Brendan Quigley’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Seldom does a crossword truly amuse me, but 38a. [Secretly pass gas?] for SIPHON? *slow clap* Then there’s also the old ACPT callback of 43d. [Objects thrown out hotel windows, in a rock ‘n’ roll cliché], TV SETS. (If you know, you know.)
Fave fill: Marc CHAGALL (didn’t know “Spoonful of Milk”), LOOK THE OTHER WAY, “THAT’S FOR SURE,” SCROOGE, W.H. AUDEN, ELTON JOHN, KHARTOUM with its Arabic translation, “elephant trunk,” THE CLOSER, and “TO BE FAIR,” which is a fun phrase if you’ve watched the Canadian comedy Letterkenny. (Relevant clip here.)
Less keen on bits like ONE BASE, A OR B, and crosswordese AGA, TYES, MOUES.
3.8 stars from me. Thanks for the smiles, Brendan!
Susan Gelfand’s Universal crossword, “Double Play”—Jim P’s review
Theme answers consist of familiar two-word phrases where each word is also a Major League Baseball team name (in the singular).
- 20a. [MLB athlete who’s played for Cincinnati and San Francisco?] RED GIANT.
- 35a. [MLB athlete who’s played for Cleveland and Los Angeles?] GUARDIAN ANGEL.
- 51a. [MLB athlete who’s played for Detroit and Chicago?] TIGER CUB.
Fun theme! I wanted more but I wonder if any more such phrases exist. Finding three to fit symmetrically seems remarkable enough.
I especially like the timely addition of the Cleveland Guardians who just changed their name this year. Aside: I’m not much of a baseball watcher, but that’s a terrible name, isn’t it? This from a franchise that seems to have a history of terrible names. Per Wikipedia, they’ve been the Rippers, the Lake Shores, the Bluebirds (or Blues) — this one’s not bad, the Bronchos, the Napoleons (or Naps), and lastly the Indians. They should’ve gone back to the Bluebirds.
Anyway, with a lighter-than-usual amount of theme material, we get some longer stacks in the corners with LINGERIE being the funnest of the lot. Everything else is solid though, and the solve was smooth and quick.
Clue of note: 24a. [Texters, at times]. SENDERS. Meh. However, I can’t think of a better option and the other examples in the Cruciverb database aren’t so hot, either.
Nice puzzle. 3.75 stars.
Rafael Musa’s USA Today Crossword, “Higher Power”—Darby’s write-up
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer is a Down answer starts with a word that can precede power, making them “higher powers.”
- 1d [“Romantic spa booking”] COUPLES MASSAGE / POWER COUPLE
- 6d [“Category for remade meals”] GRAB AND GO / POWER GRAB
- 12d [“Reveal some secrets”] LIFT THE CURTAIN / POWER LIFT
- 22d [“Caretaker Gazette subscriber”] HOUSE SITTER / POWER HOUSE
I love that there were four themes in this grid, and each them of them felt like they were very evocative “higher powers.” COUPLES MASSAGE was the first answer that I filled in and then I cruised through the Down answers ironically, until I got to GRAB AND GO, switching back to Across for a bit. LIFT THE CURTAIN and HOUSE SITTER were two of the last entries to make it in for me, especially because I had trouble with the cross at SER and DURHAM (DUOHAM sat in my puzzle for longer than I would’ve liked). I was also thinking more geographically for 22d, and it wasn’t until I got most of the crosses that I put two and two together for HOUSE SITTER.
Interestingly, I was really excited to see 15a [“Cut short”] TRUNCATE in this puzzle. I just feel like it’s a word you don’t see often but a lot of folks know what it means. I also enjoyed that both 19d [“Game with a 108-card deck”] UNO and 36d [“___ vez (once, in Spanish)”] UNA made it in. SLEUTH, ICE SKATE, and SONIC were also some personal faves. Oh, and of course, I laughed out loud at 66a SIR [“___, this is a Wendy’s”].
A few Friday faves for me
- 21a [“Barred ones sound like they’re saying ‘Who cooks for you?’”] – Like a lot of crossword folks (I imagine), I’ve been obsessed with Stonemaier Games’ Wingspan, and so it’s always a treat to learn another fun fact about any bird. I especially love OWLS. You can read more about Barred Owls on the Audubon Society’s page and listen to their “Who cooks for you” hoot!
- 10d [“Actress Laura”] Laura DERN is one of my favourite actresses, and I’m so grateful that she often makes it into puzzles.
- 31d [“Dance with ‘uli’uli”] – ‘Uli’uli are the Hawaiian rattles used in HULA dancing. Dancers grip the neck of the ‘uli’uli and then shake or hit them against their bodies while dancing.
Mark Valdez & Brooke Husic’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Pretty basic but solid theme here. The word UP gets suffixed (with a hyphen) to various phrases to alter their meanings.
- 71aR [Make sense, and a hint to the answers to the starred clues] ADD UP.
- 20a. [*Separation after the vernal equinox] SPRING BREAK-UP (Spring break).
- 31a. [*Nightmare for a wedding baker] CAKE MIX-UP (cake mix).
- 45a. [*Arrangement of extras for a zombie movie?] DEAD SET-UP (dead set).
- 58a. [*Halloween costume that’s a sheet on the bottom and a witch’s hat on top?] MONSTER MASH-UP (Monster Mash).
- 11d [Spirit of the cosmos?] VODKA. Nice misdirection from the cosmopolitan cocktail.
- 32d [Focus of some special elections] EMPTY SEAT. Hesitated for the second part of this one because I thought it was plural. Nothing wrong with the clue, but it would have been much clearer for me if it had been something like [Focus of a special election, perhaps].
- 44d [Right direction?] EAST. On a map.
- 54d [Man on a mission?] FRIAR. This feels like a mismatch to me, but I fairly ignorant on such matters. Anyone care to chime in?
- 55d [“The Death of Vivek Oji” author Akwaeke] EMEZI. Needed the crossings, alas. Are we being primed for future in-grid appearances of OJI?
- 64d [Shiba __: dog breed] INU, which is Japanese for ‘dog’.
- Hm. Nothing particularly notable among the acrosses. I’ll fall back on the aptly placed 1a [In the lead] FIRST, which I’d initially presumed was AHEAD.