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Blake Slonecker’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
This puzzle played like a Saturday puzzle. I was kinda watching TV at the same time, but I had a couple wrong turns that slowed me down. For example, I had LINKS instead of SITES for 22a. [Blogroll assortment], and HORNING IN ON rather than BARGING IN ON for 14d. [Rudely interrupting]. And I don’t love 1a. [Puzzling start?], ACROSS—because that only really applies to print crosswords (where “Across” appears above the set of Across clues), and that’s a teeny portion of the puzzles I do.
Fill to ENTHUSE about: CHEM LAB, DROPCLOTHS, BORN TOO LATE, GARAGE DOORS, SUREFIRE HIT, SLEEPS IN (aspirational fill!), OAKLAND (53a. [Birthplace of the Black Panther Party]—and if you haven’t seen the Chicago-set Fred Hampton biopic, be sure to watch Judas and the Black Messiah sometime, it’s gripping), OMELET BARS, GUESS WHO, PICO DE GALLO, and CHATBOTS.
Five more things:
- 16a. [Root vegetable with stringy stalks], CELERIAC. I am pretty certain I’ve never tasted this! Do you recommend it? “Stringy stalks” sure don’t sound appetizing.
- 45a. [With sauce], INSOLENTLY. I’ve never used “sauce” that way. Au jus?
- 6d. [Hypothesized], SAID. This clue seems way too specific for such a plain answer.
- 9d. [“I, ___,” Shakespeare-inspired novel written from the villain’s perspective], IAGO. I don’t think I’ve heard of this. Here’s a book review from 2012. I suppose I should read Othello sometime, eh?
- 34d. [Try to persuade through lies], SHINE ON. I don’t know this usage. Wonder if it’s a regional or generational thing?
Four stars from me, as I don’t hold an extra challenge against a crossword!
Billy Bratton’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
This puzzle offers a little extra, with a 16×15 grid, primarily to accommodate the central theme entry.
- 60aR [Social climbers, and what the answers to the starred clues literally have] UPSTARTS. That is, they’ve all had UP prefixed to them.
- 18a. [*Occasion to pin back one’s coif?] UPDO TIME (do time).
- 26a. [*Catchy part of a vrituous song] UPRIGHT HOOK (right hook).
- 38a. [*People born during the Era of Good Feelings?] UPBEAT GENERATION (Beat Generation). Looks like the seed entry to me.
- 47a. [*Evening spent downloading the latest OS?] UPDATE NIGHT (date night).
It’s a fine, upstanding theme.
One thing I think I’m noticing about Patti Varol’s editing are more terse homonym clues. You know the kind. In this crossword, examples include: 7d [Direct] STEER, 9d [Yak] JAW, 27d [Left] GONE, 28d [Locks] HAIR, 41d [Draw ] TIE. Even more if I add slightly longer clues such as 44a [Biblical mount] SINAI and 39d [Large volume] TOME.
- 1a [Kilauea flow] LAVA, 68a [Mauna __ ] LOA, 17d [Hana airport greeting] ALOHA.
- 15d [The Colorado fourteeners, e.g.: Abbr.] MTS. All above 14,000 feet, of which there are 53.
- 45d [Two socks, hopefully] MATES. My only mis-fill, as I tried MATCH first.
- 46d [Mississippi source] Lake ITASCA, which has been drilled into my memory over the years.
- 48d [Violinist/singer Haden] PETRA. Daughter of bassist Charlie Haden. Here she covers a Tom Waits song, an ironic one since the obvious pun is Tom Waits/time waits (for no one).
David Bloom’s Universal crossword, “Alternate Endings”—Jim P’s review
The revealer is DOWN AND OUT (62a, [In need, or two words that can follow both parts of each starred clue’s answer]). I’ve seen many a puzzle with two-word theme answers where each word can be followed by one keyword to make a familiar phrase, but I’ve never seen a puzzle theme purport to do this before. Each word in each two-word theme answer can precede both keywords in the revealer. Zoinks!
- 18a. [*Retaliate] STRIKE BACK. Strike down, strike out. Back down, back out. Yup. That works.
- 25a. [*Play cooperatively] TAKE TURNS. Take down, take out. Turns down, turns out.
- 31a. [*What your patience may gradually do] WEAR THIN. Wear down, wear out. Thin down, thin out.
- 45a. [*Event for Trixie Mattel or RuPaul] DRAG SHOW. Drag down, drag out. Showdown, show out. I wasn’t sure what was meant by “show out” but now I realize it’s synonymous with “escort out” or “show the door.”
- 52a. [*Heels-over-head stunt] HAND STAND. Hand down, handout. Stand down, standout.
Impressive! Five legit theme answers means 10 pairs of phrases for a total of 20 phrases. And they all work. Nicely done!
In addition to all that wordplay, six long theme answers in the Across direction take up a lot of real estate and normally constrain the fill. But we’re still treated to some goodies here like DEAR SIR (I’m picturing Marcie from Peanuts with that entry), ILHAN OMAR, BARISTA, ICELAND, AUTOCRACY, EXPOSÉ and TARDIS. Not shabby at all!
Clues of note:
- 10a. [Palindromic alternative to a Game Boy]. PSP. The PlayStation Portable (2004-2014). It was more of a competitor to the Nintendo DS than the Game Boy.
- 20a. [Rushes, like a castle]. STORMS. As in The Princess Bride.
- 36d. [Obscene]. LEWD. Did you know there’s a Wordle variant with naughty words? Yup, it’s called Lewdle. It’s not really a game for me, though—not because I’m prudish, but because I’m not up on all the latest slang.
An impressive theme and grid. 4.25 stars.
Kate Chin Park’s USA Today crossword, “All-Star Lineup”—Darby’s write-up
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: The first word of each theme answer can precede the word “STAR.”
- 17a [“MLB fielding awards”] GOLD GLOVES / GOLD STAR
- 26a [“Succumbing to adoration”] FALLING IN LOVE / FALLING STAR
- 48a [“Early bird”] MORNING PERSON
- 63a [“Flowing and freezing dance”] POP AND LOCK
Four themers in a cute puzzle this Friday! This was a great and diverse set, which I really enjoyed filling in. My first thought theme-wise had been that it was going to have to do with medals since the first one up was GOLD GLOVES (appropriately located not too terribly from 5a [“Catchers and bakers wear them”] MITTS. It quickly became apparent that this was not the case, especially as I filled in FALLING IN LOVE and MORNING PERSON. Once I filled in POP AND LOCK, it all clicked into place.
The upper left corner was very food-filled, and so, naturally, my stomach is growling. Between 1a [“Ewe’s baby”] LAMB, 14a [“___ gobi”] ALOO, 20a [“Passover feast”] SEDER, and 18d [Cook at a cookout”] GRILL, I’m ready for a buffet line of my own. I also really loved the symmetric combo of 10d [“Short fiction books such as ‘Binti’”] NOVELLAS and 37d [“Absurd statements”] NONSENSE, as well as 21a [“‘Yes, I see that’”] SO IT SEEMS and 53a [“City home to Europe’s oldest Chinese community”] LIVERPOOL. The latter of which also provides a really interesting and new way to clue LIVERPOOL.
Some Friday faves:
- 4d [“@___catsofinstagram (account with pics from NYC delis)”] – I feel so blessed that the existence of @BODEGAcatsofinstagram has come into my life. I definitely would recommend a scroll.
- 43d [“Broke like a kit kat”] – Gimme a break! There’s such a feeling of satisfaction to be had after having successfully SNAPPED a Kit Kat bar.
- 44a [“Ropa vieja is considered its national dish”] – Well, this also looks delicious, and it only adds to my craving this morning. It is a CUBAn meal, and it’s traditionally made with shredded steak, which led to its name “old clothes.” You can find a recipe here.
That’s all from me today! Great puzzle that make’s me want to 49d [“‘Let’s ___ (Earth, Wind & Fire hit)”] GROOVE.
Ross Trudeau’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s write-up
Rebus alert! The central revealer [34a Craft beer … and a hint to the contents of four squares in this puzzle] MICROBREW points us to IPA crammed into a few crossings:
- 16a [Minor legal matter?] EMANC(IPA)TION // 5d [Evaporate, as a seemingly comfortable lead] SL(IP A)WAY
- 24a [Where you can take an Impala to see impalas] SAFAR(I PA)RK // 10d [Dematerialize] DISS(IPA)TE
- 48a [Mountain-rescue groups] SK(I PA)TROLS // 39d [Let fat decide between two option] FL(IP A) COIN
- 57a [Contradiction, named for an Italian American physicist, between the lack of evidence of aliens and the supposedly high probability of their existence] FERM(I PA)RADOX // 47d [Battleground for an edit war] WIK(I PA)GE
I am a fan of Ross’ puzzles (find more at rosswordpuzzles.com), as many people are, think that his work has really stepped up a notch from an already high bar in the last 8-10 months, and still love this puzzle to bits/think it may be my favorite of his. Even before I move past the theme clues you can see a diversity of knowledge bases, of cluing types, of colorful entries. This is a clean, clean grid considering each corner and the center is constrained by a theme entry. It’s a delight, and I don’t think I need to spell out more examples from the fill to get the point across.
A few notes:
- 47a [U.S. soccer star McKennie] WESTON. The Men’s National team is on an upswing, with gobs of young talent seemingly all set to peak together for the 2026 World Cup, which will be hosted here in North America, in a joint bid between Canada, the US, and Mexico. When WESTON McKennie, who currently plays for historic Italian club Juventus, is on, it’s difficult to take your eyes off him – a hyperkinetic player always seemingly on the verge of bursting out of his skin, like a child hepped up on Pixie Sticks and Mountain Dew.
- 26d [Teatime, perhaps] FOUR. If only I limited myself to tea in the afternoon — I am rarely without a cup during the workday.
- 13a [Frustum-shaped chocolate] ROLO. Underrated crosswordese entry, there, in “frustum”. Don’t think I’ve ever seen it anywhere BUT in a clue for ROLOs.
- 37a [2022 French Open champ, to fans] RAFA. As in Spaniard RAFA Nadal, the so-called “King of Clay,” in reference to the playing surface at the French Open, which the 36-year-old Nadal has won a record 14 times. I do not like Nadal very much, so I’m here to tell you that the biggest story in tennis right now is on the women’s side, where Iga Swiatek has won approximately 1 billion matches in a row including each of the year’s first two Slams.
Christina Iverson and Shirley Wong’s Inkubator crossword, “Class Period”—Rebecca’s review
Fantastic menstruation-themed puzzle today, with support for the great work of period.org.
18-Across [Lesson 1: The basics] THERE WILL BE BLOOD
30-Across [Lesson 2: On problematic products] SKETCH PADS
51-Across [Lesson 3: Tools for monitoring and tracking] FLOW CHARTS
65-Across [Lesson 4: Coping with aches and pains] DON’T CRAMP MY STYLE
I really loved the reimagining of the themed entries as period-related and reflects the importance of having an outlet like the Inkubator.
The grid was really smooth with lots of great bonus fill throughout which kept the puzzle entertaining beyond the theme.
I’ll leave you with my favorite period song: