August Miller’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Career Moves”—Jim P’s review
The letters in JOB are found scrambled in various phrases. The revealer is ODD JOB (44d, [Miscellaneous household task, and what’s found in each set of circles]).
- 16a. [Where people mix at parties?] DJ BOOTHS.
- 24a. [Politician for whom a New York City convention center is named] JACOB JAVITS.
- 34a. [It traditionally begins “How many…”] LIGHT BULB JOKE.
- 46a. [It’s named for RFK] DOJ BUILDING.
- 58a. [Hard-to-miss flier] JUMBO JET.
Granted, trying to find familiar phrases that anagram the letters JOB is never going to be easy, but as a solver, I still wanted the phrases to be more in-the-language than what we got. Only the last feels familiar and natural. The rest seem forced or on the obscure side.
Also, I’m not convinced that “odd” translates into “anagram.” If the revealer was CHANGE JOBS, that would make more sense to me.
Lastly, I’m okay with the revealer’s clue, but it seems odd (haha) in the singular. Don’t people normally talk about odd jobs in the plural? I’d have been perfectly content with a clue referring to the iconic Bond villain.
SPECIAL K, OREO CONE, and IN A JIFFY top the fill, along with LIBIDO and YAHTZEE. I did get a sense that there was a higher than average amount of crosswordese: AZO, AAS, ADVS, DOA, ETS. But I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the result of the constraints of the theme.
- 64a. [You might have a shot at it]. BAR. No question mark? Still, a good clue.
- 2d. [Words next to “JUST VISITING” on a Monopoly board]. IN JAIL. [Doing time] would have sufficed as a clue, but it wouldn’t have been as fun.
- 36d. [Leaves when things get difficult]. BAILS. Whenever I see “leaves” at the start of a clue, I think the answer might be SALAD. But that doesn’t work here unless you consider a SALAD to be comfort food.
I recognize this was a tough theme to build from a constructor’s standpoint. In this case, that resulted in a less enjoyable solve. Three stars.
Simeon Seigel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Side note: I’ve been doing shorter write-ups for over a month because sciatica mostly kept me from an easier solving/blogging setup at my desk, but I am hopeful that I’ll be back at my desk for a good, long while now (thank you to skilled doctors at a major hospital close to home, and the insurance to access them). Headachy all day, though, so a quicker recap tonight.
Theme revealer in this 16×15 puzzle: 38a. [What you’re on when you’re crawling … or a hint to parsing 18-, 27-, 46- and 61-Across], ALL FOURS. Each of those thematic 16s is cobbled together as a series of four 4s:
- 18a. Patsy + French “to be” + Singe + Pop queen = Sales wonk], MARK ETRE SEAR CHER = MARKET RESEARCHER.
- 27a. [Boat pole + Old “once” + Pace + Essence = Chief planner], MASTER STRATEGIST. Crosswordese ERST is given a higher purpose than “glue for a grid” for a change.
- 46a. [Fiber source + Auto make + Red planet + Boxing family = Noted jazz saxophonist], BRANFORD MARSALIS.
- 61a. [Interpret + Hockey’s Kovalchuk + Colorado ski town + Fit = On hand], READILY AVAILABLE.
Fun quasi-rebus theme, with the original meaning of rebus rather than the “multiple letters in a crossword square” sense.
Fave fill: “THAT SUCKS,” Star Wars MOS EISLEY (when a pop culture reference is 45 years old, it would seem churlish to complain about it … though when I was doing crosswords as a teen in the 1980s, certainly 1940s pop culture references seemed hardly fair play for anyone but a much older solver!).
Please use 16a AMPLER in a natural-sounding sentence.
Fun clue: 9d. [Quaff of gruit and wort, in days of yore], ALE.
3.75 stars from me.
Greg Snitkin’s Universal crossword, “Junk Food” — pannonica’s write-up
This is a very tidy little theme. Menu items that can all be reparsed as being somehow removed, by virtue of their adjectives being synonyms for ‘junked’ or eliminated.
- 16a. [BBQ meat taken off the menu?] PULLED PORK.
- 26a. [Leafy starters taken off the menu?] TOSSED SALADS. Pluralized to achieve the proper entry length.
- 43a. [Oniony meat dish taken off the menu?] CHOPPED LIVER.
- 58a. [Kernel-covered side taken off the menu?] CANNED CORN. Not convinced that a restaurant would be advertising that their corn comes from a can, but there it is.
I liked it.
Not part of the theme and not what I sometimes call theme-adjacent: 47a [Baby back __] RIBS, which I found to be a minor infringement.
- 2d [Place with bowling balls] ALLEY. 45d [Word after “bobby” or “bowling”] PIN.
- 8d [1-Down and a half] YUKFEST. Can’t recall encountering this in a crossword before. 1-down is LAUGH.
- 22d [Marilyn Monroe portrayer de Armas] ANA. I believe the recent film was roundly panned.
- 37d [Spots to retire?] BEDS. In a more difficult puzzle the question mark would be dispensed with.
- 39d [Fancy twist in a signature] CURLICUE. Fun word, and one that isn’t common in crosswords.
- 42d [They put pilots on air] TV EXECS. Inattentive reading might have led a solver to see that as ‘pilots in the air’ but I was not fooled, fortunately.
- 51d [Cargo measures] TONS. 37a [Cargo ship feature, or a body of water] BAY.
- 42a [Estate lawyers’ documents] TRUSTS. Hadn’t realized that the word could be used for the document as well as the entity.
- 52a [Shot made while being fouled, in NBA lingo] AND ONE. Did not know this, but it was gettable.
- 61a [Where to order a sub] DELI. This feels sufficiently removed to avoid being theme-adjacent.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap
Was FaceTiming with my husband while solving, so it might actually be a good bit easier than the standard Fri NYT.
Fave fill (so much of it!): SCRATCH OUT, I’M AFRAID SO, TOP TEN LIST, INFO DUMPS, OMEGA MALE (alphas are boring, let’s face it), AUSSIE OPEN (though I’m not sure I’ve really heard it shortened thus–not a tennis obsessive), TAKE A PENNY, MESA VERDE (mainly because of Better Call Saul), HAULED OFF, WARMED OVER.
Didn’t know/recall: 35d. [The pauper in Mark Twain’s “The Prince and the Pauper”], TOM CANTY.
Least favorite fill: the gendered term IDEA MAN. Tell me when you’ve ever heard idea woman or idea person. Also never keen on ADMAN, and innately misogynist words like HAG and CRONE.
Four stars from me.
Baylee Devereaux’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Baylee Devereaux’s puzzle theme could be considered “job retraining”, with five two part jobs having their first part re-imagined to create a new, unrelated, meanings.
- A [Receptionist at a high-rise hotel, one might say] is a STORYTELLER provided you misspell STOREY.
- [Instagram influencer, one might say], SOCIALWORKER
- [Bartender pouring a selection of craft beers for tasting, one might say], FLIGHTATTENDANT, with a niche, if trendy, meaning of flight.
- [Pathological liar, one might say], MAKEUPARTIST
[Audiophile with an extensive collection of club mixes, one might say], HOUSEKEEPER
It’s unusual to have wacky theme answers on a Wednesday, so that is perhaps why most of the other clues and answers were pretty straightforward. Maybe you haven’t encountered [Japanese cattle breed used for Kobe beef], WAGYU, which is ridiculously overpriced meat.
Quiara Vasquez’s AVCX, “Monster Mash” — Rebecca’s Review
This week’s Halloween appropriate and well-titled AVCX Classic was a 3/5 difficulty from Quiara Vasquez.
Such a fun theme for Halloween, with monsters ‘mashed’ to give us entertaining anagrams that could make for some great costume inspirations, if you’re not yet prepared for Monday.
- 16A: Irish spirit whose shrieking used to be way scarier? BANSHEE HAS BEEN
- 31A: Mexican spirit who’s had like ten consecutive excellent Halloweens? LLORONA ON A ROLL
- 42A: One given a taste for blood after a botched salon job? VAMPIRE VIA PERM
- 59A: Er … let’s call them …devotees of an eldritch god? CTHULHU UHH CULT
The irregular size of the grid gave us the chance for some extra juicy long downs, with I NEED TO PEE, CHEF’S TABLE, OLIVIA MUNN, and ONE MAN SHOW giving a nice framework for the fill fo the puzzle.
And for my fellow millennials, a reminder of just how terrifying “ARE You Afraid of the Dark” was
Ada Nicolle’s USA Today Crossword, “o_o” — Emily’s write-up
Don’t let the title emoticon fool you, this puzzle is not confusing or perplexing.
Theme: each themer ends in the pattern O…O
- 20a. [“Time is money,” in Spanish], ELTIEMPOESORO
- 37a. [Type of vegetarian who eats dairy and eggs], LACTOOVO
- 56a. [Children’s series about a teddy bear going undercover], SPECIALAGENTOSO
Fun cluing for ELTIEMPOESORO, which even though I’d not heard this phrase before in Spanish, it was easy enough to piece together and had fair crossings. I needed a few crossings to fill LACTOOVO, as it’s not one that I hear or use often but I am familiar with it. Once it was started, SPECIALAGENTOSO becomes apparently very quickly and was a Disney show with 60 episodes. Based on today’s title, I wasn’t sure what we were looking for with the themer but after the first one filled in, the “o”s popped and then the ending made sense and it was even more fun to complete the next two, knowing the pattern and given the cluing, it was clear that it’d be at the end. Great theme, set, and title hint! Love that it’s an emoticon too.
Favorite fill: NAMEONE, BLOOMER, FANART, and TAGLINE
Stumpers: LAURALES (new to me so needed crossings), RIOT (cluing was a bit too vague for me), and ASK (cluing was also too vague for me)
Loved the grid design, the various lengths of the themers, and all of the delightful bonus fill!