Hello! We’re supporting the New York Times Guild members’ 24-hour walkout on Thursday, so this blog won’t be reviewing the Friday NYT crossword till daytime Friday. Please join us in not accessing the Friday puzzle on Thursday night, whether it’s via the Internet or the app. There are lots of other crosswords you can do in the meantime! Many thanks.–Amy
Hanh Huynh’s Universal crossword, “Interception”—Jim P’s review
Theme: TAKING A PASS (57a, [Sitting this one out … or a hint to the starred clues’ answers]). The other theme answers have the word PASS added to familiar phrases to create crossword wackiness.
- 17a. [*Skip the queues?] BYPASS LINES. Bylines.
- 30a. [*Fashion for the boundary-crossing type?] TRESPASS CHIC. Très chic.
- 35a. [*Log-in requirement for the Wi-Fi in heaven?] PASSWORD OF GOD. Word of God.
- 43a. [*Travel documents held in flash drives?] USB PASSPORTS. USB ports.
Having a four-letter repeated word gives the solver quite a lot of freebies during the solve, but I’m not complaining. These were mostly nice, and I especially liked the notion of wifi in heaven. That one was worth the price of admission. But why would you need internet security if all the baddies are in the other place? And what would God’s password be? His kid’s birthday (jc12250000)?
Anyhoo, we have some nice long fill in the stacked CRAP SHOOT and HIVE MIND plus the almost-thematic PASADENA as well as ROSEBUD, “BEATS ME,” GALILEO (Galileo), and the bane of my existence: PET HAIR.
- 48a. [Astronomer whose name is repeated five times successively in “Bohemian Rhapsody”]. GALILEO. A gimme for many solvers, especially if they own the pictured t-shirt.
- 51d. [Individual People?] ISSUE. People Magazine. Nice clue.
Fun theme answers and lovely long fill. Four stars.
Katie Hale’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The cutesifying suffix -IE is introduced for the theme entries.
- 17a. [Gourmet chef’s argument about plating?] FOODIE FIGHT (food fight).
- 24a. [Paying attention to the portraits in a social media feed?] SELFIE-CONSCIOUS (self-conscious).
- 38a. [Photographers who specialize in permanent markers?] SHARPIE SHOOTERS (sharpshooters). Is Sharpie® on the cusp of becoming a proprietary eponym?
- 49a. [Patches on one’s favorite sweatshirt?] HOODIE ORNAMENTS (hood ornaments).
- 60a. [Exclamation before putting on one’s favorite pajamas?] NIGHTIE TIME! (nighttime).
Eh, it’s okay.
- 23d [Leads up the garden path] LIES TO. A sentence constructed in such a way as to subvert expectations based on how it starts is called a garden-path sentence.
- 26d [Stewart’s “The Daily Show” successor] NOAH. And he’s stepping down shortly.
- 27d [Honbasho sport] SUMO. Just looked up honbasho (本場所), which turns out to be a professional SUMO tournament.
- 32d [Container store?] CARGO HOLD. This clue has a question mark because it seems to invoke the name of a retailer.
- 46d [Confessional visitor] SINNER.
- Looking theme-adjacent, but not: 50d [“Cotton Comes to Harlem” director Davis] OSSIE. Raiford Chatman Davis was born in Cogdell, Georgia… He inadvertently became known as ‘Ossie’ when his birth certificate was being filed and his mother’s pronunciation of his name as ‘R. C. Davis’ was misheard by the courthouse clerk in Clinch County…” (Wikipedia)
- 1a [Obama daughter] SASHA. Dropped in the two As and waited for the crossings.
- 10a [Pester] NAG. 36d [Bother] IRK. 47d [Buzzing pest] GNAT.
- 30a [Hong Kong neighbor] MACAU. I hadn’t realized they were quite so close—a mere 66km (41mi).
- 58a [Wet bar?] SOAP. Hum, haven’t seen that clue (for a relatively entry) common before.
Will Nediger’s USA Today crossword, “She’s So High, High Above Me”—Darby’s review
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer in this puzzle is a Down answer, and it begins with letters spelling out SHE.
- 3d [“Thin pieces of tin, for example”] SHEET METAL
- 5d [“Detective who inspired ‘House, M.D.’”] SHERLOCK HOLMES
- 9d [“Raiser of rams and ewes”] SHEEP FARMER
- 11d [“Scams involving shuffled cups”] SHELL GAMES
Having binged House, M.D. by renting the DVDs from my local library, I easily plopped in SHERLOCK HOLMES. I needed a little help with SHEET METAL, and MASON and PEEL gave me a nice boost with the latter half of the word especially. I had a similar experience with SHELL GAMES, partly because I really struggled with that NE corner for some reason. EURO fell right in, but I could not remember the name of Mariah Carey’s HERO at 19a, nor what a 10d [“Theater worker”] was called, so I kicked myself when I finally saw USHER.
The bottom section likewise took me a bit. IN TURMOIL was what I accepting. I also read 55d [“Food in an edible shell”] as more focused on the food in the shell rather than thinking about food with an edible shell for TACO. I also wasn’t familiar with 62a [“Chief Joseph’speople”] NIMIIPUU, but I always appreciate when Indigenous names are in puzzles, especially in a way that encourages us to learn more about Indigenous history. You can learn more about the NIMIIPUU people here. The crosses here really supported me, especially once I got IBM and ZINES.
A few Friday faves
- 30a [“Carolina Panthers’ org.”] – This felt apt to me after watching the NFL’s Thursday Night Football game in which Baker Mayfield was released on waivers from the Panthers, picked up by the Rams, and helped win his first game with the LA team after just two days on his new team.
- 35d [“Text such as the Kebra Nagast”] – The Kebra Nagast is an Ethiopian EPIC whose title translates to the “Glory of Kings.”
- 40d [“Food classification system in which a Pop-Tart is considered a calzone”] – The CUBE RULE is a way of identifying food based on the location of its starch. Hot dogs in this system are TACOs. It’s a great way to stir up some drama at your next friendly gathering.
I really enjoyed this puzzle! From four themers to some really rich fill (and a reference to an incredible song), I had a great time going down a bunch of different rabbit holes. Have a great weekend!
Brooke Husic & Hoang-Kim Vu’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
This puzzle was a bit harder than the average Fri NYT, which is not a complaint. I like challenging, crisp themelesses.
Fave fill: PRAYER MAT is a great 1-Across and the clue’s clever: [Something faithfully rolled out]. “I GOTTA SAY,” SITS STILL, BUYING UP, “APOLOGY ACCEPTED,” POP-UP SHOP, TAY-TAY, RED STATE, and “DON’T GET UP” are also colorful.
I don’t follow [Lawyer/voting rights activist Sherrilyn] IFILL on Twitter, but the folks I do follow retweet her regularly and I always like what I see (and the name was a gimme. Sounds like it made her day to be in the puzzle! (Yes, the late journalist Gwen Ifill was her cousin, if you’re wondering.)
This one doesn’t feel natural to me: 58a. [Excited shout after a thrill ride], “LET’S DO THAT AGAIN.” Feels like arbitrary word choices. “C’mon, let’s go again!” “I wanna do that again!” “Let’s do it/this again.”
Four stars from me.
Zaineb Akbar and Barbara Lin’s Inkubator crossword, “thud from another room”—Jenni’s write-up
I totally spaced this on Friday. I’m adding it in because it’s a fairly complex theme so this is for posterity, I guess – for anyone who goes looking after the fact.
The “thud from another room” is what happens when you cat pushes something off a surface. Each theme answer has a letter shoved off, leaving just the CAT. There are helpful circles.
- 17a [Goal of a certain playground game] is CAPTURING THE FLAG. The P is above the answer.
- 29a [Achievement for eleven UConn women’s basketball teams] is the NCAA TITLE. One A is below.
- 42a [Bitter, fizzy drink] is TONIC WATER. The W is above.
- 58a [Celebration after the curtain goes down] is a CAST PARTY. Once the C moves below, we’re left with the very fitting CAT PARTY.
And the revealer: 71a [Reprimand to a certain mischievous pest…who’s made some appropriate changes to this grid] is KEEP YOUR PAWS OFF.
Both NYT and LAT were pretty fun this morning; the mirror symmetry and interesting fill in NYT were pretty fun to get through, though a few names were tricky. I liked the theme on LAT, too. Looking forward to the writeup!
Enjoyed the NYT. Took me a while to remember Gwen Verdon. That was one of my last entries. When i saw it, I almost did a face palm because I remember my father having the original Broadway cast recording of Damn Yankees on vinyl and right there on the cover was Verdon and Ray Walston who both originated the roles of Lola and Mr. Applegate (the Devil).
My father had it, too.
VERDON was one of my last fills — I don’t think her name popped into my head until I had the V from CIV.
Fun puzzle. Several answers I was sure were correct weren’t, and there were a few nice misdirects like the clue for LOOFA.
NYT: Nice, but too many “UP”s. (They helped me after a time. Once I saw that the constructors didn’t mind the repetition, I looked for more repeats of “up” and found one.) I liked finding out about MAGPIEs, after watching Magpie Murders on TV.
I’ll ignore the guild. I don’t support unions. They are properly pronounced ONIONS!
Without unions we wouldn’t have weekends or child labor laws, but go off
Now do police unions
My friend the retired labor lawyer doesn’t consider police unions to be labor unions. I’m inclined to agree with her.
“I’ll take No True Scotsman Fallacies for $2,000, Alex”
[Oops … I intended this to be a reply to Kent’s post above]
You don’t support unions at all? Under any circumstances? None of them? Ever? You don’t see that they serve a critical role in establishing and protecting workers’ rights? Do you really believe that management should be free to treat their workers in whatever way suits their bottom line and their wallets, irrespective of how their policies and behaviors affect the people who work for them?
Look, I’m not blind to the fact that unions can be quite corrupt and they certainly aren’t without flaws (unfortunately, this is true of virtually every human endeavor). In fact, I voted against unionization for one of my positions in the workforce. But to say just flat out “I don’t support unions” seems awfully extreme and, quite frankly, nutso. Have you read about or at least seen movies about the history of the labor movement?
Unions were necessary a long time ago, like 100 years. No longer. They only exist to steal from workers via dues! I know. I had a job about 50 years ago for $1.75 per hour and I was forced to join the union just to have the job. They took about 15 cents out of my hourly wage for dues and provided NOTHING! I have already written about this in my book, which will be published soon. (Yes, I advocate the repeal of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935!)
Seems a bit hard to follow. You don’t support unions because they don’t do anything for workers, so you’ll ignore the Guild while it fights for the rights of its members. My guess is that there’s more to it.
I have no reason to doubt your unfortunate experience with a union. But you seem to be implying instead–and please correct me if I’m wrong–that the operation of the so-called “free market” will naturally and inevitably induce employers who have wealth, power, and political influence to act fairly and kindly toward employees who have none–unless they unionize. Counterexamples to this belief are legion and all around us every day.
USAT: There’s a little more to the theme than is mentioned in the review. Yes, each themer starts with SHE, but ME also appears in each, though the SHE is “high above ME”.
This one was pretty typical of my solving experience with USA Today puzzles (and also is occasionally true with The New Yorker puzzles). It’s hard for me to characterize the entire puzzle in terms of relative difficulty because the vast majority of it is easy or medium. But there are invariably just a couple of entries that come completely out of left field for me. In this case, it’s NIMIIPUU, CUBE RULE and, to a lesser extent, HARSH (“Don’t HARSH my mellow”?). These answers couldn’t really be discerned based on their letter patterns (maybe HARSH and the RULE part of CUBE RULE, kinda sorta) and the clues were of very little help to me. On the plus side, at least they weren’t crossed in this case, so I wasn’t forced to completely guess at a letter or two in order to finish the puzzle.
I enjoyed Kameron’s Year in Film crossword wrap-up in the New Yorker. Eleven of the twelve of the 2022 movie-related clues were close to gimmes for me. I missed “IT’S MORBIN’ TIME” and first tried MORBID there, but I did know about the “Morbius” movie. At work, we had accepted a Morbius theme for a Movie Monday puzzle … and then the pandemic* postponed the movie’s release a few times. So I was Googling every week or two to see if there was a new date, lest we end up running the puzzle months before anyone’s seen it. (My job also involves watching movie trailers to vet theme ideas. I love it!)
* You all know that we’re not in a “post-pandemic” phase, right? The covid pandemic continues, and almost no jurisdiction in the US has a masking mandate to interrupt transmission. Sigh.
I am not a movie goer. The puzzle was nonetheless solvable for the most part, but (1) crossing one film title with another is not fair and (2) so was the obscure clue for NSA crossing a “catchphrase” for an unnamed movie. TSA and MORBIT looked fine to me, and those are the sorts of things that turn me against a puzzle … and its constructor. YMMV
IT’S MORBIN’ TIME rings absolutely no bell with me, but I have paid less attention to movies ever since the pandemic began than I used to — and I never paid much attention to superhero movies. (I’m still not sure what movie the catchphrase relates to.)
The rest of the puzzle was pretty smooth.
I hated it. It’s one of those themes that doesn’t take sussing out the theme to continue. That’s a trademark of TNY puzzles, and it’s exactly what I miss relative to what appeals to me in a themed puzzle in the first place. So it becomes no more than yet another quiz on which films you remember.
Since that’s just a litany, the puzzle tries to enliven it by varying themers beyond movie titles. But then that is more likely to require you to have seen the film and gawked at it endlessly on social media, and lots are bound to be just not your taste. FWIW, Mobius, which sure isn’t mine, got a 15% on Rotten Tomatos, and the Rolling Stone called it possibly the worst Marvel film ever.
At the very least, while some themers crossed, I’m afraid, at the very least the puzzle could have minimized other proper name fill, especially in crossings. But it didn’t. The puzzle wasn’t just not to my tastes, but just plain badly conceived.
Not sure what part of “2022 in film” means that it shouldn’t be a quiz on which films you remember
Precisely. If this year’s movies are not your thing, you’re welcome to skip the puzzle. This year’s movies *are* my thing, and I enjoyed the puzzle.