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…
NYT: I ended up with an error and it took a while to find it. I put LSAT in lieu of PSAT and wound up with LOTTS instead of POTTS (I didn’t recall this character from Beauty and the Beast). I can see in retrospect that it makes more sense with a P there, but the whole middle felt a bit shaky to me.
I tumbled to the theme early enough that the happy trails in the circles did help work my way around some of the fill.
I also didn’t know STALE was a verb.
Mrs POTTS was a teapot. Not surprisingly. Her son was ‘Chip’ and, you guessed it, he had a chip on his rim.
My girls grew up in the part of the Disney era.
I found a lot of hard fill, definitely including _SAT / _ OTTS. Amy lists some other rough spots. Still, I liked the puzzle, not so much for the three central theme answers, which took me a bit because of their age. But more the circled words.
Often circled letter puzzles feel meh to me, because it gives constructors so much freedom as to where to place the circles. Sometimes it seems that, by picking letters, you can come up with anything and call it a pattern. But the tight clusters of meandering letters felt better, and I could see quickly enough that they formed synonyms. Bearing in mind the large amount of theme fill then helped me through the hard crossings.
Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety
Said of Cleopatra by somebody or other, per Shakespeare. ‘Stale’ as a verb is archaic and rare — not something you will likely hear or see in colloquial modern English.
NYT: I think maybe it is depressing that the only person I’ve heard sing Happy Trails is David Lee Roth.
Universal: I didn’t do the puzzle, but the definition of RUN-ON SENTENCE is wrong and the clue is a perfectly fine sentence, grammatically. A run-on sentence is where two clauses are incorrectly separated by a comma. “I can’t stay for dinner, I’m meeting a friend to see a movie.”
Found at Wikipedia (citations therein):
Oh, I’ve never seen that last definition before, please get off my lawn.
Be that as it may.
NYT – Way too many google able answers for a Wednesday or for that matter any day.
Gareth: My heartfelt condolences on the shocking loss of your beloved pet, Tara.
LAT: On the grid the “Fats” are high, and the “Carb” is low.
TNY: Really, Amy? LOOGIE is one of your favorite bits? Gross.
Also, too much stuff like ENOUNCE and AT NOON to justify such high marks imo. But I did like the two lively 15s.
LAT. Grid shown with Gareth’s comments is not the today’s LAT grid that I just solved?
Gareth, so sorry for your loss. My childhood dog died in a similar manner and I so clearly remember the shock of the whole thing on top of a loss being really hard to cope with.
My condolences as well to Gareth. That is a really horrible eventuality for any pet lover. I’m currently owned by six cats, but still remember my beloved pit bull passing away November 19th, 1992.