David Liben-Nowell’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “This Puzzle’s Title Contains Six Words”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Keeping count.
- 17a. [What 27-Across contains] FIVE VOWELS.
- 27a. [What 46-Across contains] NINE CONSONANTS.
- 46a. [What 60-Across contains] THREE SYLLABLES.
- 60a. [What 17-Across contains] TEN LETTERS.
I was amused by the meta title and intrigued by what it could portend for the theme.
But then I got to the theme and was quite underwhelmed. I failed to see the point of it all, and I certainly didn’t bother to do any counting. The interesting challenge here is for the constructor to get everything to fit in the grid symmetrically with the exact counts and items being counted. But for the solver, there’s not much fun here.
Fill highlights include SHEBANG, BALI HAI, UP A CREEK, BAGHDAD, OLDSTER, and EMOTICON.
Not sure about “DID I ASK?” clued [Snarky response to an unwanted suggestion]. Feels like it’s missing a “you” at the end, and it feels way less common than “Who asked you?”. On the other hand, an internet search shows it may be something the kids are saying these days. However, it’s right in that pile-up with YES I DO and DON’TS which feels way too dupey for me.
Clues of note:
- 14a. [“Born a Crime” author Trevor]. NOAH. I highly recommend this book and even more, I recommend the audiobook as read by the author. The huge advantage to the audiobook is you get his hilarious delivery, but you also get to hear the accents and languages that are an integral part of the book and which the author seamlessly works into the story.
- 3d. [Its underside is a soffit]. EAVE. Did not know this. It sounds delicious, to be honest.
- 5d. [Figure whose colon might be part of his face?]. EMOTICON. Meh. This clue is trying a little too hard to be cute.
- 28d. [Type of ear or sanctum]. INNER. Urgh. Quit with this type of clue already. You will never convince me that there is an ear of type “inner.” No, parts of the ear include the inner ear, the middle ear, and the outer ear. No one has an ear that is entirely described by the word “inner.” Person 1: “What type of ear does that creature have?” Person 2: “Inner.” Person 1: Boxes Person 2’s outer ears.
- 47d. [Australia has six]. STATES. Given the theme, I’d have gone with a different angle with this clue.
- 56d. [Leander’s love]. HERO. Kinda like Dagwood loves a giant multi-layered sandwich? Oh, not that kind of HERO? Oh, it’s a Greek myth? Do people generally know this story, because I sure didn’t.
- 61d. [Org. that filed for bankruptcy in 2021]. NRA. You hate to see it.
Maybe you enjoyed this theme more than I, but it wasn’t for me. 2.75 stars.
Damon Gulczynski’s New York Times crossword—Jim P’s review
Jim P here subbing in for the recuperating Amy.
A COMMA is missing from today’s theme clues (74a, [Punctuation mark missing in “Let’s eat people!” (at least one would hope!) … as well as from the starred clues]). Those starred clues read very differently with a COMMA in just the right place.
- 1a. [*Leave briefly] VACAY. The clue should be [Leave, briefly].
- 22a. [*Final say] COURSE EXAM. [Final, say].
- 41a. [*All for one] LAUNDRY DETERGENT. [All, for one]. I like this one best of all since the clue as written is such a well-known phrase. The entry is also an in-the-language phrase, more so than the previous entry.
- 60a. [*Flies frequently] ANNOYANCES. [Flies, frequently].
I thought this was cute, and I caught on pretty quickly when I uncovered that 16-letter central entry. I wish all the entries were as well put together as that one, but I enjoyed the ambiguity of the clues and sussing out the real meanings.
The fill gives us plenty to chew on with TWEEDLEDUM, “TO BE FAIR…,” “THAT’S ODD,” TRICKERY, and DIRTY RAT (which doesn’t get a Jimmy Cagney clue—maybe because he never said those words in any film). Also: CANTALOUPE [Fruit often served in ball form], which I had initially filled in as WATERMELON due to having PUTIN at 18a [World leader born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov] (I’m glad I was wrong on that one).
Note also the puzzle only has ten 3-letter entries, meaning the grid feels more open and flows well from section to section.
Clues of note (aside from the theme clues, that is):
- 16a. [How best to determine consent]. ASK. Good advice from your friendly, neighborhood NYT puzzle.
- 30d. [Some playground attendants]. DADS. Thanks for that. Not all DADS are incompetent klutzes when it comes to childcare.
An enjoyable, smooth Wednesday outing with good wordplay and fun fill. Four stars.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Dropping Hints” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each vertical theme answer hides the word “lead”.
- 3d [“But I’m a Cheerleader” actress] – CLEA DUVALL
- 9d [Pay up] – SETTLE A DEBT
- 25d [Intake that “keeps the doctor away,” in a proverb] – AN APPLE A DAY
- 38d [Free apps often have them] – MOBILE ADS
Cute theme, and one that I totally missed while I was solving. I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie lately (and I watched the new “Death On The Nile”, but the less said about that the better), so once I looked specifically for the theme afterwards, I found it pretty quickly. I liked how C.C. used three different splits of the word LEAD: LEA/D, LE/A/D, and LE/AD. It could have been cool if the theme answers were staggered so that the LEADS were dropping from top to bottom as the answers moved right to left – instead, SETTLE A DEBT is a bit too low for that. Oh well, it drops nicely if you read the answers in numerical order at least!
- The only person I knew off the top of my head from “But I’m a Cheerleader” is noted crossword fan Natasha Lyonne, so I was a little disappointed that she wasn’t in the puzzle! No disrespect to CLEA DUVALL, though.
- I liked the cluing callbacks in 5d [As easy as ___] and 35d [As easy as ___] for ABC and PIE, along with the cross referencing on FLAGS and POLE.
- I didn’t know that 41a [Islamic etiquette] was ADAB, and once I got it, I was surprised that I had never seen this angle before given how frequently this word appears in crosswords.
- DISC golf <<< My incorrect answer of “mini golf”. That is all.
Rebecca Falcon’s AVCX, “AVCX Classic Themeless #62” — Ben’s Review
It’s themeless week at the AVCX, and Rebecca Falcon’s given us a cracking 4/5 difficulty puzzle to chew on.
- The four clues that take up the full width/height of the grid — REAL HOT GIRL SHIT, BEHIND THE SCENES, HIGH PERFORMANCE, and PLAYED HARD TO GET — provide excellent structure.
- For the life of me, I could remember “Be Italian”, but couldn’t remember that the “Director whose life inspired the musical “Nine”” is Federico FELLINI without some crossings.
- Sometimes it’s just fun to put the various separate clues together as one phrase, and ALGAE EPOCH was doing that for me this week
Other nice fill in this grid: SKI BAG, DASTARDLY, MEDDLES IN, LYCRA, GAP YEAR, SCREWTOPS, BEEHIVE, and MARACAS.
and now, some REAL HOT GIRL SHIT from Megan Thee Stallion:
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Musical Composition” — pannonica’s write-up
Quickly, as I have an upcoming obligation.
Theme today is elements of musical composition, presented in order of increasing size.
- 17a. [Save an idea for later] MAKE A MENTAL NOTE.
- 25a. [Temporary solution] STOPGAP MEASURE.
- 43a. [Bat mitzvah and first communion, e.g.] RITES OF PASSAGE.
- 57a. [Loose collective advocating peace] ANTIWAR MOVEMENT.
Note, measure, passage, movement.
There is also the theme-adjacent 50a [Type of bar with live music] PIANO. Plus, heading down in the center, 28d [Recurring theme] MOTIF. Annnnd… 63a [Kind of clef] ALTO, which perhaps might have been better located toward the ‘beginning’ of the grid, i.e. the upper left.
- 6d [North Pole covering] ICE CAP. 9d [Watery expanse] SEA.
- 1a [Polish for English class] EDIT. Minor homonym misdirect.
- 42a [ __ Reader (mgazine)] UTNE. I believe it’s exclusively online these days, less frequent, and generally much diminished from its pre-internet days.
- 36a [Had a meal] ATE, 50d [Treated at a restaurant] PAID, 54a [Clear the tables] BUS.
Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s review
Fun puz from Wyna today! A little tougher than I expect on TNY Wednesdays now, but in way that means I learned some things, which is always welcome. Right to notes:
- 1a [Term of address akin to champ, tiger, or sport] KIDDO. I sometimes call one of my cats “KIDDO.” Each of my pets have several nicknames. I appreciate just how spot on the alternatives in the clue are.
- 16a [Tennant of Pet Shop Boys] NEIL. So I went Googling to see if NEIL and David Tennant are related (they are not – David actually changed his name to Tennant, inspired by Neil), and I more importantly discovered that Pet Shop Boys (a band) and Trailer Park Boys (a television series) are… different. I don’t know much about either, but at least I know this much now.
- 36a [Possible response to “Duck!”] DAMN AUTOCORRECT. This exact cluing angle featured recently in another puzzle I will not name to avoid spoilers, and I’m chuckling at the synchronicity. Nice to have a 15 gifted to me in that way.
- 42a [Fashion brand whose logo appropriates the aesthetic of Barbara Kruger’s work] SUPREME. The New Yorker editorial staff may not have wanted a stronger word than “appropriates,” but I can say “steals.” If you want a laugh, look up Kruger’s comment when Supreme sued Supreme Bitch for copyright infringement.
- 3d [Where socks on doorknobs might mean “do not enter”] DORM ROOMS. I never saw this happen in my time living in dorms. Perhaps it’s been rendered obsolete by texting.
- 29d [Junk drawers?] GO COMMANDO. I had a W at the beginning here for a while (SUNwEAR instead of SUNGEAR in the crossing), so this was a satisfying click once it came. Love when you have to say a familiar phrase in the clue aloud a few times to re-parse the meaning into what’s intended.
- 37d [Quite the talented and industrious one] NO SLOUCH. I just plain like this entry.
- 44d [Figure depicted in a famous statue atop Corcovado, in Rio de Janeiro] CHRIST. I feel for the trap here of dropping CRISTO, as it is in Portuguese, but I suppose there would have been some indicator in the clue if we needed to switch languages.
That’s all. Ta!
Julian Lim’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Hmm, I figured out most of Julian Lim’s theme between the verticality and the circles. By the time I got to 11D I had SIT, PUSH and PULL (UP) – I was hoping the revealer was going to have some more wordplay, but it was just a flat EXERCISEROUTINE.
The theme entries were:
- [“It’s safe to come out”], THECOAS(TIS)CLEAR
- [Predictors of most 20th-century U.S. presidential elections], GA(LLUP)POLLS
- [User’s rescuer], TEC(HSUP)PORT
I tripped myself up a few times with the multi-word phrases that this puzzle was peppered with. For [Unconscious], OUTCOLD, I put OUTOFIT. I also had [“__ while they’re hot!”], GETit instead of GETEM, and toyed with Ididit for ITWASI. Between those and CHEATDAY, GOBIG, LEMMESEE, DCAREA and PETSPA there was definitely a desire to find interesting answers. I must say a PETSPA is a weird upselling of “doggie parlour”, itself an upselling of “dog groomer”. Also, I get the feeling if your diet has CHEATDAYs, it isn’t sustainable, but as crossword entries go, they’re zingers!