Robert Logan & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Vowel Play”—Jim P’s review
Theme: A AND W (71a, [Root beer brand, and a phonetic hint to the three vowels of 18-, 23-, 37-, 55- and 60-Across]). The other theme answers are familiar phrases in which the only vowels are an A and two U’s, in that order.
- 18a. [Scrooge retort] BAH HUMBUG.
- 23a. [Artificial wraps] FAUX FURS.
- 37a. [Negative karmic consequences] BAD JUJU.
- 55a. [Actor portraying, at times, the smallest Avenger] PAUL RUDD.
- 60a. [Marlowe character who bargains with Mephistophilis] DR FAUSTUS.
I like the little twist here where we’re focused on two U’s instead of a W, and the theme entries are all fun, especially BAD JUJU. The one thing that could be better with this puzzle is the title which is too generic to be of any use to the solver.
The surrounding fill is solid with SKI JUMP, RED BULLS, and POM POMS taking the lead. Do people use the term ON BUTTON? I think I generally hear “power button” since an ON BUTTON would imply that there’s a separate “off button”.
I had no problem with COBOL [Early programming language used in commerce]. Though I never worked with it, it’s still in my memory banks from my programming days. I did have difficulties in that SE corner where we had a mash-up of some proper names (VANCE and REDD) and ambiguous cluing ([It gets things going] and [Biological food processor]).
Clues of note:
- 49a. [Tissue bather]. LYMPH. I only know the phrase “LYMPH node,” and I don’t even know what that does. Let’s look it up, shall we? Wikipedia says, “Lymph is the fluid that flows through the lymphatic system…whose function…is to return fluid from the tissues to be recirculated.” Ok? Ok.
- 25d. [Olympic sport, on and off the snow?]. SKI JUMP. I’m assuming the “off the snow” business is because when you’re airborne, you’re no longer on the snow, not that people go ski jumping when there’s no snow on the ground.
Solid grid. 3.5 stars.
Addison Snell’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
This theme is A-OK, with an emphasis on the K:
- 20a. [K, in baseball], STRIKEOUT.
- 27a. [K, in a salary listing], THOUSAND.
- 42a. [K, on a printer cartridge], BLACK INK. CMYK = cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.
- 53a. [K, on the periodic table], POTASSIUM.
Fave fill: PHONE IN, SWIZZLE, DIRT CHEAP, BUZZSAWS.
- 2d. [Terran’s home planet], EARTH. Watched a Guardians of the Galaxy thing the other day and I believe the alien types called earthling Peter Quill a Terran.
- 38a. [Road shoulder], BERM. My mom taught me this word when I was a kid, not that we actually encountered many raised berms along the side of the road. Thanks, Mom!
- 22d. [“Better Call ___” (“Breaking Bad” prequel)], SAUL. This show is excellent, but was snubbed by the Emmys. Lots of nominations, two wins for short side projects. So good! Such terrific writing, acting, directing, music, and cinematography. I started the show without having seen Breaking Bad but caught up after a couple years. Watch this show if you like law, crime, personal relationships, New Mexico, and complex characters. (Oh, and violence. There’s plenty of that since drug cartels are involved.)
Four stars from me.
Aaron Rosenberg’s Universal crossword, “Caller ID” — pannonica’s write-up
A familiar-feeling theme, but a quick search of our site didn’t turn up anything similar. Maybe it just feels like such a natural one. Onward.
- 60aR [Field notes? … or four recordings in this puzzle] BIRD SONGS. To wit, four songs that have a type of bird in their title. aside: I always regret it when I try to find a decent Birdsongs of the Mesozoic track to share, so I’m not even going to bother this time.
- 18a. [1976 Rick Dees hit] DISCO DUCK.
- 24a. [2008 Zac Brown Band hit] CHICKEN FRIED.
- 39a/41a. [ … 1976 Steve Miller Band hit] FLY LIKE | AN EAGLE.
- 51a. [1984 Prince hit] WHEN DOVES CRY.
All guys, so here’s a tonic:
Also, a plug for the excellent resource that is the Macaulay Library at Cornell’s Ornithology Labs. All sorts of media—photographs, audio recordings, and more. I believe they also have a mobile app.
- 3d [They see the world through a futuristic lens] BIONIC EYES. Clue had me thinking about people such as bioengineers.
- 5d [Lone swimmer in open water, facetiously] SHARK BAIT. That’s a bit gruesome.
- 31d [Quack medicine marketing staple] BOGUS CLAIM. Kind of a meh answer, but I will note the theme-adjacency of ‘quack’.
- 37d [Diplomatic approach to setting boundaries?] PEACE PLAN. Again, a meh answer, but the clue reminds me of the territorial aspects of bird songs.
- 61d [Jets’ and Sharks’ org.] NHL. Dupes the SHARK of 5-down. Other teams in the league include the Red Wings, Penguins, Flyers, Blackhawks, and Ducks. Just sayin’.
- 28a [Litter you probably shouldn’t pick up?] CUBS. Good plan.
- 66a [Loafer, e.g.] SHOE.
- 70a [When repeated, snitches] NAMES. As in names names. Also, despite being very tempting, it would be a rather blatant duplication to invoke ‘sings’ in the clue.
Paulo Pasco’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap
4.25 stars from me for this 68-worder, whose difficulty is pitched right at that Wednesday level (easyish Fri NYT but not a Mon NYT–easy Thursday TNY themeless).
New to me: DEEP TIME, [Vast temporal scale of geological events]. Also had not known BRIDGET CHRISTIE, [Comedian who won an Edinburgh Comedy Award for her show “A Bic for Her”].
Deterred from entering MALWARE by software being in the clue, [Type of program targeted by antivirus software].
Fave fill: EXTREMELY ONLINE (guilty as charged), ETHICAL DILEMMAS, MAKEUP TUTORIALS, TOE BEANS, F-BOMBS, TECH STOCKS.
Fun clue: [Three-dimensional shape that sounds like a sign of the zodiac], TORUS, sounds like Taurus. As a bonus, it crosses a toroidal DONUT.
Hoang-Kim Vu & Christine Simpson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s theme summary
Today’s puzzle by Hoang-Kim Vu & Christine Simpson features three phrases with present participles; as the revealer, ITSNOTACRIME, suggests each is not a crime, but they are clued with an actual crime that could be playfully describe those answers. So:
- [Shoplifting?] is TAKINGASTAND
- [Insider trading?], BODYSWAPPING
- [Money laundering?], GREENWASHING
I’ve timed this poorly; it seems our daily power cut is happening anon.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Final Cut” — Emily’s write-up
This puzzle is filled with very apt fill and some of my favorites, especially since I’m coincidentally on the mend!
Theme: the word “cut” can be added after the last word of each themer to make a new phrase
- 18a. [Winter ailment], COMMONCOLD
- 24a. [Translucent wrapping for summer rolls], RICEPAPER
- 51a. [Awards hype for “Everything Everywhere All at Once”], OSCARBUZZ
- 61a. [“The way things are going…”], ATTHISRATE
A fun themer set, well mostly fun. Hopefully everyone avoids the COMMONCOLD and all of the other illnesses going around—stay healthy! Summer rolls wrapped in RICEPAPER are very refreshing with often paired with a peanut sauce, typically filled with shrimp, rice noodles, fresh basil, and julienned veggies; I enjoy a spicy peanut sauce with extra lime in it though I skip the olive oil as we use natural peanut butter that’s already a nice consistency. This movie with Michelle Yeoh (so good in all she’s in!) has well-deserved OSCARBUZZ is still on my watch list though I really should get to it soon. ATTHISRATE has excellent cluing that get at the crux of this sentiment and was another easy fill for me. How about you all? With the theme, we get: COLD CUT, PAPER CUT, BUZZ CUT, and RATE CUT.
Favorite fill: MORELATER, ICECASTLE, ALONETIME, and TOLERATES
Stumpers: OHHI (needed crossings, just not one I use), ROC (new to me, probably since it was early ’90s), and CITI (needed crossings, as I always hear the full name in the clue and not the abbreviation)
Fairly smooth solve, those I needed several crossings so it was a lot of backtracking to chip away at it. Overall, loved the fill and bonus fill in particular, the theme and great themer set.
Emet Ozar and Matthew Stock’s AVCX, “A Thing or Two” — Rebecca’s Review
This week’s AVCX Classic was a large puzzle with a 4/5 difficulty from Emet Ozar and Matthew Stock’.
- 22A: Flush with cash? EVEN MONEY
- 24A: Break with tradition? POP CULTURE
- 44A: Way with words? PASSING COMMENTS
- 67A: Brims with tears? EAVES DROPS
- 90A: Made with love? ARTIFICIAL HEART
- 113A: Flush with cash? RED CABBAGE
- 115A: Bristles with rage? BRUSH FIRE
And here’s Beyonce’s ‘If I Were A BOY‘
NYT: Clever theme. I knew all four themers right off the bat. Once I had those in place, the rest of the puzzle fell easily, and even though I’m not a speed solver, I had one of my fastest-ever Wednesday times. Elegant touch that none of the four themers actually starts with K. Makes me wonder if this same theme idea could be replicated for other letters, finding several words represented by a letter that don’t actually start with that letter.
I agree on all points- theme, speed and elegant touch
This went pretty fast for me, too – although I needed several crosses to see BLACK INK (I don’t own an inkjet printer). The other three didn’t require any crosses – but I can see any of the four as being a challenge, depending on the solver’s background/interests.
I didn’t think about the fact that none of the themers starts with “K,” but that definitely makes for a more difficult construction problem.
It took me a while to enter BUZZSAW. I’ve spent a lot of time around carpenters and woodworkers over the years, and I don’t believe I’ve ever heard someone use the term to refer to an actual tool – always a metaphor for serious trouble (He ran into a real buzzsaw.). Dictionary says it’s legit, but I’m guessing it’s old-timey.
NYT: The standard color symbols in 4-color printing are CMYK, but the clue says “on a printer cartridge”, which makes me wonder how many black ink cartridges are actually identified with the “K”. I just checked the status monitor for my Brother printer, and it tells me my colors are C,M,Y and “BK”. Checking the actual cartridge now… yup, also BK. Otherwise, a clever theme, but a shockingly easy puzzle. I was doing it while also watching the news, and was a bit startled to see that I scored a personal best time for the day.
ON rather than POWER button is totally idiomatic for me. (Ditto ON switch.)
Uni – “Songbird” is a fitting choice for today.
Coincidence, but a bittersweet one.
WSJ: Should SUBARU have been marked as a theme answer? That’s a little awkward as it’s the only Down answer that has those vowels. (Unlike the theme answers, the A is between the two U’s instead of before both.)
UC: 6a: What is Easy W and how does it relate to Romp?
UC: I didn’t do the puzzle, but Easy W means Easy Win, which would be a romp