Prasanna Keshava’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Inflation”—Jim’s review
Today’s revealer is DRIVE UP THE PRICE (39a, [Make dear? (and a hint to this puzzle’s circled letters)]). Synonyms for “price” are found in the circled letters, moving up a row as if following a graph of inflation.
The circled words are COST, TOLL, RATE, and FARE, and are found partly in these fun long entries: CASTS LOTS, KILLJOYS, BATARANG, and POKER FACE.
I love those entries, but I’m not so sure about the circled-letters shapes. Going up one row doesn’t seem like much of a “price” increase. If you’re going to simulate a graph of inflation, I’d expect all the letters to go up diagonally to the right. Or a little more realistically, why not have one letter in a bottom row, two letters in the row above, and then one more diagonally above that (as in my sample pic)? That looks more like inflation to me.
Nice long fill in “BUENOS DIAS” and PRIVATE BOX as well as RAPTURE, and TRIFLE. I didn’t know ENDPIN [Spike at a cello’s base] nor ARM BAR [Judo grappling technique], so I needed most of the crossings for those. I’m not so keen on crosswordese STOA and ILO, but they support GASLIT (Julia Roberts show) which makes for an interesting entry.
Clues of note:
- 44a. [Other than]. SAVE. I like this usage of the word, but I wasn’t expecting it so I stuck with ELSE for too long.
- 18d. [Not a single person]. SPOUSE. I would’ve thought a question mark would be in order here since the meaning is different from the phrase’s normal usage.
A fine theme and fun fill. 3.5 stars.
Ben Zoon’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
It’s good to have an anagrams theme that doesn’t include anagram pairs I’ve seen many times before (such as PEPSI COLA/EPISCOPAL). Heck, this one isn’t even anagram pairs (though at first I thought it was), it’s anagram quadruplets!
- 17a. [Fasteners near hasps … and an anagram of 11-Down], DOOR LATCHES. Let’s go to 11d next…
- 11d. [Vocational training provider … and an anagram of 55-Across], TRADE SCHOOL. Keep the chain going…
- 55a. [Challenge for a fire-walker … and an anagram of 25-Down], RED-HOT COALS. Complete the circle:
- 25d. [Specialized tableware for serving some Mexican food … and an anagram of 17-Across], TACO HOLDERS. I’ve seen those taco holder racks at a couple restaurants.
Fave fill: BRACELET, ROGUE ONE, PAD SEE EW with its triple-E. New to me: yoga’s TREE POSE, the term DATA CAP (data limit sounds more familiar), and FUEL CAN (gas can here).
Didn’t love the fill overall, but the looping anagrams were cool. 3.5 stars from me.
Josh Cockroft’s Universal crossword, “Something’s Missing” — pannonica’s write-up
- 37aR [“Scram!” … and what the last words in the starred clues’ answers often do] GET LOST.
- 17a. [*Binge out of spite] HATE-WATCH.
- 28a. [*Islands that contain the southernmost point in the continental U.S.] FLORIDA KEYS.
- 45a. [*Vessels for whites and reds] WINE GLASSES.
- 61a. [*Inglewood-based NFL player] LA CHARGER.
Yep, those are all things that are frequently—or stereotypically—lost. Watch, keys, glasses, charger.
- 31d [Leavening agent] YEAST crossed by 40a [Cause of bubbles in dough] GAS. That’s carbon dioxide.
- 32d [“But rly tho??”] SRSLY. I like the online colloquiality of the clue, but consider it a duplication of the -ly suffix. Normally I doubt that I’d call this out, but because of the abbreviated, vowel-deficient nature of the words it’s more salient.
- 58d [30 Seconds to Mars drummer Shannon] LETO. Acting brother Jared LETO is famously also a member of the band.
- 59d [Decrease your wardrobe?] IRON. A little bit of fun. Ashamed to confess that it fooled me this time.
- 20a [Without variety] ONE-NOTE.
- 51a [A TV remote may require two] AAS (batteries). That’s another item that often goes missing.
- 60a [Vividly sensational] LURID. Nice, economical clue.
Solid crossword, possibly a début?
Chase Dittrich & Jeff Chen’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary/h3>
I snorted at the revealer of today’s puzzle by Chase Dittrich & Jeff Chen. I also kinda wish this was one of the puzzles at this year’s ACPT, just for the lulz, and because it fits the 1 April scheduling. Solving in Across Lite, the clues appeared unreadably small, so I just skipped them and moved on. It turns out the verbosity of the clues is thematic, and there is a precis at the end of each. In any case, I got to [“I lost interest” acronym spelled out by the starts of four answers in this puzzle], TLDR – the dismissive early 2000’s abbr. is spelt out in four answers with suitably long-winded clues:
- [Like an amazing and fortuitous circumstance that can’t possibly exist, despite an initial promising appearance [67-Across: Suspiciously awesome]], TOOGOODTOBETRUE
- [Metaphor for the legal system that implies a criminal cannot hide or escape from that system’s vast resources and unparalleled authority [67-Across: Police jurisdiction]], LONGARMOFTHELAW
- [Was as successful and enjoyable as early conjecture and predictions suggested it would be [67-Across: Met expectations]], DIDNTDISAPPOINT
- [Declaration from a person playing poker in a situation where the opponents think they have it in the bag [67-Across: “I win!”]], READEMANDWEEP
- [Pen with bright ink], HILITER – never seen it spelt other than as HIGHLIGHTER?
- [Henry VI’s school], ETON – turns out he founded it.
- [Option for soap or ice cream, DOVEBAR. Whaddaya know, in the US there is also an ice-cream with that name!
“Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
Okay! Blurred vision (it’s temporary) means an extra-short write-up!
Faves: PAJAMA DAY, TO CLOSE TO CALL, I GOT IT BAD, MUST-SEE TV, THIRSTY with the contemporary social media angle (if your libido is stirred by seeing someone’s shirtless photo or whatever, you are thirsty; a picture posted to induce that salivation in others is a thirst trap).
Today I learned: [“Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments” author], SAIDIYA HARTMAN. As her Wikipedia shows, this Columbia professor has a wildly impressive resume! Also learned of actress IDIRA Victor.
Four stars here.
NYT: This one did AMUSE me. I liked the quadruple anagram (how do you even come up with that?) and the food sub-theme with TACOS, NACHOS and PAD SEE EW.
I also like the cluing to some of the short fill, like AND, RUE and TAP.
I’m the constructor of “Inflation” in WSJ today. Thanks for your nice words on the theme and the fill. Very nice observation too, on the shape of the inflation “graph”! Yes, it would have been much more picturesque that way.
Congrats on your publish today and nice work! I enjoyed the theme. I also learned a number of words thanks to a challenging SW corner: nabob, armbar, batarang and endpin are all new to me but all fair entries.
Anyone who lived through the Nixon administration will likely never forget veep Spiro Agnew complaining of the “nattering nabobs of negativism.” (Credit William Safire for the wonderful alliteration.)
Thanks for stopping by. It’s always nice when a constructor pops in (and doesn’t berate me for getting something wrong in the review :-) ). You do good work. Hope to see more puzzles from you in the future.
May I ask for help with one in the NYT? Why does “Snowboards, in lingo” come out as RIDES? I can easily imagine riding a snowboard. In fact, I’d have said that’s what they’re for. But what’s the “lingo” part, suggesting slang usage?
I’m with the review and comment thus far in enjoying the anagrams. I’m surprised at the overwhelming negatives in rating.
Ride as a noun, the same way someone might talk about a car.
That was my first thought, but I think it works as a verb, too.
Yes I can see that now, too.
Snowboarding is simply referred to as “riding” by some who do it. I think the clue’s “in lingo” is less an indication of slang as an acknowledgment that many snowboarders use the term.
The low ratings for the puzzle seem typical for this site.
Thanks. My ignorance.
I thought it was a perfectly fine Wednesday puzzle, but there are some people who loathe anagrams as fiercely as I loathe puns and perhaps rated it accordingly.
I bet you’re right. They could be the same people who loath cryptics. I’m generally cautious to downright a theme because of its type alone if it’s in a legit class. (I don’t think it’s just that ratings here are low, apart from TNY, which richly deserves it.)
NYT: boring anagrams — and I actually like anagrams. [Pro tip for Spelling Bee: check the anagrams — always.]
LAT: GROAN. inane “theme” with no payoff
UNI: actually funny, although I’m not persuaded a “charger” can be misplaced as easily as the other stuff
WSJ: accurate review above, but a decent midweek puzzle
New Yorker: Typical Agard overuse of obscure names but the crosses were reasonable so I can’t be as irritated at him as I usually am
TNY … re “Typical Agard overuse of obscure names”, I think there are only four names among the answers (none of which I recognized, so obscure to me). I usually struggle mightily and am often pretty frustrated after doing one of EA’s puzzles. This one was by no means a cake walk for me (my solve time was more than 60% above my 6-month TNY Wednesday median), but at least it was do-able and I very much appreciated that it wasn’t full of you-know-it-or-you-don’t clue/answer combos that were impossible to at least guess at from the crosses.
The crossing of 29A/18D was my last square. I didn’t know the name and I’ve no idea what 18D means, in this context, but only one letter made sense.
I needed every single crossing for the central across author (as well as another novelist and the Minx acress)), in a typical Asgard puzzle, filled with the unfamiliar to the point where there just weren’t enough fair shots at answering.
New Yorker: I found it considerably more challenging than “slightly.” I wasn’t familiar with any of the names and have never heard of the show or books mentioned in the clues. (That’s an observation, not a complaint.)
The middle was the hardest part: It was difficult to make sense of the author’s name because the only Spanish for “boy” that I could think of was “niño,” I foolishly had BeeCH SAP as the “beer” ingredient, and THIRSTY was clued in a way that’s new to me. (I don’t do Instagram. I thought the posts completely disappeared after some time, but I guess not.) POINT GOD is also new to me; I originally had POINT man.
Once I had enough crosses to suss out SCORELESS GAME, I really liked that clue.
OTOH, despite having attended elementary school when wearing PJ’s to class would have been unthinkable, PAJAMA DAY was a nice gimme.
Thanks, Amy, for explaining the Instagram/THIRSTY connection. I remember seeing, in an earlier puzzle, “thirst trap” in the social media context.
I was vaguely aware of that meaning but I’m still baffled by the clue referring to an old Instagram post. I assumed that had some particular relevance but I don’t see it.
I’m glad you mentioned that aspect of the clue, because I was beginning to think that I’d imagined it. (I don’t have the puzzle up on my computer anymore.)
late as usual, but thanks for making me be “not the only one” who doesn’t get the “old instagram post” in relation to thirsty. I’m familiar with the term, its been around a lot lately… but why “old post”???
First time commenter, long time reader. Today was the first time I’ve done 4 puzzles in one day (NYT, Newsday [not on today’s post], Universal, and LAT). I really enjoyed the LAT. It had me guffawing.