Trenton Charlson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Oof! I turned this into a Saturday puzzle by considering an entirely wrong answer for 1a (“PEOPLE ARE SAYING…” based on that *EO start), slowing me down considerably. The second of the six 15s was a gimme for me, AGREE TO DISAGREE, but the other five all required tons of crossings to piece together. Just me?
Fave fill: YE OF LITTLE FAITH (though it really wants an “OH” or “O” at the front), LOCH NESS MONSTER, BERMUDA, *SHUDDER*, “IS NOTHING SACRED?”, BETWEEN THE LINES, WEAR THIN, LIMA BEAN, and FAN ART.
The two triple stacks of 15s have plenty of short abbreviations among their crossings, but nothing too dire. Each stack feeds into a couple swaths of the grid, so once you get a few footholds, you can make good progress. (I struggled to get good footholds early on.)
Did not know:
- 5d. [Gradually slowing, in music], LENTANDO. Don’t think I’ve ever seen this word before. If I’d known this, I’d have made much quicker progress into the midsection.
- 21d. [___ Richter, contemporary artist whose painting “Abstraktes Bild (599)” sold at auction for a record-setting $46.3 million dollars], GERHARD. Missed that news story, never heard of the artist. It’s nice to have this trivia be about a painting rather than an NFT, though!
Three more things:
- 28a. [Handmade signs?], GESTURES. Nice clue!
- 55a. [Implicatively], BETWEEN THE LINES. That is a hard clue, and maybe a weird clue. Who’s even seen this form of that root word before? Not that I have a suggestion at the moment for a better clue.
- 42d. [Exclamation of exasperation], AARGH. I do like this interjection, and this is my preferred spelling though I accept a longer run of A’s for emphasis. And not a longer run of H’s, as the younger generation does nowadays. An emphatic “please” is “pleaseeeeeeee,” which … go ahead and pronounce that. Anyway—nice echo in the following clue, 45d. [Exclamation of disappointment], DARN.
3.75 stars from me.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Okay: (1) two-word phrases with the first word ending in D, (2) that D is removed to reveal the name of an animal, (3) the new, wacky phrase is clued.
- 21a. [Yogi’s barber?] BEAR TRIMMER (beard trimmer).
- 36a. [Tusker as tutor?] BOAR OF EDUCATION (board of education).
- 53a. [Function of a straw man?] CROW CONTROL (crowd control). That is, a scarecrow.
Theme is modest in scope but well-executed.
Oh, there’s a revealer that I didn’t notice until trawling the clues for the following section: 60d [Silent assent … or, in two parts, a hint to the three long answers] NOD, or NO D. No mention here of the faunal aspect.
9d [Is bullish?] SNORTS.
- 3d [“Any man’s death diminishes me” writer] DONNE. It contains the same sentiment as his “No man is an island” quote because … it’s from the same passage, Meditation XVII from Devotions upon Emergent Occasions.
- 10d [“__ by moonlight, proud Titania” : Shak.] ILL-MET. 38d [Prospero’s servant] ARIEL. Quite a bit of Elizabethan material, eh?
- … as might be studied at 4d [University dept.] ENG.
- 11d [Like art using circles, squares, etc.] GEOMETRIC. Very explicit clue.
- 32d [“… but it isn’t free”] FOR A PRICE. I mistakenly interpreted this clue as being a fill-in-the-blank and was searching for a phrase to precede the one that appears.
- 45d [Energetic dances] STOMPS. Nice symmetrical pair to SNORTS, above.
- 54d [Not subject to debate] TRUE. Not that you could tell from today’s societal discourse. I tried MOOT first.
- 25a [One found among blocks] STREET. A bit of a figure-ground clue. I ended up liking it.
- 29d [Eventually become] END UP.
And that’s where I’ll wrap up the write-up.
Chandi Dietmer’s Inkubator crossword, “That’s How We Role”—Jenni’s writeup
The INKubator crew said this puzzle was challenging and it is indeed on the tougher side for their offerings. I love indie puzzles that I know I wouldn’t see anywhere else and this is definitely an “only the INKubator” puzzle!
Each theme answer is a two-word noun clued as if each word were a verb. Easier to show than explain! The revealer is great. Wait for it.
- 16a [Weed, sow, and deal with s***, while planting the seeds for out-of-the-house intrigues?] is GARDEN PLOT.
- 23a [Birth, nurture, and raise the brood, then still manage to lay a passionate one on your partner?] is MOTHER TONGUE.
- 32a [Prep a well-balanced, multicourse meal for a hungry household, then run off to grab a second to your self?] is COOK BOOK. Yeah, I know, BOOK isn’t a verb (at least not in the context). I think it still works well enough.
- 45a [Wipe off years of dust and grime, but somehow stay striking and leave time to spare?] is DUST BOWL.
- 51a [Vacuum and wash the car…to ready it for a drive to distant, lower-stress lands?] is CLEAN GETAWAY.
And the revealer which made me chortle: 64a [Antiquated gendered term for the duties done to maddening excess in this puzzle] is WOMEN‘S WORK. I love this. It’s a really good puzzle – lots of theme material without compromising fill. And the theme is layered with a serious message under the humor. The definitions give us both the standards women are held to and the ridiculous advice we are given when those of us in hetero relationships have the temerity to mention that the domestic work is not equitably divided. Warning: if you are male-identified, do not post a comment about how much work you do around the house. I already know it’s #NotAllMen. I’m married to a man who pulls his own weight (aka being a functional adult). We still have to deal with societal expectations. When our kid was young, we pretty much split the hands-on parenting down the middle. He heard “it’s great that you are so involved!” I heard “don’t you feel guilty about how much you’re working?” So do not @me about your domestic heroism. We are not giving cookies here. This puzzle gets it.
A few other things:
- Another INKubator touch: cluing BOB as a hairstyle rather than a male name.
- I thought 17d [Non-Rep. identification of some Reps] was going to be IND. Nope. “Reps” are Representatives and the answer is DEM. I should have paid attention to the upper-case R.
- I love the word NABOB. I just do.
- Yay for accurate medical info in crosswords! EMBOLI are indeed [Troubling bloodstream blockages]. I figure if I grouse when people get stuff wrong I should also point out when they get it right.
- Love the clue [Big dipper] for LADLE.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Chiwetel Ejiofor’s ethnic identity is IGBO.
Adrian Johnson’s Universal crossword, “Split Pea Soup”—Jim P’s review
I didn’t pay attention to the theme during the solve, and I only saw the title afterward, so I didn’t really know what was going on with the circled letters. It almost looked like a word ladder, but not quite.
Once I had my aha moment, I thought the theme was cute. Each group of circled letters starts and ends with a P (hence the “split Ps”), and the letters in between collectively spell out SOUP.
- 20a. [Candidates’ addresses] STUMP SPEECHES.
- 27a. [Demi Moore, once] SOAP OPERA STAR. Did not know this. She was on General Hospital back in the 80s.
- 44a. [Enjoy a trampoline] JUMP UP AND DOWN.
- 50a. [Certain smartphone transaction] IN-APP PURCHASE.
Clever idea, yeah? I don’t recall seeing anything quite like it, so points for originality.
Looking to the fill, ZEPHYR stands out as my favorite entry, along with STONE AGE, NURSERY, HAT TIP, and SPIRITS. I didn’t know the name of JEANNE Shaheen (D-NH), but here’s an interest factoid: She’s the first woman in American history to be elected as both a governor and a senator.
Clues of note:
- 18a. [Milk Dud relative]. ROLO. I guess. But one’s gooey, the other is not, and they’re from different candy makers. Here’s another interesting factoid. The “Dud” in the name comes from the fact that the candy was intended to be spherical, but for whatever reason, the makers could never achieve that shape.
- 56a. [Member of a South Asian diaspora]. DESI. We’ve seen this clue in other puzzles. It refers to the people of the Indian subcontinent, specifically India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
A novel theme concept and solid execution. 3.75 stars.
Good morning, and happy Friday!! Today’s puzzle had highs and lows, let’s get into it:
- Patrick Berry’s puzzles always do a great job of reminding me just how white The Puzzleverse is. There were seventeen people mentioned in this puzzle, and fourteen of them are white.*
- Lots of crossing names that tripped me up, I needed every letter RICHELIEU, and I couldn’t parse that it was crossing SUE GRAFTON as a full name, so I ran the alphabet on that final U. GEORGES, SHEMP, and GENET were also guesses.
- I refuse to believe that AVOCADO DIP is a thing. That’s guacamole.
- I’m curious what the seed was… my guess is ECO ANXIETY which is a term I have not heard but I certainly feel! At Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago, a family friend asked me if I was planning on having children, and I said “No, because of climate change.” He told me I was ridiculous and then called across the table to ask my sister the same thing– she said “No, because of climate change.” We did not plan that at all and it felt like we were inside of a dark sitcom.
- I liked the Reddit call-out in the clue for TOPIC— my favorite subreddits are curlyhair, forbiddensnacks, and malelivingspace.
- David Sedaris!! He’s from the same town as me in North Carolina! The Santaland Diaries (in which he is a department store ELF) is truly one of the funniest essays I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it, although my favorite overall collection from him is When You Are Engulfed in Flames.
- ARLO and Janis isn’t S Tier for me, but this comic always makes me smile. I read the comics page every day for probably…. a dozen years?
- I am not a literary person at all, but for some reason the line “Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” really hits. Idk. It’s so beautiful.
- ORANGEADE atop MOUSETRAP is a great little stack
- [Meeting place on the beach?] is a cute clue for SHORELINE
*The list, if you’re curious: Cardinal RICHELIEU, David Sedaris, Patrick Swayze, TAFT, TONI Morrison, ARLO / ARLO Guthrie and Janis / Janis Joplin (I’ll count those as two, rather than four), Jean GENET, HORATIO, SHEMP + Moe + Curly (I’ll count those as one, rather than three), Alice Childress, SUE GRAFTON, Shatner, Nimoy, TAKEI, GEORGES Bizet, Johnny DEPP
Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “Four of a Kind”—Darby’s write-up
Theme: The first word of each of the theme answers is synonymous with kind, and there are four themers, making them “four of a kind.”
- 16a [“Rotating posting at a gelato shop”] FLAVOR OF THE WEEK
- 23a [“Keyboard for Snoopy”] TYPEWRITER
- 46a [“Performance that might feature burlesque”] VARIETY SHOW
- 57a [“‘Come back to me when things are less hectic’”] SORT YOURSELF OUT.
Four themers get packed into this grid. I love the funnies, so because of its clue, TYPEWRITER is my favourite in this pack. That said, I love that we got two grid-spanners in FLAVOR OF THE WEEK and SORT YOURSELF OUT. I didn’t figure out the theme until I solved it, but I really liked the title on this grid.
Grid-wise, this one felt packed with answers. The shape in the center was a nice concentration of black squares, and Brooke kept this pretty open around it, which was great. I was constantly ooh-ing and aah-ing as I took the tour through.
Some Friday faves:
- 22a [“Color of Carmen Sandiego’s hat”] – I mentioned how psyched I was to see Snoopy in this puzzle. I was likewise excited to catch the glint of Carmen Sandiego’s RED hat. Where in the world is she???
- 44d [“Snow cone flavorers”] – It’s pretty nifty that SYRUPS is right next to another SYR-beginning with in 50d [“Country south of Turkey”] SYRIA.
- 51d [“Supermodel Leyna”] – Leyna BLOOM is not just a supermodel, she’s also an actress, having starred in Port Authority and appeared in Pose. When the former of these aired at the Cannes Film Festival, it was the first time that a trans woman of color appeared as a lead actress at the festival.
That’s all from me! This was a great Friday that felt really fresh and clean.