Announcement!! The Boswords Winter Wondersolve one-day event opens registration on Saturday, 1/15. The online tournament takes place Sunday, February 6, 2:00-5:30 pm ET, with puzzles by Team Fiend’s Adesina Koiki along with Kate Chin Park, Christina Iverson, and Matthew Stock. I’m looking forward to it! The Bosword puzzles are always good fun.—Amy
Sam Ezersky’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Seven minutes is on the long side for a Saturday NYT for me, but I’m calling it a triumph after under 4 hours of sleep last night and a migraine that lasted till evening. Yay me!
Fave fill: SMACK DAB, ZOOM-BOMBING, PANEL TRUCKS (wait … they’re “of old,” are they?), SWIVEL CHAIR (sitting in one right now! I have another at my jigsaw puzzle table), MOUNT SHASTA (nice to have an entry that doesn’t cheat with MT.), Pooh Bear’s “OH, BOTHER,” REAL TALK, MM/DD/YYYY, Patrick MAHOMES, AGE OUT OF (would have preferred it if the SPACEY clue weren’t [Out of it]), DO YOGA, POTTERMORE, and BLUBBER (it’s January! Do you have your blubber layer yet?).
I could write more, but it has Been. A. Day. So I’ll sign off—four stars from me.
Craig Stowe Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 3″— Jim Q’s write-up
- I HEART THAT Correction: I HEAR THAT
- IPSO FACTO
- OEDIPUS REX
Another Saturday, another lovely themeless. Still quite easy, as my time for the first three of these series leads me to believe (my average time for a themed Universal is between 4:00-5:00… I’ve been under 4 minutes with all so far).
Really liked INFODEMIC, despite this being the first time I’ve heard the word. I’ve heard I HEART THAT***, but I have a feeling it won’t be an enduring phrase. Still, it’s quite lively for the moment.
***UPDATE*** Yes, I misread the entry. It should be I HEAR THAT, which, of course, will stand the test of time way better than I HEART THAT. Please accept my deepest apologies. The following depiction of the “ten year challenge” that’s currentlyall over Facebook is most accurate for me:
Like the hard-to-swallow fact for the LOTTO clue [Game nearly everyone loses]. I buy a lotto ticket about once a year, just to remind myself of that. I will admit, however, it is hard to stay away from the pools at work once the jackpot is huge… I mean, could you ever forgive yourself if you were the one who held out while the rest of your colleagues enjoy an early retirement?
The one clue/entry pair that grated a bit was ACTRESSES for [All of the leads in “Ocean’s 8,” e.g.] simply because it seems to highlight the genderization of that word. I thought we were trying to move away from it as it sounds somewhat diminutive.
Good stuff overall. Thank, Craig!
Parker Higgins, Jessie Bullock, and Ross Trudeau’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Carbon Neutral” — pannonica’s write-up
Carbon’s atomic symbol is C. That letter has been removed or added from the beginnings of words in the various phrases comprising the theme answers here, with the net result that the correct number of Cs appear in the grid, just not in all the expected places.
Further, there are no extraneous Cs in the grid.
First come the receivers:
- 22a. [Focus more on Smaug than on Bilbo, say] CENTER THE DRAGON (Enter the Dragon).
- 39a. [Making the tiniest alteration to some garment?] CHANGING BY A THREAD (hanging by a thread).
- 47a. [Spicy little numbers?] CLOVE SONGS (love songs).
Next, a transitional element (in the center, of course):
- 72a. [Emissionless vehicles for an amphibious trip?] CARTS AND RAFTS (arts and crafts)
Finally, the donors:
- 91a. [Clips from a Ben Affleck movie?] ARGO SHORTS (cargo shorts).
- 100a. [Hirsute surfer?] HAIR MAN OF THE BOARD (chairman of the board).
- 122a. [Control group members in an eczema study?] RASH TEST DUMMIES (crash test dummies).
Some really clever ones in there. It’s a good theme. Incidentally, carbon neutrality is insufficient for our climate crisis. Net zero is better, and carbon negative, or climate positive, is far better and should be the goal.
Before I continue, just want to share my first thought when I saw the names of the constructors:
I can’t imagine it’s news to the relevant party, but you never know.
- 56a [Fabled loser] HARE, yet 3d [Source of many toys] SANTA’S WORKSHOP is unqualified. Weird.
- 4d [Strummed for a minstrel, say] LUTED. >moue<
- 7d [Digital identifier?] TOE TAG. Perhaps a tad ghoulish, but I like it.
- 19d [Bush barb] THORN. First lady allusion duly noted.
- 23d [Only crime defined in the Constitution] TREASON. Yes, yes it is.
- 35d [ __ omen (may that not come true) ABSIT. New Latin phrase for me, but it was kind of guessable.
- 52d [Start the first draft?] TAP A KEG. Saw that one a mile away.
- 54d [“Any fellow truckers out there receiving this?”] BREAKER ONE-NINE. But BREAKER BREAKER also fit.
- 84d [Sight-singing technique] SOLFA. Looks like the name is based on the solfège?
- 125a [Kind of cord many try to insert upside down] USB. The proper sequence is: (1) first attempt, (2) flip; second attempt, (3) flip again; third attempt–success! It’s a fact. nb: this is obviated by the advent of USB type C
- 21a [Its state fish is the cutthroat trout] IDAHO. >cough cough spelling bee<
- 27a [Chore schedule] ROTA. Do we use this term in the US? I know it but don’t often encounter it.
- 61a [Finalizes, as a cartoon] INKS IN. (see above image)
- 64a [Philly transit operator] SEPTA, for Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
- 114a [Setting of the sun?] SKY. A bit poetic, there. 102d [Peaceful scenes] IDYLLS.
Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword—Matthew’s recap
The theme is straightforward; the three themers evoke a traffic light.
- 19a [Historic home of the Ojibwe and Metis on the U.S. Canada border] RED RIVER VALLEY.
- 36a [Old Faithful’s park] YELLOWSTONE
- 56a [Vermont range] GREEN MOUNTAINS
- 1a [Besties] BFFS. I both know that the general attitude towards dupes is relaxing, and suppose that this is something of an indication that “BFF” has moved past its “best friends forever” origins to a lexical item of its own.
- 5a [ArchCity Defenders’ city, briefly] STL. For a time, I was able to reliably gain a foothold in Brooke’s brain-busting xwords by a ladee puzzles by finding the STL clue. She doesn’t go to that well as often anymore, so it’s nice to see it here. The ArchCity Defenders are a civil rights/legal aid organization.
- 54a [Tends to risotto] STIRS. I like risotto, but not enough to make it myself and stir for the better part of an hour.
- 30d [Comedian Love] LONI. I just saw LONI Love in another puzzle this week. The The Real co-host got her start in comedy while finishing her degree in electrical engineering.
- 39d [Edward at the helm of British Vogue] ENNINFUL. Nothing to say here, other than this was a new name for me, and I will have to do a Wikipedia dive/commit it to memory.
- 52d [Rains hard] POURS. Unfortunately for my Pokemon GO plans, we’re expecting a real mess of a day tomorrow here in North Carolina, with freezing rain giving way to plain old cold rain. I grew up in Buffalo, NY, so love the cold and snow, but cold wet is my least favorite weather.
- 53d [Bonaly who’s the only Olympic skater to land a backflip on one blade] SURYA. I could write a thousand words on SURYA Bonaly. The fourth-place finisher at Lillehammer 1994, Bonaly completed her backflip at Nagano 1998 as her career neared its end and a ruptured Achilles prior to the Olympics altered her free skate routine. She’s remembered now for the backflip (which has been illegal in competition since 1972), but is a multiple-time World and European medallist. Much like gymnast Simone Biles in recent years, Bonaly was hindered throughout her career due to inherent discrimination in both the written and unwritten structures of her sport.
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
Yep, it’s a Stumper. Despite the ‘less rough’ appellation,, I still found this one to be rather bearish. Didn’t help that there were some gimmes that I somehow didn’t read the clues for until late in the game, such as 39a [Event attended by Alice] TEA PARTY. That definitely could have helped me earlier, as I struggled for a time to finish in the southwest area of the grid.
The grid features stacked pairs of 11s in a pinwheel arrangement, and they’re all rather good. Cracking them is the key to resolving the grid.
- Seemed tacitly US-centric, more than I would expect, with items such as 11a [Key locale, briefly] FLA and 43a [First in quadrennial roll calls] ALABAMA.
- 14a [Took one’s punishment] FACED THE RAP. Took quite a while to come up with the appropriate verb here.
- 16a [Last Declaration pronoun] OUR. Is this the Declaration of Independence? It works, as the last sentence is “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” But is it kosher to refer to the document as simply ‘Declaration’, capitalized?
- 25a [A third of ninety] ENS. Two of the six letters.
- 30a [A little something for your croupier] TOKE. Token? A tip? I thought dealers and croupiers weren’t allowed to accept them? My knowledge comes from the excellent Mike Hodges film of the same name.
- 33a [Official USPS designation] AVE. With three letters, I gathered it wouldn’t be a state abbrev., so it eventually clicked in well enough.
- 42a [Matter in marmalade] RIND. Did not help that I read ‘marmalade’ but thought ‘margarine’.
- 48a [Word from Old French for “bread room”] PANTRY. Makes sense; good to have learned.
- 49a [Specify multiply] LIST. One of those Stumpery clues that makes sense in retrospect.
- 61a [Take __ ] A TEST. Bleah.
- 5d [Raven Awards, e.g.] EDGARS. (since 1953) for “outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside of the realm of creative writing”.
- 6d [Physical features?] AHS. As per a doctor’s request. See also 61a.
- 23d [Berlin’s “fingers o’er the keys” tune] I LOVE A PIANO. Did not know this oldie.
- 29d [Former frequent flier] TWA. ’twas my very first fill.
- 41d [Many miniatures] YAPPERS. Again, after the fact it reveals itself.
- Different contexts for crossword staples: 53d [ __.org (site with a Banned Books Week page] ALA (American Library Association), not à la; 50a [In particular, in the OED] ESP (especially), not extra sensory perception.
- And finally, the trio of 55d/56d [View introducer] IMO, VEE and another letterform clue in 57a [Half of an icy eight] ESS. The latter has nothing to do with the NCAA’s “Frozen Four”, though I thought it might.
And that’s that.
Gosh, I kind of went country this morning. Oh well.
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
The name C.C. Burnikel conjures up images of nice easy USA Today puzzles with tightly constructed themes and no stumbling blocks. Which is why it’s fun to see she can challenge us on Saturday as well — and this puzzle was more of a challenge than LAT Saturday usually is, bringing me to a smidge under the 4-minute mark.
The hardest challenge, at least for me, was in the NW area; the short entries crossing that stack of 10s didn’t provide any easy footholds (and the fact that RAT TRAP at 3D could very easily be RATHOLE didn’t help). Nailing down the 7s in the NE and SW corners proved to be my way in.
It wouldn’t be a C.C. puzzle without some reference to delicious Asian food — star ANISE at 51D, and I appreciated that MAYO at 18A, which typically gets a more Euro reference, was clued with respect to its place in a banh mi.
I didn’t love WHAT’S SO SAD, more because it felt contrived than because of the dupe with WHAT A CUTIE. But the great clues for [Duel personalities] for SECONDS, [Reason to go green?] for ENVY, [Juice amounts?] for WATTS, and the tough [Moving multitudes] for SWARMS more than make up for that. I was looking for fun with this byline and the puzzle did not disappoint!