Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
It’s been a long week and I’m tired, but the gift of a constructor like Robyn is that when I see her byline, I’m suddenly looking forward to spending a little time in the cruciverbal world that’s emerged from her mind.
Look at this crisp lineup of my fave fill: “I HAVE TO RUN,” a DEFINITE MAYBE, GREEN-LIT, DROP-DOWN MENUS, a handy COUPON CODE, a game-showish BONUS ROUND, the recently concluded WINTER GAMES, FINE DINING (this week marked the second anniversary of the last time I ate in a restaurant), a pretty TIDE POOL, and a MELON BALLER (I have a large one that’s more of a cookie dough or meatball scooper). Watermelon? That is definitely the baller of the melon category.
Five more things:
- 36a. [Company whose corporate logo is known as “the Fuji”], ATARI. I never quite knew what the Atari logo was meant to be, but mountain? Sure, absolutely.
- 45a. [Largest digit in a set], BIG TOE. Ha! It looked so mathy, turned out to be so humble.
- 47a. [Scourge of the 2020s, colloquially], RONA. As in “Did you hear? Ms. Barrett caught the ’rona.” Note to our immunocompromised readers, including transplant recipients, folks with blood cancers, and more–if you haven’t heard about Evusheld, monoclonal antibodies authorized for preventive use in people like us, ask your various doctors. It’s a big help for those whose bodies have a flimsy response to the COVID vaccines. Get in touch with me if your docs say you qualify but they don’t have a dose for you yet; I have pointers for finding Evusheld. /servicejournalism
- 10d. [Kitchen gadget also known as a Parisienne scoop], MELON BALLER. Gonna call it that from now on. Sounds French! And therefore fancier.
- 29d. [It rarely includes chains], FINE DINING. I like this clue. Are you envisioning that rare fine-dining establishment where patrons wear iron shackles chaining them to the table? A Game of Thrones/dungeon sort of brunch experience? You don’t want to know what they use the Parisienne scoop for.
4.3 stars from me.
“Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Quickly this morning. Bilateral symmetry in this 16×15 grid.
- 54aR [Altered, in a way … and a hint to the org. that helped create the answers to starred clues] DOCTORED UP, which invokes the crossword-staple AMA (American Medical Association; see 41d in today’s NYT). I feel DOCTORED UP is less common than simply saying DOCTORED. Also, in the crossword idiom, UP often signifies a vertical reversal, but all the theme entries are acrosses. Bottom line: just a little weird, at least to me.
- 18a. [*Crèche, for example?] CHRISTIAN DIORAMA (Christian Dior).
- 26a. [*Recent president scrutinizing a book on jurisprudence?] OBAMA EYING THE LAW (obeying the law).
- 42a. [*Animal rights goal in the Andes?] JUSTICE FOR A LLAMA (justice for all).
Those are fun.
- 1d [’60s civil rights gp. inspired by student sit-ins] SNCC. That seems rather obscure, which is not synonymous with unimportant. Needed the crossings. It’s the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee.
- 31d [Romantic-sounding herb] LOVAGE. However: “Middle English lovache, from Anglo-French luvasche, lovasche, from Late Latin levisticum, alteration of Latin ligusticum, from neuter of ligusticus Ligurian, from Ligur-, Ligus, noun, Ligurian” (from m-w)
- 38d [Natural resource] OIL. Yes, but non-renewable, polluting, and the cause of many wars, just in case you forgot.
- 45d [Smell] ODOR. Kudos for the nonpejorative cluing.
(Ron Miles (9 May 1963 – 8 Mar 2022)
Allison Uttaro Young’s Inkubator crossword, “Drawer Divider”—Jenni’s writeup
Before we get to today’s puzzle: The Inkubator is open for themed puzzle submissions! Please send them your themed puzzles or theme queries by March 31. Decisions will be sent in April, and full details are available on their website. They expect to open for themeless submissions again in June.
They are also looking for women and nonbinary mentors to co-construct with newer puzzlemakers! Fill out the interest form here.
Now on to the fun part! The theme has us in a drawer. And not just any drawer. The most private drawer! This is an “only in the Inkubator” puzzle and I am here for it.
Each theme answer spans two entries in the grid and describes an item you might find in a female-presenting person’s bureau.
- 17a/18a are [Country where Naomi Osaka was born] and [Gets wasted] which gives us JAPAN TIES ONE ON.
- 26a/29a [Portable Pokémon platform of the ’90s] and [Electrical mishaps] are GAMEBOY SHORTS.
- 44a/45a [Feel like part of the crew] and [“My Monticello” novelist Jocelyn Nicole ___] are BELONG JOHNSON. When I write it out like that….
- 57a/59a [Country nickname based on a Eurocentric cartography convention] and [Tired] are DOWN UNDER WEARY.
I enjoyed this theme! It made me smile. I so appreciate the Inkubator’s commitment not just to cis women, trans women, and woman-aligned constructors but also to representation in the content of the puzzles. More women’s names. More entries and themes that represent women’s experiences. It’s a vivid and entertaining reminder that “male” has been the default mode for far too long. Laura, Tracy, Stella, and Brooke have widened the horizons of crossworld. Quite an accomplishment.
A few other things:
- BANGS are certainly a [Common DIY haircut that can go *very* wrong]. It seems like it should be so easy….
- My 22 year old daughter listened to me and did not wear a CROP TOP to her first in-person job interview. And landed the gig!
- Joe SCHMO was a frequent character in my family’s lexicon and definitely not someone you wanted to be.
- Nice to see SAC clued as part of the Algonquian people rather than an anatomical feature.
- 42a [Nikki Giovanni] writings are POEMS. Like this one.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of ROSEY Edeh. I’m glad to know about her now.
And we can’t have a reference to Eurocentric cartography without seeing this.
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Drop By Drop”—Jim P’s review
Theme: WATERFALL (51a, [Cascade, and a feature of 17-, 22- and 46-Across?]). Theme answers are familiar phrases featuring the trigram HHO. At the first H, the other letters “drop” downwards before returning to finish in the Across direction.
- 17a. [Backpacker’s accommodation (Hint: Look down at letter 5)] YOUTH HOSTEL, crossing FISH HOOK.
- 22a. [Keeps back (… at letter 4)] WITHHOLDS, crossing ROUGH HOUSE.
- 6a. [Snooty attitude (… at letter 4)] HIGH HORSE, crossing FRENCH HORN.
Nice. That works. It took just a second to figure out what was going on, mainly because I had to make sense of the counting instructions in the clue. I wonder if people see “Look down at letter 5” and actually look down at their lap or the floor or whatever and wonder, “What am I looking for?” Veteran solvers can ignore the parenthetical comment and figure things out on their own.
It was just about a week ago we had an HHO theme, but that was in the NYT. That one had the revealer JUST ADD WATER, and the HHO phrases were missing that trigram completely. It would have been nicer if there was more space between that one and this one, but these things happen and one publication isn’t going to base its schedule around another publication’s puzzles.
Aside from the theme answers, the highlight of the grid is EDELWEISS which makes me think fondly of the EDELWEISS Lodge and Resort in the lovely Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. There you can take a tram ride up into the Alps or drive an hour to famed Neuschwanstein Castle or see the sights in nearby Munich. Sadly for most of you, it’s only open to America’s military and retirees, but I’m sure you can find other nice accommodations nearby.
What else is good? OLD SAWS, ROSARIO Dawson, KEY FOB, ANTELOPE, and RING TRUE. There’s a lot to like here including TBH (to be honest).
Clues of note:
- 20a. [Insect not found in Antarctica … or is it?]. ANT. It is. Otherwise it would just be Arctica.
- 40a. [Bench, in Paris (hidden in “urban center”)]. BANC. Huh. Didn’t know that. I thought it meant “bank.” Maybe this is why I thought that.
- 3d. [Marlins’ catcher]. FISH HOOK. Nice, tricky clue. Was thinking baseball for much too long.
Very nice puzzle. Four stars.
Amanda Rafkin’s USA Today crossword, “Gotham’s Villains Are Going Down!”—Darby’s write-up
Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: Each theme answer ends with the name of a Batman villain, and all of them are “going down.”
- 5d [“Plant named after a big cat”] LEOPARD’S BANE
- 12d [“Antarctic bird with a regal name”] EMPEROR PENGUIN
- 14d [“Prankster”] PRACTICAL JOKER
Not gonna lie, I put on Prince’s “Batdance” as soon as I saw the title of this puzzle. Obviously, with all the hype around The Batman, this puzzle is exceedingly well-timed. I wondered if PRACTICAL JOKER was going to be a theme answer. Despite my new-found ESP in that regard, I thought that these were great themers, with LEOPARD’S BANE being new to me. They were also so fun and long, “going down” the grid. Plus, there were a few other DC comics references I caught, including 7d [“Gorilla Grodd, e.g.”] APE, 11a [“Batman, for Michael Keaton, e.g.”] ROLE, and 51a [“Scott of ‘Black Lightning”] JILL. I’m not typically a DC DEVOTEE, so there may be more! Shout ’em out in the comments.
This was an asymmetric grid, which I think contributed nicely to its openness in the middle two sections and the great bottom section with two sets of seven stacks. Plus, how fun were 16a [“Oscar the Grouch’s signature song”] I LOVE TRASH, 30a [“Haircuts that are short only on the sides”] HI TOP FADES, and that relatable 45a [“‘This midday slump is really hitting me!’”] I NEED A NAP (I say as I write this right around midday).
That’s all from me, I’m going to 58d [“Enjoy some shawarma”] EAT, which had been MY TREAT plan for lunch for a few days now. Needless to say, I feel seen by this grid, which was such a fun and creative one. Have a good weekend!
Anna Shechtman’s New Yorker puzzle– malaika’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! I did not know many, many things in this puzzle, but looking back, I never really got stuck? I did not finish though, on the Y of VICHY / HOARY (I had an E) and the R of FRANCOISE HARDY / TRL (I ran the alphabet).
Fill that was not my fave: REATA, OTS, HOARY, VSO, CUI, A TALE, IT I, VICHY, TRL, ORDERER SDS, SSRIS
Fill that was my fave: MUSIC VIDEOS, IM LOST, FASCINATING (clued as [“How about that!”]), BUYER BEWARE, LOVE ISLAND, MAI TAI, BEAUTY SALON
Other things: I thought that I did not know the two marquees, (the aforementioned FRANCOISE HARDY + the movie BICYCLE THIEVES) but actually I have heard of the latter because it inspired an episode of Master of None. I really wanted 90 Day Fiancee to be the show described as a human rights violation because, like, it is. I always get CENTRIPETAL force confused with centrifugal force.
Music that I listened to while solving + writing this post: This video, three times in a row.
NYT: Rona? I’ve heard of Roni as in “Roni’s Got Me Stressed Out” by Chromeo. In my neck of the woods, Rona is the name of a home improvement chain store.
RONA as in the coRONAvirus, is how I interpret it.
I get the contraction, just haven’t heard it used.
NYT: We’re just going to let “get in the SWIM” have a pass? Is that a phrase any of us have ever actually seen or said out loud?
“get into the swim of things” is legit, but I agree that without the things it’s iffy
I just thought the NYT was being creepily prescient and telling me to go do my swim workout today instead of skipping it.
I’ve heard “Get into the SWING of things”, but never heard “get in the swim”. Weird phrase.
USA Today (what’s the 3-letter abbr.?): I wonder if the inclusion of Shawarma made any fanboys or -girls out there bristle, as it’s memorably (at least to me, a fanboy) featured in the first “Avengers” movie post-credits scene–the Avengers being Marvel, of course, while Batman is DC.
LAT: For those familiar with the history of the civil rights movement in the 60’s, SNCC is one of the most prominent organizations, along with the SCLC. It’s nice to see it in a puzzle outside Black History Month.