Kate Hawkins’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
It’s a holiday and we want to start watching the Get Back documentary, so super-quick summation. Liked it a good bit, didn’t love it. Standard Friday difficulty. Fave fill: IRON MAIDEN, FRESH MEAT, STRIKE PAY, ON THE SCENT, POOL SHARKS (great clue, 67a. [Experts in English?], as in using body English to sink balls on a pool table), SIAMESE CAT, “DON’T BE A STRANGER.” Less fun: STENO, IVANS.
3.75 stars from me.
Claire Rimkus’s USA Today crossword, “Stand Tall”—Darby’s write-up
Theme: The first word in each theme answer can be put before STAND. They are also all Down answers, suggesting that they are standing.
- 3d [“Rap or riot grrrl, for example”] MUSIC GENRE / MUSIC STAND
- 8d [“Small publication”] NEWSLETTER / NEWSSTAND
- 28d [“After-hours work schedule”] NIGHT SHIFT / NIGHT STAND
- 31d [“Article of clothing passed on from someone else”] HAND ME DOWN / HANDSTAND
I tend to enjoy themes in which the answers are all the results of Down clues. I don’t see them as often, which always makes me go through a silly routine of “Oh, could it be? Oh, yup, Down answers are my focus here.” It’s especially appropriate for me that Claire did this puzzle, since the first Downs-only puzzle I ever did was one of theirs that I accidentally stumbled into one day in August (you can solve that here, if you’d like). That aside, I thought that this was a clean theme with fun answers, and four themers also always feels like we’re getting a bonus on the USA Today puzzles.
Grid-wise, we’ve got this nice diagonal shape pattern running through the puzzle, beginning with 1a [“Biceps’ place”] ARM and moving all the way down and right to our final Across answer, 71a [“Badminton divider”] NET. We also have some nice five-letter answers and the two tens I thought were theme answers for a second, with GAME WINNER and STEP SISTER.
Other Friday faves:
- 5a [“‘Mrs America’ legislation”] – I did not know about this 2020 miniseries focused on the movement to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 1970s. Interestingly, this law was first introduced in 1923 and failed to be ratified by enough states to pass (you need three-fourths before it becomes an amendment to the Constitution). The deadline to ratify it passed in 1982; however, recent interest in passing it has since returned, and Virginia was the most recent state to do so, though several states have since revoked their initial ratification since 1982. You can read a little more about the miniseries and the ERA here.
- 22a [“Oman’s capital”] – We often see Oman as an answer in a puzzle, so I thought it was fun that this one turned the tide, and now I know an additional fact about the country often referenced as being near Yemen. Its capital is MUSCAT.
- 70a [“___ Haute, Indiana”] – Art must reflect life, since I just was talking about TERRE Haute yesterday.
Jennifer Lee & Victor Galson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Very neat theme. Obvious in retrospect, and probably done before, though I don’t recall seeing it. (Quick search indicates that Evan Birnholz did it in a 2018 Sunday WaPo.)
- 59aR [“I won’t hear any excuses!” … also, a clue to the three other longest Across answers] NO IFS, ANDS, OR BUTS.
- 17a. [Odds that the pub is open?] CHANCE OF ALE TIME (chance of a lifetime).
- 26a. [Well-liked blue-state pol?] POPULAR DEM (popular demand). This one also appears in the aforementioned crossword.
- 46a. [Where the Goddess of Pop resides?] CHER’S BLOCK (butcher’s block).
So those are fun.
- 2d [Half of dieciséis] OCHO. Easier when you know that that word is ‘diez y seis’ (ten and six).
- 18d [Restaurant chain with a signature black cod dish] NOBU. Still weird to me that such a high-end place became a chain.
19d [Device for Circe] LOOM. Forgot that a loom figured into her mythos. Arachne is the figure I most associate with one.
- 43d [Harvard has a renowned one, briefly] B SCHOOL, business.
- 49d [Bucatini, for one] PASTA. Bucatini meaning ‘little holes’, which more or less describes this hollow spaghetti-shaped pasta.
- 52d [Source of bitter flavor in beer] HOPS. Echoes of theme answer 17-across.
- 53d [More than chop] DICE. Echoes of theme answer 46-across.
- 20a [Gorilla who learned sign language] KOKO. This is debatable, I believe.
- 37a [Variety for a truffle hunter?] LINDT. The chocolate kind, with cocoa powder dusting. Why are they called the same thing as the fungus, anyway??
- 41a [Alexander the Great, to Aristotle] TUTEE. I just don’t care for that word, when we have student, pupil, and others.
- 63a [“The Tortoise and the Hare” author] AESOP. Y’know, there’s a lot of ancient Greek stuff in this crossword. Kirkē’s LOOM, Alexander and Aristotle, 55d [Greek peak] OSSA, 34a [Phoenix origin?] ASHES, 66a [Holy hymn] PSALM (Middle English, from Old English psealm, from Late Latin psalmus, from Greek psalmos, literally, twanging of a harp, from psallein to pluck, play a stringed instrument), and some others that are more removed YET (39a) still etymologically sound.
- *YET is not one of them.
As I said, a fun and interesting crossword, even though it turns out not to be completely original.
Josh Goodman’s Universal crossword, “I’m Gone!”—Jim P’s review
Theme entries are familiar phrases that include ME somewhere inside, but the clues only make sense when ME is removed. The revealer at 58a is DON’T MIND ME [“Pretend I’m not here,” or advice for reading the starred clues’ answers].
- 17a. [*Person with a 1.7 GPA, e.g.]
MED STUDENT. D student.
- 26a. [*Line dances] CONGA
- 36a. [*Grannies] NA
MENA MES. Nanas. A two-fer. Nice find to include as the central answer.
- 48a. [*Clipping that can expire] CO
I enjoyed this. I was suitably befuddled at first trying to make sense of that first entry before the penny dropped and I had a pleasant aha moment. The revealer is perfectly apt as is the title. Well done.
Fill highlights include MS. PAC-MAN, AQUARIUM, and “C’MON, MAN!” The stacks of 7s in the corners are more workmanlike, but they get the job done.
Clues of note:
- 29a. [Will’s legal ending, usually?]. IAM. Not “will” as in “will and testament,” but the first name. This took some sussing out, and it’s almost too clever, but I liked it.
- 9d. [Name that anagrams to “lento”]. ELTON. I was determined to get this without any crossings, but I just couldn’t make it happen. Doh.
- 47d. [Mercury or Mars]. PLANET. I’m so used to seeing these names in clues for gods or candy. It took me a long time to see the right answer. Doh again.
An enjoyable puzzle. Four stars. Oh, and this is a debut! Congrats on a great start!
Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker puzzle– malaika’s write-up
Hey besties, and Happy Morning After Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate! I had a brownie and a slice of cheesecake for breakfast, which I wish I could do every day. My family does not make traditional Thanksgiving food, but we do make the same things every year– Persian-style lamb, zillions of roasted vegetables, sangria, and key lime pie, among other things. For the second year in a row, I am grateful for the Crossworld pals I’ve made and the opportunities I’ve been lucky to have. It’s still crazy to me that after only two years I am allowed to write reviews that people who have been solving for twenty years will read.
Today’s New Yorker puzzle was super breezy, standard Robyn Fare. There were a few pieces of fill that I didn’t care for– IRR, RENAL (a word I learned from crosswords), RELET (seems like an arbitrary “re-“), ELIS (plural names are very meh for me), and A TRAP (kind of a long partial). All of these benefited from my favorite trick, which is making the clues super easy, so that you can just plug in the answer and move on. Please do not ever give me tricky, tough clues for uncommon abbreviations or contrived plurals!!
My other small beef was with the fill-in-the-blank clue for “gal PALS” which described the term as a friend group. To me, the term has evolved beyond that, and has become a term which the media uses to mis-identify lesbian partners as friends. Read more here.
Anyway, on to the good stuff– and there was a lot! Bullets below.
- THIS IS NOT A DRILL spanning the top of the grid
- [Leaves in the kitchen], for TEA
- SIMONE Biles, clued as an athlete and mental health advocate. Take two minutes out of your day to marvel at her floor routine. What a legend.
- LA BOHEME, clued in reference to “Rent.” I love this tweet about how you perceive the characters, because it has exactly mapped my emotional journey. (Haven’t reached thirty yet.)
- SPEECH clued as [“We want to hear from the guest of honor!”] is such a great image
- INVASIVE SPECIES was nice because I just finished reading The Silver Arrow, which discusses ecosystems, including invasive species. (This is a lovely book by the way– the target audience is probably 8-14-year-olds, if you need a holiday present for someone! Please do not purchase it from Amazon <3)
- “Happiness IS A warm puppy.”
- CARGO SHIPS is not the most exciting fill, but it does remind me of the whirlwind “boat stuck” week back in March. Great times.
- [Directive to the chronically tardy] as a clue for DONT BE LATE is a textbook example of how to write an easy clue for a long entry.
- LEAN, clued in reference to pastrami, reminded me of a Thanksgiving Dinner Table Discussion about Katz’s Deli, which I described as “a great place to go if you want to get a pastrami sandwich and be charged $25”