Brooke Husic & Yacob Yonas’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Not as tough as many other Saturday NYTs, and chock full of good fill and fun clues.
Fave fill: ADDIS ABABA (Ethiopian [World capital whose name means “new flower”], who knew?), “IS THAT A YES?”, “IT’S ALL OVER!”, ALL-TIME HIGH, EMPTY-NESTER, CHESS MOVE.
Clues of note:
- 16a. [Place for some outlets], MALL. Despite the family talking about outlet malls over dinner, I opted for WALL here first. Just me?
- 42a. [Basic assessment], PH TEST. As in basic vs. acidic.
- 52a. [It’s slightly larger than all of New England combined], IDAHO. New England looks tiny and Idaho looks big, and yet.
- New to me: 63a. [They’re about to say “I do”], NEARLY-WEDS.
- 1d. [Something a person typically drops on purpose], ACID. I went with HINT … but then HINTS AT revealed itself below and I reconsidered.
- 5d. [Mobile relatives], STABILES. Alexander Calder made both mobiles and stabiles for Chicago sites. The Flamingo at the Kluczynski Federal Building rivals Picasso’s Daley Plaza sculpture in the category of Showiest Large Sculpture Before the Bean Came Along. I think his biggest mobile was at Sears Tower, but it was dismantled a few years ago, unfortunately.
- 28d. [Fourth letter of the Arabic alphabet], THA. Did not know this one.
- 53d. [Democracy imperative], VOTE. I have my mail ballot and will complete it in the coming week, then drop it off an an early voting location.
Mary Lou Guizzo and Brooke Husic’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Little time to write this one up, so I suppose it’s good that I finished in 2:31. I would’ve liked a puzzle that put up more of a fight, though. THINGS FALL APART is a bit of a trivia chestnut at this point. ICE COLD BEER HERE was fun and also feels like Patti-bait, given her love of baseball. Nice fun fact about LIP GLOSS. I’m from Philadelphia, so I’m here for a SEPTA reference.
This one leaned a little too far into the trivia and away from the wordplay clues for my taste.
Erik Agard’s USA Today crossword — Matthew’s write-up
Themers all contain the letter string -XL-, neatly across a word boundary:
- 19a [Protective style for natural hair] FAUX LOCS
- 31a [Carried interest, for one] TAX LOOPHOLE
- 46a [Packaged meal] BOX LUNCH
Long downs hold the grid together, and include plenty of assets for my money: LADY GAGA, HYACINTH, VICTORY LAP, EMPANADA. I particularly enjoyed the clue for the last, [34d Food that Maricel Presilla called “the ultimate master of disguise”].
- 28a [Air Canada ____, former name for Scotiabank Arena] CENTRE. This building is the home of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and NBA’s Toronto Raptors. Scotiabank has had the naming rights for four years now, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop saying “Air Canada Centre”, or even slipping to “Maple Leaf Gardens.”
- 57a [Chopped dish] HASH. Intersecting with REHASH. I generally don’t call out dupes, because several editors aren’t avoiding them as strongly as in the past, most of the time I don’t notice them during my solve, only when picking through the grid for a review, and I don’t think there’s any inherent reason they should be avoided. The long-standing rule has set expectations for solvers, and we may need to un-learn that, and so be it. However, in this case, when the entries are this close together, even intersecting, it does detract from my solve. The more variety I can get out of a single puzzle, the happier I am.
- 8d [Fragrant flower with toxic bulbs] HYACINTH. Hyacinths are among my favorite blooms, if only I could keep anything alive!
Adam Simpson’s Universal Crossword, “Universal Freestyle 43” — norah’s write-up
- TACO 16A [Soft or crunchy food item at Chipotle]
- SEAGULL 33A [Boardwalk thief with wings]
- TABLETOPGAMES 51A [Dungeons & Dragons, Scrabble, etc.]
- DEALBREAKER 54A [It disqualifies a romantic partner]
- KOOKABURRAS 13D [Laughing flock]
I’ve heard this kind of grid shape in which large chunks of blocks appear in each corner as “cookies.” I like that term a lot! The cluing throughout is fun and fresh and full of interesting and specific references.
I really, really need to remember IGA Swiatek. This is not the first time this name has stumped me! (49A [2022 US Open winner Swiatek]).
Thank you Adam!