Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
Lovely stair-step stack in the middle of this 70-worder, with a BURNER ACCOUNT, CINNAMON TOAST (don’t burn it), and a ROOKIE MISTAKE intersecting good fill like AMATEUR NIGHT and DISCO ANTHEMS.
Other fave fill: “I CAN’T LOOK,” LIFE HACKS (here’s one for you: If your banana resists peeling from the stem end, just poke a thumbnail in the other end and peel it from there–Americans are weird in insisting on the stem end), RUBBISH, Carl LINNAEUS, and BLOW A FUSE.
New to me: 16A. [Symbolic hand gesture in Hinduism], MUDRA. Looking it up … Oh! That’s familiar enough, just never knew the term for it.
Four stars from me.
Wendy L Brandes’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
- 59aR [Favorite time of the school day for some teachers and students, or a two-word hint for the answers to the starred clues] DISMISSAL, or DISMISS AL. That is, the bigram AL is dropped from the original phrases, leading to wacky new ones.
- 17a. [*Desire to dress in Victorian era garb and sip tea daintily?] PRIM URGES (primal urges).
- 23a. [*One who helps fix a banged-up car?] DENT ASSISTANT (dental assistant).
- 49a. [*Fine print about a knee replacement?] LEG DISCLAIMER (legal disclaimer).
In each case the AL would appear as the suffix of the first word—an adjective—in the phrases.
- 1a [The “sheet” in “three sheets to the wind”] ROPE. I had mistakenly, apparently, assumed it was a SAIL. But I have heard of a sheet bend, which is used to join two lines of differing diameter.
- 9a [Daily crossword review sites, e.g.] BLOGS. Hey!
30d [Copies, briefly] DUPES. We sometimes talk about those on this blog.
- 15a [One who tweets a lot] BIRD. Ugh, troubling news from yesterday.
- 28a [Spin] TWIRL.
- 32a [Hummus and baba ghanouj] DIPS. I think of them more as spreads.
- 9d [Heathcliff creator] BRONTË. Not the cat.
- 11d [“__ Melancholy”] ODE ON. Not a theater.
- Not theme-related: 19a [“Inside the NBA” analyst] O’NEAL, 54a [Fish that spawns in fresh water] SALMON, 55a [“Don’t move!”] HALT, 48d [Without panicking] CALMLY.
Solid crossword. Liked but didn’t love it.
David Tuffs’s Universal crossword, “My Treat!”—Jim P’s review
Theme: DRINKS ARE ON ME (36a, [“I’m paying for this round!” … or a literal interpretation of 16-, 23-, 49- and 59-Across[).
- 16a. [Containers that might be stemmed] WINE GLASSES.
- 23a. [Region spanning much of Northeastern Europe] VODKA BELT. Hadn’t heard this term, but I guess it makes sense.
- 49a. [Keg attachments] BEER PUMPS. Again, not a phrase I’m familiar with, but they must exist.
- 59a. [Grant-era tax scandal] WHISKEY RING. If ever I knew this one, I must have shed those particular little gray cells a long time ago.
Welp, the revealer doesn’t state exactly what’s going on here. My first interpretation was that the drinks in the entries would be above the letters ME in the grid. And lo and behold, exactly centered under WINE in the first entry is the ME in MERRY. But where are the rest of them? Is there another way to have “me” in the grid? Should I be looking for DAVID TUFFS somewhere? Ultimately, this turned out to be a red herring.
It took me a little while post-solve, but I eventually realized the second words in each phrase can also be items you might wear: glasses, a belt, pumps, and a ring. So that’s my best guess to the the theme: we have an alcoholic drink paired with an article of clothing (i.e. something you might have “on”).
I generally like this kind of theme because it’s very tightly constrained. And the fact that the drinks are all alcoholic is a an apt and elegant touch. But a little more help in grasping the full theme would not have been unwelcome. And in my case, lack of familiarity with most of the phrases made it less fun.
Looking to the fill, the long stacks in the NW and SE are quite nice: ANIMATED with INNER EAR and MEDICINE with ELEMENTS. The other shorter stacks aren’t bad either with highlights ON HOLD, COYOTE, Stacey ABRAMS, and PEEPER.
Clues of note:
- 66a. [Brand of printer]. EPSON. If you’re like me, you have to make a small effort to differentiate EPSON (the brand) from EPSOM (the English town of salt and horse-racing fame). Let’s try this: EPSON has an N and so does “priNter.” If the clue is about priNters, the answer is EPSON…unless it’s CANON.
- 31d. [Person who’s hot on the trail, maybe?]. HIKER. Make sure you hydrate out there, people!
- 54d. [Bit of ammo for Hawkeye]. ARROW. Works for either the Marvel superhero or the protagonist of The Last of the Mohicans, but not for the character on M*A*S*H.
Nice theme, but I had to work for it. 3.75 stars.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today crossword, “Wander Aimlessly”–Darby’s review
Theme: Each theme answer’s second word is an anagram of WANDER.
- 16a [“Conservation officer”] GAME WARDEN
- 28a [“Patron of Barbados”] SAINT ANDREW
- 63a [“Forbidding, foreboding phrase”] YOU’VE BEEN WARNED
I really liked this theme. The amount of anagrams for WANDER is kind of incredible. I got GAME WARDEN mostly on the crosses, as with the end of SAINT ANDREW. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED was a fun spanner to fill in, especially as we approach Halloween.
The Down clues were my key to this puzzle. I almost immediately switched to Down answers since I felt like I could sail through those particularly fast. I really enjoyed GOOD DOG, DIAPER BAG, and TIME SHARE. 55d [“Ho-hum feeling”] was a good one for ENNUI. For a word like ENNUI, which appears more regularly in crosswords and less in my day-to-day life, “ho-hum” feels like a great synonym.
This puzzle is asymmetric, and the upside-down L in the upper right corner I think allowed for answers like GOOD DOG and DIAPER BAG. However, overall, the puzzle felt really balanced and clean. It, unlike its title, did not wander aimlessly.