Claire Rimkus’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
A solid Friday offering from Claire Rimkus this week. Maybe a smidgen or two tougher than most Fri NYTs? (We can have two smidgens, can’t we?)
Fave fill: A literary TRAGIC FLAW, idiomatic UP AND LEAVE, a SCANTY Speedo (though the Olympic-swimmer type of Speedo swimwear has much more fabric, in men’s diving the skimpy briefs hold court), ANT-MAN, PREGNANCY PILLOW, MELLO YELLO, SPA WEEKEND, NO RELATION (great clue, [Like singer Michelle Williams and actress Michelle Williams]), “NOT A PEEP” out of you, BAD LIARS, and “I OWE YOU ONE.” Also, NOT A PEEP reminds me that I saw limited edition Peeps Pepsi at a grocery store last week. (It’s got to be abominable, right?) Cannot believe they didn’t call it Peepsi!
I’ll grouse about LEGO PERSON because my now-grown son liked Legos and Lego minifigures (called minifigs for short). If I hadn’t had a kid in the past couple-three decades, though, I might well call them Lego people.
I blanked on the last name of [Civil rights pioneer Claudette of Montgomery]. Claudette COLVIN refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, 9 months before Rosa Parks followed suit. Here’s the story in Colvin’s words.
Sports will make you smarter: 3d. [Page or Ameche of football] clues ALAN. I don’t know the name Alan Ameche, but Alan Page is the gentleman who attended law school during his NFL career, and served on the Minnesota Supreme Court for over 20 years.
Four stars from me.
Jill Singer and Jeff Chen’s Universal crossword, “Musical Parts”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are familiar phrases whose final words can also be parts of a piano. The revealer is PIANO PIECES (59a, [Beethoven sonatas, say, and the ends of the starred clues’ answers]).
- 17a. [*Earsplitting pneumatic drills] JACKHAMMERS.
- 24a. [*Bike parts that keep feet secured] CLIP-IN PEDALS.
- 37a. [*Frequently misplaced items] CAR KEYS.
- 49a. [*What a sad ending tugs at] HEARTSTRINGS.
Works for me. Nice, clean theme that’s easily accessible to old and new solvers alike. Technically, one could argue that since we’re talking about the physical parts of a piano, the last entry should be something-WIRE. However, the piano is definitely a “string” instrument, so I don’t feel a need to be nit-picky about it.
I’m loving those long stacks in the corners today: “I GET AROUND” / VITAL SIGNS and “PLEASE RISE” / LEFT-HANDER. Also good: COKE CAN (when I saw JACK crossing COKE I thought that was part of the theme), MOJO, and a coy “OH, YOU!”
Clues of note:
- 1a. [Campfire starter, sometimes]. MATCH. I wanted DORITO but it didn’t fit.
- 15a. [“Stranger Things” actress Sink]. SADIE. She’s played Max since season 2, though I didn’t know the young actress’s name. She’s also in The Whale with Brendan Fraser. Nice to have a new cluing angle for the name. I still haven’t watched the latest season of Stranger Things, so no spoilers, please.
- 28d. [Preacher or bailiff’s words]. “PLEASE RISE.” Don’t bailiff’s typically say, “All rise”?
Breezy Friday theme to get us to the weekend. 3.75 stars.
Sally Hoelscher’s Inkubator crossword, “Turtles All The Way Down”—Jenni’s write-up
I tried to find the source of the title quote. Turns out there is no consensus about that. I think we can come to agreement that this is a delightful puzzle! Each theme answer has a type of turtle at the end and they do indeed go down.
- 3d [Like colorful objects of folk art] is HAND–PAINTED.
- 14d [Rich chocolate dessert mixture named for a river] is MISSISSIPPI MUD. Does any US-educated person write the name of that river without the sing-song spelling in their head?
- 8d [Percussion technique for a cappella performances] is FINGER SNAPPING.
- 26d [Mythological can of worms] is PANDORA‘S BOX. I know “can of worms” is an idiom, not a reference to an actual can. It still struck me odd to have “can” in the clue and “box” in the answer.
PAINTED turtle, MUD turtle, SNAPPING turtle, BOX turtle. Nice!
A few other things:
- I wasn’t crazy about the clue for 14a [Fat:Tuesday::Gras:_____]. I had trouble figuring out MARDI but it doesn’t really work for me as an analogy.
- I liked I HAD NO IDEA and PHENOMENON as the long Across entries.
- IDINA Menzel’s kid will not let her sing in the car. This makes me feel much better about the time my daughter told me I was singing too loudly in public. It was the National Anthem. At a Phillies game.
- ICE POP shows up periodically in puzzles. I call them popsicles. Is this a regional thing?
- 63d [Taking a certain hormone, for short] is ON T and that’s on brand for the Inkubator.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Louisiana, Michigan and Tennessee all have IRISES as their state flowers.
Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Skeletal recap today, much to do.
- 57aR [Brief moment, or what three long answers in this puzzle have?] SPLIT SECOND.
- 19a. [Dinner and drinks with a preacher?] HOLY MAN DATE (holy mandate).
- 26a. [Thousands of years, for a monolith] STONE MASS AGE (stone massage).
- 45a. [Exam for a certificate in mediation?] PEACE PRO TEST (peace protest).
In each instance, the second word has been cleaved and the former first part becomes a noun modified by the preceding word: holy man, stone mass, peace pro.
Before I saw the theme, I thought the key answers ended in words having to do with time and filled in 26-across as STONE PASSAGE.
- 14d [Garment similar to a hijab] CHADOR. Most common in IRAN (5d Country where Farsi is spoken])—though probably not so much of late?
- 27d [Bit of cacao] NIB. Good in many recipes.
- 28d [Month before febrero] ENERO. Hands-down the most popular Spanish month in US crosswords.
- 43d [Watch the birdie?] PET SIT. Cute.
- 40d [“Check it out!] GO SEE. 50a [“Same!”] ME TOO.
- 62a [Miso soup base DASHI. Kayanoya makes some nice versions. Between this and CHADOR and 1d [ __ Tree: place of enlightenment in Buddhist tradition] BODHI. We’ve got a good smattering of non-English vocabulary.
Got to run!
Ada Nicolle’s USA Today crossword, “Storybook Endings”—Darby’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: The two themers rhyme with NURSERY.
- 20a [“Introductory”] PRECURSORY
- 39a [“Date celebrated by besties”] FRIENDIVERSARY
Revealer: 58a [“What 20-Across and 39-Across are”] NURSERY RHYMES
I was so excited to see the title of this puzzle because I knew that it would be a cute theme, and I was not disappointed. PRECURSORY came on the crosses for me, given that I sped through most of the Downs in this puzzle. I finished in under three minutes, which almost never happens for me. FRIENDIVERSARY is an awesome answer, and I was thrilled to enter it (though I couldn’t remember if it was FRIEND-A-VERSARY or FRIEND-I-VERSARY).
The longer fill was really cool here as well. I loved 6d [“What the 2S in LGBTQ2S+ stands for”] TWO-SPIRIT, especially in combination with 10d [“Attracted to people regardless of their gender”] PANSEXUAL. RAINFOREST, LIVE STREAM, and IMPROVED were also great answers to tuck in, and it made the flow of the puzzle feel very smooth, moving between the shorter lengths t a longer answer.
A few other things I noticed:
- 9d [“Counterpart of MLA, in citation styles”] – My little sister has to use APA, and so I had to brush up on it this week to help edit her paper. It continues to be my least favourite of the citation types, which is a very nerdy thing to say.
- 50d [“Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer McGee”] – I was unfamiliar with PAMELA McGee, but she is incredible. She seems to be the matriarch of an insanely athletic family and a three-time Olympic gold medalist.
That’s all from me today!
NYT: Most of it was a zippy, smooth ride, but not that NW corner. It really slowed me down for a while.
I foolishly had DiNT instead of DENT. Maybe I wanted a rhyme for GYNT, which was one of the few things I was positive about (cue “In the Hall of the Mountain King”).
Between DiNT and edge instead of LEAN, I couldn’t see any of the 10-letter words up there. I’m sure it didn’t help that ALAN Page, ALAN Ameche, and Claudette COLVIN are all new names to me. (Though now that I have read a little about Ms. COLVIN, her story sounds a bit familiar.)
I had DINT and EDGE too before it became apparent they weren’t working. I can’t parse the clue for LEAN: a candidate who has a slight advantage in the polls has a … lean? I don’t see how that works.
Similar problem with ABIT for ‘rather.’ How are they equivalent?
Overall, though, I finished in a pretty average time.
This crossword was rather challenging.
This crossword was a bit challenging.
Hmm, those don’t mean the same thing to me.
I understand the a bit and rather correlation (a stretch but ok) but I still don’t see LEAN… I don’t think I’ve ever heard that from the talking heads at election time… ‘edge’ stuck for me for too long.
LEAN is very commonly used in discussing election politics, though more in terms of a party than an individual candidate. For example, County X “leans” Democratic because it tends to produce slightly more D votes than R.
Sure, but the clue seems to be asking for a noun, not a verb.
LEAN can be a noun.
“County X is known for its Democratic lean”
“Although Joe Smith is primarily a centrist, he is considered to have a Democratic lean on social issues.”
I can only say I haven’t encountered that phrasing before.
My sticky point, too, was breaking into the NW. Fine puzzle, though.
TNY for me was another awful one. Saturday’s NYT might be a real struggle. This wasn’t. What’s there to struggle with? Again and again, you know it or you don’t, and that’s that.
NYT: So many great entries in this puzzle.
My solving experience was patchy, with some stretches that went as smoothly as a Tuesday and others that felt impossible. Thank god for IOWA, because for a while I didn’t have a clue in that whole neighborhood.
SkiNnY instead of SCANTY, Big LIARS instead of BAD ones, “NOT A word” instead of A PEEP. It was a good workout!
Agreed! I got held up for a bit thinking PILLOW was POLICY, oops.
Slight nit about that NO RELATION clue … well, naturally they’re not related if they have the exact same name. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to juxtapose one of the Michelles with, say, another celebrity named Williams?
I went with PREGNANCY policy for a while, too.
Regarding the NO RELATION clue: Might two cousins have the same name? A mother and a daughter?
There are all George Foreman’s sons….and I have a friend who has the same name as his much older half-brother.
Ha! I almost added something to my comment about the Foreman boys.
If you look at Johann Sebastian Bach’s family tree, there are an inordinate number of Johanns, including at least two of J. S. Bach’s sons.
I read about a single mom who had twins. she named them both Sean. Their surname is Sean. You do the math…
Traditionally in Greek culture, you name kids after your parents. So you wind up with lots of sets of cousins with the same names. This is also why my grandmother refused to call our oldest son by his name for a long time. She would refer to him using my grandfather’s name.
In this case, it seems pretty unlikely that the two Michelles would be related, but as an amateur genealogist in a family of amateur genealogists, I’m here to tell you that families often use the same names from one generation to another, so people often have the same name as relatively close relatives. I know that through the end of the 19th century, it was pretty much automatic in the Scottish and Irish cultures and I don’t think it’s terribly uncommon even to this day (in our family, it’s referred to as “the Scottish or Irish naming pattern”, depending upon what part of our family history we’re talking about). The first son was almost always named for the father’s father, the second son for the mother’s father, the third son for the father, the fourth son for the father’s eldest brother, the fifth son for the mother’s eldest brother, etc. Analogous rules were used with daughter’s names. It can be a real nightmare for the family historian to untangle when reviewing records from various genealogical data sources.
Also found the NW corner the hardest to crack in today’s NYT. Nice to know it wasn’t just my virus-addled brain (not COVID, “just” a cold, and ugh).
Just a clarification that the title of the Inkubator puzzle is “Turtles All the Way Down.” Thanks for the write-up, Jenni! Glad you enjoyed the puzzle!
Oops! Sorry! Will fix!
On of the 2-3 easiest NYT Fridays ever for me. Fun and pretty clean
LORD and ORAL were the last fill for me, don’t know squat about Tolkien, much more a Sci-Fi than fantasy kid.
USA Today – Any particular reason for the grid asymmetry? Or is that something we don’t care about anymore? If editors don’t care about symmetry, that is going to open up so many theme options for constructors.
The USAT frequently publishes asymmetric grids. Erik Agard (the editor) clearly doesn’t consider it to be an important criterion for accepting puzzles. As someone who is notoriously bad at grokking puzzle themes, this feature makes identifying themes even more difficult (I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing).
Completely understand the difficulty that it would cause.
NYT was a challenge to me, mostly because I immediately filled in 38D (Luggage tag letters for a Delta hub) as their primary hub at ATL. This Californian didn’t realize they have another hub at LGA.