Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Point the Way” – Erin’s write-up
Hello everyone! This week’s Jonesin’ theme involves mixing up the letters of the word ARROW, as found in the circled squares.
- 17a. [Hands-on environmentalists, so to speak] ECO-WARRIORS
- 29a. [Events that are fairly suspicious] EYEBROW-RAISERS
- 38a. [Song you may have to distract yourself out of] EARWORM
- 47a. [Stylish] FASHION FORWARD
- 58a. [1996 Travolta/Slater film (or what’s found in the theme answers)] BROKEN ARROW
- There were a few partials and other questionable entries here: TYPE OF, ONOS, KAS, SOLS.
- 5d. [Lois, in a 1990s series] TERI. Teri Hatcher played Lois Lane in the show Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
- 30d. [Giraffes’ relatives] OKAPIS. An okapi looks like a giraffe, a deer, and a zebra had a baby, and it’s the giraffe’s only living relative.
- 34a. [Mind’s I?] EGO. Love this clue.
Until next week!
Emily Carroll’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
The theme revealer’s split into an asymmetrical pair, given the many constraints posed by the diagonal theme entries: 17a. [With 69-Across, beginner’s downhill challenge … or a hint to this puzzle’s circled letters], BUNNY / SLOPE. The circled words on the diagonal give us the ENERGIZER Bunny, a DUST bunny, the EASTER Bunny, and BUGS Bunny. Hop, hop!
Fave fill: OWNED IT, SLY NOD, DREIDEL, LIBERIA, SPLURGE, IUD (feels like there were decades where IUDs were somehow deemed too risqué for the daily crossword, and I appreciate that we see it now).
A smattering of fill feels tough for a Tuesday: OGEE, ALAI, RUHR, ESSO, STEROL, GELID. I wish the puzzle had been slotted on a Wednesday given that fill (and then tougher clues overall).
Three stars from me. Bunnies!
Ella Dershowitz’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
I’m late! Here’s Ella’s grid and the theme answers.
- 15a [*”The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas” writer] is GERTRUDE STEIN.
- 23a [*Folk instrument named for the Greek god of nature] is the PAN FLUTE.
- 37a [*Buffing tool for some jewelry-makers] is a ROCK TUMBLER.
- 51a [*”This American Life” host] is IRA GLASS.
And a cute revealer to tie it all together: 60a [Dismissive response when offered chai in the ends of the answers to the starred clues?] is NOT MY CUP OF TEA.
Katherine Baicker & Ross Trudeau’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Opportunity Knocks”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Things that are BIG BREAKS (34a, [Performer’s career-making opportunities, and a hint to the starred answers]).
- 17a. [*Source of much West Coast friction] SAN ANDREAS FAULT. Where my geologists at? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t consider a fault line to be a “break” since it’s the meeting of two tectonic plates. It’s more like a seam, right? I’m not going to quibble about that over the sake of a crossword, just trying to clarify, especially since the name makes for a lovely grid-spanning entry.
- 27a. [*Time off from the classroom] SABBATICAL YEAR.
- 45a. [*Classic Steve McQueen WWII film] THE GREAT ESCAPE.
- 60a. [*It might coincide with family therapy] TRIAL SEPARATION.
Didn’t we just see BIG BREAK somewhere? Anyhoo, I enjoyed this. Each one uses “break” slightly differently, and I would consider all of them big deals within their own contexts. A nice set.
The nine-letter central entry bisects the grid and results in no long non-theme fill, but we have some nice mid-length entries like “I HEAR YA,” LA STRADA, and GUERNSEY.
Clues of note:
- 67a. [Noted name among boxers]. HANES. Usually when you see “boxers” it’s referring to athletes or dogs. So it took me a while to think “underwear.”
- 4d. [Apple with yellow and purple varieties]. IMAC. I didn’t know they were returning to colorful computers.
- 10d. [Like the Zapruder film]. GRAINY. The famous film of JFK’s assassination, in case you didn’t know.
- 19d. [Know (just know!)]. FEEL. Ha! I enjoyed that clue.
Solid theme and grid. 3.75 stars.
Wyna Liu’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
This was a chewy puzzle, with just enough bite. Let’s call it al dente.
There are quite a lot of long entries stitching it all together. First up, a pair of grid-spanning verticals: 6d [Where everything may be in moderation?] COMMENTS SECTION (I had COMMENT SECTIONS for a time), 8d [Ones with their names on jackets] TITLE CHARACTERS—great clue.
Next, some of the acrosses: 16a [Movie-rating scale with a green splat icon] TOMATOMETER. This is proprietary to the Rotten Tomatoes website (19a [Poppycock] ROT); either green splats or whole red tomatoes, depending on which side of a certain critical percentage they fall on. 23a [Very cold, so to speak] NOT EVEN CLOSE. 31a [“You don’t have to worry about that anymore”] IT’S HANDLED. 43a [What one has to go to the ends of the Earth to find] POLAR ICE CAPS; that’s more of a North Pole thing. Incidentally, latest news is that Greenland ice sheet is melting even faster than predicted, which will have dire consequences. 52a [What a misbehaving dog might drink] TOILET WATER; no breakfast test here!
Finally, there are stacked 10 pairs running down in the northeast and southwest: MORE OR LESS/CROSSBEAMS and FOOT DOCTOR/RACHEL CUSK.
- Are people going to have a solving problem with two ancient Romans stacked together, linked in part by Latin vocabulary? 6a [ __ the Younger (political opponent of Julius Caesar)] CATO, 14a [Poet exiled by Augustus] OVID, 7d [Latin greeting] AVE.
- 20a [Marsupial whose name comes from an Algonquian meaning “white animal”] OPOSSUM.
- 30a [Malevolent farm animal in 2015’s “The Witch”] GOAT. I believe this was the first feature from director Robert Eggers. I haven’t seen it, but did screen his subsequent films The Lighthouse and The Northman, both of which I thought were awful, to put it mildly.
- 35a [Like the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey] BISTATE. Sure, it’s an odd word (much less common than tristate), but it’s pretty much right there in the clue/name.
- 17d [One of the “O”s in O.O.O.] OUT. To the acronym finder! Looks like out of order or odd one out or out of office, most likely, although there are others.
- 24d [Clothing] VESTURE, because VESTMENT doesn’t fit.
- 32d [Enjoyed jianbing, say] ATE. You don’t have to know that it’s a popular Chinese street breakfast similar to a crêpe to get this answer, because just about any crossword clue in the format Enjoyed x, say is going to signify ATE.
- 42d [Active volcano] SPEWER. Least favorite fill.
- 42a [Prone to cheekiness] SASSY.
Catherine Cetta’s Universal Crossword, “One Way and Another” — Jim Q’s write-up
THEME: Words spelled backwards to form a different word are put together to create a wacky phrase.
- [*Dignified beer] REGAL LAGER.
- [*A comics menace behaved immorally] DENNIS SINNED.
- [*The entire class gets the wrong answer] PUPILS SLIP UP.
- [*Bottoms of racing yachts] SLEEK KEELS.
Harmless puzzle with a familiar theme type, though I don’t think I’ve seen it too recently. I more often see an anagram of a base word abutting it to create wackiness. These are… semordnilaps I believe?
But about that wackiness, neither the answers nor the clues seem that wacky at all, right? Perhaps that’s why they’re clued with an asterisk instead of the traditional “?” The thing is, for this theme type to land, I prefer the go big or go home on the wackiness. And this definitely doesn’t go big. REGAL LAGER is the wackiest of the bunch.
- 28D [Deodorant brand that inspired a Nirvana hit] TEEN SPIRIT. I totally forgot that was a deodorant. I solely associate that brand with Nirvana now.
- 29A [Like this puzzle] THEMED. Indeed. Not as navel-gazey as some of Universal’s self-referential nods, but I am weary of the meta clues.
- 5A [Name hidden in “focal length”] ALLEN. Sure. But what the heck does any ALLEN have to do with focal length?
- 31D [Cute Easter treats] PEEPS. Usually opinions are left out of crossword clues. But that is not an opinion. PEEPS are indeed cute. Everybody can agree. Therefore it’s a fact.
- 1A [They don’t appreciate being tipped] COWS. Another fact. Fun way to open the puzzle.
Thanks for this one :)
2.9 Stars from me.
Mikkel Snyder & Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Falling Star” — Emily’s write-up
Lovely, quirky gird with a stellar theme and themer set!
Theme: each themer contains the word STAR, which are also in downs today and so are descending
- 2d. [Gaze ahead expressionlessly], STAREBLANKLY
- 4d. [Installation reference manual], QUICKSTARTGUIDE
- 8d. [Protagonist of the first season of “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure”], JONATHANJOESTAR
With the themers in the downs, I had filled in portions of each filled in so when I got to the first two, I immediately completed them though probably would have any if I had started with the downs today. STAREBLANKLY is a great beginning themer, especially since it pertains to staring into the void. An excellent QUICKSTARTGUIDE can be instrumental in a smooth set up or learning a new process—I’ve certainly written a few and its always worth the effort (and often prevents questions). JONATHANJOESTAR had me stumped and actually my last letter placed was the T in it, since the crossing just wasn’t helping and I didn’t know the reference. In addition to the overt hint in the title, the ordering left to right of the themer set means that the STAR in each themer falls lower in each consecutive one, beginning at the top of the grid and descending all the way to the bottom. Truly out-of-this-world!
Favorite fill: SOYSAUCE, EMBOSS, DAYTRIP, and NEALE
Stumpers: TOYSTORE (“online” or “lego store” came to mind first), CLING (stumped, thinking “grasp”, so needed crossings), and ASHES (cluing had me food-focused so I kept thinking about “bones” or “crumbs”)
Loved everything about this puzzle, its grid, and bonus fill. Excellent collab and I hope that we see more from them!
5.0 stars (by which I really mean “all the stars”!)