Pao Roy’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
A fun and fresh Friday puzzle, pitched right over the Friday-level plate! My favorite clue is the one for Richard PRYOR because it made me laugh: 53a. [Comic who said “I’m not addicted to cocaine. I just like the way it smells”]. I hadn’t heard that one before.
Fave fill—and there’s a lot of it: PLOT TWIST, POOL NOODLE, INFLUENCER, “ON A SIDE NOTE,” SPILL THE TEA, PIPE DOWN, IN RARE FORM, EASTER EGGS, STEAL AWAY, E.R. NURSE, and DRAMA COACH. So much good stuff, I can forgive bits like EENY, CANST, SOU, and HOU.
Three more things:
- Did not know: 60a. [1987 Lionel Richie hit], SE LA. I wasn’t listening to much Top 40 radio that year, and it peaked at #20 on the charts, so not a big hit. Lionel’s an R&B legend with a side of country, though, so I won’t throw any shade there.
- Also didn’t know: 44a. [___ sum (leafy vegetable in Chinese cuisine)], CHOY. I guessed CHOY because bok choy is a leafy cabbage. Choy sum is indeed in the Brassica/cabbage family.
- 63a. [Sneak off somewhere], STEAL AWAY. Now, I was listening to Top 40 radio in 1980, so I definitely remember the Robbie Dupree song called “Steal Away.” I was going to serve up a video of that song, but it’s actually pretty terrible. Instead, you get Lionel’s “Se La” because it’s got such a catchy Caribbean beat.
4.25 stars from me.
Amie Walker’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Modest theme here, simply affixing a G to the beginnings of various words/phrases to wackify them,
- 18a. [Protection from bright flashes of light?] GLINT SCREEN (lint screen).
- 26a. [Sparkly insects?] GLITTERBUGS (litterbugs).
- 44a. [Sign on a sauna door?] GLISTEN HERE (listen here). I frequently listen to Clay Pigeon’s weekday morning radio show on WFMU, where he consistently refers to the audience as ‘glisteners’. It’s a precious tic that one learns to accept.
- 57a. [Entry on a dating site for fireflies?] GLOW PROFILE (low profile).
These are okay but not particularly exciting. Perhaps the theme would have felt stronger if the only Gs in the grid were the ones prefixing the theme answers?
- 1d [Pixar short about a ball of yarn] PURL. Haven’t heard of it, but it’s a good title.
- 7d [“Enough” number of women justices on the Supreme Court, per Ruth Bader Ginsburg] NINE. Presuming the court is not expanded, which at this point should definitely happen.
- 24d [Critter that eats while floating on its back] OTTER. Specifically, the sea otter, Enhydra lutris. I found a musical track called ‘Sea Otter’ that’s not half-bad. Can’t see what the hell the music has to do with the title, though.
- 26d [Take for a ride] GRIFT, 38a [Takes for a ride] SCAMS. Plenty of that going around, perhaps moreso than ever in the age of social media.
- 46d [Bent in the wind] BOWED. “Bend but don’t break.”
- 49d [Montreal-based shoe brand] ALDO. Unknown to me.
- 56d [Four-award acronym] EGOT. After this year’s Tonys there is a new member of the exclusive club: Jennifer Hudson.
- 4a [“Let’s take it down a notch”] NOW NOW.
- 10a [Dropbox files, informally] DOCS. Perplexed by this clue, as Dropbox can be a repository for any type of file.
- Favorite clue: 60a [Just chilling] IDLE. Not EERIE or anything like that.
- 65a [Take home] NET.
Claire Rimkus’s USA Today crossword, “Get Down to Work”—Darby’s write-up
Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: The last word of each theme answer can go before WORK.
- 3d [“Orlando Pride, e.g.”] SOCCER TEAM / TEAMWORK
- 8d [“Algebra notebook sheets”] GRAPH PAPER / PAPERWORK
- 29d [“Christmas tree dropping”] PINE NEEDLE / NEEDLEWORK
- 32d [“Device with a snooze button”] ALARM CLOCK / CLOCK WORK
Four great themers, no problem! And all down answers, which is always fun, in my opinion. I appreciated the way that these were staggered throughout the puzzle, and they were also relatively easy to figure out. A nice, clean and simple theme.
I filled this puzzle straight through, which was a delight for me. It has really nice symmetry and doesn’t feel too closed off, even if it gets to be a bit tight toward the middle with the PARSNIP – PISA – NAP – EWES – READMIT diagonal move, but the connections through the themers keep the puzzle feeling connected throughout.
Some other Friday faves:
- 27a [“Carrot relative”] – PARSNIPs are similar to carrots. Interestingly, they have been used since ancient times, sometimes as a sweetener. Upon googling the two root vegetables together, I have discovered many recipes for carrot PARSNIP soup. I’d definitely recommend perusing a few (and making one!).
- 48a [“Rainforest home to the Goliath birdeater spider”] – I did not google this spider because I’m terrified of them, but I was excited to see a reference to the AMAZON Rainforest rather than the company.
- 56a [“Lizard with prominent eyes”] – My first thought here was CHAMELEON, but I was skeptical because when I first think of these lizards, I usually think about their color changing ability. I almost skipped it, but seeing that 56d [“Applaud”] was CLAP, I knew that my instinct was right on.
That’s all from me today! What a delightful way to start my day!
Adam H. Mack and Amanda Rafkin’s Universal crossword, “What the Dickens?”—Jim P’s review
Theme: OLIVER TWIST (62a, [Dickens boy who asked for more, and what’s found within 17-, 31- and 46-Across]). The other theme answers are familiar phrases with the letters from the name OLIVER “twisted” (i.e. scrambled) within.
- 17a. [Transferred nest egg] ROLLOVER IRA.
- 31a. [High-ranking] SENIOR–LEVEL.
- 46a. [Portable wrinkle removers] TRAVEL IRONS.
I arrived at—and filled in—the revealer before grokking the theme, so I got to enjoy my aha moment post-solve. It feels somewhat surprising to find suitable re-arrangements of those six letters within familiar(ish) phrases, but maybe that’s just perception since only the V is less common. Still, I enjoyed discovering the theme and finding the “twisted” letters within each theme answer.
I liked seeing PAVLOV’S DOG, “SCREW IT!,” and GROOVIN‘ in the grid. I don’t think I’ve heard the phrase DRAMA LLAMA [Rhyming term for a person prone to theatrics] before, but it’s fun, and the clue made it clear DRAMA QUEEN was incorrect.
Clues of note:
- 1d. [Actress Russell]. KERI. I misread this as [Actor Russell] and immediately plunked in KURT based off of the K. Anyone else?
- 12d. [Gateway for Rick and Morty, often]. PORTAL. I’ve never watched the show and don’t know the premise behind it, but I’ve seen enough forms of merch (t-shirts and the like) to know it has a sci-fi bent. I like the modern cluing angle. We also would have accepted [Popular physics-based puzzle game coming to Nintendo Switch later this year].
Nice puzzle all around. 3.5 stars. Oh, and this is a debut for Adam Mack. Congrats!
Rose Sloan’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #32″—Rebecca’s review
Fantastic themeless today that was totally on my wave length.
I really enjoyed solving this from start to finish. Great mix of entries throughout and a nice flow to the solve.
Favorite clues and answers:
60-Across [Top gear?] for STRAP ON
12-Down [Phenomenon discussed by Robyn Ochs, one of the first Americans to have a same-sex wedding] for BI-ERASURE
37-Across [It won’t give you cookies] for INCOGNITO MODE
35-Down [Amy Dunne of “Gone Girl,” e.g.] for ANTIHERO
31-Across [Clip-___ (some “Pretty Pretty Princess” game pieces)] for ONS
8-Down [Useful tool for working on the couch] for LAP DESK