Jem Burch’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Kind of a Jay-Z vibe here, with three or four apiece of the letters J and Z. HIJABS, PAJAMA PARTY, BASE JUMPERS, JAZZ UP, FUZZIER, ZERO GRAVITY, RITZ BITS… all good.
The HIT UP/UPEND and ON IT/ONTO crossings jumped out at me while solving. IN A TRAP, IN A SEC, PHASE IN …
Fave fill aside from the J/Z stuff: BRAD PITT, TAKE A CAB, ZOOMED, SIMMERED DOWN, SAM RAIMI, SOLD FOR PARTS, CONDI.
SO SPICY feels not quite up to the level of crosswordable phrases.
Three more things:
- 36d. [It may involve a mask], FACIAL. Nice to play with spa treatments for our “mask” today.
- 45a. [Structure with many layers?], COOP. Hens laying eggs, that is.
- 39a. [Were present?], ARE. Fun with verb tenses!
3.8 stars from me. Welcome to the weekend!
Adrian Johnson’s Universal crossword, “Sounds Complicated”—Jim P’s review
Theme: The first words of the theme answers, when spoken aloud, sound like the letters spelling out tricky.
- 17a. [*Bits steeped in a bag (Theme hint: Say the first words of the starred clues’ answers in order)] TEA LEAVES.
- 24a. [*”Everyone good to go?”] “ARE WE ALL SET?“
- 33a. [*Where to see a big E] EYE CHART.
- 44a. [*Marine gastropods with no shell] SEA SLUGS.
- 49a. [*Necklace chain?] KAY JEWELERS.
- 62a. [*”What’s the point?”] “WHY BOTHER?“
The title doesn’t work for me. It’s meant to be partly literal in that we’re hearing sounds in the theme answers. But the sounds are to the word tricky, not the word complicated. Yes, tricky can be a synonym of “complicated”, but it feels like there’s a step missing. Tricky isn’t actually in the grid anywhere, so why not make the title, “Sounds Tricky”? Granted, “sounds complicated” feels like a more in-the-language phrase than “sounds tricky,” but as a puzzle title, I’d be okay with it.
Other than that, I love the fill: FACELIFTS, HIGHJINKS (though I usually see it as hijinks), EYE CHART (reminiscent of the NYT a few days ago), SEA SLUGS, DETROIT, and SHE SHED. Good stuff. (Is a SHE SHED actually a thing or was it just from that ad campaign from a few years back?)
Clues of note:
- 5a. [22, for this constructor]. AGE. Okay.
- 8a. [Practices sawm during Ramadan]. FASTS. TIL (Today I Learned) sawm is the fourth of the five pillars of Islam.
- 19a. [Country where a 4,000-year-old bowl of noodles was found]. CHINA. Somebody didn’t finish their dinner.
- 67a. [10.04 square miles, for Tuvalu]. AREA. Nearby(ish) Nauru is only 8.1 sq. mi.
- 2d. [Treat in 2012’s Daily Twist campaign]. OREO. I never heard of this campaign from 10 years ago. It must have made an impression on our then-12-year-old constructor.
- 27d. [Boxer’s warning]. SNARL. Hmm. Now I’m thinking of underwear that makes warning noises during unwelcome intrusions.
- 54d. [Surfer’s accumulation?]. TABS. I do this. A lot.
A nice grid but the title feels off. 3.5 stars.
Amanda Rafkin’s USA Today crossword, “It’s Sandwich O’clock”—Darby’s write-up
Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: The first word of each theme answer spelled out PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME, a reference to a meme of a dancing banana singing “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” by The Buckwheat Boyz.
- 14a [“It might come on the side with a Thai Crunch Salad”] PEANUT DRESSING
- 27a [“Flaky patisserie order with no filling”] BUTTER CROISSANT
- 43a [“Jazz pioneer with a sweet-sounding name”] JELLY ROLL MORTON
- 57a [“Image of a plant growing from a seed to a sapling, e.g.”] TIME LAPSE PHOTO
I’m so delighted to be talking about this theme. The revelation of the reference to the song and meme was truly the highlight of my day so far. Plus, with two-grid spanners and two fourteen-letter themers, this was a hefty set of answers to include in the puzzle. Amanda clued these really well, in my opinion, getting just descriptive enough for us to fill.
With four themers, this was a packed grid. I thought that the four eight-letter answers worked into each corner were really fun. BRALETTE (1d [“Undergarment with no underwire”]) kicks off the Downs. EPIC FAIL was another great reference to pop culture, given its popularity as a phrase especially in the early 2000s (Merriam-Webster did a fun history of this phrase, if you’re interested). There was also 36d [“Tough decisions”] DILEMMAS and 38d [“Umbrellas seen in Seurat’s ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”] PARASOLS.
Overall, this puzzle gave me a great burst of energy to get through the work I have to do for today. Have a good weekend!
Dan Schoenholz’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Theme here is phrases with doubled Ts at the end of the first word/beginning of second word, dropping the second T to comedic effect.
- 16a. [Reason for a robot’s knee trouble?] JOINT RUST (joint trust).
- 29a. [Drinking espresso before bed, say?] NIGHT ERROR (night terror).
- 36a. [Flushing problem?] TOILET ISSUE (toilet tissue).
- 43a. [Babe who never lied?] HONEST RUTH (honest Ruth). Echoes of Honest Abe.
- 57a. [Mom and dad’s rhythmic genre?] PARENT RAP (parent trap). Does the base phrase exist outside of the film? If not, then it perhaps needs the definite article?
These were amusing. Let’s see what else was in the puzzle.
- 3d [Ring master] ALI. Unadorned, it becomes a tricky clue.
- 4d [Organization name that means “table” in Latin] MENSA. Wikipedia: “The word mensa is Latin for ‘table’, as is symbolised in the organisation’s logo, and was chosen to demonstrate the round-table nature of the organisation; the coming together of equals.” Not sure how well they live up to that ideal.
- Good longdowns: 10d [Seek leniency] BEG FOR MERCY, 25d [GameCube successor] NINTENDO WII.
- 21d [Popular adoptee] CAT. “White House welcomes Willow, the new ‘First Feline’” About time, Mr Biden.
- Some related sleights of hand: 26d [Grp. with many of the best drivers] PGA TOUR, 43d [Pilots on the road] HONDAS.
- 15a [Beethoven wrote just one] OPERA; trivia and music fans know it’s Fidelio. 30d [Like Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 109] IN E.
- 54a [Penélope who is the only Spanish actress with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame] CRUZ. There’s only one? That’s depressingly surprising.
- 66a [Source of early glistening] DEW. There’s a radio morning show host on WFMU who refers to his audience as ‘glisteners’.
Caitlin Reid’s New Yorker puzzle– malaika’s write-up
Don’t have time for a write-up today as I have something deeply broken at work and I need to fix it before the end of the day. This puzzle was delightful, my platonic ideal of a themeless puzzle, with the little colonnade of TONE DEAF / HOTLANTA probably being my favorite. My only nit is that I think there’s no reason to gender name clues– the clue for EVIE could very easily just be [Name in “bird’s eye view”]
Happy Friday, solvers!