Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Any Day Now” – Erin’s write-up
Hi everyone! In this week’s clever theme, Matt swaps abbreviations of days of the week found in other words and phrases.
- 11a. [French scammer’s “find the potato” activity?] THREE CARD FRITES. Original phrase is THREE CARD MONTES, and the abbreviation for Monday is changed to the one for Friday. I love this multilingual entry, except that in the clue “activity” is singular and MONTES is plural. It’s still fantastic.
- 33a. [Motto of the Really Long Word Club?] WE DO SYLLABIC (MONOSYLLABIC)
- 42a. [Result of a Benedictine losing at Battleship?] TRAPPIST SUNK (TRAPPIST MONK)
- 59a. [Prods fitness instructors?] POKES AT TRAINERS (POKÉMON TRAINERS)
This theme really hit the spot for me. Honestly, any grid with a Pokémon reference gets a thumbs up in my book, but I enjoyed all the theme entries here.
- 5a. [Bullwinkle, for one] MOOSE. Fitting, since last weekend I was at a Wilmington Blue Rocks game, where the mascot is Rocky Bluewinkle.
- 69a. [Conditional suffix?] OSIS. The Greek suffix indicated a condition or state, such as hypnosis, metamorphosis, or coccidioidomycosis.
- 11d. [Title Maurice Sendak kid whose name rhymes with his catchphrase “I don’t care.”] That would be PIERRE of Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue.
Rebecca Goldstein’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Life-Size”—Jim P’s review
Theme answers are familiar phrases whose final words can also be components of a living creature, from small to large.
- 17a. [Burner phone] PREPAID CELL.
- 27a. [Material for a homemade mummy costume] BATHROOM TISSUE.
- 42a. [Accompaniment for a carousel, perhaps] WURLITZER ORGAN.
- 57a. [One might swing from a chandelier] PARTY ANIMAL.
When the theme didn’t come to me after the third entry, a quick pick at the title was in order. A few seconds later came the aha moment. Nicely chosen theme answers with fun clues and a perfectly apt title.
It’s always nice when a constructor can work in some juicy long stacks of fill. Today we’re treated to CENSUS DATA and PAUL BUNYAN as well as BACKUP FILE and AVID READER. Plus BIG SMILE, RIPOSTES, GOLD STAR, and SET A DATE. GOLD STAR for the long fill today!
Clue of note: 49a. [Passed out while playing]. DEALT. Ha. Clever clue.
Solid theme and lovely long fill. 3.75 stars.
Alex Eaton-Salners’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Theme revealer: 58a. [Instant … hinted at four times in this puzzle’s circled letters], SPLIT SECOND. The circled letters spell out words that are split across two successive entries, and each of the circled words is a thing that’s second: VENUS is the second planet from the sun, ADAMS was the second president, TUESDAY is the second day of the week (provided you start from Monday rather than Sunday, which renders this problematic for some solvers), and BETA is the second letter of the Greek alphabet. Before I got to the revealer, the proximity of ADAMS and TUESDAY made me think of Wednesday Addams.
With 67 theme squares here, it’s not surprising to find a few entries that I’d argue don’t belong in a puzzle pitched to beginners. (Maybe this should be a Wednesday puzzle with slightly tougher clues?) I’ve been great at solving crosswords for decades, and I’ve done many thousands of them, so it is surprising to find an entry in a Tuesday puzzle that I don’t think I’ve seen before: 9d. [Small building wing], ALETTE. What the …?? Who uses this word?! Also on the hard side: OLD ELI, if you didn’t go to Yale.
Five more things:
- 34d. [Part of a house that might have a full house], POKER ROOM. Is this “a house” meant to be a casino, or “the house”? I have never been in a home with a dedicated POKER ROOM, that’s for sure.
- 43d. [Place to get a cookie, maybe], WEBSITE. An inedible, privacy-thieving cookie, not the good kind of cookie. Cookie Monster would feel ripped off by this clue.
- 36d. [Exhibiting poor taste], TACKY / 48d. [Lacking grace and refinement], GAUCHE. Jeez, crossword, you don’t have to call names!
- 17a. [“This is payback!”], “NOW WE’RE EVEN!” I like the entry, I like the clue.
- 42a. [“Ripped”], SWOLE. Ha, with the crossings, I went with STOLE first, as in “ripped off.” But no, it’s the slangy term for having bulked-up muscles.
3.75 stars for the theme and BLEW A KISS, considerably less for the fill including ALETTE and OLD ELI (and crossing the two, no less!).
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 577), “Baker’s Gift”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well as we enjoy the longest day of the year! Oh, and stay cool, people!
Today’s grid was a cookie cutter of sorts, with all of the entries making up the perimeter of the grid turning out to be words that are also types of cookies. Smack dab in the middle of the grid is the reveal, COOKIE BOX (37A: [Container for sweet treats, as suggested by the answers on the puzzle’s edges]).
- CHRISTMAS (1A: [Seasonal Michael Bublé album])
- SUGAR (10A: [Dearie])
- RAINBOW (14D: [___ flag (Pride Parade symbol])
- FORTUNE (45D: [Massive amount of money])
- CHOCOLATE (68A: [Type of lab favored by dog lovers])
- LEMON (67A: [Crummy car])
- OATMEAL (39A: [Neutral color that looks like porridge])
- CRINKLE (1D: [___paper (gift basket filler that makes a rustling sound])
- There were a few tricky spots in the grid that, for the most part, had me running the alphabet to feel comfortable in the right answers, particularly with the intersection of HENREID (2D: [“Casablanca” actor Paul]) and NRC, which took a while to finally feel comfortable that I had the right abbreviation for the right clue (19A: [Atomic energy org.]). The complicated theme execution ended up also causing us to remember and/or guess lines of succession with royalty, such as GEORGE V (12D: [Grandfather to Elizabeth II]) and LEO II, which can sometimes be stabs in the dark (18A: [Seventh-century pope]). Took me a little longer than usual to solve because of those spots, but still liked the solving experience overall. Alright, time for this LAST BORN to sign out and call it a day early, but not before leaving you with the next graph (21D: [Youngest child])
- “Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ARAMIS (46A: [Estée Lauder fragrance named for a Dumas hero]) – One of the more under-appreciated sluggers of the first part of the 21st century, former Major League Baseball player Aramis Ramirez was a third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, In his 17 years in the bigs, Ramirez had over 2,300 hits (2,303) and drove in more than 1400 runs (1,417). He was selected to the All-Star Game three times, and in 2008, Ramirez was awarded with the Hank Aaron Award as the most outstanding performer in the National League. In that season, Ramirez had 44 doubles, 27 home runs and 111 runs batted in.Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!Take care!Ade/AOK
Desiree Penner and Jeff Sinnock’s Universal Crossword, “R&R & R&R” — Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: “Pairs” of two-word phrases where both of the words begin with R.
- 17A [Ice cream flavor No. 1] RUM RAISIN.
- 22A [Luxury automobile No. 1] ROLLS ROYCE.
- 33A [1958 hit No. 1] REBEL ROUSER.
- 43A [1958 hit No. 2] ROCKIN’ ROBIN.
- 53A [Luxury automobile No. 2] RANGE ROVER.
- 63A [Ice cream flavor No. 2] ROCKY ROAD.
Thought I was going for a personal speed record until I got hung up in the DEFOG section where I confidently entered DE-ICE, making UFC, OK LOOK, and SERGIO difficult since none of those were gimmes for me.
Anyway, the theme is both very simple and slightly confusing. I don’t quite understand the “No. 1” and “No. 2” parts at the ends of the clues. I guess that’s just to point out that they make up a pair in the grid itself, but for me it read like ROCKIN‘ ROBIN was a number 1 hit of 1958 and REBEL ROUSER was a number 2 hit. Was ROLLS ROYCE the first luxury automobile? Do people keep track of that stuff? What’s the criteria? RUM RAISIN the first flavor of ice cream ever? Who knew!
Obviously, that’s absurd, but those were the thoughts running through my head. I don’t think solvers need help grokking that there are pairs. Simple clue repetition sans “No. 1” and “No. 2” would’ve felt a lot less cumbersome to me.
All in all, a fine breezy theme. It’s themes like these that give a turbo boost to speed solving since you know you are looking for R/R phrases. With 6 themers, the fill felt just fine to me, though the word count was upped to 80, which is slightly above PAR.
Thanks for this one!
3.5 stars from me.
Natan Last’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Lot of stuff in my bailiwheelhouse today, so I’m inclined to cast a benevolent eye over this themeless offering.
- 4d [Was a swinger but didn’t play the field?] DHED. Is that an acceptable formulation? It’s objectively less jarring than what I thought the answer was going to be, DHIT.
- 6d [Farthest from the action, say] NOSEBLEED. Especially odd to see the adjective without a noun.
- 8d [Get sidetracked] STRAY. I’m rather intrigued by and am considering purchasing the forthcoming video game of that name. Cannot recall the last video game I bought.
- 18d [The Deptford Trilogy author Davies] ROBERTSON. Highly recommended, those books. Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders. It’s been decades since I read them, and there’s so many other things I want to read, but they absolutely deserve a revisiting.
- 28d [Members of the genus Hippocampus] SEAHORSES. Perhaps it’s time to revive my erstwhile series of sharing Sygnathid images Friday through Sunday.
- 30d [Gets the ball rolling?] PUTTS. Anticipated BOWLS.
- 34d [“Koala bear” and “prairie dog,” for two] MISNOMERS. Nice for me that mammals were chosen as examples.
- 36d [Girlbossed] LEANED IN. Do either of these terms still have currency?
- 37d [Chopped liver entrée?] WHAT AM I. ‘Entrée’ as in introductory words.
- 44d [Kind] TRIBE. It’s also an intermediate taxonomic rank in biology, falling between family (subfamily) and genus.
- 45d [Warlord who rode the horse Babieca] EL CID.
- 50d [“The Way of Zen” philosopher Watts] ALAN. I used to listen regularly to the ALAN Watts lecture series, once broadcast weekly on a local radio station. I believe they were recorded at the University of Colorado in the 1960s and -70s. Many good insights to be found therein.
- 1a [One making a fist] HAND. This was a what-else-could-it-be clue, confirmed by 1d [Like a beer with a a high I.B.U. rating] HOPPY. Pretty sure that’s something like International Bitterness Unit. … Ah, close. It’s ‘bittering’.
20a [Museum in the opening scene of Ben Lerner’s “Leaving the Atocha Station”] PRADO.
- 34a [Clue six?] MURDER WEAPONS. Was prepared for it to be something like that, but first wanted the too-long SUSPECTS.
- 37a [1961 film whose setting, San Juan Hill, was bulldozed to make way for Lincoln Center] WEST SIDE STORY. The original neighborhood was Thelonious Monk’s home, as it was to many others.
- 41a [Make] NET. That’s an oblique little clue.
- 55a [The Stooges’ genre?] SLAPSTICK. I’m presuming the question mark is there because the clue appears to be referencing Iggy Pop’s band rather than the comedy trio.
- 62a [Pop d.j. named for his last initial] ZEDD. Unknown to me, but an apt way to end a crossword.
Stella Zawistowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up
Theme: Each theme answer ends with a word for a party
- 20a [*Broadcast quality determined by a car antenna] – RADIO RECEPTION
- 26a [*Sine or cosine, for short] – TRIG FUNCTION
- 43a [*Issue best kept within the clan] – FAMILY AFFAIR
- 52a [Tongue-in-cheek description of a mullet, and of the answers to the starred clues] – PARTY IN THE BACK
This is a really cute theme! The revealer and the mullet connection is great, even though none of the theme answers blew me away – FAMILY AFFAIR is probably the best one. But the power of the theme made this a very enjoyable solve.
As someone who has solved a lot of Stella’s difficult themelesses, I love switching it up and solving her early week puzzles. Today, most of the difficulty I had came from replacing short crossword-y words with others – for example, going from “eons” to “ages” to AEON for the clue 17a[Many millennia]. But overall the grid is very clean with some nice mid-length fill in FITBIT and TEAEGG. I didn’t know ANDREI Sakharov, but since he’s a Nobel Peace Prize winner, I was happy to learn his name (and the final letter I/W cross was very clear too).
Rafael Musa & Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Front Flip” — Emily’s write-up
A fun, sassy puzzle collab today!
Theme: the first word (“front”) of each themer is a synonym for “flip”
- 17a. [“Material Girl” rapper],SAUCYSANTANA
- 34a. [Bottoms style in between a thong and full-coverage], CHEEKYUNDERWEAR
- 47a. [Fruits and veggies at a farmers market], FRESHPRODUCE
SAUCYSANTANA is a rapper new to me but has some awesome jams–including the clued “Material Girl”. CHEEKYUNDERWEAR shows just a peak-a-boo of booty. FRESHPRODUCE always provides the best flavor. h/t to Sally and her blog, for explaining today’s theme and be sure to check out the collab’s constructors comments on it too. The word “flip” had me thinking of the various definitions but for me “flippant” would have cued me in better, though the variety with “flip” is very much in crossword-style of possibilities and misleadings, so I like it very much even though I needed Sally today for the theme.
Favorite fill: MAKEITQUICK, BOND, CASA, and DIGIN
Stumpers: BAKER (“chef” on the mind so needed some crossings), AERO (needed crossings), and KDRAMA (unfamiliar so needed crossings but will look into now)
Super fun and I hope to see more collabs from this duo!