Adam Aaronson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Late start tonight—was watching Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which was quite enjoyable. Nice to have a slew of Asian leads in a big-budget American action movie for a change!
Lots of sparkle in this puzzle. GOPRO, REYKJAVIK, STRANGER THINGS, SECRET SANTA, the CLEAN PLATE CLUB (which was a thing my paternal grandmother was big on, hell for her grandkids who were picky eaters!), OVERSLEEP, LAYER CAKE, TACKLE BOX, TIMOTHEE Chalamet, and BATH BOMBS.
Seven more things:
- 15a. [River that’s a letter off from 20-Across], URAL / 20a. [Sea that’s a letter off from 15-Across], ARAL. Blurgh. “I’ll take Crosswordese Bodies of Water for $400.” Note that the Aral “Sea” used to be one of the world’s largest lakes and is now a group of three much smaller lakes and a bunch of dry land.
- 26a. [Stadium refrain], OLÉ, OLÉ. Feels abbreviated to me. I’ve heard “Olé, olé olé olé” as the chant.
- 47a. [Passages in a long story?], HALLS. Would halls be IN the second story or ON the second story? Clue doesn’t quite work for me. And you’d never call a level of a long, skinny building a “long story,” feels like too much of a stretch.
- New to me: 3d. [Notorious online hub for illegal file sharing, with “The”], PIRATE BAY.
- 6d. [“Anyone who has ever worn a ___ spells it ‘___,'” per a 2018 New York Times article], DURAG. I appreciate this!
- 29d. [You might take the bait from one], TACKLE BOX. Chicago just had a fishing story last weekend—a guy caught a 72 lb bighead carp (invasive species) in the Humboldt Park lagoon, which had been the site of the alligator called Chance the Snapper a couple years prior. I appreciate the Sun-Times story for providing the fishing nerdery with the equipment used by the angler.
- 40d. [Shade of pink], SALMON. If you ask me, the color of salmon is closer to orange than to pink. Who’s with me?
Four stars from me.
Brendan Sullivan’s Universal crossword, “Start at the End”— Jim Q’s write-up
Ironically, the first puzzle I’m solving today.
***This appears to be a debut for Brendan. Congratulations! And welcome!
THEME: Phrases that start with a word that means “end”
- TERMINAL COMMAND
- FINAL FANTASY
- LAST I CHECKED…
- ULTIMATE FRISBEE
Four, solid colorful phrases with a nifty little tie-in to one another. I’m sorta surprised I haven’t seen ULTIMATE FRISBEE as a grid-spanner before. It’s so good!
Had trouble with PAWN OFF / WELLS. Didn’t know the latter Ida B. and for the life of me could not figure out a letter that would make sense in PA?N. Fairly solid “Oh duh.” moment once I dropped in the W.
Nice longer post answers doubled up next to one another: SNAKE BITE / ANCESTOR and IN TRANSIT / SOY MEATS.
First time seeing IRL in a puzzle I think. Don’t see a lot of TBTs either. They’re welcome in my grid, though I’m not sure how solvers who are not frequenting social media that often would feel about them.
Thanks for this one, Brendan!
David Alfred Bywaters’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Encore” — pannonica’s write-up
The letter N (‘en’) is dropped into the center (‘core’) of each theme entry. N for November, per the NATO phonetic alphabet?
Consistently, they are all suffixed to the first word in a two-word phrase/compound word.
- 20a. [Feuding marsh birds?] BITTERN RIVALS (bitter rivals).
- 22a. [Nickname for a certain type of obsessive suburbanite?] LAWN MAN (lawman).
- 43a. [Rhythm heard in “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”?] BROWN BEAT (browbeat).
- 45a. [Influential statistician?] MEDIAN MOGUL (media mogul).
- 68a. [Sheet or tablecloth?] LINEN ITEM (line item).
- 90a. [Ultra-low carb, gluten-free bread?] LEAVEN ALONE (leave alone). Is that a correct description?
- 93a. [Mr. Hyde, to Dr. Jekyll?] DEMON MODE (demo mode).
- 116a. [Cow’s annoyance?] BARN FLY (barfly).
- 119a. [Dietitian’s suggestion?] REGIMEN CHANGE (regime change).
Supporting fill is also of good quality.
Andy Wang & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
We have a collaboration today! I wonder who did what? I found this one not too thorny at all, which is a good thing since it has been a long week. I am quite familiar with C.C. Burnikel puzzles, but not as much with Andy Wang. But that didn’t seem to cause many snags during the solve. If they can continue to make puzzles like this, this collaboration should definitely continue! 4.5 stars from me.
A few more things:
- 1A [Chinese New Year tradition] LION DANCE – I feel ignorant that I don’t know what this is, especially in a puzzle that is evidently by two people of Asian descent! I will have to look up what this is …
- 35A [__ Slam: tennis coup] SERENA – I hate this term. Serena tried to capture that elusive calendar Grand Slam, but as yet has not done it, and I don’t think it will happen at this point. She held all four titles at once, though, and thus the term in this grid. She is still arguably the greatest women’s tennis player of all time. And Venus is still beating people too, and she is into her 40s!
- 46A [1974 and 1975 Stanley Cup champions] FLYERS – Have they won one since? I don’t think so! Quite a drought for one of the major teams in the NHL.
- 49A [Korean jjigae, e.g.] STEW – I love Korean food; I just don’t have it nearly enough!
- 1D [Nigerian National Museum site] LAGOS – They cannot say [Nigerian capital] as a clue anymore; Abuja is the new capital since the early ’90s.
- 21D [“Here’s the thing … “] “YOU SEE … “ – Great casual phrase!
- 25D [Alley pickup] SPARE – Oh, THAT kind of alley!
- 39D [Shoe lift] HEEL TAP – Weird clue, but I guess if you are tapping your heel, I guess part of your shoe will be lifting!
- 58D [“Mad Money” host Cramer] JIM – He is annoying. People love to watch him for some reason, though.
That is all! I have a TON of puzzles to do today!
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper” – Derek’s write-up
I got another decent time on a Matthew Sewell Stumper puzzle! I thought I would break 10 minutes on this one, but the SE corner slowed me down for a couple of minutes. There are a few quirky answers in that corner, but after the puzzle is solved, they seem a lot easier! Not too many long answers here either, so perhaps that helped as well. Maybe all of the Boswords tough puzzles are helping as well; I am clean so far in the Fall League! Kudos to Matthew for another Stumper gem. 4.5 stars from me.
A few notes:
- 13A [What a caller once needed to hear] DIAL TONE – My phone at work still has one! It is an actual land line! (It is internet based, but still!) But with cell phones, you just hit a button. Much nicer!
- 18A [Site of the craters Casanova and Valentine] EROS – Is Eros an asteroid? Is this part of the moon? I Googled it and still cannot tell!
- 20A [Takes the first step toward punishment] ACCEPTS BLAME – Too bad a lot of people don’t do this much these days …
- 44A [Pop a cap] GO OVER BUDGET – Great clue! THAT kind of “cap”!
- 51A [Líneas Aéreas de España] IBERIA – I think this is talking about a Spanish airline; my Spanish is terrible!
- 4D [Stylistic bands] STROPS – I had STRIPS, STRAPS, and everything else here. Note the error mark in the grid!
- 8D [Korean rice dish] BIBIMBAP –
- 29D [Bag that sounds like a walk] SACHET – Sounds like sashay, alright!
- 34D [Low-carb regimen] KETO DIET – I need to go on a keto diet; I have no will power at all!
- 49D [Mid-Atlantic 15 Across athlete] TERP – 15-Across is BIG TEN, and yes, the Big 10 has 14 teams now. And may add more soon! Greed at the top of the heap of college football may end up killing it in the end. But we shall see!
Everyone have a safe and healthy weekend!
Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “WWW”—Matthew’s write-up
Theme: Three-word phrases in which each word begins with W-
- 18a- (Setting with cowboys and outlaws) WILD WILD WEST. I will never not think of the 1999 Will Smith movie.
- 34a- (Information system with many links) WORLD WIDE WEB. A series of tubes!
- 51a- (“… look what we have here!) WELL WELL WELL.
A solid, accessible theme. I like to brainstorm other possible themers on easier puzzles: “what women want” and “wee willie winkie” come to mind.
Kind of interesting grid with each corner super closed off. But plenty of good stuff all the same: HOWARD University, Disney character URSULA, NEW ENGLAND, BLOOPERS.