Sid Sivakumar’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Oops, didn’t have the timer going when I solved this one, but it felt properly Saturdayish.
Fave fill in this gorgeous 62-word grid: the first stack with TIME WARP, SHAPEWEAR, HASSLE-FREE; Star Warsian POD RACERS, ROCK STARS clued metaphorically, OPEN EARS, “WHO CAN SAY?”, and retro JARTS (those lawn darts that were banned in 1988).
Seven more things:
- 1a. [Travel aid in science fiction], TIME WARP. I wanted WORMHOLE but there were crossings that argued against it.
- 19a. [“Weird …”], “IT’S ODD.” I don’t care for this entry. THAT’S ODD or HOW ODD feel much more natural to me.
- 29a. [What might collect a lot of checks], LIST. I’m a crosser-offer rather than a checkmarker. And you?
- 5d. [Joins a heavy metal band, say], WELDS. Clever clue. It did not fool me, though!
- 28d. [Certain crossbred lap dog], PORKIE. Huh? Yorkie and … Pomeranian? Poodle? Pekingese? Pug? Apparently it’s Pomeranian, and the mix can also be called Yoranian, which sounds rather Armenian to me.
- 34d. [Abrupt change in tone, perhaps], TAN LINE. Great clue! Shame that this entry is crossing SEMITONES, though. A distraction.
- 31d. [Currency depicting the Persian poet Rumi], LIRA. Had to do some digging to see what country’s currency this was about. Iran has the rial. Apparently Rumi was on the Turkish 5000 lira note from 1981 to 1994? If this is actually what the clue refers to, I don’t know that it’s fair game to clue via someone who may not have been printed on a bill in 28 years.
Four stars from me.
Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “Opening Statements”—Matthew’s write-up
Back later with the recap!
Billy Bratton’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 24” — Jim Q’s write-up
- SPIT IT OUT!
- GIRL POWER
Love the term SCREENAGER, though it’s brand new for me. I wonder how it took me so long to hear it (or even to come up with it myself). It’s a perfect portmanteau!
This one flowed nicely from north to south for me. Pleasantly moderate, as far as Universal‘s freestyle difficulty levels go.
Nice to see two grid-spanners next to two longer entries. I’ve seen NO MORE MR. NICE GUY more than a couple of times in a grid, so that one didn’t play so fresh for me. And IT TAKES ALL SORTS felt somewhat bland. The ALL dupe with IN ALL irked me, which is strange because usually repetition of those smaller words doesn’t. I doubt this would constitute what most would consider an “official” dupe, but it just had that vibe to me when I filled it in. Could be due to finding both of those entries within a few moments.
I liked WORK SPOUSE too, though I have only heard (and used) the term WORK WIFE / WORK HUSBAND.
Right over the plate today!
Desirée Penner & Jeff Sinnock’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Disorderliness” — pannonica’s write-up
This is a homage to the syndicated newspaper staple, THE DAILY JUMBLE, and it replicates the format. It’s then dressed up a little.
First, the riddle: 23a/46a/71a/93a/121a: EACH MORNING THE | MOTHER NOTICED THE | MIXED UP STATE OF HER HOME | AND BECAME UPSET BY | ––––––––––––––
- 26a. [*BREAH] REHAB
- 49a. [*DILMED] MIDDLE
- 75a. [*TALUCA] ACTUAL
- 101a. [*YUJIC] JUICY
- 121a. [Answer to the riddle (After unscrambling the four starred clues, arrange the circled letters to form the answer)] EHBMDLATULJIY = THE DAILY JUMBLE.
Additionally, we see 14a [Hoyt, who co-authors 121-Across] DAVID, and 100a [Knurek, who co-authors 121-Across] JEFF. It really takes two people to come up with those?
I found the theme to be—as I suppose I do the referenced puzzle—rather tedious, but the rest of the grid was fine and enjoyable.
- 1d [Deviate] VEER. Reflexively, I put in VARY at first, deviating from the correct solution.
- 10d [2002 Kenny Chesney song] BIG STAR. 60d [Thirteenth, maybe] IDES.
- 51a [Persian Gulf nat.] UAE, 53a [Persian Gulf nation] IRAN, 127a [51-Across’s peninsula] ARABIA.
- Favorite clue: 91d [Difficult couple?] EFS. Next favorite: 41a [They serve sentences] CLAUSES.
- 108d [Pen pal?] FELON. 58a [Cannes compadre] AMI.
- 93d [Four-time Indy 500 winner] AJ FOYT. 89d [“Hooked on a Feeling” singer] BJ THOMAS.
- 96d [Always, to Auden] E’ER. 19a [Previously, to Prior] ERE NOW.
- 124a [Vaccine administration] JAB. Strange to me how rapidly this Briticism took over so quickly here during these COVID times.
- 38a [Letter between xi and pi] OMICRON.
- 61a [Close up on a screen] GLENN. Tricksy. 42d [Spike in movie sales?] LEE. Less tricksy, due to question mark.
- 103a [Advocate of strong governmental control] ETATIST. Surely I wasn’t the only one to have STATIST first?
- 125a [Keister] TUSHIE.
- 126a [Excitedly gonna] EAGER TO. Nifty way of avoiding a duplicated ‘to’ in the clue via elision.
Sad to report that none of the songs with ‘jumble’ in the title were appealing enough to include as a coda here.
Debbie Ellerin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Ooh. I know that 1-Across does not define a puzzle, but it sure does set the tone, and in the case of this puzzle I think it illustrates the danger of seeding a puzzle (or at least putting an entry in a prominent position, even if it wasn’t a seed) around something that’s popular at the time the puzzle was made but hasn’t yet shown that it’ll have legs. It seems like everyone with a Netflix subscription (and plenty who didn’t have one) was watching SQUID GAME last fall, but I haven’t heard a coworker or gym friend talk about the show for at least a few months. (I did not watch it.) And so even though SQUID GAME was released less than 9 months ago, it already feels dated, similar to ZOOM BOMB and ZOOM BOMBING appearing in the NYT in summer 2021 and winter 2022, respectively.
Compare this with PORCH PIRATE at 11D — also a relatively recent coinage that feels fresh in a puzzle but that is also totally here to stay. It’s also clued in a delightful way with [Thief who may set off a glitter bomb package].
- 15A HANK AARON, clued as [MLB great who said “Play so good they can’t remember what color you were before the season started”]. Patti is a big baseball fan, and I anecdotally think there have been a few more baseball clues in LAT since she took the helm. (Also see the baseball clue for CORA, which could easily have been clued as the Last of the Mohicans or Downton Abbey character, at 49D.) I do like this particular baseball clue.
- 18A [Comfort-first footwear] is a euphemism compared to how I would describe CROCS, and it made me laugh because I imagined it said in a snarky voice that makes it clear it’s a euphemism.
- 40A [Pointless tiles?] for BLANKS made me smile.
- So did [Gingerbread house?] for COOKIE TIN.
- 23D, AMUSE-BOUCHE, is a nice longer entry that I don’t feel like I’ve seen before in a puzzle.
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
Since I’m an a bit of a hurry this morning, I didn’t have the luxury of lingering over the Stumper to eventually (I hope) break through an impasse in the upper left.
I was able to get the ends of 1 through 3-down—ACT, [I/A]BLE, and CAR—but as these were discrete components, it was difficult to figure out the first parts of those entries. So I looked up 22-across, which I had been thinking was a person: [Olivier Award winner of 1981] CATS.
By no means was it easy to build on event that gain, alas. 1d [Vaudeville staple] was now ––––C ACT and 3d [Certain racer] ––––T CAR. The former was obviously –––IC ACT, but was it COMIC? Anyway, I took a flyer on 19-across [It may be underfoot] being INNER SOLE and so I thought 3-down might be STUNT CAR? Fortunately that was a correct leap, and I learned that 15a [Fan site] also ended in –IC and no longer looked to be a website. ATTIC it was, and then 1-down was MAGIC ACT. GOUDA in the Netherlands at 17a followed, and then the rest filled themselves in. Very tough!
Also had some difficulty in the upper right. Finally getting to a point where I could discern the crossing of 10d [King Kong opponent] and 21a [Marked, in a way] was an X for T REX and XED IN helped polish off that section.
- 25a [Divide] REND. Variously considered SIFT and RIFT early on.
- 27a [Beloved Hollywood nickname] THE DUKE. Blech. He was quite the jerk.
- 41a [Surpassed] ACED OUT. This collocation is new to me.
- 47a [Shell filling] TNT. Considered GAS after first dismissing possible taco ingredients.
- 51a [Something to rattle] CAGE. So glad it wasn’t a singular BONE.
- 56a [2007 Best Oscar sharer] ETHAN COEN. Getting this one early on helped a lot in my solve.
- 61a [Certain racers] recycles the clue from 3-down. TEN-SPEEDS.
- 62a [Ticket seller] ARENA. Another one that turned out to be a thing and not a person.
- 6d [Carrying mail] ARMORED. Wow, very tricky.
- 7d [Went around in circles] COILED. Had TOOLED for a long while, as I couldn’t think of anything better.
- 13d [Greek bread spread] TAHINI.
- 44d [Unfunded, as a research project] ORPHAN. Anyone else for ON SPEC?
- 46d [Refusal of assistance] NO NEED. Not by the potential provider but the potential receiver.
- 51d [Space starter] CYBER-. Symmetrical with 4d [Astronomical study] TIDES.
- 55d [Festive] GALA. Adjective, as in ‘gala occasion’.
- 57d [Cedar Rapids school] COE. Since ‘school’ wasn’t abbreviated, I knew it couldn’t be ISU but instead had to be a three-letter institution. Another extremely useful bit of fill early on in my solve.
I was reluctant to use OPEN EARS at 43 Across, given EARPLUGS at 17 Down. Is this kind of repetition considered unremarkable?
It’s a glaring dupe and I’m shocked that it was a) included by the constructor and b) accepted by the editors.
It’s fairly well-established at this point that the NYT editing team is fine with this sort of thing — I believe the rule is something like no entry can be fully contained in another (so EARS and EARPLUGS would not fly, but OPEN EARS and EARPLUGS is fine).
The expression “open ears” sounds strange to me. Someone who is willing to listen has an open mind.
It seems pretty in the language.
I didn’t love Coleman and coleslaw. I know they aren’t the same at all, but it bothered me.
I found it a good use of fill.
LAT: In the posted grid, shouldn’t 35A be BUG and 35D BETH?
Thank-you for pointing this out, I thought I was going nuts!
I found the NYT a bit challenging, which may explain why I was not a fan of some of the cluing. In many many years in the hospitality business, I have never heard it referred to as a “wet martini.” Not difficult, but seriously…
Today was one of those rare days when the Stumper was quicker for me than the NYT. I was able to see through the trickery of some of Anna Stiga’s clues, but several of the proper names in the NYT slowed me up. I had RIAL instead of LIRA for a long time, and LUPE, ELTON and COLEMAN were unknown to me.
Same for me.
WSJ – At first, I threw in DUSTING for 20A, because here in Houston, ONEINCH of snow would not be negligible!
Agreed. The clue should have said “a fairly small amount” or something like that.
I thought this was a fun and clever puzzle.
NYT: I’m having trouble making sense of the clue/answer for 11-D. Are these common abbreviations for certain college MINORS I’m not familiar with?
Minor leagues, baseball
They’re the baseball minor leagues (A, AA, AAA are the standard levels before the pros).
My thought was “minor leagues” in baseball.
haha dave posted while I typed :) >
Ah! Not a big baseball fan, but we do have a minor league franchise in town, and it should have clicked. Thanks, all!
Universal: 3 Down “It takes all sorts” This entry caused me a lot of trouble because I have only ever heard “It takes all kinds.” Not only was it difficult to see that “kinds” had to be changed but had no idea what to change it to and the crossings were not much help. The first letter was
not easy to find. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen or heard “spit it out.”
I’m glad I’m not the only one to find IT TAKES ALL SORTS to be a little off. Having “kinds” in there slowed me down a good bit, but once I decide “kinds” wasn’t working, SORTS seemed the obvious choice.
“And so even though SQUID GAME was released less than 9 months ago, it already feels dated”
I would be extremely disappointed if crosswords were limited to ridiculously contemporary words and facts. Worse, the current tendency to heavily use many of the most up-to-the-nanosecond cultural memes is something I find terminally boring, and very unfortunate.
I just finished a 1998 NYT puzzle that had the clue “Sprint competitor,” three letters. Since Verizon and Sprint merged only a couple of years ago, Sprint is not completely forgotten, and I knew the answer had nothing to do with a track and field event.
But think how many telecoms there are with three-letter names. (The answer turned out to be MCI, a name that’s not been used since 2006.)
Some contemporary puzzles are going to age even less well.
Squid Game season 2 just got announced—it’s here to stay!
loved the 1A + rest of the puzzle