Claire Rimkus and Rachel Fabi’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up
Difficulty: Average (10m45s)
Today’s theme: LATE SHIFT (Overnight work assignment … or a hint to understanding four rows of answers in this puzzle)
- LATERALLY lends LATE to CIRCUS, yielding CIRCULATES
- EMULATES lends LATE to TEMPS, yielding TEMPLATES
- COLLATED lends LATE to TRANS, yielding TRANSLATED
- VENTILATE lends LATE to CLEANS, yielding CLEAN SLATE
Fun puzzle from Claire and Rachel. It became clear that the four LATE entries were clued as if LATE wasn’t there, and then I noticed that another four answers were missing LATE in order for their clues to make sense. It was tricky in that the direction that LATE shifts is not uniform (down two rows for the first and third themers, up two rows for the second and fourth themers). Also, I wouldn’t say the LATE “shifts” per se, as it doesn’t simply rise or fall, but rather, gets inserted at an arbitrary location. But LATE INSERTION isn’t very idiomatic, and also, I don’t even want to speculate on what joke would be most appropriate at this juncture. EDIT: Just realized they are supposed to be paired with consecutive across clues, rather than up/down two rows within the same section the way it first appeared. Leaving my original misinterpretation for posterity, and to let the world continue to contemplate LATE INSERTION.
Cracking: GAL PALS — TIL this was a euphemism for a lesbian couple. Is there a male equivalent? BOY FRIENDS?
Slacking: ALA and ALLA appearing as vertical fill, and in relative proximity. It was not ALLA dream. I went back and checked. They were both still there.
Sidetracking: TIVO — if you’re Of A Certain Age, you probably still think of TIVO as a relatively modern contraption. Allow me to disabuse you of that notion with this TIVO commercial from 2000, which feels more like it’s from 1987. Time is a flat circle.
Alan DerKazarian’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Poof!”—Jim P’s review
Theme: DISAPPEARING ACT (64a, [Part of a magic show, and the key to understanding this puzzle’s one-word clues]). The clues of the other theme answers don’t make sense until you add in the letters ACT.
- 17a. [Comp] SMALL MAKE-UP CASE. Compact.
- 27a. [Red] BLOCK OUT. Redact.
- 41a. [Trans] CONDUCT BUSINESS. Transact.
- 49a. [Imp] SLAM INTO. Impact.
I finally figured out what was going on by the third entry but still needed the revealer to give me the full aha moment. I certainly enjoyed sussing it out and making sense of it all.
But I finished with an error due to 27a. I wanted BLACK OUT which seemed to make perfect sense, and I would never have considered BLOCK OUT as a better alternative. This made 29d [One with a title] look like A_NER. I knew it was a stretch, but one could argue ABNER’s title was Li’l. This meant 37a [Larry who played for and managed the Phillies] look like BOBA which seemed perfectly reasonable to me since I’ve never heard the name. And I would argue that BLACKOUT, ABNER, and BOBA make for better fill than BLOCK OUT, OWNER, and BOWA.
So that was frustrating, but otherwise I enjoyed the solve. There isn’t any fill longer than six letters, but KEURIG, PIROGI, GO STAG, Ben VEREEN and NET PAY are all good.
Clues of note:
- We get a hat trick of geologic time periods with ERA [Eoarchean, e.g.], AGES [Aeronian and Aquitanian, e.g.], and EONS [Archean and Hadean, e.g.]. Most of these were all new to me, but once I recognized what was going on, I appreciated the continuity.
- 25d. [Hilda and Zelda, to Sabrina]. AUNTS. I had to guess, but I was right that these names referred to Sabrina the Teenage Witch comics and TV show.
I enjoyed the theme, but I felt one answer needed some adjustments. 3.5 stars.
Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “Movie Endings” — Emily’s write-up
Grab some popcorn for this fantastic puzzle!
Theme: the last word of each themer combines with the word MOVIE to create new phrases
- 19a. [Midwest newspaper that ran Melinda Hennberger’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work], KANSASCITYSTAR
- 34a. [Race though Germany’s Capital], BERLINMARATHON
- 51a. [“Exactly!”], THATSTHETICKET
With a quick process and of elimination, KANSASCITYSTAR filled in fairly quickly for me—I was primed with growing up with the Minneapolis Star Tribune too. BERLINMARATHON was also an easier fill. With the few crossings already in place when I got to THATSTHETICKET, it too dropped smoothly into place. Combined with the theme hint in the title, we get: MOVIE STAR, MOVIE MARATHON, and MOVIE TICKET.
Favorite fill: KISSCURLS, OHWOW, HAIRCLAW, and BEA
Stumpers: DAHI (this was new to me, even though I enjoy ordering mango lassis), RIRI (needed crossings), and BIRTHCHART (needed crossings)
Smooth solve with fantastic cluing, fill, theme, and themer set! Loved it!
Gary Larson and Amy Ensz’s Universal crossword, “From Beginning to End” — Sophia’s write-up
Quick one today because I’m leaving to catch a flight after finishing this write up!
Theme: Each theme answer should be reparsed by moving the word “out” to the end of the clue.
- 22a [*Outlet] – RELEASE (so you see, it’s the answer for the clue “Let out”)
- 24a [*Outlook] – WATCHTOWER
- 35a [*Outlay] – BLUEPRINT
- 47a [*Output] – EXTINGUISH
- 50a [Survive longer than, and a hint to reading the starred clues] – OUTLAST
I liked this theme a lot! I was surprised how many phrases there were that work with “out” both at the start and end of the word, especially when the meaning changes. The title is also great, plus the theme as a whole reminded me of “Survivor”, one of my favorite shows.
This played harder for me than most Universal puzzles, I think because of a mixture of proper nouns I didn’t know (SERGIO Aragones, LA BAMBA being a film title), and words that didn’t immediately come to mind (COPSE, STAID, ENCAMP, MILIEU all took a while). I also really wanted “tie rack” and not TIE TACK for 38d [Neckwear holder]. Favorite answers in the puzzle included WHIPPET and the clue [High rollers in Chicago?] for ELS.
Damon Gulczynski’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Each of Damon Gulczynski’s long across answers has a “in-the-language” [___ Question] clue with the answer being a question that is taken quite literally. The best thing about this is the clever and fun choices of theme answers used:
- [Trick question?], WASTHISYOURCARD
- [Quick question?], DONEALREADY
- [Burning question?], WHERESTHEFIRE
- [Leading question?], WHOSWINNING
- [Probing question?], FINDANYTHINGYET
- [“__ Meenie”: Kingston/Bieber hit], EENIE. Given the amount it was promoted, it was barely a hit…
- [Currency of Laos], KIP. Or in South African English, a nap.
- [Screenwriter Cody who won an Oscar for “Juno”], DIABLO. Not a name I knew, and I wasn’t even sure which was the first name… It’s DIABLO Cody.
- [Like more expensive art, often], RARER. Huh? Surely art is almost always one-of-a-kind?
- [“No objection here”], OKBYME created an interesting letter pattern in the grid, even if it caused KIP.
Elizabeth Gorski’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
Bit harder for me than the usual Thursday New Yorker puzzle. And you?
Fave fill: BIG FAT LIAR (fun clue: [Super duper?]), BEAR TRACKS, TIME-SAVER, PERSEVERES.
40d. [Divided in three], TRIPART. I feel like tripartite is a good bit more common, yeah?
Too hot: I like this clue for LIES LOW, [Keeps out of trouble until the heat dies down], but would prefer if the entry didn’t cross OIL HEATER.
3.25 stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1535, “By the Numbers” — Darby’s write-up
Theme: Each of the theme answers are clued with number referents to other answers. Together, these answers sound like the name referred to in the theme answer.
- 24a [“39-44-42”] HEPHAESTUS WIFE / AFRO DIE TEE / APHRODITE
- 45a [“48-48-15”] TREES POET / JOY SKILL MYRRH / JOYCE KILMER
- 60a [“47-74-25”] SILK ROAD ACCESS / CHI BURP ASS / KHYBER PASS
As BEQ notes in his comment, this puzzle was Puzzle #5 in this year’s ACPT. It was really clever and well done. Each of the theme answers were easy to sound out, even if it took me awhile to get the mechanism.