Chase Dittrich & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “To Be Continued…”—Jim P’s review
Our revealer is HAS THE FINAL WORD (60a, [Possesses ultimate authority, like each starred answer in relation to the previous one (and wrapping around)]). The other theme answers each share a word with the preceding and following theme answers, and should be viewed as a set.
- 17a. [*…”Ain’t gonna happen!”…] WHEN HELL FREEZES (over).
- 27a. [*…”That’s all from me”…] OVER AND (out).
- 30a. [*…”Move aside!”…] OUT OF MY (way).
- 43a. [*…”In the old days”…] WAY BACK (when).
I like the gimmick here. After getting the first one, I probably scowled because it seemed like the puzzle was trying to get away with leaving out a word of the phrase (as I know it). But I caught on when I got to the second one, and that made getting the rest of them pretty quick work. Nice, Thursdayish theme.
I enjoyed all of the long fill today: FORMULA ONE, EMMA WATSON, KANGAROO, and FREE LOVE. Plus, HOSER, KABUL, and Greta GERWIG.
That’s not to say everything was perfect in the grid. We have ungainly MT IDA, an unusual plural proper noun (DAMONS), a longish partial (A STAGE), and an unsightly crossing of PAWL and TEMPI. No idea what a PAWL [Windlass part] is, nor even what a windlass is. (Ah, nautical stuff. That explains it. I was in the Air Force, not the Navy.) And TEMPI [Players’ paces] as plural of tempo is just meh.
Clues of note:
- 22a. [Breaks in cases]. LEADS. I like this clue; there are multiple ways to read it.
- 25a. [Human embryo feature that’s gone by birth]. TAIL. Did not know this. Turns out it’s exceedingly rare but possible for a child to be born with a true tail. There have been about 40 known cases worldwide.
- 35a. [Runoff election, e.g.]. REVOTE. Timely. Absolutely amazing to see almost half of the Georgia electorate vote for someone who is clearly unsuitable for the job (Walker).
- 4d. [Hopper in a “mob”]. KANGAROO. Apparently groups of kangaroos are called “mobs” because when their group is threatened, each individual goes its own way, i.e. they don’t move as a group.
- 7d. [Capital nicknamed “Tigerstaden”]. OSLO. “The Tiger City” nickname seems to have originated from this poem in which a horse, representing the peaceful countryside, and a tiger, representing the dangerous city, do battle. Spoiler alert: The tiger didn’t fare so well.
- 59d. [Purviance who appeared in many Chaplin films]. EDNA. Wow, um, really? How many solvers know this name?
Nifty theme, mostly nice fill. 3.75 stars.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Getting Up There” – Jenni’s write-up
This is at most a Wednesday NYT difficulty level and the theme could be an NYT Monday or Tuesday. I guess Peter’s giving us a break after last week’s. I prefer the difficult ones. Oh, and there was a totally unfair crossing where I was Natick’ed.
Each theme answer has circles. For this performance, the role of the circles will be played by the color orange.
- 21a [Person who is lusted after] is a SEX OBJECT.
- 26a [“In addition…”] is FURTHERMORE.*
- 36a [1988 Shirley MacLaine film with a screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala based on a novel by Bernice Rubens] is MADAME SOUSATZKA. The Z was the Natick square. I probably should know that NJ Senator Bob MENENDEZ spells his name with a Z rather than an S. Since I didn’t know that and had never heard of the film, I was stumped.
- 45a [Device used by John Madden to diagram plays] is the TELESTRATOR.
- 54a [Slug, e.g.] is a GASTROPOD. Not to be confused with a gastropub, where one might be served a GASTROPOD.
And in case it wasn’t obvious, there’s a revealer stretched across two answers. 66a [When combined with 67-Across, the theme of this puzzle] is ATMO/SPHERE. EXOSPHERE, THERMOSPHERE, MESOSPHERE, STRATOSPHERE, and TROPOSPHERE are the layers of the ATMOSPHERE. Here’s a handy diagram.
It’s a perfectly fine theme. There’s nothing to figure out and no “aha” moment (at least not for me since I figure it out with THERMO). Hence the NYT Tuesday comparison.
*If you did the first version of the puzzle Peter sent out, there was a circle missing. There is no THERMSPHERE.
A few other things:
- I’m going to make chili in the slow cooker later this week. I can’t remember the last time I used the slow cooker to make STEW.
- 20a [Shtetl shout] is OY VEY. Oy. For one thing, that term has moved well beyond the shtetl. For another, in my experience it is more often a moan than a shout.
- I’m not an 80s kid and I’m still happy to see REN clued by reference to “Footloose” rather than Stimpy.
- 42a [Golf driver’s power source?] is GAS. Aren’t golf carts electric? What am I missing?
- I’m amused at the juxtaposition of ADELAIDE and DAMASCUS with only one of them clued as a city.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: the Shirley MacLaine movie and NJ Senator. I also did not know the word odontiasis. I didn’t have any trouble inferring that it’s related to teeth.
The New York Times — 12/8/2022
For those unaware, there will be a one-day walkout at the NYT beginning at midnight tonight. In solidarity with the union, the Thursday puzzle will be omitted this week (apologies to Grant Thackray, as their puzzle will unfortunately run during the first walkout at the paper since the late 1970s).
From the Guardian:
The New York Times is bracing for a 24-hour walkout on Thursday by hundreds of journalists and other employees, in what would be the first strike of its kind at the newspaper in more than 40 years.
Newsroom employees and other members of the NewsGuild of New York say they are fed up with bargaining that has dragged on since their last contract expired in March 2021. The union announced last week that more than 1,100 employees would stage a 24-hour work stoppage starting at 12.01am on Thursday unless the two sides reached a contract deal.
Negotiations lasted for more than 12 hours into late Tuesday and continued on Wednesday, but the sides remained far apart on issues including wage increases and remote-work policies.
On Wednesday evening the union said via Twitter that a deal had not been reached and the walkout was happening. “We were ready to work for as long as it took to reach a fair deal,” it said, “but management walked away from the table with five hours to go.”
“We know what we’re worth,” the union added.
The Thursday write-up will return next week.
John Ewbank’s Universal crossword, “Term Limits” — Sophia’s write-up
Theme: Each theme clue is constructed using the first and last character – the “sides” of each theme answer. This will make more sense with an example:
- 17a [JD] – JAGGED EDGES
- 30a [WE] – WIDE MARGINS
- 45a [ON] – OPEN BORDERS
- 61a [Showing partiality… or a hint to how the clues for 17-, 30- and 45-Across were constructed] – TAKING SIDES
This is a very cool theme, in my opinion. I love that the constructed two letter clues are all real words/common abbreviations – much more interesting than if they were just two random letters. I’m not sure the revealer works 100%…. but I think there needs to be some kind of revealer or something that says “hey, literally read the answer for this to make sense!”… so I don’t mind it. The title, on the other hand, is excellent.
The only problem with this theme, for me at least, was that I only realized what was going on after I was done with the puzzle. I solved it like a themeless while just treating the theme answers like they had no clues, thinking “I’ll go back to them after I run through all the across and down clues and see what’s going on then”. But after I had taken my first pass through the across and downs, I had under 10 squares left to fill in. I think this puzzle fell a little bit on the easier side, which honestly makes sense to balance the high concept theme for newer solvers! But for anyone who solves crosswords regularly, this is so easy that it takes away from the “aha” moment the theme deserves.
- Such great long bonuses in TWIN SISTER, HOOTENANNY, BON APPETIT, GUTTER BALL. And they’re stacked, too!
- A lot of time when a puzzle has a lot of rare letters, the rest of the fill can struggle in those areas – it can feel like the constructor tried to force it in. Today, though, there are 3 Z’s, 2 X’s, and a J, and the puzzle flows really well still. Well, except for LOIRE, which I had no idea on.
- Best clue in the puzzle: 23d [Someone opening a can of worms?] for ANGLER!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1529, “Sick Jokes”—Darby’s review
Theme: Each theme answer uses a cold symptom to replicate the sound of a common phrase.
- 17a [“‘Think about it,’ with a cold?”] ACHOO ON THAT / CHEW ON THAT
- 27a [“Apprehended while doing something bad, with a cold”] COUGH IN THE ACT / CAUGHT IN THE ACT
- 44a [“Combat with knives, with a cold?”] SNICK OR SNEEZE / SNICK-OR-SNEE
- 59a [“Pompous ‘I,’ with a cold?”] ROYAL WHEEZE / ROYAL WE
Winter weather always brings colds with it, and this year is no different. As always, these were really clever and relatively easy to parse, especially with some help on the crosses.I was unfamiliar with SNICK-OR-SNEE and so SNICK OR SNEEZE was harder to figure out. I really liked ACHOO ON THAT. ROYAL WHEEZE was also pretty fun.
I moved threw the top section relatively quickly but struggled with some of the proper nouns in the middle section. I thought that 38a [“‘Emily in Paris’ star Collins”] LILY was fair (and super timely given the upcoming release of its new season, even though I needed some help from CALF and ENOLA GAY to fill it in. Around this time of year, I have a feeling there were be a few holiday puzzles that will clue Catherine O’HARA’s name as related to Home Alone rather than as 34a [“‘Schitt$ Creek’ actress”]. I also enjoyed the mention of 41a [“‘The Crown’ actress Claire”] FOY. There was also 32d [“‘Blade Runner’ actor”] RUTGER HAUER and 31d [“River through Turin”] THE PO. Included the definite article here was a bit odd, in my mind, and so I got it on the crosses. Speaking of names, I grew up watching the made for TV Librarian movies and ER, so it was a treat to see 51d [“Noah of ‘Leverage: Redemption’”] WYLE.
Very seasonally apt puzzle. I hope y’all stay healthy!
David Alfred Bywaters’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Today’s theme by David Alfred Bywaters relies a lot on forcing clues. It’s very creative, in that each of four phrases are cliched mottos – saws – and their clue is a type of cutting saw. Getting the two parts to line up well is quite tricky, and I’d say this puzzle succeeds 3/4’s of the time: [Band saw?], UNITEDWESTAND; [Power saw?], MIGHTISRIGHT; [Coping saw?], ONEDAYATATIME; all seem apt. I’m not sure [Circular saw?], ITISWHATITIS matches its clue as precisely.
- [“Cheers” bartender Woody], BOYD. I sure don’t remember a lot of sitcom characters by their surnames.
- [Wizard], MAGUS. Fun, uncommon singular form!
- [Imitate a rooster], CROW. The roosters (and their hens) in the homeless camp opposite work have learnt, like the dogs, to knock on our gate for food…
- [Rum-and-water quaff], GROG. Sounds unappealing…
- [“Stick a fork in me”], IMDONE. A very dad-joke clue.
Erik Agard & Malaika Handa’s USA Today crossword, “He’s Right Behind Me, Isn’t He?” — Emily’s write-up
Awesome theme today, with lots of fresh fill, and fantastic cluing!
Theme: each themer contains —HEME— (or “he” immediately preceding “me”)
- 17a. [Short-lived], EPHEMERAL
- 41a. [“Rap Sh!t” track with the lyric “living’ rent-free in his pockets”], SEDUCEANDSCHEME
- 66a. [“Where You Lead,” for “Gilmore Girls”], THEMESONG
A fun set of themers today: EPHEMERAL, SEDUCEANDSCHEME, and THEMESONG. I’m most intregiued with the theme that was pulled off, connecting them all, and the pitch-perfect title with its playful hint. It’s overt but made subtle by the second half in its use of a common turn of phrase that renders it playful (though depending on the situation, it could be ominous too). Everything about this is just fun—and what better crossword for a day like today!
Favorite fill: NORUSH, UNBAKED, THAI, and HERB
Stumpers: BIEL (“Alba” came to mind first), EASTTIMOR (needed a couple of crossings), and KATSU (“karaage” was my initial instinct)
Smooth solve and really enjoyed the grid design as well. Fantastic collab and I hope that we see more from them!
Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
Usually I slide below the 3-minute mark on Thursday New Yorker puzzles, many of which are by Robyn. This one was a bit slower for me. Still much easier than a Friday NYT themeless, though!
Fave fill: I liked the VOW/WED/OATH combo meal. GO FOR A SPIN, AIRPORT BAR, elusive WORLD PEACE, VEGAN MAYO, GAME SHOW, and “AHA” MOMENT.
- 1d. [Condiment that might use soy milk or aquafaba in place of egg], VEGAN MAYO. If you don’t know, aquafaba is basically the water that chickpeas have been cooked in. It can replace egg whites in recipes.
- 53d. [Tech used by Waze and Google Maps], GPS. The curious and funny Adam Conover (who explains things on the cable show Adam Ruins Everything) has a Netflix series called The G-Word (exec-produced by Obama!) about various areas of the US government. Entertaining and informative. The “Future” episode focuses on the military defense group that operates the entire GPS system that so many businesses rely on and profit from. Watch the whole series–you won’t regret it.
4.25 stars from me. There aren’t many crosswords that I routinely solve unless I’m blogging them, but Robyn’s easy themelesses are a fun speed-run.