Jake Halperin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Wait Up!”—Jim P’s review
Theme: TONIGHT SHOW HOST (57a, [TV personality hidden in the answers to 16-, 22-, 32-, 41- and 47-Across]).
- 16a. [Have a rough patch] FALL ON HARD TIMES. Jimmy Fallon.
- 22a. [They’re occasionally criticized for being too easy on violence] MPAA RATINGS. Jack Paar.
- 32a. [“Little Deuce Coupe” and “Little Red Corvette,” for two] CAR SONGS. Johnny Carson.
- 41a. [Funambulist family name] WALLENDA. Steve Allen.
- 47a. [Completely different, informally] WHOLE NOTHER. Jay Leno.
Poor Conan…snubbed again.
When I got to the revealer, before fully solving it, I gathered that we were looking for late-night talk show hosts, but then I was mildly surprised that they were all specific to one show. That’s a tight theme, so I’m impressed that we have five of the six hosts here. CAR SONGS feels a little green paintish, and ALLEN doesn’t span two words like the others, but with a tight theme like this, we can allow some leeway. Nicely done.
With six long themers, there’s bound to be some crosswordese in the grid such as N DAK, plural WHOAS, and NO MSG, but it’s not beyond the pale, and there’s still plenty of nice fill like GOLD MEDAL, “IT SEEMS…,” and STREAKS.
Clues of note:
- 1a. [Fast food drink choice]. LARGE. Started with PEPSI then FANTA then just scratched my head for a while. A slow start for me at 1a.
- 45d. [TV mouse on “The Simpsons”]. ITCHY. The Jerry to Scratchy’s Tom…plus gratuitous violence.
Impressively dense theme. 3.75 stars.
Michael Dewey’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
It’s a cute concept, this theme. The DALE EVANS and ROY ROGERS song “HAPPY TRAILS” is depicted with synonyms for happy sort of trailing throughout the grid (in the curcled squares). There’s ELATED, JOLLY, GLAD, JOYFUL, CHEERY, and MERRY.
HILARITY and JESTERS in the southwest corner almost feel like part of the theme, but their opposites in this grid are “ANY IDEAS?” and KNOSSOS, so … not thematic.
I couldn’t get past all the clunky fill that accommodates the triple-checked letters in the “happy” trails. ECLAT ICHAT JOHAN ENL TARES RIEL ILOSE THEICE SOYA ILLGO EBAN? A lot of this felt like a crossword from 20 or 30 years ago, and then the song in question was released as a single 70 years ago. Oof!
2.5 stars from me.
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “By Definition” — pannonica’s write-up
- 52aR? [Similar to this clue] SELF-REFERENTIAL. I’m not 100% sure that this is a revealer, but it seems to function as one.
- 17a. [Text just like this] FOUR-LETTER WORDS.
- 26a. [A frabjous set of lines, perhaps by Lear, that gyre and gimble to the ear] NONSENSE VERSE. The specifics of those lines evoke Lewis Carroll more than Edward Lear, but the gist is recognizable. Plus, the rhyme.
- 43a. [It’s an irritatingly long string of verbs, nouns, adjectives and so forth, that takes seemingly forever to make its point before finally ending.] RUN-ON SENTENCE. Unusually, the clue has a terminal stop—to make it clear that it is indeed a sentence.
I’m a sucker for self-referentiality, so this crossword is bound to land in my good graces.
- 2d [Two-vowel vow] I DO. Playful, partially in keeping with the meta aspect of the theme answers.
- 28d [Food festival activity] EATING. 22d [“Ya think?!”] NO DUH.
- 39d [Churro ingredient?] ROLLED R.
- 49d [Silky-haired toy dog, briefly] PEKE. Don’t know that I’d describe a Pekingese’s coat as silky. Long, yes. Full, yes.
- 55d [What a keeper may keep] INN. Seems rather open-ended as a clue. Fortunately I didn’t even see it during the solve.
- 31a [Bulletin board item] TACK. Overthought this, tried TASK at first.
- 36a [Can metal] TIN. Not so commonly these days, I believe.
- 48a [Attraction] APPEAL. 23a [Ingratiate] ENDEAR. 14a [Think the world of] ADORE. 40a [Have high hopes] ASPIRE. 38a [Avid aficionado] HUGE FAN. 15a [Movie star’s “glow”] AURA. 47a [Don’t believe it!] MIRAGE.
Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap
A fun one, and pretty breezy. Fave bits: Reality-competition ALLIANCE, FOOD PORN, FOLLOW YOUR BLISS, STICK IT TO THE MAN, “DON’T AT ME” (aka “don’t @ me”), LOOGIE, CRYPTIDS, PEPITAS.
Did not know 46d. [“The Gate to Women’s Country” author ___ S. Tepper], SHERI.
3.75 stars from me.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Stand Out” — Sophia’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer is contained within the string “STAND” .
- 17a [Mood] – STATE OF MIND
- 47a [2016 film dedicated to Anton Yelchin and Leonard Nimoy] – STAR TREK BEYOND
- 61a [Not leave when other people do] – STAY BEHIND
My favorite thing about today’s theme is its juxtaposition with yesterday’s “Inner” theme. I don’t usually solve the USA Today puzzle aside from the days that I write up for Fiend, so I don’t know how often the publication does this sort of progression, but I love it – It feels like a meta puzzle for regular solvers.
The theme on its own is fine, if nothing particularly special. STATE OF MIND and STAY BEHIND are solid phrases. I have never seen any of the Star Trek universe, so remembering STAR TREK BEYOND was not going to happen. Luckily the mention of Nimoy in the clue was a big help in terms of getting an idea of the answer.
Write-overs: “amps” for PEPS in 37a [___ up (energizes)], “soda” for COLA in 41a[Carbonated drink] – the middle of this puzzle was not kind to me.
Favorite answers: SALSA VERDE, GUESS AGAIN, SPORK
Favorite clue by far: 49d [Rory Gilmore’s alma mater] for YALE!
Lisa Senzel & Christina Iverson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
I’m not sure if there’s something I’m missing but KETO is largely a fad that’s a [Diet that’s high in fats and low in carbs, as illustrated by parts of the answers to the starred clues] and there are three down answers that start with FAT and one across with CARB (in a related word) in it. These entries are:
- [*Figure often depicted with a scythe and an hourglass], FATHERTIME
- [*Pakistani-born chef who was posthumously honored with a James Beard Award], FATIMAALI
- [*Serious software problem], FATALERROR
- [*Secretive email option], BLINDCARBONCOPY or BCC.
Current answers to old standbys continues to be a feature: [Glazer of “The Afterparty”], ILANA; [Curry of the NBA], SETH. On the other hand [Hockey Hall of Famer Willie], OREE is not an answer I knew, but he’s more Boomer-era, and apparently the first black NHL player.
Not really much to say. I lost my dachshund, TARA, at only 5 years, this week, to some vicious and acute haemorrhagic gastro-enteritis. She went from healthy to dead in 24 hours despite everything we could do, and as a vet, I feel incredibly guilty and powerless…