Joseph Greenbaum’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Interesting puzzle, with all sorts of fill that pops up rather seldom in crosswords. Among my fave fill: The new-to-me VERMONSTER oversized ice cream sundae, Bowie’s LIFE ON MARS, the Hippocratic “first DO NO HARM,” Mel Brooks’ SPACEBALLS, the dreaded ALGAL BLOOM, BACKRONYM, Anne MEARA, LOOSEY-GOOSEY, NOT TOO SHABBY (and I forgive the TOO TALL crossing because I enjoyed both entries), and UNDERSELL.
Least liked fill: past-tense verbing of an interjection in ARFED.
Five more things:
- 11d. [“I can’t afford NOT to buy it!”], IT’S A STEAL! No, wait, SUCH A DEAL. No, sorry, try again: “WHAT A DEAL!” Took me three tries. What is this, Wordle?
- 23a. [Issue with image quality, informally?], BAD REP. Great clue!
- 45a. [Stop working for good?], TURN EVIL. Not sure I like this as an entry, but I like the clue’s “retiree” vibe.
- 13d. [Online hookup], MODEM. Heh. Great mislead!
- 32d. [“America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response” vis-à-vis Amber Alert, e.g.], BACKRONYM. Backronyms are made-up expansions of supposed abbreviations. For example, people insisting that posh means “port out, starboard home.” It doesn’t.
Overall assessment, NOT TOO SHABBY, 3.8 stars.
Ana Deros’s Inkubator crossword, “Change of Pace”—Jenni’s writeup
This a lovely debut puzzle from Ana and the Inkubator team! I hope to see more of Ana’s work, especially if they’re as smooth as this one.
Each theme answer has the letters PACE with the order changed.
- 3d [Jarritos seal] is a BOTTLE CAP. TIL that Jarritos are Mexican fruit sodas.
- 21a [Soiree with coworkers] is an OFFICE PARTY.
- 34d [Tumble headfirst] is FACE PLANT.
- 50a [Pleasant parcel to receive] is a CARE PACKAGE.
I didn’t realize until I typed that out that each PACE spans the two words. It’s a solid accessible theme, well-executed. Nice!
A few other things:
- 1d [Fashionable, in a way?] is LATE. Is that still a thing? Not being late – that’s always a thing in some ways – but being fashionable late.
- 6a [Staff leader?] is CLEF. Music staff.
- 44a [Elevate to the Supreme Court, say] is APPEAL. Elevating the case, not the justice.
- Not a big fan of breakfast TACOS. Burritos, sure.
- Don’t put SPLENDA in your mint JULEP.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: Jarritos. I also had never heard of LONI Love or Café Mocha radio. My whiteness is showing.
Susan Gelfand’s Universal crossword, “My Food Tastes Funny”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Two-word food items where one of the words is also a famous
person’s comedian’s surname.
- 17a. [Special barbecued beef entree for comedian Martin?] SHORT RIBS.
- 59a. [Special starchy staple for comedian Betty?] WHITE RICE.
- 10d. [Special pickled garnishes for comedian Minnie?] PEARL ONIONS.
- 24d. [Special leafy side dish for comedian Sid?] CAESAR SALAD.
I guess I wasn’t paying too close attention to the clues, because I only just realized the comedian angle. At first, I just thought they were famous people in general, but this adds an additional layer of constraint that matches with the title better and makes more sense. It would have been nice if some more recent comedian names could’ve been used though.
Moving to the grid, it feels unusually open to me. This is verified by the fact there are only ten 3-letter entries which is quite low. Yet it’s still a clean, smooth grid. Highlights include TURNOVER, WHEREVER, STIR-FRY, and PICASSO. Also: GARGLE, JINX, and BRUTES.
Clues of note:
- 50a. [Designer Paloma]. PICASSO. A new name to me, but she is known for jewelry designs for Tiffany & Co. and for her signature perfumes. Oh, and she also happens to be the daughter of a certain painter.
- 64a. [Green Gables girl]. ANNE. I suppose it would have been confusing to clue this [“Interview with the Vampire” author] when the entry sits right below RICE.
- 43d. [Feature of an open-and-shut case?]. HINGE. Cute clue.
A smooth, open grid with a pleasant theme and strong fill throughout. 3.75 stars.
Happy Friday, folks! Long fill was very lovely in this puzzle, and the only short fill I didn’t like was ERGS, ESSO, MAME, and EIRE.
ROLE MODEL, IM ON A ROLL, SOONER OR LATER, ARE YOU BANANAS, MEET CUTE, ABOUT TIME, CANDY STORE, RUGRATS, HOTPOT, and MAKE LOVE NOT WAR is some impressive sparkle density!
- FOMO for [Reason to hit the town on a Friday night instead of staying home in your p.j.’s]…. Damn Robyn, just @ me next time
- I had bus instead of CAB for [Common sight in NYC (except for when you need one)] which gives you an idea of my lifestyle lol
- I had Ari Grande instead of RIO Grande which I guess also gives you an idea of my lifestyle
Stella Zawistowski’s USA Today crossword, “Keg Storage”—Darby’s write-up
Theme: Each theme answer includes KEG in it, making each of them literal storage for a KEG.
- 16a [“Noted World War II aviators”] TUSKEGEE AIRMEN
- 24a [“Be extra-meticulous”] TAKE GREAT PAINS.
- 41a [“Treats served over porridge”] SALTED DUCK EGGS
- 54a [“Pelvic floor-tightening movements”] KEGEL EXERCISES
I’m a beer-lover, so I was sold on this puzzle because of the title alone. TUSKEGEE AIRMEN was a great themer, and I was thrilled once I got the T off of 1d [“___ out (distribute)”] METE. Both TAKE GREAT PAINS and KEGEL EXERCISES were clued very clearly, and SALTED DUCK EGGS rounded out this packed set of 14s really well. I did think that it was interesting that KEGEL EXERCISES was the only themer in which KEG didn’t span across two words though.
Much like yesterday’s USA Today grid, we have a diagonal pack of threes through part of this puzzle, but I appreciated the ways in which the themers opened it up so it didn’t feel super segmented. The tradeoff in having four themers that are 14 letters each becomes that there weren’t many answers over six letters.
Some Friday faves for y’all:
- 36a [“Not-so-nice motivation”] – I nearly spat my coffee out filling in SPITE. We’ve all been there.
- 43a [“Cleveland’s Great Lake”] – My little sister is coming to visit from Cleveland today, barring ERIE’s lake effect snow grounding her flight, so as always, I enjoyed the inclusion of my favorite body of water.
- 28d [“Cake coating”] – The crossover between ICING and 4d [“Verb that aptly rhymes with ‘cake’”] BAKE was a fun one. Add the OIL of 46a [“Frying liquid”], and we have almost everything for a boxed mix.
Overall, the fill in this grid was really rich, and I enjoyed just thinking through each clue and answer even after I finished the puzzle.
Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Maybe I’m overthinking it, but I’m not sure I fully understand the theme.
- 60aR [“In Rainbows” rockers, and a hint to what changes four puzzle answers] RADIOHEAD. The other theme answers are portmanteau—well, let’s call them pseudoportmanteaux, as something else is definitely going on—words with an R affixed to the front. So is the R just the head of ‘radio’ and nothing more?
- 16a. [Appreciation for Jay-Z’s music?] RAPPLAUSE. So that’s R+ APPLAUSE but the the R also creates RAP (never mind the PLAUSE part).
- 24a. [Compilation of angry blog posts?] RANTHOLOGY. R + ANTHOLOGY; RANT/ANTHOLOGY.
- 34a. [Jamaican drink garnish?] RUMBRELLA. R + UMBRELL; RUM/UMBRELLA.
- 50a. [Deckhand unable to raise the sails?] RIGNORAMUS. R + IGNORAMUS; RIG/IGNORAMUS.
Is there a more concise and clear way to explain this theme?
- Not quite counterbalancing the theme is 59a [Online cash-back deal] EBATE, which drops a leading R.
- 32d [Survivalist Stroud] LES. Looks vaguely familiar. Here he is.
- 52d [Devious] MEALY. Huh? … Oh, apparently this shortened form can be synonymous with mealymouthed. News to me, obviously.
- 18a [Big name in Civil War fiction] O’HARA. I was indeed thinking of authors, such as Shelby FOOTE and Bret HARTE, rather than characters.
- 22a [Kitchen address] CHEF. I highly recommend series 1 and only series 1 of the ’90s britcom Chef!
- 42a [Disney bigwig] IGER. Time to update those clue databases. “On February 25, 2020, Bob Chapek was named his successor as Disney CEO. IGER continued to serve as executive and board chairman until he was replaced by Susan Arnold on December 31, 2021.” (Wikipedia)
- 56a [One following a point] TENTH. A decimal point.
- 58a [Penn in NYC, e.g.] STN. 40d [Turnpike reading] SIGNAGE. ‘Why are the signs at New York’s Penn Station so confusing?‘
- Check out row 14: 62a Cubist Fernand] LÉGER, 63a [Lager alternative] ALE, 64a [Tee choice] LARGE.
A mildly confusing crossword, but a decent solve.