Happy Thanksgiving, crossworders! There are no WSJ or Fireball puzzles today due to the holiday.
Chase Dittrich’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Amy again, filling in for holiday Ben. Today’s theme is a two-letter rebus that doesn’t work like the typical rebus theme. Each rebus square is filled with both T and F (I entered T/F), and there are two clues for each theme entry, one working with the T and one with F:
- 18a. [Wood nymph / Independent person], TREE SPIRIT / FREE SPIRIT. TREE SPIRIT feels a tad iffy to me but I could be wrong. The Down crossing is 5d. [PC key / Sitcom ET], ALT / ALF.
- 24a. [Win at the Olympics / Cheap jewelry material], TAKE GOLD/ FAKE GOLD, crossing 24d. [Lag behind / Weak], TRAIL / FRAIL.
- 40a. [Drove a golf ball / Gain strength from], TEED OFF / FEED OFF crossing 40d. [Snitched / Throw in the cards], TOLD / FOLD.
- 54a. [Goodyear blowout / “Everything must go” event], TIRE SALE / FIRE SALE crossing 54d. [Zesty flavors / Part of a Dracula costume], TANGS / FANGS. That last word reminds me: If you’ve got Hulu, you could do worse than to binge three seasons (30 episodes) of What We Do in the Shadows, a US spin-off of the New Zealand “vampire flatmates” movie. It’s a delight (98% comedy, 2% horror).
- 60a. [Waterworks parts / Amygdalae], TEAR GLANDS / FEAR GLANDS crossing 51d. [Lay to rest / Deduce], INTER / INFER. Can’t say I’ve seen FEAR GLANDS before. Is that legit?
The revealers are 71a TRUE and 38d FALSE, both clued [One of two options in five squares in this puzzle]. I like that the rebus squares all appear at the start of the longer Across themers, a solid consistency. I don’t love a couple of the theme phrases, but overall I like this riff on the two-pronged rebus concept.
Five more things:
- 37d. [Bay window], ORIEL. Oof, crosswordese. Tight section, with FALSE crossing FIRE SALE. Do you see a way to avoid ORIEL? I’m just glad I knew ORIEL, because that crossing with 49a. [Old Spanish coins], REALES could be deadly if you don’t know one work or the other right off the bat.
- 36d. [Nonprimate with fingerprints that are nearly identical to a human’s], KOALA BEAR. Holy koala, I did not know that! And while I know that koalas are not bears in the slightest, zoologically speaking, I don’t mind the entry.
- 43a. [Numbers game], LOTTO. When you buy a lottery ticket, do you feel like you’re playing a game? I never play because I take it personally that my randomly chosen numbers aren’t the same as the game’s randomly chosen winning numbers.
- 33d. [Traffic lights you can’t go through], REDS. My husband is turning into his dad, sometimes slowing down for green lights. Would you believe that he was doing it the other day, and just when I was about to say something … a car zipped through the intersection well in front of us, blowing the red. Had we been going faster, that car could well have smashed into the side of the car I was sitting in! So I guess I can’t complain anymore?
- 31a. [Prophet who said “But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream”], AMOS. Wow, anyone else suddenly have to pee right about now?
3.66 stars from me. Maybe I’d have liked it better with crisper fill—ditch the 7-letter themer in the middle, still have the 10s, the 8s, and the 5 and 4 revealers. Thoughts?
Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “Three Hops This Time” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: The final word of each theme answer is a word that can come before “hop”
- 16a [1969-1971 Red Power occupation site now home to the annual Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving Sunrise Gathering] – ALCATRAZ ISLAND (island hop)
- 38a [Clump of lint, cutely] – DUST BUNNY (bunny hop)
- 64a [Autonomous vehicle] – SELF DRIVING CAR (car hop)
Did anyone else have the cha-cha slide running through their head the entire time they solved this puzzle? It’s too bad there weren’t any references to Charlie Brown or everybody clapping their hands… Jokes aside, this is a solid theme. The ALCATRAZ ISLAND clue is very apt for today (one of many in this puzzle, actually), and DUST BUNNY and SELF DRIVING CAR are both fun phrases. I love how Brooke took advantage of having fewer theme answers to create big corners filled with fun entries – I mean, there are soooo many good 7 letter answers here! GO AHEAD, END GAME, ALT TEXT, DO DIRTY (and that’s just picking my favorite one from each corner).
- 6d [Band ___ (bra measurement)] for SIZE is so much more the bra representation that I want to see in crosswords than the inescapable “[letter] cup”.
- I liked the clues for OVEN and KILN, 62d [Baking appliance] and 51d [62-Down for ceramics], but it was a bit disconcerting to come across the reference clue before the clue that was referenced.
I hope everyone celebrating today has a safe, restful holiday!
David P. Williams’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today’s puzzle by David P. Williams, has a theme that you likely only appreciated, if at all, after solving. It has no specific theme answers, other than the revealing BREAKDANCE. Each of TAN/GO, WAL/TZ and FLAM/ENCO are hidden between two rows, as indicated in the circles in the answer grid. There is definitely some flare points for using TZATZIKI to hide the WALTZ.
The rest of the puzzle played very “early week” for me, with few sticky spots. ROADWIN was about as esoteric as things got today.
Agnes Davidson and Zhouqin Burnikel’s Universal Crossword, “Great Location”— Jim Q’s write-up
A legendary puzzle for sure!
THEME: Places to find legends of all types.
- USED CAR LOT. As in the Acura Legend? Looks like they stopped making those a while ago! Better check the Carfax!
- CITY MAP.
- BOOK OF MYTHS.
- HALL OF FAME.
Very fun, easily understood and consistent theme. An excellent repeating clue. I’m not sure I understand the significance of the theme clues containing an asterisk. Did I miss something there? Usually, an asterisked clue will have come with a revealer. Don’t think this needed one at all.
Took me forever to see STILT [Elevation device in a flood-prone area]. I can’t help but visualize a guy from a circus act walking his way to safety saying “Glad I had these stilts handy!” But of course, houses are stilted as well.
Hope you’re all SATIATEd today!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1421, “Slices Through”—Darby’s write-up
Theme: The word PIE has been slicing into each of the themed answers. When it’s removed, you’re left with a different word or phrase.
- 18a [“Dylan went on a long tirade”] BOB SPIELED/ BOBSLED
- 27a [“Funny humans?”] COMIC SAPIENS/ COMIC SANS
- 37a [“‘60s peacenik put out of place”] DISLOCATED HIPPIE / DISLOCATED HIP
- 49a [“The Last Frontier plagiarized”] ALASKA COPIED / ALASKA COD
- 58a [“Diaper that’s impossible to get clean?”] DIRTY NAPPIE / DIRT NAP
The insertion of PIE was particularly appropriate for the holiday, though I’d also say that frontier references such as those found in 49a are a reminder of this holiday’s roots in settler colonial narratives in which white Europeans dispossessed Indigenous peoples of their land. The idea of the “frontier,” after all, leaves out the fact that these lands belonged to someone before white one-day Americans arrived.
A few other things I noticed
- 17a [“Make more cheesy”] – HAM UP was a cute answer for this since the clue involves one food word and this includes another.
- 22a [“Like mad, for Kim Deal”] – I was recently telling someone that I really enjoy ANAGRAM puzzles, so it was fun to realize what the answer to this clue was.
- 13d [“2020 Disney remake”] – We had several recent films referenced in this puzzle, including MULAN in this clue, House of Gucci in 5d [“‘House of Gucci’ actor”] AL PACINO, and 20a [“‘___ Holmes’ (2020 movie about Sherlock’s sister)”] ENOLA. The last of these crosses MULAN in a sort of 2020 film duet.
Anyway, sorry for the late post! Hope y’all enjoyed your turkey/tofurkey day!
NYT: Amy asked:
” Can’t say I’ve seen FEAR GLANDS before. Is that legit?”
Answer: Not! The Amygdala is a brain region, it is not a gland. The bit about fear is partially correct. The amygdala is important in fear perception but there are other brain areas that participate, and the amygdala itself performs many other functions. But the association between the amygdala and fear is true enough. The gland part? FALSE.
Calling the amygdala a GLAND is a major error. That should never have made it into print.
The HPA axis (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal—all of which secrete hormones) is more legit but would make for abysmal fill
NYT: I agree that FEARGLANDS is not in the language. And as someone more science-minded than me pointed out in the Wordplay comments, the amygdala is not a gland.
Overall, it was a decent puzzle. I’ve been doing so many puzzles lately (including NYT from the mid-1990’s) that fill has to be really crappy to bother me. There is a lot of so-so fill in this one, but nothing that truly turns me off. (Well, maybe FEARGLANDS, but since I liked the theme, I can let that one slide.)
And I can’t not like a puzzle that’s got my husband’s name in it.
…and your husband’s name is…? where in the puzzle? is it Amygdala? koalabear? ;D
Enos, Leslie, or Dana? But Koala Bear would be awesome!
maybe amos? I agree with koalabear :)
It’s Rascal. He’s a raccoon. Don’t @ me.
Alf? +1 on Koala Bear.
HAS AT IT / HAS A FIT could have been another theme answer. The crossing would be TEES / FEES or TESS / FESS to fix the dupe with TEES and TEED OFF.
NYT: I don’t know FEARGLANDS or TEARGLANDS. I know of tear ducts – are tear ducts and tear glands the same thing?
And while I know that koalas are not bears in the slightest, zoologically speaking, I don’t mind the entry.
Australian here, and I totally mind the entry. They’re koalas, people!
No, tear ducts are the openings we can see externally that lead to the lacrimal glands where tears are produced.
Between the glands and bear, the puzzle was severely diminished for me.
I fully expected this from you, with no disagreements.
So predictable am I.
I’ve heard the usage KOALA BEAR, and it’s in MW11C as well. It’s not a bear, but that’s not a problem for the entry itself for me. OK, GLAND wasn’t quite right, but I really liked the puzzle.
I started with the idea of two letters in a square before realizing it’d be consistently TF, then longer to see that it could translate into TRUE and FALSE. So an unfolding aha.
Only Americans say “koala bear”. Anytime someone says that in earshot of Australians, there is a unanimous chorus of “They’re not bears!” If you want to annoy Australians, say this. Say “Ayers Rock” instead of Uluru to increase the effect.
Is it standard that the NYT rebus answers have to be entered as “T/F” and not just “TF” in their app? I lost a few minutes triple checking the puzzle for errors before I went back and changed the rebus entries.
Same. I eventually went back and changed all the TFs to Ts and it went through, but it wasn’t a good moment for their new policy of not allowing AcrossLite because the new format would be better somehow.
I used FT in the rebus squares, and they were all rejected by the app. I then changed them all to T and the app then changed all of them to T/F. Who knew. And I’ll add one more lament for the NY T killing AcrossLite
I may have asked this before, but can someone please tell me how to quickly toggle between across and down while solving in Across Lite?
Also, I would like to say that this community is one of the things I’m thankful for today! I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!
I believe it’s something you can specify in the settings.
Default seems to be a right click on the mouse (or pad) – at least on a Windows machine.
In AL, go to “options”. On the “Solving” tab, right hand column, you can specify “switch direction” for “right mouse use on grid”.
Also your arrow keys can be used to switch between across/down directions, depending on your position on the grid at the time.
I second Cynthia’s motion about this very nice and helpful community. One more thing to be thankful for today.
I just hit the appropriate arrow key – the down arrow or the right arrow depending on the current direction.
Once again, Han Solo science knowledge may be lacking in the NYT crossword. He implied that it was time in Star Wars, and ever since, we’ve drifted further from the reality that a parsec is a distance, not a time. George Lucas said the gaffe was intentional reflecting that Han Solo did not always know what he was talking about. Of course, “they” now claim, in the spirit of historical revisionism, that he found a short cut that was less than 12 parsecs. Phew! TMI.
I am so amazed at the comments and of all that our dear solvers concern themselves with, while I am happy I finished the crossword correctly last night and enjoyed it too. I am just thankful that I am here and can still do this at 90. Bless you all!
I forgot to mention (to add to the confusion) that where I came from, “amigdalas” were what the tonsils were called.
Slain by ORIEL crossing REALES and ORA.
NYT: Really enjoyed the True/False Schrödinger.
LAT: The circles didn’t show on the web, leaving me totally unaware of the theme until I came here. It wasn’t really worth it to me anyway.