Rebecca Goldstein’s New York Times crossword, “Simile Irresistible” —Nate’s write-up
– 22A: CLEAR AS CRYSTAL [Bus?]
– 32A: GREEN AS GRASS [Photosynthesize?]
– 48A: SOUND AS A BELL [Peal?]
– 65A: PRETTY AS A PICTURE [Photoshop?]
– 83A: SMART AS A WHIP [Sting?]
– 97A: SMOOTH AS SILK [Iron?]
– 112A: PLEASED AS PUNCH [Quenched?]
This was a fun theme that I’m having a tough time putting into words. I think the easiest way to describe it is to replace “as” in each of the similes with “, like” and consider the first word in each simile as a verb. Smart (hurt), like a whip = sting. (Make) pretty, like a picture = Photoshop. Etc. It took me an extra beat to figure out the first one, but I think that to bus (act as a waiter) is to clear things (like crystal) from a table. Clever! I really enjoyed these reimaginings and the consistency with which the theme was executed.
I also really enjoyed how smooth this puzzle felt! It was a quick solve for me for sure – the bottom half felt a bit tougher than the top half, but it was quite the motivating Sunday puzzle to work through.
– 1A: NEON [Gas light] – What a fantastic clue and a great way to start the puzzle!
– 39D: ANECDATA [Evidence derived from personal experience and observation rather than systematic research and analysis] – What a fun debut entry!
– There were so many other bonus entries too that made the puzzle feel modern and extra fun, including CHIA OBAMA, LABOR OF LOVE, AND THEN, PARTY POOPER, HOTPOT, and TEMPT FATE.
Overall, I really enjoyed this puzzle! Let us know what you thought in the comments – and have a nice weekend!
Amie Walker’s Universal Sunday crossword, “Doctor’s Orders”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Popular songs are listed as if they were requested by certain medical professionals—presumably while performing a procedure or examination(?). The revealer is MEDICAL STANDARD (66a, [Health care guideline, or each starred clue’s answer?]). I don’t know that each of these songs qualifies as a standard, but if you define it loosely to simply mean “song,” it works. Besides, the theme is fun, and that’s what counts.
- 27a. [Cardiologist’s song request? (Demi Lovato, 2011)] GIVE YOUR HEART A BREAK.
- 43a. [E.R. physician’s song request? (The Fray, 2005)] HOW TO SAVE A LIFE.
- 48a. [With 96-Across, OB-GYN’s song request? (The Eagles, 1976)] NEW KID / IN TOWN. I was totally expecting a song title with “baby” in it, so this was a surprise. A good one, though, ‘cuz it gave me a chuckle.
- 58a. [Ophthalmologist’s song request? (The Weeknd, 2020)] IN YOUR EYES. I’m old, so this title gives me the earworm for the Peter Gabriel song.
- 83a. [Endocrinologist’s song request? (The Archies, 1969)] SUGAR SUGAR. I’m dumb when it comes to medical stuff (thankfully my wife’s a doctor), so I didn’t know an endocrinologist deals with diabetes among other things.
- 99a. [Surgeon’s song request? (Bryan Adams, 1983)] CUTS LIKE A KNIFE.
- 114a. [Anesthesiologist’s song request? (LL Cool J, 1990)] MAMA SAID KNOCK YOU OUT. This one made me LOL when I sussed it out. I wonder if it was the seed entry. I like the idea that Mama is directing the surgery and giving orders to the anesthesiologist. You go, Mama!
It’s nice that there’s a mix of release dates here so that there’s something for almost everyone to recognize. And for my money, going out with a laugh is always the best way to go.
Elsewhere, we get to enjoy some nice long fill in BUG REPORT, RETRO CHIC, VEGGIE WRAP, “STRIKE THAT,” “I’LL BITE,” TARHEELS, ESTROGEN, “NO JOKE,” and “OK, BYE.”
Also, OBVI. I think I like “obvs” better than OBVI but maybe OBVI works better within a sentence, whereas “obvs” works better at the beginning or end of a sentence as a point of emphasis, obvs.
If you haven’t read the recent interview with Will Shortz yet, check it out. (See Friday’s post for the link.) I bring it up here because two entries in this puzzle were commented on in that interview: RUR and ARO. I wonder if Will saw this puzzle at some point.
Clues of note:
- 23a. [Apt bit of feedback for a web developer?]. BUG REPORT. Being a long entry early in the puzzle, I though this was thematic. It turned out not to be, but I enjoyed the clue. Works for both a coder and a spider.
- 84d. [Not interested in finding love, briefly]. ARO. In the interview, Will says this term was new to him, but he’s willing to use it with this angle. However, he said it was hard to clue without using the word “romantic.” This one works fine, IMO. (Another word he mentions is ACE, being short for “asexual,” which is also in this grid but not clued that way. Both abbreviations are great examples of how language changes over time.)
Fun puzzle with an enjoyable theme and mostly smooth fill. Four stars.
Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword, “Character Development”—Matthew’s write-up
In addition to the title, our revealer references “character development:” [Cartoon detective agency featuring this puzzle’s “developing” characters] RESCUE RANGERS.
Eight themers build up the names of the Rescue Rangers: “Chip” and “Dale:”
- 22a [*Former alias of the rapper Sean Combs] P DIDDY
- 23a [**Quarter note?] E PLURIBUS UNUM
- 44a [*Codes assigned to devices on a network] IP ADDRESS
- 47a [**Communist party official of declined a Nobel Peace Prize in 1973] LE DUC THO
- 60a [*Pelvic injury] HIP POINTER
- 76a [**Business that specializes in a certain type of beer] ALE BREWERY
- 92a [*Lofted approach in golf] CHIP SHOT
- 94a [**Creator of the comic strip “Brenda Starr, Reporter”] DALE MESSICK
And (surprise) there’s a second revealer, as well: [Company that created the characters who develop at the starts of the starred and double-starred entries] DISNEY.
A fun mix of in-language material for the theme, IMO. I needed crossings to get DALE MESSICK, but I’m familiar with Brenda Starr, Reporter, at least. After last week’s multi-step meta, I don’t mind this gentler theme from Evan. Unfortunately for me, Rescue Rangers was a bit before my time, so while I know it’s a thing, no blast of nostalgia here. I’m even surprised to learn there was a film adaptation made in the last few years.
- 20a [Frou Frou musician ____ Heap] IMOGEN. I’m sure I’m not the only one who learned of IMOGEN Heap from that viral scene in The OC (later parodied on SNL, and I’m sure elsewhere). Calls to mind a feat of constructing from Will Nediger on his own blog a few weeks back.
- 31a [Inbox ___ (strategy for managing one’s unread email)] ZERO. I do not practice Inbox Zero. It doesn’t help that nowadays maybe one in 10 emails is even worth reading, and maybe only half those require a response?
- 49a [“Wednesday” actress Christina] RICCI. Ricci of course played Wednesday herself in the early-90s Addams Family films. The Netflix show got plenty of buzz — while I’m not much for horror I loved all the trope-y-ness and callbacks to previous Addams Family lore.
- 67a [Grain at a milling plant] OAT. For a bit a few years back it felt like everyone was cluing OAT to the non-dairy milk. I’m glad that’s died down.
- 73a [___ Paulo, Brazil] SAO. It’s a day later and I’m still thinking of Kam’s clue for SAO in yesterday’s NYT [“Saint” elsewhere]. Brilliant.
- 101a [Meat space] DELI. I like this clue, which plays on “meat space” as a jokey way to refer to the real world, as opposed to games and online communities.
- 103a [Iowa college whose founder originally called it the School for the Prophets] COE. COE College and NATICK, Massachusetts – two bits of crossword-dom that I know thanks to some of my favorite football players (Fred Jackson and Doug Flutie, respectively).
- 3d [Minor league class] TRIPLE A. Feel like I should have realized before this puzzle that “single,” “double,” and TRIPLE are all the same length.
- 34d [“Tár” director Field] TODD. Tár accounts for more crossword content than the rest of the Oscars combined, I think.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today crossword, “Cutting Short” —Darby’s write-up
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer splits SHORT between its starting and ending letters.
- 18a [“Foot-shaped cushion”] SHOE INSERT
- 28a [“Grocery store squeaker”] SHOPPING CART
- 58a [“Is likely to help matters”] SHOULDN’T HURT
I went through and filled in SHO at the beginning of both SHOPPING CART and SHOULDN’T HURT right after getting SHOE INSERT, knowing that I could pretty reliably guess that the cutting of SHORT would remain the same throughout the puzzle. SHOULDN’T HURT felt a bit awkward, but I really liked the clue on SHOPPING CART.
This grid has a lot of fun stuff, from AU NATUREL to DISCO to GO HOME and CORN DOG. I thought the approach to 34a [“Building floor”] STORY was unexpected, and I enjoyed the crossing of COUGAR with CORN DOG. The Acrosses in the SW corner were also really clean and easy, so I didn’t even get to look at 62d [“Includes on an email thread” CCS, 63d [“___-country music”] ALT, or 64d [“Corporate leader”] CEO until after I finished the puzzle.
A few other fun things:
- 17a [“Makki ki ___ (maize flatbread)”] – Makki ki ROTI is a delicious-looking flatbread that can be made in a tandoor. It gets its name from the Punjabi makki ka atta, and you can find a recipe here.
- 24a [“___ Pueblo”] – While I’m highlighting two clues with a fill-in, there weren’t that many in the grid, and I found that they were nicely spaced out. TAOS Pueblo is in New Mexico and has a literal thousand-year history. You can learn more about it here.
- 44d [“Obviously!”] – I loved this sarcastic inclusion of YA THINK!