Christina Iverson & Caitlin Reid’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
What a great way to kick off the holiday weekend! A fun and smooth grid that’s kinda shaped like a dogwood blossom, courtesy of Christina (who recently became the assistant editor of the LA Times crossword) and Caitlin. I confess I needed all the crossings to get 1-Across filled in (1a. [It’s kneaded to make naan and roti], ATTA—atta is the dough for those tasty Indian flatbreads), but the rest was an adventure with lots of zippy fill.
Admired answers: ATE FOR TWO, POLAR BEAR, board games’ ROLL AGAIN, RIDE SHOTGUN, Rowan & Martin’s LAUGH-IN, “YOU GO, GIRL!,” “ONE POTATO…,” TO DIE FOR (the movie by that title—I swear to you, Nicole Kidman just did a Meg Ryan impression for the whole film), APRICOTS (it’s stone fruit season!), HASHTAG, ELLIOT Page (my spouse has been watching the new season of The Umbrella Academy so I’ve seen lots of Page lately—love how the show transitioned sister Vanya to brother Viktor for season 3), “OH, HELL NO!,” and PODUNK.
A few clues of note:
- 18a. [Enterprise that’s folding], ORIGAMI. Terrible name for a new restaurant if you want it to survive!
- 26a. [Take advantage of low A.P.R., perhaps], REFI. Ha. Maybe last year? Mortgage rates are up now.
- 37a. [Courtside seats?], THRONES. The royal court, not the basketball court.
- 60a. [Relatives of garters], ASPS. Garter snakes, not the fabric accessory for a leg.
- 39d. [“By all means,” in old parlance], “PRAY DO.” Needed plenty of crossings to piece this together. “Pray tell,” I know. “Pray do”? Not so much.
- 40d. [Sedan : U.S. :: ___ : U.K.], SALOON. Station wagons here are estate cars there, and apparently SUVs are 4x4s there, convertibles are roadsters … and wildly, minivans are people movers or people carriers.
Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
This 16×15 grid is buttressed by the revealer across the center.
- 40aR [Serious business, and a hint to four answers in this puzzle] NO LAUGHING MATTER. To wit, ‘HA’ has been dropped from the original phrases.
- 18a. [Nana who deciphers coded messages?] GRAM CRACKER (graham cracker).
- 24a. [Skirmish between rival hives?] BATTLE OF STINGS (Battle of Hastings).
- 52a. [Horses now tame enough to ride?] CREATURES OF BIT (creatures of habit).
- 63a. [Speck of dust atop the Matterhorn?] ALP PARTICLE (alpha particle).
So, with the dust and the graham cracker, not to mention the revealer itself, these were on the dry side—at least for me.
- 3d [Maker of the first refrigerator with a dry-erase door] AMANA. Getting into deep trivia now.
- 36d [Santa __ winds] ANA. Technically, katabatic.
- 49d [Pickup truck with four rear wheels] DUALLY. I did not know this name, but a quick search shows it’s quite correct.
- 54d [Run out] EXPEL. Subtle misdirection there.
- 45a [Serious locks] MANE. The ‘serious’ echoes the phrasing in 40-across. A strange choice, if you ask me.
- 60a [Like some Windows errors] FATAL. >shudder<
- 67a [Coffee cup insulator] SLEEVE, specifically a zarf.
- 70a [Shadow canvas] EYELID. Was going to say this was poetic, echoing Plato’s cave and how light dances through closed lids, but then I realized this was just about cosmetics.
Rafael Musa USA Today crossword, “An All-Around Gay Puzzle”—Darby’s write-up
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer is framed by letters spelling out GAY.
- 18a [“Branch of math concerned with decision-making”] GAME THEORY
- 28a [“Became an obstacle”] GOT IN THE WAY
- 44a [“Opportune time for selfies, perhaps”] GOOD HAIR DAY
- 55a [“Study of food and culture”] GASTRONOMY
I was thrilled to see this title when I opened the puzzle this morning. I loved some extra Pride vibes to kick off July, and so this was definitely a real treat. The themers themselves were also really great. I think that there was such a range in moving from math with GAME THEORY to food with GASTRONOMY. I actively LOL’d at the clue for GOOD HAIR DAY. Very cool, very fun.
Some of my Friday faves for today include:
- 23a [“Mother, in Igbo”] – Definitely my new favourite clue for NNE, especially since we usually see the directional route taken with an answer like this. Crossing OPENLY, STONE, and TORE also made it really easy to fill since I wasn’t familiar with this word before, so mad props.
- 31a [“___ Slam (tennis achievement)”] – If you were not impressed by SERENA Williams already, a “SERENA Slam” refers to times in which she has held all four major singles titles at the same time. She achieved her first one in 2003 and the second in 2015.
- 49a [“Tahu gejrot ingredient”] – Tahu Gejrot is an Indonesian dish, and step one (at least according to this recipe) is to make TOFU puffs, which are then complemented by a sauce made of using tamarind, shallots, garlic, cayenne pepper, soy sauce, and brown sugar.
- 38d [“Couple buying a crib”] – I thought that this clue for DADS TO BE was really adorable. I’m not tearing up, you are.
There’s so much more I could say about this puzzle, but it really was a delight. The four nine-letter theme answers allowed for some great symmetry, and the cluing was really rich and educational while still staying smooth.
Steve Faiella’s Universal crossword, “Color Coded”—Jim P’s review
Theme: MIXED GREENS (60a, [Salad choice, and a description of the first words of the starred clues’ answers]). Those first words are anagrammed shades of green.
- 20a. [*Spends one’s golden years at home] AGES IN PLACE. Sage. I’ve never heard this phrase but that’s my own failing. The CDC defines it as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” Sounds like a goal for us all.
- 38a. [*Numbered highway sign] MILE MARKER. Lime. Saw plenty of these on my road trip from the Bay Area to Tacoma along the Oregon coast.
- 44a. [*Gentler part of one’s personality] SOFTER SIDE. Forest. Went through magnificent redwood forests as well.
Nice, but it feels a little light to me. My first instinct is that there are a lot of shades of green to choose from, why not include at least another entry? However, though there are plenty of other shades, most of them don’t lend themselves to anagramming. There is one, though: Army green. That could give you another entry starting with the name Mary.
But with only three theme entries (four, including the revealer), the puzzle has more room to breathe and provide nice fill entries like TAKE A NAP, CRANIUM, LADY DI, REVAMPED, ELEGANT, and EUREKA. That’s more than the usual amount of sparkly fill, so I’ll take it.
- 23a. [Floppy part of a basset hound]. EAR. I’m pretty sure constructor Steve has a basset (maybe two). We have a a basset mix. With the iPhone’s “Live” feature in camera mode, I can adjust a photo for maximum floppiness.
- 27a. [Ride the waves]. SURF. I didn’t get any pictures of anyone surfing, but I did get a couple nice ones of a surfer striding along the beach in Pacific City, Oregon (see below).
- 52a. [“I’ve found it!”]. EUREKA. We also would have accepted [California city with some of the nation’s highest gas prices (as high as $6.69/gal)].
- 5d. [Board game with the categories “Data Head” and “Creative Cat”]. CRANIUM. As a family, we’ve played and enjoyed a lot of board games in the CRANIUM line. Nice to see them get some puzzle space.
- 13d. [What the ‘ in :'( represents]. TEAR. To me, it looks like Pinocchio’s nose.
- 22d. [Mollusk in jaecheop-guk]. CLAM. The phrase translates literally to “clam soup.”
Nice puzzle. 3.5 stars.
Janie Smulyan’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s write-up
Happy Canada Day to those who celebrate!
Our theme today involves homophones and things you can read; “reading aloud,” perhaps.
- 17a [“Life of Pi,” by Yann Martel?] TIGER TALE (“tail”)
- 29a [The books in the “Broken Earth” series, by N.K. Jemisin?] GEOLOGIC EPICS (I don’t know where the wordplay is with this one)
- 49a [“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost?] AMERICAN IDYLL (“idol”)
- 65a [“Lady Pokingham; or, They All Do It,” published anonymously in Victorian England’s The Pearl] HOT SERIAL (“cereal”)
I quite like the theme, but do wish I could figure out what homophonic fun is going on in the second themer. EXTRA SPICY (clued to pepper symbols on a menu) and OPERA BOXES bring some flair in the 78-word grid that doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities for longer fill.
Little more resistance here than I’ve had in other TNY Fridays – the pair of ? clues in the east [38a Way over the ocean?] PIER and [39a Twins’ city?] ROME were satisfying to figure out after a pause. TUBE PAN [53a What angel-food cake is baked in] was new to me, but now I know the difference between it and “Bundt pan” (the former is not necessarily fluted, and the latter is a subset of the former). I also quite liked UBER for [14a Airport-departure option]. There’s more than one way to leave an airport!
- 16a [Spindletop’s state?] TEXAS. I’m somewhat ashamed to have not known this; the discovery of oil at Spindletop was an early catalyst for the oil boom in the US.
- 20a [Potbelly, e.g.] STOVE. I learned this from the sandwich chain, which is far more widespread than I thought!
- 63a [Nerve] MOXIE. Whenever I come across words in this semantic cloud, I’m reminded of a line from the first page of Cheaper by the Dozen: “Dad had enough gall to be divided into three parts”