John Hawksley’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Another pair of triple-stacks—not so long after the last one, if memory serves.
Fave fill: “SHIVER ME TIMBERS,” “HOTEL CALIFORNIA,” FUN-SIZE, “HATERS GONNA HATE,” “I NEED A HUGE FAVOR,” “IT HAPPENS,” CHILE VERDE, and MOTHER’S DAY.
Less keen on HOT TO, IF A, ENORM, JQA, AGHA.
Moving along to five more things:
- 17a. [Ways in which different cultures interact], ETHNIC RELATIONS. What an odd term, and not one I’m familiar with. Wikipedia has a bit about the sociology thereof.
- 22a. [Name ending for Mari- or Rosa-], LYN. Better or worse approach than just going with Lyn Nofziger, White House guy in the 1970s and 1980s? Why not use Brook- in place of Rosa-? Or Kate-, since that’s a common spelling of the Caitlin name now.
- 59a. [Digs near a flower bed, say], GARDEN APARTMENT. Here in Chicago, a garden apartment is just a basement-to-aboveground unit whose windows look straight out to the sidewalk or yard. Actual gardens don’t come into play nearly often enough. Also, memo to the men out there: Many non-men don’t feel safe living in garden apartments because it’s too easy for creeps to break in through the windows. If only far fewer men posed a danger, eh? Garden apartments often rent for less money, so it’s another woman tax. (And if you think it’s exhausting to hear about it, imagine how exhausting it is to live your life needing to be cognizant of those risks, changing your behavior in the hopes of skirting danger.)
- 23d. [Apparel often worn with sandals], TOGA. I was really thinking of summer fun here and not ancient Rome. Just me?
- 33d. [Black sorority with 300,000+ members, in brief], AKA. Alpha Kappa Alpha is, I think, the most famous Black sorority in the country—Kamala Harris is a member. Watch for pink and green license plate frames with “AKA” on them!
Four stars from me.
Hannah Slovut’s USA Today crossword, “Endpaper”—Darby’s write-up
Edited by: Erik Agard
Theme: Every theme answer ends with a prefix that refers to a type of paper.
- 16a [“Shaping service at a salon”] EYEBROW WAX / WALLPAPER
- 25a [“Boundary you won’t compromise on”] LINE IN THE SAND / SANDPAPER
- 54a [“Something a character might break”] FOURTH WALL / WALLPAPER
This was definitely a fun theme to work with, especially with LINE IN THE SAND and FOURTH WALL. There’s so much we as constructors and solvers can do with a FOURTH WALL in a puzzle (maybe I’m just riding the high of finishing BEQ’s “Going Too Far” from yesterday. I was a bit confused by the long answer in 25d [“Citrusy dessert topping”] LEMON GLAZE in thinking that perhaps it would tie into the theme. Glaze paper? Is that a thing yet? You could use it on donuts. But this is quickly ruined by 10d [“‘I’m not going to say it again’”] YOU HEARD ME, which is delightful but not part of the theme.
Grid-wise, I liked this stacked center section with my favorite little stairwells at caddy corner opposites. I also enjoyed how this was framed by both TASK and ANTE on one side and GLEE and OARS on the other, making for a slight concentration of black squares in rows 5 and 11.
Some Friday faves:
- 48a [“Dish similar to sofkee”] – I’m not a big fan of GRITS, but I thought that the reference to sofkee or sofkey here was really nice. It refers to an Indigenous dish made by several tribes, including the Muscogee and the Cherokee. You can read more about it here.
- 24d [“Title character with a ‘Declassified School Survival Guide’”] – I loved NED’s Declassified School Survival Guide when I was younger, so this was a real treat. GLEE in 44a [“TV show with Jenna Ushkowitz as Tina Cohen-Chang”] was slightly less fun to remember, but I love that Tina is the character highlighted here.
- 46d [“JSTOR downloads”] – As a student and someone constantly filling up her computer with JSTOR PDFS, this was very fun to see. Doing research is fun!!
Anyway, fun puzzle for a Friday! Have a good weekend, and I’ll catch you on Sunday!
Ann Shan and Matthew Stock’s Universal crossword, “Something’s Fishy”—Jim P’s review
Our theme today consists of food items with sea critters in the name that aren’t actually SEAFOOD (38a, [Coastal fare, and what each starred clue’s answer surprisingly isn’t?]).
- 17a. [*Light, airy dessert] SPONGE CAKE.
- 24a. [*Chowder accompaniments] OYSTER CRACKERS. I always wondered why they were called that. Wikipedia says they were often served with oyster stew and they bear a physical similarity to the mollusk.
- 50a. [*Frozen dessert with chocolate and pecans] TURTLE ICE CREAM. It’s vanilla ice cream with swirls of fudge and caramel, plus pecans. The name is derived from turtle candies which have similar ingredients and are shaped like turtles.
- 62a. [*Small, sour fruits] CRAB APPLES. There are multiple theories for the word CRAB here. 1) It may be an alteration of the Swedish skrabba which means “fruit of the wild apple tree.” 2) Someone who’s crabby can be called “sour” as the crab apple is sour. 3) The branches of a crab apple tree resemble crab legs. I’d put my money on the first one.
This was a fun set with a fairly tight theme. Can you think of any other entries that fall into this category?
In the fill, I love the folksy “LOOKY HERE” and “SEE YA SOON.” “OH, POO” is another fun colloquialism; I like it, though it did come as a surprise. REGATTAS, SEQUENCES, DECRYPTS, END TABLES, YANKEE, and ALT FOLK are all assets to the grid.
I’m not so sure about I-BANKERS [Certain financial adviser, informally] though I expect the I is for “investment” and has nothing to do with Apple. And I’m on the fence re: “I’M A FAN.” It feels a little unnatural, but I’m also pretty sure I’ve heard it used before.
I have to question AREPAS [Colombian cornmeal treats]. I wouldn’t expect the average solver to know this. Why not just turn it into ARENAS, especially given there’s already a food theme going on? But let’s turn this into a learning opportunity, yeah? Per Wikipedia,
The arepa is a flat, round, unleavened patty of soaked, ground kernels of maize, or—more frequently nowadays—maize meal or maize flour that can be grilled, baked, fried, boiled or steamed. The characteristics vary by color, flavor, size, and the food with which it may be stuffed, depending on the region. Simple arepas are filled with butter or cheese and baked. More filling varieties can be topped or filled with combinations of ingredients like beans, meat, avocados, eggs, tomatoes, salad, shrimp, or fish depending on the meal.
All right, I’m sold. This may require some first-hand gastronomic investigation.
Clues of note:
- 37a. [Apt pronoun for Gabi Wilson]. HER. I’m old, so I didn’t recognize the name. She is known professionally as H.E.R.
- 9d. [“Lookin’ forward to it!”]. “SEE YA SOON.” Those don’t quite equate in my mind. The clue is referring to an event with no expectation that the second person will or won’t be there.
- 50d. [Pointers in the kitchen?]. TINES. Hmm. They’re pointy, but I don’t think that makes them pointers.
Overall, an enjoyable theme and puzzle. Four stars.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The letter F is appended to the beginnings of familiar phrases to wacky effect.
- 19a. [Like one hiding contraband on his person?] FRISK-AVERSE (risk-averse).
- 24a. [First-time hot-dog griller?] FRANK AMATEUR (rank amateur).
- 44a. [Like designers of Halloween costumes?] FRIGHT-MINDED (fright-minded).
- 55a. [Campus anti-hazing policy, basically?] FRAT CONTROL (rat control).
Nothing fancy here, no spelling alterations required. Theme would be stronger if the letter F was banished from all non-theme parts of the grid—which I suspect was intended—but there is one holdout, in the lower right at the crossing of FLA and FRAME (49a/49d). I don’t see a quick patch for it, so it would entail significant rework.
- 3d [Harbor city of ancient Rome] OSTIA.
- 10d [Toy since ancient times] PEKE. Fooled me, as I was thinking of KITE or YO-YO.
- 11d [KLM hub letters] AMS, the standard international initialism for Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
- 20d [Ute relative] VAN. This one also fooled me; not the Native American group or their language.
- 48a [Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” e.g.] GIRL. Huh, weird clue.
I guess it’s appropriate that the crossword ran on a Friday.
Elizabeth Gorski’s New Yorker puzzle– malaika’s write-up
Good morning! Today’s solving music was Adele’s new album, specifically “I Drink Wine.” I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed one of Liz’s puzzles for Fiend– she tends to do the trickier Mondays. This was a very sectioned off grid, with those NW and SE corners only connected to the rest of the puzzle by one entry. (The NW was the last to fall for me– I probably spent half of my time on that section.) Also, no entry in the grid was longer than nine letters– unusual for a themeless!
A lot of trivia / proper nouns that I didn’t know, like NORIEGA, LILY BART, RUSS Feinstein, John LECARRE. A bit of clunky fill, like AGIN (Opposite of “fer”) and NRC (Atomic-energy agcy.), but the central crossing entries (VERBAL HUG / LIKE A BOSS) were delightful, and I like clues that are tricky yet breezy, like [Writer’s tips?] for ERASERS or [“The Hobbit” characters] for RUNES.
Anne Marie Crinnion’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #25″—Rebecca’s review
Themeless debut puzzle today! Congrats Anne Marie!!
This is my favorite kind of themeless puzzle. Plenty of fun fill in every area of the puzzle, held together by clean fill. SMACKEROO, ASROLOGY, PEDAL TO THE METAL SPACE WALK, ARMADILLO, CLAYMATION….all among my favs in this puzzle.
19-Across [Field of signs] for ASTROLOGY
35-Across [Floored, in a way] for PEDAL TO THE METAL
56-Across [Notable all-woman NASA event of 2019] for SPACE WALK
Here’s some BEE GEES to start your weekend off