Dave Cuzzolina & Doug Peterson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Read the Bottle”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Those old familiar shampoo bottle instructions: Lather, Rinse, REPEAT (71a, [Final instruction on a bottle, as demonstrated by the circled letters]).
- 17a. [One whose beliefs could use some rounding out?] FLAT-EARTHER. Lather.
- 27a. [Station posting] TRAIN SCHEDULE. Rinse.
- 47a. [Bob Feller and Nolan Ryan, by reputation] FLAME THROWERS. Lather.
- 63a. [Amusing poser] BRAIN TEASER. Rinse.
When I got to the third entry, I was looking for REPEAT, so I had to do a double-take when I saw we were literally repeating LATHER and RINSE. I enjoyed that little switcheroo. Nice choice of theme entries as well.
The only thing I was wondering is why this theme was implemented with circled letters, but maybe they’re meant to represent soap bubbles. Sure, let’s go with that.
And oh, there are more bubbles at 11d BUBBLE PIPE which is a super fun entry. Its opposite number ACT OF MERCY is nice as well as is SASHIMI, RIPOFF, and ULTRA HD.
- 41a. [It may be served with shredded daikon]. SASHIMI. Here’s your cultural lesson for the day: Guam isn’t too big on raw fish, but Chamorros use the daikon radish to make daigo‘ which is sliced daikon, vinegar, and hot peppers. Always with the hot peppers. It’s not Chamorro food without hot peppers.
- 10d. [Sarcastic]. TART. Is this old slang? Sounds like old slang. I wanted “snarky” but of course it didn’t fit.
A fine puzzle. 3.75 stars.
Sam Koperwas & Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Kind of a complex theme for a Wednesday puzzle. The revealer is 59a. [Pulling a rabbit out of a hat, e.g. … which happens three times in this puzzle], MAGIC TRICK, and three themers include (in other contexts) types of hat. Three fictional rabbits’ names intersect those hats:
- 17a. [Fad item of the 1990s], BEANIE BABY crossing BRER Rabbit.
- 35a. [Big hot dog?], SHOWBOATER crossing PETER Rabbit.
- 40a. [Certain Kentucky racer], DERBY HORSE crossing ROGER Rabbit. I didn’t know derby horse was a thing, as opposed to a racehorse running in the Derby.
Five more things:
- 1a. [Beanstalk climber in a fairy tale], JACK. I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, a jackrabbit is a real thing.”
- 22a. [Jaguar spot, for example], CAR AD. Somewhat contrived phrasal entry, in my book. With the tricky “jaguar spot” clue, this might have posed a problem for some solvers not up on their [Typesetting unit] vocab (PICA).
- 30a. [Country band, for short?], THE U.N. Not in love with “band” used as a PROXY for “organization.” Feels maybe too stretchy for a mid-week puzzle.
- 39a. [Gave for a while], LENT TO. Dang! Given that LOANED and LEASED are also 6 letters, the TO in this answer was vexing.
- 58a. [There’s a bridge near the top of it], NOSE. Good clue! Hard, but good.
3.75 stars from me.
Alex Eaton-Salners and Francis Heaney’s AVCX, “A Nice Diagramless” — Ben’s Review
Today’s AVCX was a treat – a diagramless! These feel tricky to blog about, since there’s generally something going on with the shape of the grid rather than anything deep in the clues (though that’s possible!)
This collab from Alex Eaton-Salners and Francis Heaney was delightful right from the start, though I should have had a hunch from the title what was meant by “A Nice Diagramless”.
- 29A: “My thoughts exactly” … or , interpreted another way, a hint at this puzzle’s shape — THE FEELING’S MUTUAL
The grid is in the shape of the number sixty-nine. If you need me to explain further the connection between this and 29A, please just go look up 69 in urbandictionary. The correct response to this grid is “nice”, if you need to understand why, it’s probably also over at urbandictionary, it’s a meme to the Sex Number. I screeched once I realized what the grid shape was while I was working on assembling this in Crossfire to ensure I had crossword symmetry as I mapped things out, and that was delightful, thank you Alex and Francis.
Round of applause for the clue at 27A, “Cien ___ de soledad” (“One Hundred Buttholes of Solitude”), for correctly translating what’s put in the grid.
Prasanna Keshava’s Universal crossword, “Flex Time” — pannonica’s write-up
- 50aR [Watershed moment … and a hint to the first words of 20-, 28- and 44-Across] START OF A NEW ERA.
- 20a. [“Satisfied yet?”] ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?
- 28a. [Side dish often eaten with two hands] EAR OF CORN. Crossed by 28d [Enjoy some panipuri] EAT.
- 44a. [Carrier with a shamrock in its logo] AER LINGUS.
Fine but no wow.
- Returning to 28d (see above), there’s also 16a [Metropolis that’s home to Qutb Minar] DELHI and 25d [Bengaluru’s country] INDIA.
- 4d [Stick whose box might have a built-0in pencil sharpener] CRAYON. Isn’t it a crayon sharpener?
- 7d [Making a blip] ON RADAR. The phrase Ngrams well enough against ‘on the radar’.
- Returning to 28d yet again … 12d [Mash potatoes, say] CHEW.
- 15a [Sharpen, like a skill] HONE. Have been seeing ‘hone in on‘ a lot more often than usual lately, which of course should be ‘home in on’. Not to be confused with ‘horn in on’ either. These are eggcorns.
- 34a [“It’s __ easy being green”] NOT. Got some positive response to sharing Van Morrison’s version of “Bring It On Home to Me” from the remarkable Caledonia Soul Orchestra tour last week, so here’s his version of “Bein’ Green” from the same time.
- 37a [Fully learned] DOWN PAT. Was expecting a verb answer, but that was just a parsing mistake on my part.
- 46a [“Mine, mine, it’s all mine!” desire] GREED. Admit it, you thought of Daffy “I’m a Happy Miser” Duck!
- 63a [Without “rocks”] NEAT. Clue also describes—more accurately, in my opinion—UP or STRAIGHT UP. Perhaps I’m being too critical?
All right, just some padding text here to balance out the Daffy image, right?
And there we are.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Drop the Act” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each vertical theme answer contains the word ACT.
- 3d [Source of a wine that’s “sweet and heady like my love,” in a song] – LILAC TREE
- 7d [Experts in indoor climate control systems] – HVAC TECHNICIANS
- 36d [Game on a three-by-three grid] – TIC TAC TOE
Very classic USA Today theme type here, and it’s done pretty well. It’s a nice touch that the ACT is split across two different words in each answer. I didn’t know the LILAC TREE song at all, but Google tells me the song “Lilac Wine” has been sung by a ton of people including Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone, and Jeff Buckley. HVAC TECHNICIANS is probably the weakest answer in the bunch, since for a grid spanning answer it’s just not that interesting. It does have a weird mix of letters in it though, so that was fun to uncover.
Since I started in on the puzzle with the across answers, I got to the clue for 17a [Act casually] and, having noticed the title of the puzzle, wondered if I had to drop the “act” from the clue. I hadn’t seen that type of theme before at USA Today, so I was excited for a second for something new, but nope. This was still a solid puzzle though!
- Apparently the reason IMPALAs are often born around midday is that their predators are likely to be sleeping then. The more you know!
- Disney+ recently announced a new show called “She-HULK: Attorney at Law”, so if you knew this answer you can get hyped to watch it…
Brooke Husic’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
Solvers who are extremely online (as they say) and perhaps not male may have an advantage in solving this puzzle. HEY! That’s me.
Content that fits that vibe includes BOOTY SHORTS, “Thanks, it HAS pockets!”, POLE DANCE (informative clue: [Performance that may include fireman spins and outside-leg hangs]), SPORTSBALL, and KIDADA Jones (she’s Rashida Jones’s big sister, one of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton’s kids). These feel like the sort of answers that make less-online straight guys grumble, but I like them.
Did not know:
- 1d. [Jackson who starred in the Disney Channel series “Bunk’d”], SKAI. Hmm, I probably saw her as a child actor on her previous Disney show, Jessie, which I watched a bit of with my kid.
- 47a. [Storm-creating creature in Algonquian mythology], THUNDERBIRD. The Thunderbird has been active the last couple days in Chicagoland. Advantage of early-July thunderstorms: While thunder is just as loud as amateur fireworks being shot off in the neighborhood, at least the rain stops those fireworks from happening.
- 40a. [___ era (artist’s floundering phase)], FLOP. Context?
4.5 stars from me. A fun puzzle!
Kent Smith’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Today’s puzzle by Kent Smith has two levels. You add ER to the first part of regular two-part phrases making new ones. Each of the first three words; FIELDER, PITCHER, CATCHER; makes a type of baseball PLAYER the fourth word of the theme…
- [Catching fly balls, turning double plays, etc.?], FIELDERWORK
- [Like an ace who throws a no-hitter?], PITCHERPERFECT
- [“Protect the plate,” “Don’t drop the ball,” e.g.?], CATCHERPHRASES
- [Game rosters, one of which is formed by the starts of three long answers in this puzzle?], PLAYERLISTS
All in all a fairly uneventful grid. There were a lot of short names, but none really caused any trip ups, at least here. By far the splashiest answer was [Yann Martel novel adapted into an Oscar-winning film], LIFEOFPI, which looks really neat in the completed grid… Also timely is [Nickname for tennis’s Nadal], RAFA; who dragged himself through a marathon match today against Taylor Fritz.