Lindsey Hobbs’s Inkubator crossword, “Settle Down”—Jenni’s write-up
I had a moment of panic about halfway through because I had no idea what was going on with the theme even after getting to the revealer entries. Then I filled in the bottom third of the puzzle and the light dawned.
The clue to each themer sounds a bit outraged, and the answer is missing something that has “settled down” to the bottom of the puzzle.
- 1d [*Rocky outcrop? What happened to “Lawn nuisance plant?”] is CRAG with BRASS at 46d. Mix them together and you have CRABGRASS, which is certainly a nuisance.
- 4d[*Personal pronoun? What happened to “Like a dog on a walk, usually?”] is SHE and LEAD is down below. The remix gives us LEASHED.
- 7d [*Tilt to the side? What happened to “Theme park celebrating little toy bricks?”] is LEAN and GOLD, which combine to make LEGOLAND.
- 10d [*Courtney Love band? What happened to “Direct phone-to-phone link for high-priority calls?] is HOLE and TIN. HOTLINE.
- 13d [*Publishes a blog entry? What happened to “Antimatter particles?”] is POSTS and IRON – POSITRONS.
You’ve probably noticed that all the “sinkers” have something in common. The revealer confirms your suspicions. 37a [With 39-Across, genre for Warlock and Black Sabbath…or a hint to what’s sinking from five of this puzzle’s answers] is HEAVY METAL. Original and well-executed. I approve.
A few other things:
- 14a [Company that makes Valium] is ROCHE, which was a gimme for me and I suspect somewhat obscure for most people.
- 5d [Bash for some brides-to-be] is a HEN PARTY. British brides.
- 29a [Nit-pick, say] is DEBUG. Great clue.
- We have AIMEE (Mann) crossing AMIE (Parisian pal) which is OK but looks odd.
- Glad to see B–GIRL clued as [Certain hip-hop fan] than the outdated reference to Philip Marlowe novels.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of Cheryl Lynn or “GOT to be Real.”
Brooke Husic & Erik Agard’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
The most salient thing to note in this 16×15 puzzle is the clues. To wit:
- 1a. [Launch party?], NASA. Not a gala for a book or business launch, but a party to rocket launches. Love repurposing of idiomatic terms like this.
- 25a. [Set of books that may have an invented language], FANTASY SERIES. Maps and family trees up front are also welcome. Daniel Lavery knows this!
- 35a. [Wraps that might have sauce on them], APRONS. Cloth wraps, not tortilla wraps.
- 38a. [Noun phrase that’s present perfect indicative?], WISH LIST. Ha! A wish list indicates what the perfect presents would be. What’s on your list?
- 6d. [Wild ride?], PARTY BUS. Great entry, and now I’m going to believe that every party bus I see is ferrying Mr. Toad and friends around town.
- 31d. [Pass words?], NO, THANK YOU. As in “I’ll pass.”
- 35d. [Big ___ (“the moon and the stars,” e.g.)], ASK. If you want to be given the moon and the stars, well, that’s a big ask indeed.
- 39d. [They can be red or read], LIPS. Excellent.
Fave fill aside from the ones above: DAHLIA, DREAM SEQUENCE, YARD SALE, ROKU (did you know there’s a Roku Channel where you can watch Weird: The Al Yankovic Story for free, without having a Roku device?), NO REFUNDS, New Orleans SECOND LINE, GIDDY-UP, UNION CARDS, and the Issa Rae show INSECURE. I would like SMOKEY EYE if it were spelled SMOKY.
4.25 stars from me.
Guilherme Gilioli’s Universal crossword, “I Haven’t Heard From Your Friend”—Jim P’s review
Theme: SILENT PARTNER (57a, [Investor with a limited role … or the unpronounced letters in the first words of the starred clues’ answers, collectively?]). The silent letters in the main theme answers collectively spell out the word MATE, a synonym for “partner.”
- 19a. [*HOMES for remembering the Great Lakes, e.g.] MNEMONIC TRICK. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the word “trick” placed after “mnemonic.” Maybe that’s just me. And is it just me that pronounces that leading M? I absolutely do not say “nemonic.”
- 28a. [*Seed that chocolate comes from] COCOA BEAN.
- 36a. [*”Pay attention to this!”] LISTEN CAREFULLY. Ironic entry for this theme, since it won’t do you any good to listen for silent letters.
- 45a. [*Like some videos of growing plants] TIME LAPSE.
The wording on the revealer got a little…wordy, so it took me a couple of extra beats to get the gist of it. But once I did, I was on board, and I liked the theme just fine.
It’s tough to have a 13-letter revealer and have to place it in the 12th row. And it’s even tougher to have five theme answers in that situation. That compresses all the theme entries into the middle of the grid with only one row separating each of them. As a consequence, there are more fill answers than usual that cross two theme answers and way more than usual (I count four) that cross three theme answers.
But look at those four: TEARS OPEN, BOOK DEAL, ON SALE NOW, and SEMESTER. Oh, and there’s OPALS down the middle. That’s a really impressive set considering the constraints of having three fixed letters in each of those entries. In fact I barely noticed any gunky fill during the solve, so I’m super impressed at how this grid could’ve been filled so smoothly (weirdly-spelled KABOB, notwithstanding). Nicely done!
Clues of note:
- 22a. [Eye exam providers: Abbr.]. ODS. Haven’t seen this cluing angle before. I suppose it’s nice to get away from the usual depressing approach of referring to drug overdoses, but how many people know that a Doctor of Optometry is an OD (and not an MD—that would be an ophthalmologist)? I didn’t and my wife is in the health care field.
- 34a. [Small doggo]. PUP. I contend a small doggo is a “pupper,” but carry on.
3.75 stars from me. A solid theme, but really impressive fill, given the constraints.
Patti Varol’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Pretty straightforward theme here.
- 63aR [Scam victim’s lament, and an apt title for this puzzle] I’VE BEEN HAD. To wit, the trigram I-V-E is introduced into phrases for wacky results.
- 16a. [Part of a player piano?] PASSIVE KEY (pass key).
- 23a. [Letter from Zurich?] SWISS MISSIVE (Swiss Miss).
- 39a. [Excited cry from a chicory farmer waiting for harvest?] THE ENDIVE IS NEAR (the end is near).
- 50a. [Dust, silverfish, or dampness?] ARCHIVE ENEMY (arch-enemy).
Okay, I’m inexplicably wiped out this morning, so just a quick spin through the rest of the grid:
- 9d [Nagging] PERSISTENCE.
- 27d [Fish tacos fish, informally] MAHI. Versus mahimahi.
- 32d [Hebrew word in the Book of Psalms] SELAH. Don’t recall seeing this before.
- 46d [To no __: in vain] AVAIL.
- 1a [Cherry-pick] CULL. Had never thought of them as synonyms, but yes it works just fine.
- 47a [PO alternative] UPS. Clue would have been easier if it invoked USPS rather than PO, but I can see how that was nixed for too many similar letters. As it is, however, the clue seems to want UPS STORE as an answer.
That’s all I’ve got today. Overall impression of the crossword is that it feels perfunctory.
Ross Trudeau’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s write-up
Our themers are bracketed with the letters of words that are synonyms for “happy,” with the revealer JOY DIVISION [55a “Love Will Tear Us Apart” band … and a hint to each set of circled letters in this puzzle].
- 17a [Fictional home to the Misty Mountains and Fangorn Forest] MIDDLE EARTH
- 27a [Comedian who wrote the memoir “Life Will Be the Death of Me”] CHELSEA HANDLER
- 33a [Source of illumination for a writer] DESKLIGHT
- 43a [Game that might test a Grandmaster’s memory] BLINDFOLD CHESS
A few clues caught me out a bit more than I expect from these Friday puzzles, but not more than I expect from Ross: [Lines of credit?] is ODES rather than IOUS, [Means of returning home after a hunting trip, perhaps] took me a second even after I stopped reading “hunting” as “haunted” — CATDOOR suggests an outdoor cat; I do not let mine out. [Made, as a jumper] had me stuck on KNIT for a good while, but it’s a basketball jumper rather than a British jumper, which is SANK.
Hope you’re having a restful holiday. My thanks to all veterans reading today.
Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today crossword, “Left Shark”—Darby’s write-up
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: The leftmost word in each theme answer can be put in front of the word SHARK.
- 21a [“Foam accessory for aquatic exercises”] POOL NOODLE
- 38a [“Relief for borrowers”] LOAN FORGIVENESS
- 55a [“Event that might have a diaper raffle”] BABY SHOWER
I was so excited about this theme that I initially filled in BABY SHARK instead of BABY SHOWER. “BABY SHARK” is such an earworm, and I’m not even mad about it. I also loved the spanner in LOAN FORGIVENESS (and also I love LOAN FORGIVENESS as a concept). When I first saw this title, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was really pleased when I figured it out after filling in the second themer. “Left Shark” is, of course, a reference to the shark that performed left of Katy Perry at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2015.
The fill on this was really smooth as well. The crossing -IDE in 1a [“Remarks meant for the audience”] ASIDES and 1d [“Put up with”] ABIDE was challenging at first since ASIDES didn’t come right to mind. 8d [“‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ actress Michaela] COEL was certainly timely, given that the film came out today. Similarly, 41d [“Seasoned pros”] VETERANS was also very timely since it’s VETERANS DAY as well.
Definitely a fun puzzle.