Joe DiPietro’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Fave fill: IN DIAPERS, SHOOT CRAPS, HEART RATE, RUNNER’S HIGH, ANTIFA, RAPINOE, GO TO THERAPY (not a great phrasal entry, but going to therapy can be a very good thing!).
Most terrible crossing: 10a. [Cheek-related], MALAR, medical/anatomical terminology that I’ll bet many/most solvers don’t know, intersecting with 12d. [Mandrake the Magician’s sidekick], LOTHAR. Oof.
Now, I do know my medical terminology, so SACRAL would have been a lot easier for me if clued via the tailbone than with 41d. [Of holy rites] (I tried SACRED). Wonder how many solvers struggled here with needing to guess the first letter of CHIRASHI, 48a. [Japanese dish of raw fish and vegetables over rice].
Five more things:
- 53a. [Untrained, perhaps], IN DIAPERS. Love the clue! Potty-training is the focus here.
- 60a. [Beat reporting?], HEART RATE. The reporting of the number of heartbeats, sure.
- 1d. [___ esprit (gifted person)], BEL. Not sure I’ve seen this phrase before.
- 11d. [2019 rap hit whose title follows the lyric “How much money you got?”], “A LOT.” A total gimme for me.
- 35d. [Largest college sorority by enrollment (380,000+ members)], CHI OMEGA. *shrug* Is this something people are supposed to know? The only sororities I know are Alpha Kappa Alpha and, from SNL, Delta Delta Delta.
3.25 stars from me.
George Jasper’s Universal crossword, “Natural Inclination”—Jim P’s review
Too Rye Ay! This puzzle made me want to don a pair of overalls and remove my shirt.
EILEEN is the revealer at 70a [Name that sounds like a self-description of each starred clue’s answer]. Theme answers are things that lean.
- 17a. [*Slanted text] ITALICIZED PRINT.
- 36a. [*Structure that tourists “hold up” in photos] TOWER OF PISA.
- 45a. [*Column with an angle] OP-ED ARTICLE.
- 65a. [*Piece of equipment with rungs and sliding sections] EXTENSION LADDER.
I wasn’t quite sure of the theme until hitting the revealer, and then I enjoyed a fun little aha moment. The only nit I’ll pick is that three of the four entries are things that physically lean while one has only a figurative lean.
As for the Tower of Pisa photo, I know I’ve got one somewhere of my kid making the pose, but it must be on an archived hard drive. Let’s see your Pisa photo if you’ve got one.
The grid is nearly bisected which is not something you commonly see, but there’s still some sparkle to be found, especially GUITAR LICK, TWIN SISTER, and “BE STILL.” I like when a grid starts off with an interesting word like CORNEA, too. That’s a nice touch.
A chuckle-worthy theme. 3.5 stars.
Hmm. Can’t embed the overall’d video of this song, but you can watch it here. We’ll have to be satisfied with just the tune.
Malaika Handa’s USA Today crossword, “Odds & Ends”—Darby’s write-up
Edited by Amanda Rafkin
Theme: Each themed answer ends in a word that is a synonym to “odd,” making it both “odd” and an “end.”
- 23a [“Marvel character portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch”] DOCTOR STRANGE
- 37a [“‘Move on before this gets awkward’”] DON’T MAKE IT WEIRD
- 59a [“Website with ‘4 Levels of…’ cooking show”] EPICURIOUS
As an odd human, I really enjoyed this theme. DOCTOR STRANGE felt fun because I’m always so thrown when Benedict Cumberbatch does an American accent. I’m so used to him in Sherlock. Plus, DON’T MAKE IT WEIRD – an incredible grid-spanner that I may or may not be often on the receiving end of.
Some Friday faves:
- 44a [“Prof’s helpers”] – Today is the last day of the class that I’m one of the TAS for, so it’ll be sad to say goodbye to our students, but I’m looking forward to teaching my own class again in the spring! If anyone has some good resources on religion and popular culture, hit me up on Twitter.
- 6d [“Louisiana ___ (Creole religion)”] – Speaking of religion, Louisiana VOODOO is so interesting. It first arrived in Louisiana when enslaved West Africans arrived in New Orleans and merged elements of their traditional religious practices with elements of Catholicism. Louisiana VOODOO practices centers around Bondyé and spirits and utilizes rituals. There is so much more to it that this, so I would definitely recommend learning more.
- 35d [“Creature that rolls into a ball when threatened”] – Is it just me or have we seen a lot of ARMADILLOs lately? (In puzzles, I mean). I’m not mad about it; it’s a nice nine-letter answer, and I think they’re cute.
THIS was a nice break from a paper I keep drafting and re-drafting, so thanks to Malaika for this puzzle. I had a good TIME. Have a great weekend, y’all!
Wyna Liu’s New Yorker puzzle– malaika’s write-up
Happy Friday solvers! Tons of stuff I didn’t know in this puzzle, but I scraped by (I tried “Eric” and “Erik” before finally getting ERIQ, I just couldn’t parse BBQ BRISKET in the down direction.) Bullets below, let’s learn things together:
- I have never seen SAAB clued as anything beyond just an old car company– apparently they are now an aerospace and defense company.
- The SoCal NFL-er is a Los Angeles RAM. After finally getting the letters here, I Googled “LaRam,” thinking it was the name of an individual player.
- Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter are both characters in the movie The Silence of the LAMBs, so that may have tipped you off here. I have never seen that movie because I only watch heist films and comedies.
- ERIQ La Salle has done many things– I’ll note that here that he was in Coming to America since I’ve seen that film.
- HOT TIP is great fill
- [Sound sleepers?] strikes me as a very Wyna-y clue for SNORERS
- OshKosh B’GOSH is a clothing company that’s very fun to say. This might have had some tough crossings for people, with BIS (an abbreviation I’ve never heard of) crossing GWU (a proper noun).
- It took me a bit to parse the grammar in [Dukes without gloves] cluing BARE FISTS. “Dukes” here is a verb, and I believe the entry can also be a verb. (Let me know if I got this one wrong in the comments.)
- Brilliant, fresh, fun spanner in I WOKE UP LIKE THIS. (I wanted “outfit of the day” here at first, but that was too short.) This hashtag is sometimes (though not always) paired with a photo where the person is wearing make-up or has their hair done, and clearly did not wake up like that.
- [Stick with it!] is an incredible clue for SUPER GLUE.
- Farrar, STRAUS, & Giroux is a NYC-based publishing company. I had to guess on the cross, since I didn’t know that an ankle bone is a TALUS— but I did get it on my first guess! The letter combinations felt inferable.
- What a rush of nostalgia with the entry STREGA NONA!!! This book is such a classic.
- An ENOL is a type of chemical compound. The -NOL might have been inferable if you know words like ethanol or propanol.
- TORY Burch makes “preppy boho luxe” fashion, according to the Wikipedia page. I read that and thought “Oh, so like Gossip Girl vibes?” and the next sentence on the page is “Tory Burch styles are popular with women of all ages, including the viewers and fans of the television show Gossip Girl, where they were often featured.”
- Nadine Gordimer’s name was familiar to me, but I didn’t know any of her titles. She is a South African author and anti-apartheid activist who won a NOBEL prize.
- Kepis and kufis are both styles of HATS
- ARLES is a city in Southern France that is featured in many of Van Gogh’s works.
- The clue for MATH GEEK contains a joke about the mathematician Benoit B. Mandelbrot. He did a lot of work with fractals (he invented the term!), which are designs that contain versions of themselves. Hence, the “B” in his name standing for… his name. I adore fractals (I owe this to ViHart, probably) and could easily turn this bullet point into a 5000 word thinkpiece, so I’ll force myself to stop now.
- The word GUT was clued as coming before “flora.” “Gut flora” is another term for all the little microbes that live in your intestines and keep things running smoothly.
- [Sole sexual interest?] for FOOT FETISH is clue-of-the-year material, goddamn. Another reason why I love TNY puzzles– I don’t think the Times would ever run that term.
- The first four inductees into the Robot Hall of Fame (a thing that I did not know existed!! Apparently it was started by my alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University) were HAL 9000, R2D2 (ARTOO… I’m never convinced that that is a real spelling when it shows up in puzzles) Sojourner, and Unimate.
- IONIA is a region in what is now Turkey. Remains of the Temple of Artemis are still visible there.
Phew, that was a lot!! Props to Wyna and the editor(s?) for making a puzzle that was still ultimately solve-able despite all the trivia that I didn’t know! Making a breezy themeless puzzle filled with references is a tough task, and I think this puzzle did it well.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The bigram CK is inserted into various phrases to wacky effect—in one case, extremely literally.
- 18a. [Tinker Bell’s play ender] FAIRY TACKLE (fairy tale). Got a bit confused as the allusion is to a football play, while Peter Pan is a stage play.
- 24a. [TV channel with bizarre humor?] WACKY STATION (way station). As I said, literally.
- 37a. [Harbormaster’s income source?] DOCKING BUSINESS (doing business).
- 48a. [Unreliable origami practitioner?] FICKLE FOLDER (file folder).
- 59a. [What an education budget provides?] SCHOOL BUCKS (school bus).
So why CK? There’s no revealer, no explicit rationale. I also thought that there might be additional rigor to the construction in that those two letters are eschewed in the rest of the fill, but on closer inspection I noticed several other Cs in the grid.
Acronymfinder dot com suggests more than several strong possibilities but none stands out to me.
- Computery stuff in the northwest: 1a [Bookmarked item] URL, 3d [Mouse activities] LEFT CLICKS.
- 4d [One whistling often] REF. Like at the end of a play?
- 6d [“… a tale told by an __ …”: Macbeth] IDIOT, signifying nothing. Kind of like the theme here?
- 8d [Immunization letters] DPT. Diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus.
- 10d [Grasped by few] ARCANE; 35d [Things few understand] ESOTERICA. Still in search of a reason.
- 12d [Hang loosely] LOLL, my Spelling Bee bane.
- 21d [Keep from scoring] SKUNK. Not familiar with the word in that context, but ok.
- 46d [Dress, as in a particular costume] RIG OUT. m-w lists the hyphenated noun form as a Briticism. Can’t say the verb formulation is something I knew either.
- 55d [Atlantic fish commonly called a porgy] SCUP.
- 15a [Discussion-ending word] PERIOD. Or at least the speaker hopes it is.
- 43a [“__ War”: Jules Verne-based game] NEMO’S. Guessable with a few crossings.
- 66a [Meter creators] POETS. Slightly tricky with the crossing of 55d SCUP.
Ashleigh Silveira’s Inkubator crossword, “Think Twice”—Rebecca’s review
Great debut by puzzle today! We’re asked to “Think Twice” and the puzzle replaces the word ‘double’ in the themed entry with a doubling of the word.
- 17A [*Betray in a duplicitous way] CROSS CROSS
- 7D [*City tour bus that’s on a whole nother level] DECKER DECKER
- 13D [*Fastest growing Hilton brand since 2007] TREE TREE
- 20D [*Score multiplying square in Scrabble] LETTER LETTER
- 31D [*Wrigley brand once advertised by twins Jayne and Joan] MINT MINT
- 54A [*Spy working both sides] AGENT AGENT
With each themed answer, I was able to suss out the second word easily, but until I had the ‘aha’ moment of the gimmick, I kept trying to think of different synonyms for ‘double’ and that wasn’t working. Once I got what was going on the puzzle was smooth sailing. There was a really impressive amount of themed answers here as well, at six and all fit the theme perfectly.
The amount of themed squares here led to a non-traditional grid layout which also added some fun to the solve. I found myself jumping around the grid about as I solved which made for a nice change and kept me on my toes.
Here’s an early Double MINT commercial featuring Jayne & Joan