Andrew Ries & Caitlin Reid’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Quick chat tonight, am super sleepy!
Fave fill: LOADED DICE, FREE RIDE, CARPOOL LANE, “MINE! ALL MINE!”, NANCY PELOSI, “SO YOU SAY….” “I CAN RELATE,” SERENA SLAM.
V. smooth overall, I thought.
- 8a. [Greeting that means “presence of breath”], ALOHA. Learned an etymology I hadn’t known. Nice!
- 1d. [Habitat for the addax antelope, which can go a year without drinking], SAHARA. I went broader, with DESERT, and slowed down my start. Winter is dry, and you’re not an addax. Remember to hydrate!
- 11d. [Area of recession], HAIRLINE. Great clue!
4.25 stars from me.
Jared Goudsmit’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 5″— Jim Q’s write-up
- I GOT NOTHIN’
- WORD GAMES
- PENCIL SHARPENER Great clue!) [It goes in circles but gets to the point]
- MARIE KONDO (despite not being able to spell her name)
Totally forgot it was themeless day (neglected to read the title before delving in). Uncovered OVER AND OUT and SMOKE AND MIRRORS and thought “Okay, so it’s a _____ & _____ theme.” The other thought I had was “Wow! This fill is incredible for a themed puzzle!” Erm…. Literally completed the entire top half of the puzzle before I realized that fill and a grid like this is a pipe dream for most themed puzzles.
That was my surprise AHA moment of the themeless.
The area I struggled most with was MARIE KONDO (I had MARIA CANDO) and CICADA (I won’t publicly embarrass myself with how I spelled it). KLIMT, or rather the clue for KLIMT [Painter whose name appears backward in “oat milk”] came to my rescue, even if it’s odd that KLIMT is unlikely to have painted any Oat Milk boxes.
Struggled with the (excellent) clue for PLUS [It shares a key with equals]. Had FLAT thinking there was a sharp/FLAT thing. Then I entered CLUB… stay with me… this kinda makes sense. People who are at, say, CLUB Med may be sharing a key (isle) with equals (peers). Right? That works! The actual answer, PLUS, is very clever. Loved all of that, including my mistakes.
Great songs are BOPS?! I had TOPS. Never heard of BOPS in music outside a style of jazz, which is unlikely to be pluralized.
Loved this one!
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Mutual Affection” — pannonica’s write-up
Here we have phrases that can be willfully mis-parsed to be—and in this case are—interpreted as meaning ‘fond of’ their subjects.
- 23a. [Enjoy reading “David Copperfield” and “Bleak House”?] LIKE THE DICKENS. This one feels incomplete.
- 46a. [Enjoy cafeteria-style dining?] RELISH TRAYS.
- 65a. [Enjoy the fine print?] GET OFF ON A TECHNICALITY.
- 89a. [Enjoy calling others by nicknames?] LOVE HANDLES.
- 115a. [Enjoy wielding long-driving golf clubs?] TAKE TO THE WOODS. Surprisingly to me ‘take to the woods’ enjoys more usage than ‘take to the hills: Ngram.
- 16d. [Enjoy some guacamole] GO FOR A DIP.
- 78d. [Enjoy supermarket samples?] FANCY FREE. I feel this is the only weak theme entry.
Fair enough; I did in fact enjoy these. They are varied enough and often surprising enough. Enough enoughs for you?
- 2d [Dustbowl descriptor] ARID crossing 27a [Godforsaken] DESLOLATE.
- 5d [Homely clod] SCHLUB. Lotsa consonants. Can’t recall seeing this in a crossword before.
- 11d [Balance parts] PANS. Your classic two-sided scale. Don’t know that I would have guessed that PANS was the proper term for those components.
- 13d [It’s often rewritten] HISTORY. Sometimes for good, sometimes for ill.
- 35d [Toady] LAPDOG, paired symmetrically with 72d [Answers from a toady] YESSES.
- 40d [Friend’s address] THEE. Aha, the ol’ hidden Quaker ploy.
- 67d [Cajun catch] CRAWDAD crossing 74a [Some bayou dwellers] CREOLES.
- 5a [Either end of amoeba?] SCHWA. I like this because a SCHWA is kind of an amorphous, adaptable phoneme.
- 30a [Young’uns] TOTS, 111d [Oz visitor] TOTO, 95d [Comes to] TOTALS, 31a [Helped with homework] TUTORED. No dupes, just some fun similarities.
- 42a [Alhambra site] GRANADA.
- 59a [Mia Farrow was on its first cover] PEOPLE. Trivia, I guess.
- 97a [Tan and Grey] WRITERS. I’m going with … Amy and Zane.
- 109a [Picks apart] DISSECTS. I am perennially compelled to pedantically correct people’s pronunciation of this word. It means something very different from BISECT, you know. Maybe it’s a character flaw on my behalf, but I’m not in the mood to analyze my psyche.
Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “Ahead of the Game”—Matthew’s recap
Mollie Cowger joins Erik as a co-editor on this one. The end of each themer is a type of “game”:
- 15a [Share a message widely] SPREAD THE WORD
- 31a [Milestone on the path to U.S. citizenship] GREEN CARD
- 48a [Evocative collage] MOOD BOARD
- 60a [YouTube post from TwinsthenewTrend, e.g.] REACTION VIDEO
SPREAD THE WORD and REACTION VIDEO do not feel like equivalent lengths to my brain, but I guess they are. I really enjoyed this theme set: straightforward and colorful.
- 13a [Ambient composer Roxanne] ANA. If you think [___ de Armas of “Knives Out”] is overused, here you go. I had a fun journey to this one: “‘ambient composer’? must be ENO. ‘Roxanne’? probably GAY”. Nope, you need to read the whole clue sometimes.
- 37a [Places for ear climbers] LOBES. I hadn’t seen the phrase “ear climber” before, but I have seen the specific pieces of jewelry.
- 55a [You ___ using that word…] KEEP. An iconic quote from cult film The Princess Bride, a film which thanks Shepard Fairey’s ‘Andre the Giant Has a Posse’ thing, I always associate with Banksy.
- 58a [Not a single person] NO ONE. One of my biggest pet peeves in puzzles is when this is clued like [People who have walked on Mars] or some such, so nice to not see that here.
- 67a [Toucan voices by Tiffany Haddish] TUCA. I have *no* idea where this character is from. Fun! Turns out it’s an animated show called Tuca & Bertie, which started on Netflix, is now on Cartoon Network, and stars crossword mainstay Ali Wong alongside Tiffany Haddish.
- 44d [E or she] PRONOUN. E is new to me today, but e/em/eir is used as a gender-neutral pronoun set.
Greg Johnson’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
Unlike recent Stumpers, this one yielded itself early on. I got most of the top right section with some gimmes and some confident guesses. Despite not knowing SIPHON CUP [Paint-sprayer reservoir], the SIPHON part was easy to get; ditto the POLE of [Racer closest to the rail] POLE HORSE. Combined with some more downs, the trickily-clued ANARCHIST [Begrudged order-taker] was a lot easier to see.
Then it was on to what turned out to be a mini theme/quote, which I was also able to suss out almost immediately. This gave me toeholds in disparate parts of the grid, always an asset. 20a/38a/48a [Concision catchphrase …] BREVITY IS | THE | SOUL OF WIT.
- 27d [“A good life is __ argument”: Jonson] A MAIN. It’s brief, does it contain wit? Ben Johnson wrote it in 1640. At least it’s a change from the nauticalese take we see in crosswords.
- 24a [Needle point] ENE. A compass needle heading.
- 34a [Only governor of two states (Texas and Tennessee] SAM HOUSTON. The Texas in the clue definitely helped point the way.
- 36a [Much in little time] RASH. Seems an awkward clue to me.
- 39a [Two-stroke symbol] DITTO. I was envisioning full strokes or slashes, not mere strokes of a pen. Double-dash designation] SSN.
- 41a [“Ultra-warm” apparel] WOOL JACKET. Where is this ‘ultra-warm’ coming from? Was more a hindrance than a help to me.
- 43a [Apparel named for Jazz Age swimwear] TANK TOPS. Did not know that origin at all.
- Aha, and here we come to the last square I filled in, which was a humdinger. 45a [Close ones] PIKERS. I have no idea what this means. Only reason I got it was because I was nearly certain that 42d [Wedding VIPs] at J–S had to be JPS, Justices of the Peace. All right, I’ve refreshed myself with the definition of PIKER and I guess the implication of the clue is that they are those that play or gamble close to the chest. I’m not sold.
- 53a [Retouch before advancement] TAG UP. This is baseball.
- 58a [Conductor descriptor] OHMIC. I’m thinking of that Jennifer Lawrence gif. OK, sure.
- 61a [What two fingers can hold] PINCH. Very literal. A double-fake clue.
- 64a [Irrigation accessories] HOSE REELS. Seems somehow an apt counterpart to 1-across SIPHON CUP.
- 7d [Sacks with bars] CRIBS; 5d [Exclamation of frustration] OH COME ON.
- 2d [Isle northwest of Glasgow] IONA not SKYE. 9d [Spring break mecca nickname] PETE not CABO. 60d [Something charged] FEE not ION.
- 21d [Brit remembered for his circles] VENN. The internet has disappointed me. No good Venn diagrams including crosswords as one of the criteria.
- 25d [Aerodynamic outfit] G-SUIT. Disagree.
- 44d [Medicated disc] TROCHE. Did not know this. It is indeed like a lozenge. Etymology: alteration of earlier trochisk, from Late Latin trochiscus, from Greek trochiskos, from diminutive of trochos wheel.
Brian E. Paquin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Shame on me: I looked at the byline after I finished the puzzle, thought, “Huh, this name is new to me, wonder if it’s a debut,” checked, and saw that Brian E. Paquin has appeared in LAT quite a few times on Saturday in the last couple of years.
I’d say this grid is okay but not super exciting. The words that got my (positive) attention the most were BLOWHARD and QUAGMIRE (which I dropped in as QUANDARY having only the Q at first; I guess I was 50% right!), but then there was that ONE’S construction with the MIND ONE’S PS AND QS central 15, an awkward clue for BORN YESTERDAY, and GO APE OVER that I was not that into.
I did enjoy the clue [What a hot dog does?] for PANTS; the reference to The Prisoner of ZENDA (great book!); the clue [Getting very close] for INTIMACY.