Alan Arbesfeld’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Cutting Back”—Jim P’s review
Theme: In each three-word theme entry, the final letter of the first word is removed to make the second word which has its final letter removed to make the third word. The whole made-up phrase is clued wackily, of course.
- 17a. [Constrain a part-time worker at Arizona State?] TEMPER TEMPE TEMP.
- 27a. [Stove timer went off in a park employee’s kitchen?] RANGER RANGE RANG.
- 45a. [The history of soft-shaded glue?] PASTEL PASTE PAST.
- 57a. [Proposal governing global aviation?] PLANET PLANE PLAN.
This type of theme can get overly strained really quickly as unrelated words are forced together. While I didn’t love these, they weren’t so bad as all that. The last one made the most sense to me.
Top fill: ALPHA MALES, BATGIRL, LAP DOG, MARLOWE, CHOBANI, “I MEAN IT!,” “HOW TRUE,” RIVIERA, and STETSON. Not bad considering the theme takes up so much space with four grid-spanners. Not keen on A TRACE and RETAP.
Clues of note:
- 48a. [The Bermuda station wagon, e.g.]. EDSEL. The clue makes it sound as if anything going into the car won’t be coming back out again.
- 11d. [Character who debuted in Detective Comics #359]. BATGIRL. Prices range from several hundred dollars to a few thousand for one of those issues on eBay.
- 47d. [Mass communication’s source?]. PULPIT. Nice clue.
While I wouldn’t say the theme shines, it does have some good wordplay. 3.5 stars.
Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Add-a-letter themes are often pretty flat, but I enjoyed this one. Words ending with ET pick up an H so that it soundeth like an old-timey verb:
- 18a. [Doth choose a comedy routine?], PICKETH LINES.
- 24a. [Citizenry doth work hard?], PUBLIC TOILETH. This one made me laugh!
- 38a. [Once-popular activity hath no more fans?], FAD DIETH. This happens all the time!
- 49a. [Doth apply graffiti?], MARKETH PLACES. “Places” feels maybe a tad vague/over-broad, not at all specific to graffitiing.
- 58a. [Runway walker hath megatalent?], MODEL ROCKETH. It’s keenly whimsical to add an -eth on a contemporary verb usage like ROCK here.
The grid would have had a little more flexibility without the central FAD DIETH but really, aside from OAST, the fill is pretty good. Fave fill: VACAY, MAORIS, HOTEL BARS, PARA-SKI, LITTERBUGS (good clue: [They may leave a lengthy paper trail]).
I’m not sure why this puzzle took me so long. Tired? Or were the clues on the tougher side for a Wednesday? I mean, this shouldn’t have taken me a Saturday amount of time.
Three more things:
- Did not know 36d. [L.P.G.A. star Thompson], LEXI.
- 26d. [Mal de ___], TETE. Man! I woke up with a naaaasty headache/neckache this morning. What’s finer than feeling better in a few short hours? I lucked out today. And yet it still took me awhile to figure out the answer.
- 44a. [Post-boomer cohort], GEN X. We are perpetually forgotten! Too many survey-result charts display Boomers, Millennials, and the younger generations, skipping right over the existence of Gen X. That’s fiiine, many of us were latchkey kids, we’re used to being left alone.
Four stars from me.
Hanh Huynh’s Universal crossword, “Finding Your Place” — pannonica’s write-up
Flew through this one, so the central (non-theme) entry was not accurate in my case: 38a [Experience turbulence, maybe] FLY. Maybe not!
- 57aR [Looking for a home, or a theme hint] HOUSE HUNTING. The other theme entries contain the names of types of houses, spanning the two words of each answer. Not much hunting is required, as the relevant letters are pre-circled.
- 20a. [Sound such as “Mwahahaha!”] EVIL LAUGHTER (villa).
- 28a. [What some patients seek before surgery] SECOND OPINIONS (condo).
- 49a. [Protestant religious organization] LUTHERAN CHURCH (ranch).
And there you have it. I’d be greatly surprised if such a basic theme hasn’t been done multiple times previously, but that in no way detracts from the current offering. It’s a nifty bit of consistency that all the hidden homes are 5 letters long.
- 47d [Berry in a purple smoothie] AÇAÍ. People! The proper pronunciation is \ˌä-ˌsä-ˈē\ ! Forvo link.
- 14a [Stack of papers?] REAM. Not sure that this needs a question mark.
- 17a [Said “dada,” for example] SPOKE. Crossed by 1d MAS, albeit clued as [Spanish for “more”], which is probably something else an infant might say.
- 23a [Gotten up] ARISEN, 40a [Got up] STOOD. Also 50d [Takes by force] USURPS, which doesn’t actually belong with the others, but kind of looks as if it should.
- 46a [Brand that used hamsters to sell its Soul] KIA. I have no idea about the advertisement, but the clue amused me.
- 56a [Like some water rescues] AIR-SEA. 6d [Depleted Asian sea] ARAL, which isn’t even a sea, so the duplication is a bit more unwarranted.
Ben Tausig’s AVCX, “AVCX Themeless #63” — Ben’s Review
AVCX editor Ben Tausig has today’s puzzle, and the title tells you all you need to know about what’s going on with the circled squares in each theme entry:
- 17A: Best Director Oscar winner of 2020 — BONG-JOON HO
- 25A: Regal title for David Bowie’s “Labyrinth” character — GOBLIN KING
- 38A: Wine tasting receptacles — SPITTOONS
- 54A: Rock Band competitor — GUITAR HERO
- 62A: Squeaker — CLOSE SHAVE
Each of the circled sets of letters forms an instrument in the rhythm section – BONGO, GONG, SPOONS, GUIRO, and CLAVE.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Welcome to Miami” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: The last word of each theme answer is the name of a Miami pro sports team.
- 16a [Fish also known as nairagi] – STRIPED MARLINS
- 28a [Amazon mammals] – PINK DOLPHINS
- 56a [Cause of withering crops] – SCORCHING HEAT
What, no love for Inter Miami FC??? Despite the title, after getting the first two theme answers I was sure the theme was marine-life related. It was only after I got SCORCHING HEAT that I saw the actual theme. I’m a sports fan, but I have never cared much about Miami in particular, so this theme didn’t connect much with me. I also found the theme answers to be a little straightforward, although PINK DOLPHINS are really cool!
The rest of the puzzle was, similar to the theme, clean if a little straightforward – there was nothing bad, but very little that wowed me. ZEN MASTER is great, although its counterpart in DO NOT IRON was nothing special (maybe this is because all of my clothes might as well say “do not iron” on them based on the amount of times I’ve actually ironed anything). I didn’t know if the 5d [Most populous Nordic country] was SWEDEN or Norway, and I also didn’t know TODD 6d [Figure skating champ Eldredge], so the top middle took a while to come together for me. Oh, and I didn’t know 52d [Poet and activist Suzan ___ Harjo] was SHOWN, and the clue on TEAS was such that I wasn’t sure if it was plural or not (50a[Genmaicha, etc]) so the S was an educated guess.
Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s review
May continues to kick my ass, weeks into June. Here’s the solution grid. MOMS SPAGHETTI, FRIENDSTER (I never had an account there), and FIRE DANCER were highlights for me.
Hoang-Kim Vu & Wendy L. Brandes’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Today’s puzzle by Hoang-Kim Vu & Wendy L. Brandes features phrases with four of the 118 elements; three metals, one non-; in one half of two-part phrases. The clues take the form of a snowclone: [There’s an element of ___ to it?]. [Doubt] is for WAFFLEIRON; [Romance] for CARBONDATING; [Mystery] for SILVERSCREEN; [Humor] for COMEDYGOLD. This extra layer of cuteness forces the clues into being rather ill-fitting in several cases, though.
A similar vibe to many Wednesdays of late. Mostly quite easy, but with mostly carefully spaced “new” entries seeded throughout:
- [“The one over there”], THAT. We need to reintroduce YONDER.
- [Nana alternative], MEEMAW. Very Sweet Home Alabama turn of phrase!
- [“The Daily Show” correspondent Lydic], DESI. I wonder if this will start turning up as “of South Asian descent” more in the future?
- [__ Bradley bags], VERA. New on me; neither I or my partner are fashionable…
- [Dancer/YouTube star JoJo __], SIWA who I encountered on the Masked Singer. Trouble is Jojo Levesque was also (more successfully) on it, so she ran interference.
- [Ann Taylor __], LOFT. More fashion. Curious if either of these are found here, but there are some enclaves of overseas people in Cape Town so…
EDIE Brickell to sing us out…