Robyn Weintraub’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Another good one from Robyn.
Fave fill: BASIC CABLE, “IT’S ME AGAIN,”, TAMRON Hall, “I SPOKE TOO SOON,” “DRINKS ARE ON ME,” APRIL FOOLS, PLOT DEVICE, RIM SHOTS, BAG OF TRICKS, “COME ON DOWN!,” and POOH-POOH.
- 18a. [“Ma Belle ___” (1970 #5 hit)], AMIE. Never heard of the song, nor the band Tee-Set. Apparently the band’s Dutch and they never had another hit in the US. Unexpected to cross a Dutch band’s song with 12d. [Dutch for “farmer”], BOER. (A far better “Amie” song is the 1975 tune below, by Pure Prairie League. An older guy I had half a crush on used to sing it to me when I was 12.)
- 29d. [Hall of fame collaborator?], OATES. What a great clue! Daryl Hall of pop/soul fame, and his closest collaborator, John OATES.
- 52a. [French liqueur flavoring], ANIS. Terrible fill! Partly because it’s a French word that most Americans will never encounter, and partly because I hate the whole anise/licorice/fennel flavor family.
- 24d. [Lead-in to a street name, perhaps], AKA. As in “the name a person is known by on the street” and not the name of a thoroughfare.
- 40d. [Bun holder], NET. I think this is about a hair bun, but I can’t be sure. Do you know a solid connection between buns and nets?
Emet Ozar & Matthew Stock’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
- 71aR [Work on software, and work to make sense of the answers to the starred clues?] DEBUG.
- 15a. [*Like sweater weather] CHILLY (chantilly – ant = chilly).
- 23a. [*Spanish verb similar to the French “être”] SER (smother – moth = ser).
- 29a. [*Soft drink size] LITER (lite beer – bee = liter).
- 48a. [*River through Kazakhstan] URAL (G natural – Ural).
- 53a. [*Top] LID (limited – mite = lid).
- 67a. [*Cherry variety] BING (broaching – roach = bing).
This feels as if it’s been done before, possibly multiple times. Again, that isn’t an indictment, just an observation.
- 23d [Actress Jean of French New Wave cinema] SEBERG. Probably most famous for her role in Goddard’s À bout de souffle (Breathless).
- 29d [Smear with ink?] LIBEL. Nice.
- 30d [Arctic native] INUK. We have a commenter who has mentioned that the singular of INUIT is INUK, so perhaps this inclusion will please them and others.
- 56d [Compost bin emanation] ODOR. Some of the pricey modern automated ones advertise that they are odorless.
- 19a [“Must you be like everyone else?”] ET TU. 38a [Footnote abbr.] ET AL.
- 50a [Roughhouse] RASSLE, but I had TUSSLE first.
- 52a [“Real talk,” from a texter] TBH (“to be honest”).
- 54a [“It’s all about me” attitude] EGO. 68a [Petting zoo critter] LLAMA. Just recently rewatched The Emperor’s New Groove.
- 60a [Sacred Buddhist symbol with heart-shaped leaves] BODHI TREE. The one that Buddha famously sat under, Ficus religiosa. It features in a lot of iconography as well, as you might imagine.
Brooke Husic’s USA Today crossword, “Lower Cases”—Darby’s write-up
Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: The last–and lowest–word of each theme answer can go before “case.”
- 8d [“‘Thanks SO much’”] YOU’RE THE BEST / BEST CASE
- 12d [“Computer attachment with raised dots”] BRAILLE DISPLAY / DISPLAY CASE
- 13d [“Cosmetic that creates definition”] EYEBROW PENCIL / PENCIL CASE
I’ve been living this week with the number of puzzles with Down theme answers. I also thought that this one was very CLEVER and especially adored the use of BRAILLE DISPLAY because accessibility is super important. YOU’RE THE BEST is also such a fun answer.
Fill-wise, this is only slightly asymmetric, with two additional black squares added under YOU’RE THE BEST. The little change in symmetry leaves us with a more wide open corner in the upper left part of the grid and a tighter corner in the bottom right. I think that this works well here, given that the northwest is where we start a puzzle, and I loved filling in BARBECUE and OVERSTAYS (as I always do with longer answers).
A few Friday faves:
- 14a [“Sina Queyras and Mary Lambert, for two”] – My first thought was ALTOS, since I know that Mary Lambert is a singer (and I quite like her music), but POETS was a great discovery. Sina Queyras is most recently the author of My Ariel and MxT, among several award-winning volumes and seem very cool. Mary Lambert is the author of Shame Is an Ocean I Swim Across. Would definitely recommend spending some time with both of these poets.
- 41a [“___ stew (West Nigerian dish)”] – OFADA stew is typically made with red peppers and a variety of meats and is served with rice and banana leaves. You can learn more about it and check out the recipe here. This was also one of several hunger-inducing clues in this puzzle, including BARBECUE, 66a [“Ramadan meal”] IFTAR, 2d [“Bean variety”] FAVA, COLAS, CHIP (though clued as related to poker), and MENU (as related to spas but still).
- 67a [“Problem for a bounce house”] – My first thought with bounce houses goes to stitches because I got stitches from one, but a LEAK is much more common, I think.
This was such a fun puzzle, and I had a great time starting my day with it. If ONLY I could do it all over again.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Universal crossword, “Back Out”—Jim P’s review
For whatever reason, I didn’t take note of the title before completing the grid. The theme entries seemed familiar, but obviously they weren’t quite right. Finally, a glance at the title made me realize the word “back” had been removed from familiar phrases to create the theme entries.
- 17a. [Lady Godiva, notably?] BARE RIDER. Bareback.
- 27a. [Speedy superhero’s short appearance in a movie?] FLASH SEQUENCE. Flashback.
- 44a. [Jobs available at a pop-up Halloween store, e.g.?] FALL POSITIONS. Fallback.
- 61a. [“Ulysses,” to many readers?] HARD NOVEL. Hardback. I never had to read Ulysses while working on my English degree. And if I did, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have finished. Anyone here successfully make it through that one?
Quite straightforward once you get the drift. Maybe it feels a little loose? There have to be a good number of “back” phrases this could work with. How about “feed loop,” “quarter sneak,” or “hunch of Notre Dame”?
Elsewhere we have some lovely long entries to enjoy: GET THE MEMO, “AND IF I DON’T?,” EDAMAME, and “COPY THAT.” Also good: ROMAINE lettuce, ALGIERS, and “I’M LOST.” Not so keen on “I HADN’T” (which feels a little random, plus we have plenty of I’s elsewhere in the grid and a “DON’T”) and I’m on the fence with SAID A LOT.
Clues of note:
- 54a. [Result of a QB’s mistake]. INT. The “QB” does two things here; it signals the answer will be abbreviated, but it also ensures the word “back” isn’t in the puzzle.
- 8d. [How cold cuts are priced]. PER POUND. I’m glad it’s not PER SLICE, which is what I had there first.
- 29d. [“You think your threats scare me?”]. “AND IF I DON’T?”. Both clue and answer are fun, but they’re not quite the same in my book. The latter is asking what the consequences will be while the former is simply a challenge to authority.
Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.
Lynn Lempel’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s write-up
I didn’t catch the theme during my solve, but I quite like it. We’ve got five themers:
- 17a [Tackle-box gear] FISHING LINE
- 25a [Subject of the Supreme Court cases Schenck v. United States and Tinker v. Des Moines] FREE SPEECH
- 40a [Site of utter pandemonium] MOB SCENE
- 51a [Controversial government-surveillance legislation of 2001] PATRIOT ACT
- 61a [Baseball tactic with a runner on third] SQUEEZE PLAY
Moving from a LINE, through a SPEECH, SCENE, and ACT, until we reach PLAY. A bit cheaper than a night at the theater, and an in-the-language group of entries for the theme set. I quite enjoyed looking up the two cases referenced at 25a: Schenck established the “clear and present danger” test in 1919, while Tinker established a “substantial disruption” test when considering First Amendment rights. I’m less pleased to think about the PATRIOT ACT, but it’s good to not forget about injustices of the past.
My trip the grid was pretty breezy, though I enjoyed a nice amount of New Yorker crunch as well- see Zoroaster, Cyrano de Bergerac, and A Streetcar Named Desire in the clues, among others.
- 39a [Key figure in “Paradise Lost”] EVE. Paradise Lost is one of my favorite books, but alas the Randy Newman musical adaptation I’m thinking of is Faust. I’m still going to drop a video from that below – the studio album is a hell (ha) of a cast. Back on topic I got a tickle out of “pandemonium” appearing in the clue following this one (MOB SCENE)
- 71a [Dennis in the Basketball Hall of Fame] RODMAN. I’m sure this wouldn’t be true if I were a bit older, but Rodman is more notable in my head for his buddy-buddy relationship with the North Korean government.
- 16d [Closest state capital to Alberta] HELENA. That’s HELENA, Montana of course. I passed north of the capital on an Amtrak trip last fall, and could have spent days more in Montana — “big sky” is not a misnomer.
- 36d [Contract to win all thirteen tricks, in bridge] GRAND SLAM. The Buffalo News still ran a daily bridge puzzle each day when I was first getting into crosswords, but I know nothing about the game, other than the odd bits I pick up from puzzles, and that joon pahk is good at it.
- 62d [___ Vadis] QUO. Quo Vadis was summer reading entering my junior of high school. I had a paragraph typed out about it, but let’s just say I’ve learned a whole bunch more about the book in the last few minutes of Wikipedia.