Paolo Pasco’s New York Times crossword, “Terminal Connections” —Nate’s write-up
Hello from stop-and-go traffic outside of Palm Springs, thanks to my phone’s personal hotspot. While my dear husband drives, I couldn’t wait to post about today’s awesome puzzle. Let’s dive in!
– 6D: SIDEARM [Baseball pitching style … or a weapon]
– 14D: RAMADA [Big name in hotels]
– 24A: DEAR MADAM [Old-fashioned letter opener]
– 36D: BITE MARK [Indentation on a chew toy]
– 38D: REIGNITE [Light again]
– 53A: E-MARKETING [Online promotions, collectively]
– 40D: LESTRADE [Whom Holmes tells “You do find it very hard to tackle the facts”]
– 43D: NORSEMAN [Many a Viking]
– 56A: TRADE NAMES [What businesses go by]
– 62D: THOUSAND [Grand]
– 65D: HUGUENOTS [Early French Protestants]
– 89A: SANDSTONE [Rock commonly used in asphalt]
– 67D: US VS THEM [Basic rivalry]
– 70D: DEMI MOORE [“G.I. Jane” star, 1997]
– 91A: THEME ROOM [Part of a hotel with decor fitting a certain motif]
– 100D: ANOTHER ONE [“Encore!”]
– 106D: BASSETT [Actress Angela]
– 122A: THE RONETTES [“Be My Baby” group, 1963]
Circled letters (terminal connections): MA KE EN DS ME ET
Wow! For each set of theme entries, two down entries turn inward at an angle to form / overlap with a third across entry, where their terminals (endings) connect. To construct a puzzle where everything is clean and checked both in the across and down directions is tough enough; to have a puzzle where so many of the squares are triple checked is fantastic! AND to have the connecting terminals of all those symmetrically-placed theme sets spell a perfect revealer phrase is just ::chef’s kiss:: What a joyful solve, even in spite of a few sections (especially the SW corner) that took me a little extra time to figure out. Bravo, Paolo! COWABUNGA!
– 20A: EBOOK [Volume on an iPad, say] – Cute!
– I loved how many women of color were highlighted in the entries of this puzzle, including LEONA Lewis, Naomi OSAKA, THE RONETTES, PARK SO-DAM, Angela BASSETT, Michelle Yeoh, and more!
– 112A: SCARIES [Sunday ___ (end-of-week anxiety, casually)] – I was glad to see this in the NYT puzzle. It feels quite validating for my Sunday night experiences!
– 88D: AOL [“Have ___ make my email stop” (Destiny’s Child lyric) – The moment I filled this in, I messaged Paolo to gush. You buggin’ what, you buggin’ who?
What did you enjoy about the puzzle? Let us know in the comments section. Until then, I hope you have a great week!
Billy Bratton’s Universal Crossword, “Themeless Sunday 13” — norah’s write-up
- MR OWL 25A [Hooting Tootsie Pop mascot]
- EARGASM 20A [Sensation from a song you’re super into]
- FATE LINES 8D [In palm reading, they signify destiny]
- TIM HORTONS 29D [Canadian chain with Iced Capps]
- DJHERO 41D [Video game with turntables]
Fun paper solve this morning where it’s too cold outside for iced caps but warm enough inside to do nothing but crossword puzzles for most of the day.
- I am very confused by the clue for REY 31D [Luke and Leia’s sister]. I asked my 12-year-old who is a big Star Wars geek, and she tells me that’s not right. I have googled the Palpatine family tree. Someone explain this to me please.
- Same goes for MOPEY 37A [Like a person who’s hangdogging] I can only find two references for hangdogging. One is about rock climbing and the other about excessive drinking. ??
- DJHERO 41D [Video game with turntables]. I like this as an entry just for the unlikely DJH- start but also because it supports my hypothesis that there really is a video game for everything.
Thank you Billy!
Paul Coulter’s Universal Sunday crossword, “Echo Chamber”—Jim P’s review
It took me nearly half the solve to have my duh moment. I was looking for the theme in the theme entries, not in the clues themselves which consist of two homophones each.
- 22a. [Righting writing] COPY EDITING.
- 24a. [Sight site] EYE SOCKET.
- 34a. [Deserts desserts] CUTS DOWN ON SUGAR. Took a while to get the pronunciation right since I hadn’t grokked the theme yet.
- 68a. [Cash cache] MONEY UNDER THE MATTRESS. This one’s not as in-the-language as much as the others.
- 99a. [Sole soul] LAST ONE STANDING.
- 115a. [Fair fare] FRIED FOOD.
- 117a. [Coarse course] RICE PUDDING. I do like my RICE PUDDING. Never thought of it as “coarse,” but I guess it’s not smooth.
Interesting theme, and like I said, it took me a little while to catch on. But isn’t the purpose of the theme to help the solver in places where they get stuck? I’d argue that this theme doesn’t. The theme is readily apparent—once you recognize it—without solving a single word in the puzzle, and the theme clues don’t allow the solver to make any inferences about what to put in the grid. Now, if things were reversed, e.g. if a clue was [Fried food, e.g.], and the answer was FAIR FARE, then that would be a theme the solver could use, once they figured it out.
Aside from that, the fill is solid as you’d expect with highlights: ARRIVEDERCI (assuming you can spell it correctly, not like my “arrivaderci”), TRADING POST, “TRUST ME,” PORSCHE, BIG TOE, and BAD SIDES.
Clues of note:
- 48a. [Molecule found in “Moderna vaccine”]. RNA. In more ways than one.
- 55a. [Toilet seat cover?]. LID. Don’t know why, but I went from RIM to LIP here and stuck with that for far too long. Needless to say, don’t put your lips on the toilet seat (unless you really love one of the seats at Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Museum).
- 56a. [Convenient “babysitter”]. TV SET. Oops. They said the quiet part out loud.
- 90d. [Mr. Hyde and the Hulk, for Dr. Jekyll and Bruce Banner]. BAD SIDES. I don’t follow Marvel comics as much as I used to when I was a kid, but how is the Hulk a “bad side” if he’s one of the heroes on the Avengers?
- 119d. [It powers a Charger]. GAS. A Dodge Charger, not a Los Angeles Charger. Or maybe a Los Angeles Charger as well, for all I know.
Solid grid, but I’m feeling like the theme should have been reversed. 3.25 stars.
Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword, “Set Pieces” —Matthew’s write-up
A satisfyingly in-the-language set of phrases all end in a word that suggests a list:
- 22a [Mercury, Venus, Earth …] WORLD SERIES
- 38a [Washington, Adams, Jefferson …] EXECUTIVE ORDER
- 43a [Cerulean, denim, ultramarine …] BLUE STREAK
- 62a [Aspiration, hope, wish …] DREAM SEQUENCE
- 79a [Weakling, wimp, wuss …] CHICKEN RUN
- 87a [Emo, grunge, metal …] ROCK COLLECTION
- 105a [General, lieutenant general, major general …] COMMAND LINE
After WORLD SERIES and EXECUTIVE ORDER, I had hopes that each clue would be the beginning of an ordered list, but I imagine that’s just too constraining to ask for. The final three clues all do well to ensure that the first word of the entry changes meaning from the clue to the grid. Of course this is true of all the themers, but I thought [Weakling, wimp, wuss …] in particular was a nice way around something like [Leghorn, Rhode Island Red, Jersey Giant …] or something. And while I usually don’t look too closely at titles, “Set Pieces” could be a theoretical grid entry clued by [World Series, Executive Order, Blue Streak …] today.
I’m on a bit of a vacation, so will eschew notes today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
NYT: Truly awesome construction. I’ve got a little bit of construction experience, and the thought of trying a trick like this one gives me a headache.
I was jumping around the grid, skipping stuff like NORSEMAN where I knew the answer but it didn’t fit. Then I got to the bottom center and THE RONETTES and Angela BASSETT (a wonderful actor) helped me \figure out the trick.
I don’t see how anyone could have solved this without understanding the trick on some level.
I regret that I didn’t look at the circled letters long enough at the end to realize they spell MAKE ENDS MEET. Maybe I was just relieved to have gotten the grid filled fairly quickly and without typos or misspellings. Metas, even obvious ones like this, are not my strong suit.
Some nice clues, too — EBOOK, as Nate mentioned, but also 15A PAPAL and 64A REHOUSE. I’m generally not a fan of RE[random verb] entries, but REHOUSE seems to be used enough to be legit.
It took me until THE RONETTES and Angela BASSETT to figure it out, too. Fun puzzle!
NYT: Wtf. How do you …? There’s just no way. How do you do this? How is this possible? I mean, I get there’s a whole unfamiliar-to-me world of coding and making programs or whatever that can search, search, search for different strings and all that, and that software can do amazing searchy things nowadays and all that, but still, wtf, how…? And THEN, you got symmetry. And THEN, the six pairs of letters forming the metareveal. I mean, come on. How the hell do you do that?
Exactly! That’s what makes it so awesome!
I can barely get a Monday-level themed grid to fill in, much less fill in cleanly. To do something like this is so far beyond me . . .
NYT: Speaking strictly as a solver, this was so much fun!! Took time to get the trick, after hopping all around filling stuff in. There was no rebus indicator on my AL, so I was flummoxed for a while, knowing answers but not fitting. I think it was the crossing of Bassett and TheRonettes that finally turned the light on, so a great “AHA” moment.
I don’t recall doing a puzzle with this particular twist… we’ve had lots of turns and jogs and drop down or jump-up type themes, but the two way turn I don’t remember doing, with the long crossings being actual legitimate words to boot!
Really enjoyable puzzle, and Make Ends Meet was icing on the flavorful cake!
In his constructor’s notes, Paolo Pasco gives a shoutout to the May 22 puzzle by David Steinberg and his parents Paul and Karen. It’s easy to see why.
The May 22 puzzle is one of my favorite Sunday puzzles from the last year or so.
YES!! It was one of my faves too…. very very similar, so that’s why it was so fun!! Thanks for the pointer. I don’t often read the constructors notes unless someone points out something interesting in them :) .
I’m especially fond of the May 22 puzzle because it was a nice, unexpected birthday treat. Also, I’ve had the pleasure to work with David Steinberg on the few puzzles I’ve had published. He seems like a nice guy.
ok, going back and re-doing that puzzle… I did enjoy it and admire it once I knew the twist, but I had to come here to get it so I didn’t have the “aha”, I was completely lost on what to do without being told. So I gave up about halfway before coming here.
Part of that probably because the long acrosses were not clued at all except for “see x down” even though they were legitimate words in their own right (today’s were clued without cross references.)(I also personally don’t care for cross references as a clue.)
That’s why the May puzzle didn’t stick in my head so much.
This all from one solvers view only. I know the construction was awesome from reading constructors comments
The May 22 puzzle hit my sweet spot for that kind of theme/trick: Not at all obvious at the start, but not so opaque as to take me three-fourths of the puzzle to figure out.
Obviously, that sweet spot is different for each of us. I know what you mean about the disappointment one feels on not figuring out a trick like that without any help.
Holy cow! This was a great puzzle! I can’t believe it doesn’t have ALL 5 stars!
I gave it four or four-and-a-half stars.
If I were to rate it now (having thought more about how difficult it must’ve been to construct), I’d give it five.
I couldn’t help noticing the number of low ratings, too, in a puzzle so broadly admired. I wouldn’t dare rate it, on quality or difficulty, since it reminded me how far my language is from a college student’s. I wonder if the ratings are an age thing.
Of course, there may be a small distortion in the opposite direction as well because of the nature of a forum like this one. We’re regular solvers, and many are themselves setters, so connoisseurs of difficult construction.
I really admire the theme, with that circled phrase as a delightful bonus. At first you see two seemingly remote things to make sense of, the starred clues and the entries with circles, not all that close by and without an obvious revealer. That’s room for lots of aha moments. Great job, and if the fill didn’t always work for me, such is life.
John, I’m curious what struck you as young persons’ language in the puzzle. There were a few entries that were new to me, but the bulk of it seemed pretty familiar (I’m 65).
Good question, but my apologies. I’ve tossed the puzzle with my markings. Really fine puzzle all the same.
WaPo: A fun and engaging puzzle as usual from our man in Washington. COMMAND LINE didn’t come naturally for this non-coding Mac user, but it was gettable nonetheless and rounded out a solid theme set.
Favorite entry elsewhere was 16-Down’s “Prevent a Bill…” angle for TACKLE.
NYT: Pretty great all around, though the crossing of Lil REL and LESTRADE from Sherlock Holmes was a Natick for me. I’m familiar with both Get Out and Sherlock Holmes, but that one still required a google.