Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Holding Companies”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Familiar two-word phrases have an added CO at the start of each second word.
- 17a. [Early task in a recipe for stuffed Vidalias?] ONION CORING.
- 24a. [Group yelling “Work that brush!” and “Floss!”?] TOOTH COACHES.
- 37a. [Spouse who refuses to witness the delivery?] MATERNITY COWARD. Hey, I was at her head and holding her hand. I was even willing to stand up and witness the proceedings (a C-section), but they warned me not to. I guess they’d dealt with enough spouses who’d keeled over in the past. So I sat down and did my job.
- 48a. [Alternative to a saucer? ] CHINA COASTER. Never heard of a china aster, so I needed a lot of crossings here.
- 59a. [Knockoff iPads?] APPLE COPIES.
This works well enough for me. I did wish that instead of CO in each case, we had different actual companies, like IBM, BMW, IKEA, etc.
I enjoyed the long fill, especially FRESH START and CATCHING UP which seem to go well together. LONDONER and ON REPORT are good as well, though I tried ON RECORD first for the latter.
Clues of note:
- 11a. [Org. that investigates telemarketing fraud]. FTC. Who else went with FCC since we’re talking telephone calls here? But I guess FTC makes more sense.
- 21a. [Iuppiter or Saturnus]. DEUS. Couldn’t be sure at first, but these are Latin words. Never mind that I took some Latin in high school.
- 46d. [Makeup of New Jersey’s Palisades]. BASALT. Knowing nothing about this and with the B in place, I went with BOARDS. Took me a while to sort it out.
- 60d. [Foot of the Himalayans?]. PAW. I thought this was a reference to the yeti, but no. We’re talking Himalayan cats here.
Jason Reich’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Familiar phrases ending with MB pick up an extra O, changing the meaning:
- 20a. [Memoirs of a dance contest champion?], LIFE AND LIMBO.
- 28a. [Brushing, flossing and avoiding sugar?], FINE TOOTH COMBO. I love it!
- 48a. [Disney classic without any extra features?], JUST PLAIN DUMBO.
- 54a. [What Mary might have had if she were into Italian sports cars?], A LITTLE LAMBO, Lambo being shorthand for a Lamborghini among car fanciers.
A fine Wednesday theme.
Fave fill: FAIL UP, BAILS ON, FLOJO, Ukraine’s essential MOLOTOV cocktail. Not so keen on the ARE NOT/ARE SO overlap, with or without the linked clues, along with and LIC., plural OLAS, and TOLD NO. NON-U.S. feels tenuous to me.
Never heard of: 4d. [Peabody Award-winning radio show about spirituality], ON BEING. Apparently it’s a “seasonal podcast” now and no longer a public radio program, but it was on the airwaves until just a few months ago.
3.5 stars from me.
Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap
Wednesday New Yorker puzzles are usually easier than Fri NYTs for me, but occasionally they land like this one, a bit tougher. There were two long answers where I had to work the crossings for a long time:
- 34a. [Woman said to have been the only female field marshal in the Mau Mau rebellion], MUTHONI WA KIRIMA. Africa has been way ahead of the European-oriented West in terms of woman warriors.
- 8d. [How much longer?], THE WAYS IN WHICH. Bizarre entry! And a tricky clue: a phrase that means “how,” but it’s “much longer” than that 3-letter word.
Fave fill: UP FOR DEBATE, DAWDLES, “BE REALISTIC,” “CUT ME SOME SLACK.”
Gen X reaction to 1a. [CD predecessors], LPS—Well, technically, cassettes came in between vinyl and CDs, along with some other short-lived tape formats. Does CASSETTES fit into three squares? No, it does not.
Four stars from me.
Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Dr. Ed Sessa’s puzzle features [Soft-shoe classic, or what can be found in the answers to the starred clues], MEANDMYSHADOW which is an interesting way to get to a theme which is 3 entries with MEEM (“em” being the mirror of ME) in their centres. I think this other song is more my speed:
I’m quite impressed that all three MEEM answers feel both interesting and natural:
- [*Kitchen fire, for one], HOMEEMERGENCY
- [*Laura Dern’s “Little Women” role], MARMEEMARCH. New to me. Not sure how I absorbed the names of the sisters, this apparently the matriarch. Fun answer in any case.
- [*Lifetime Achievement Award presented to “Sesame Street” in 2009, e.g.], DAYTIMEMMY.
Not a lot of entries to note for better or worse. I knew [Michael of “SNL”], CHE who is most often seen alongside Colin JOST, but think has shown up surprisingly sparingly. [Mystery writer Nevada] BARR is new to me. Her main series is apparently “Anna Pigeon”, which could show up in an ANNA clue near you!
Francis Heaney,’s AVCX, “Gimme Five” — Rebecca’s Review
This week’s AVCX Classic from Francis Heaney was a very demanding 4.5/5 difficulty.
- 19A: Things that make your back hurt? (S) SPINE STRESSES PINE TREE
- 27A: Halloween costume options if all you have is a little bit of leopard-print fabric? (M) BAMM BAMM OR MILEY BABA O’RILEY
- 36A: Monthly payments for cloths used in a second pass of dusting? (R) RESTARTER RAG RENTS ESTATE AGENTS
- 57A: Forbid a reed instrument and bring on the herbal tea? (O) BAR OBOE CUE ROOIBOS BARBECUE RIBS
- 64A: Celestial bodies being mined by Ore-Ida? (T) TATER TOT PLANETS AEROPLANES
- 76A: Suffer from chucklephobia? (E)FEAR TEE HEEING FARTHING
Some favorite moments in the grid:
- 14D: Musical in which Anne Boleyn sings “Don’t Lose Ur Head”– SIX
- 49D: Resort that is very much not a secure location for highly classified government documents — MAR A LAGO
- 52D: Site of a metaphorical fire — DUMPSTER
- 74D: Letters before Q — LGBT
- 72A: “___, it’s about cats” (explanation of “Cats” by Andrew Lloyd Webber to his producer) — HAL
Here’s some SIX
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Tree Stand” — Emily’s write-up
What a fun way to kick off this first week of October! Such a perfect themer set.
Theme: each down themer contains the word “tree” but upside-down so it needs to be stood upright
- 3d. [Haunted house feeling], SHEERTERROR
- 34d. [Oktoberfest structures], BEERTENTS
- 36d. [Forest path], DEERTRAIL
A very fall-themed set! How apt for the start of October. The cluing for SHEERTERROR was too subtle for me, as I keep thinking “eerie” or “spooky” or “scared”—maybe a mention about extreme horror or interactive 21+ would have helped with this otherwise fantastic themer. (I’m not one for any type myself, as I prefer the hot apple cider or cocoa and cozy fall movie watching with blankets activities instead of being scared.) BEERTENTS is another great one, though the first half took me longer than it should but I had the second half right away. DEERTRAIL took me the longest and I needed crossings, as I know the term once it filled in but again the first half was tricker for me.
Favorite fill: GARLICNAAN, ONEATATIME, GHOST, and VLOG (with delish cluing too!)
Stumpers: SLAY (kept thinking names like “Pete” and “Puff”), and ALIEN (needing crossings, cluing new to me)
Fun that SLAY and SLEW are next to each other. Though for some reason, I kept looking around for a fourth themer in the NE quadrant or thereabouts. Three is usually the norm but it felt like there could have been one more, not sure why though. Guess the grid just feels a bit weighted in the bottom half due to the design.