sherman.
I’m confused as to why these clues aren’t question-marked. Usually if the theme entries aren’t actual, known phrases, then we mark the clues with question marks. It doesn’t seem like this puzzle should be any different. For example, the clue [Steak?] seems appropriate for the answer OUTBACK FORTE.
The title also confused me at first as well. I was expecting the letter S to play heavily into the theme, but I think it’s just there because we’re mashing cars together. A mashup is putting two disparate things together. A smashup is cars colliding.
Despite those issues, I enjoyed the concept here even if I didn’t know all the car models (Range Rover Sport, for example, or Lincoln Aviator).
Fave fill: SWEET TALKS, GUANO, YURT. Could’ve done without partial AT NO and 1970s initialism SLA. There also seemed to be a heavy amount of abbreviations as well: SRO, BTU, SLA, NOR, ONT, FWD, SLC, QUE.
Clues of note:
- 28a. [Due date, often]. FIRST. Maybe when the rent is due, I guess?
- 29a. [Perpetrator, in cop show lingo]. DOER. Really? I’ve only ever heard “perp.”
Nice theme even though it has some confusing aspects. 3.6 stars.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today crossword, “Secret Code” — Sophia’s recap
Theme: Each theme answer has the word “code” hidden within it.
- 17a [Topping for molletes] – PICO DE GALLO
- 38a [Financial institution whose name can be found on pesos] – BANCO DE MEXICO
- 63a [Spring holiday] – CINCO DE MAYO
It’s always so satisfying when the title of a puzzle goes perfectly with the theme! I found it interesting that each of the theme answers was in the form of “____ DE ____”. I’m not sure if there are any english phrases that split the letters C O D E across multiple words and completely obscure the meaning of the “code” itself, so I like this choice. As food obsessed as I am, I didn’t know what molletes were – in Mexican cuisine, they’re an open-faced sandwich with cheese, beans, and PICO DE GALLO. Sounds delicious.
Besides the theme answers, I was very impressed by the number of long answers packed into the northeast and southwest corners of the puzzle. All six answers are fantastic and don’t need any bad answers to hold them together. My personal favorite was HOT TOPIC (was anyone else sad in the NYT last Friday when the plural of this answer was not clued as the store? Just me? Ok.), with ANACONDA and I’D LOVE TO as other standouts. The only part of the grid that gave me some trouble was the northwest with its large number of names: ANNIE, EDIE, IRENE. I didn’t know the people/etymology mentioned here, but luckily all the names themselves are fairly common, so I was able to get them with some crosses. Having never heard of AESOP soap certainly didn’t help me out, though.
- This puzzle was basically a zoo: ANACONDA, GATORS, ANTS, MOTHS, the generic ANIMAL, and clue references to sharks, bears, birds, and critters.
- BAGELS totally count as a rolls, but I took a while to see this answer – I kept wanting something sweet, a la cinnamon rolls.
- I personally don’t think “Industry” is a very exciting state motto (sorry UTAH). Comment your favorite state mottos below: I enjoy Alaska’s “North To The Future” because it sounds like a movie title.
Karen Lurie’s AVCX, “You Hate to See It” — Ben’s Review
This week’s AVCX is a World Debut by constructor Karen Lurie. Congrats, Karen!
The puzzle is titled “You Hate to See It”, and that’s a good ethos for what’s going on in this grid if you look at the theme entries:
- 22A: Banal beiges and buffs on office walls? (Tsk, so boring) — TANS OF INDUSTRY
- 29A: Spills that will totally ruin Thanksgiving? (Tsk, those stains are never coming out) — GRAVY FALLS
- 44A: “Tsk, such a shame when someone resorts to that search engine”, e.g.? — BING REMARK
- 52A: “Tsk, you’re playing ‘The Dream of the Blue Turtles’ *again*?” — STING, STILL
- 67A: Too wary of chafing to cosplay as a knight at RenFaire? (Tsk, there’s ointments for that) — SUS OF ARMOR
- 74A: Setbacks for vaulters using illegal equipment? (Tsk, hardly the Olympic spirit) — POLE REJECTIONS
If you hate to see “IT”, you’d probably remove it from the phrases TITANS OF INDUSTRY, GRAVITY FALLS, BITING REMARK, SITTING STILL, SUITS OF ARMOR, and POLITE REJECTIONS to get the phrases above. If you’re not familiar with “sus” as an abbreviation for “suspect”, you probably haven’t played much Among Us, where you need to be communicating one of your fellow crewmates is suspected of being an alien very quickly before a vote.
Ah, yes, the theme song for GRAVY FALLS.
A few other nice pieces of fill in this grid: BORNEO (“Pretty much the only place you’ll find a proboscis monkey”), ROPE TOW, CORKAGE, CAN’T EVEN, PALADIN, SATSUMA, NO AGENDA, and DARK SIDE
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s New Yorker Crossword — Matthew’s Review
Today’s themeless from Liz Gorski is jam-packed with good stuff, some I was happy to learn (assuming I can commit it to memory), and some I’m happy to remember.
The marquee entry NO MATTER WHAT I DO (34a- “Why even bother?”) across the middle, is bracketed by a fun juxtaposition of the painter RAPHAEL and children’s horror author R.L. STINE. And there’s fun stuff around the corners, too: SEA MONSTER (11d- Scylla or Charybdis, in the Odyssey) and ORANGE ZEST (27d- Aromatic navel scrapings?) in particular.
Even the glue-y fill came with clues that brought a smile: a B.B. King reference for the partial at 23d- UP AT, and the great clue [Terms of an extended sentence?] for 37d- ANDS.
- 8d– [Reggae trailblazer Tosh]. PETER Tosh is someone I first learned from crosswords years ago, which maybe shows my age. When the last name is in the grid, I still have to pause to differentiate from John Tesh.
- 46a– Meryl STREEP is [Hoffman’s “Kramer vs. Kramer” co-star], and that’s a movie I really need to see.
- 52d– [Family with a longtime ownership stake in the New York Giants] is the MARAs. The same Maras as the actresses Kate and Rooney, who are related through their mother to the Rooney family, owners of another NFL team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Natural Growth” — pannonica’s write-up
A progression theme, hinging on the second word of two-part phrases.
- 17a. [Tournament favorite] FIRST SEED. To my surprise, it Ngrams better than TOP SEED.
- 25a. [Problem-solve] TROUBLESHOOT. Again relying on Ngrams, the compound word far surpasses the two-word version.
- 41a. [Diagram of options] DECISION TREE.
- 55a. [Yield the desired result] BEAR FRUIT.
Though none of these in the loose sequence—seed, shoot, tree, fruit—are literally dendrological in meaning, the latter two tread quite close. Still, it’s a coherent enough theme.
Let’s survey the rest of the fill.
- 8d [Not divisible by two] ODD. The clue seems… incomplete, if not inaccurate.
- 13d [Flower pollinators] BEES. Theme-adjacent?
- Nifty symmetrical pair of 11d [Building with a bell and a pole] FIREHOUSE and 31d [Ornate-but-temporary winter structure] ICE CASTLE.
- 36d [Natural resource management subj.] ECOL. Theme-adjacent!
- Favorite clue: 40d [Bottom line on a letter, say?] SERIF. Perhaps the only clue/answer combo that genuinely AMUSEd (47d) me.
- 61d [Like the observation “Crosswords are similar to life …”] DEEP. Uhm, I’d say no to this one as well. Or at least a very emphatic ‘not necessarily’. At minimum have a qualifier à la ‘perhaps’ or ‘say’.
Alan Olschwang’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
The most interesting thing for me about Alan Olschwang’s puzzle was learning that the revealing answer, THREEPEATS, was trademarked. I’m not sure how that can be possible, but ok. The puzzle theme itself is quite simple: several two part phrases’ first parts end in a double letter which is followed, in the second part, with the same letter. We have STIFFFINE, SQUALLLINE, JOSSSTICK and SHOOOFF, with a hidden message encouraging us to FLOS.
Unusual bits and bobs:
- [Bar Keepers Friend alternative], AJAX. Never heard of BKF. What a goofy name!
- [Native Israeli], SABRA is one of those answers it’s worth pencilling down for future crosswords.
- [Tiny leaf opening], STOMA. Normally seen in the plural form as stomata.