Karen Lurie’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
What a clever theme! It wasn’t making any sense to me until suddenly it did. And the whole puzzle was breezy, so I quickly finished filling the grid without knowing how the theme worked. It’s all tied together by “WELL, ACTUALLY …,” clued via 55a. [Nitpicker’s lead-in … or a response to 20-, 28- and 49-Across, if they were posed as questions], though many people think of “WELL, ACTUALLY …” as the start of classic mansplaining remarks.
- 20a. [Drink from a spring], MINERAL WATER. Read it as a question: “(Would you like) MINERAL WATER?” “WELL (water), ACTUALLY.” I’m not sure how many people are out there requesting well water, which can be strong-tasting if not treated/filtered first.
- 28a. [Steakhouse option], MEDIUM RARE. “WELL, ACTUALLY” is the Trumpy steak order. Ketchup, too.
- 49a. [Queasy, perhaps], FEELING ILL. Mind you, I’d be more apt to ask “You feel sick?” than “Feeling ill?,” but whatever. I still like the theme and how it plays on three alternative senses of WELL besides the interjection. (There are over 20 definitions!)
Fave fill: SALUKI (the team mascot for Southern Illinois University, implausibly enough), FACE-UP, MEASLY, GAYDAR.
Three more things:
- 10a. [Baby aardvark], CUB. Raise your hand if you, too, had no idea what an aardvark’s young are called. No, wait—raise your hand if you actually knew this one before doing the puzzle.
- 40a. [Best-selling video game series beginning in 1997, for short], GTA. That’s Grand Theft Auto. Fun fact: Earlier this year, my employer merged with GTA’s parent company. I feel like GTA’s developers are my cousins now.
- 69a. [First musician to have his first five albums debut at #1], DMX. Those rap albums came out in 1998 through 2003. The first one’s called It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, which is catchy! He hasn’t had any big hit singles since 2003, and I didn’t start listening to rap till more like 2010, so I don’t know DMX’s work.
Four stars from me.
Karen Steinberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Extreme Situation”—Jim P’s review
Theme: EDGE CASES (50a, [Problems that occur exclusively in extreme situations, and a hint to this puzzle’s borders]). The entries around the grid’s perimeter are all words that can precede “case” to make familiar phrases.
Top: 1a. BOOK (case), 5a. UPPER (case), 10a. SHOW (case)
Left: 1d. BRIEF (case), 28d. SLIP (case), 62d. SUIT (case)
Right: 13d. WATCH (case), 36d. SEED (case), 58d. COLD (case)
Bottom: 68a. TEST (case), 69a. LOWER (case), 70a. HEAD (case)
A solid basis for a theme and solid entries all around (haha). I especially liked the positioning of UPPER and LOWER. For some reason, I thought a slipcase was similar to a pillowcase, but the Internets tell me a slipcase is a five-sided box for storing magazines and thinnish books.
The fill lacks any very long entries, but we do get a couple of nice 8s: GAS GRILL and WHISTLER clued as [British Columbia resort]. Elsewhere, the 7s ERUDITE, ROBOTIC, and SOONISH are enjoyable. I needed most of the crosses for TOLTEC [Quetzalcoatl worshiper] because I tried to make it TOLMEC. No doubt I was conflating the TOLTEC with the Olmec. Also, that NW corner with OUTRE, ODIUM, and KENDO proved tricky, but gettable in the end.
Clues of note:
- 32a. [Winery array]. CASKS. I agree that this entry matches the clue better, but it took me a long time to give up on CORKS.
- 67a. [Bear call]. SELL. Nice misdirection with this one.
- 7d. [Letters seen in geometry class]. PIS. I’m still waiting for the clue [Manneken ___, famous Belgian sculpture]. Seriously, it’s one of the most famous sights in Belgium; I think people can get over the fact that it’s a statue of a little boy peeing into a fountain.
Solid theme, impressively executed. 3.75 stars.
Gary Larson’s Universal crossword, “Back Talk” — pannonica’s write-up
Early appointment this morning, so this will be skeletal. Will try to flesh it out later in the day.
- 17a. [“Me too”?] AND I QUOTE.
- 22a. [“Let us pray”?] SERVICE LINE.
- 38a. [“Keep on keeping on”?] AS YOU WERE SAYING.
- 55a. [“What goes around comes around”?] CIRCULAR SAW.
- 63a. [“To infinity and beyond”?] BUZZ WORDS.
Quote, line, saying, saw, words. Kind of literal descriptions of the quoted material.
Longest theme answers are 11 letters, longest non-theme entries are eights. Result is that the grid feels just a little bit choppy.
Nothing too tough or tricky, so a good midweek puzzle.
Byron Walden’s AVCX, “Nutmeg Seeds” — Ben’s Review
Once in a blue moon I’m on the same wavelength as a Byron Walden puzzle, and apparently there was a blue moon out when I solved “Nutmeg Seeds” last night. It’s a pretty straightforward reveal when you see everything all together:
- 17A: Proctologist? — REAR DOCTOR
- 27A: Clover Stout and Honeysuckle IPA? — NECTAR BEERS
- 36A: Treaties that aren’t what they seem? — FAUX PACTS
- 47A: Place to buy ritual oil? — UNCTION SHOP
- 61A: HVAC passage built into Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska? — HUSKER DUCT
Connecticut is the Nutmeg State, and each of the phrases REAR DOOR, NEAR BEERS, FAUX PAS, UNION SHOP, and HÜSKER DÜ have had CT inserted into them to make new phrases.
Hüsker Dü: both Bob Mould’s punk band AND a board game!
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Pitfall” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each of the vertical theme answers contains the letters PIT.
- 3d [H.S. class that might read Dante or Ferrante] – AP ITALIAN
- 10d [Phrase introducing some brief remarks] – I’LL KEEP IT SHORT
- 22d [Sovereign nation in Arizona] – THE HOPI TRIBE
Not too much to comment on here, themewise. It’s a straightforward USA Today theme and it goes well with the title, so I’m satisfied.
Other thoughts on the puzzle:
- Very asymmetric grid today – look how cut off the top left corner is from everything else! This is not my favorite style, but….
- … We got some excellent fill out of it today. CORN SALSA, LET’S EAT, STOP NOW, and NAME DROP paired with the hilarious clue of [Make a point of mentioning your close friendship with Beyonce].
- It took me forever to see SPORT for [DodgeBow is one], even though I literally played this game yesterday as part of a team building event at work. To be fair, it was referred to as “archery tag”, but Google tells me they’re the same. Also, it’s incredibly disconcerting to aim arrows directly at people, and I did not like it much.
- I had a 50/50 chance on 6a [Pet hotel guest], and I guessed the wrong one – “dog” over CAT.
- How long until we get app and/or meme related clues for BE REAL instead of things like [“Face the facts!”]??
Will Nediger’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
Ha! I appreciate 1-Across in this puzzle backing up what I said about the NYT puzzle’s revealer: [“Well, ___ …” (mansplainer’s opening)], ACTUALLY.
Observations, from top to bottom: Didn’t know Arnold from Happy Days (Pat MORITA‘s character) was named Mitsumo Takahashi; Wikipedia tells us Morita’s given name is Noriyuki and his Japanese American family was incarcerated in the WWII years. Not keen on CLAMMIER, INANER neighboring comparatives. PLATYPI and SYLLABI, two us –> i Latinate plurals. 66a. [Little seizers?] is a great pun clue for TWEEZERS.
From left to right: How ridiculous is it that the G-SPOT is named for a dude? How about this 2d. [Circusy aesthetic that features polka dots and bright, clashing colors], CLOWNCORE — is that your personal style? As for 21d. [“You’re too much,” in a cutesy online spelling], STAHP, I believe you can spell that with more than one A and/or H if you please.
I’d never heard of 62d. [Snotty Nose ___ Kids (First Nations hip-hop duo)], REZ, but it’s inferrable because REZ is a slangy shortening of reservation. Presumably Canadian First Nations people also shorten reserve (the term used there for those land carveouts) to REZ, since Snotty Nose Rez Kids are in Canada. I love that Hollywood is finally opening up more to Indigenous people’s stories and performances. There’s the studio picture Prey, a Predator sequel, on Hulu, with a mostly Indigenous cast; it’s quite well done. Recently started watching the Hulu series Reservation Dogs and am enjoying it. Have not yet seen the series Rutherford Falls, starring white Ed Helms and Sioux Jana Schmieding; this one’s on Peacock, and I hear good things about it. If you’ve got Hulu or Peacock, give these a look!
3.75 stars from me.
Catherine Cetta’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Catherine Cetta’s LA Times puzzle features a hidden sequence spread across two parts of four theme entries. The revealer is [Quantity applied to dubious advice…], GRAINOFSALT and the chemical formula for salt, NaCl, appears four times:
- [*When “you can see forever,” per the classic song], OnaclEARDAY
- [*Genetic lab project], DnaclONING
- [*Almost got the gold], RAnaclOSESECOND
- [*Long, curved barrette], BANAnaclIP
I’m guessing it’s to do with the pattern imposed, but all of the entries felt at least somewhat clunky today.
As is often the case with five entry grids, there weren’t too many bonus marquee entries. The clues were pretty quiet today as well, though all in all not much to groan at either. I’d have changed [Cookie source], BAKER to BAKED and thus replace IRONER with IRONED, which seems less contrived.