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!