Brandon Koppy’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
Sorry, just remembered the crossword. Spent some time watching election returns, so let me say “Let’s go, Brandon!” to both tonight’s constructor and Chicago’s next mayor. And there’s no snotty hidden meaning here, I promise!
The theme revealer’s OVERSHARING, [Revealing an inappropriate amount of personal detail, as depicted three times in this puzzle]. TMI means “aaagh, too much information!”–and that letter trio is, if I grasp the theme correctly, being “overshared” via the letters being shared between adjoining answers? Feels rather Thursdayish. Nice assortment of TMI terms: FILET MIGNON and DON’T MIND ME, BREASTMILK and HOT MICS, and PET MICE and BAT MITZVAH.
Apparently pilots use something called a kneeboard, per the AVIATE clue, [Use a joystick and a kneeboard, say]. No idea what that is.
Fave fill: “AH, GOTCHA,” SOAPBOX, “GAME ON,” TV SHOWS.
Nope: 41a. [Diaper bag supply], TALC? Please don’t. The jury is still out on whether talc (and/or asbestos contaminants) cause cancers like ovarian cancer. Cornstarch baby powder is a safer bet. Puzzle editors, if you don’t believe me, check out Tuesday’s news about J&J’s $8.9 billion settlement (that’s billion with a B) for talc baby-powder lawsuits. Stop teaching solvers that talc and baby bottoms are a great combo! Also, stop by the baby aisle in the drugstore and see if you can find talc baby powder. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
3.7 stars from me.
Rebecca Goldstein’s Universal crossword, “The Four Cups” — pannonica’s précis
Apologies for another extremely brief write-up. I’ve got a new work schedule and it’s affecting my ability to handle Universal crosswords on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Symmetrical grid, three vertical theme entries and one across, denoted by asterisks preceding the clues.
- 4d. [*Tech specs?] GOOGLE GLASS.
- 7d. [*Spinning machine for polishing a gemstone] ROCK TUMBLER.
- 25a. [*Mozart’s last opera] THE MAGIC FLUTE.
- 35d. [*He ad-libbed an economics lecture in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”] BEN STEIN.
Each of those ends with the name of a type of cup for holding liquid: glass, tumbler, flute, stein.
Very unusual arrangement of theme answers in this grid, which features left/right mirror symmetry.
Jared Goudsmit’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Have a Blast!”—Jim’s review
Theme: The letter B is added to the ends of the last words in familiar phrases causing crossword wackiness. The title is probably intended to be re-parsed as “Have a B Last!”
- 20a. [Exit riding a sheep?] GO ON THE LAMB.
- 32a. [“This’d be great promo for our book jacket,” say?] “IT’S ALL A BLURB.”
- 41a. [Pasta on the Orient Express?] RAILROAD CARB. We also would have accepted [Pasta for training?].
- 57a. [“Hey, give the door frame back!”?] “THAT’S MY JAMB.” A little bit nonsensical, but the base phrase is fun.
Solid wordplay. The first pun feels pretty old, and there are a lot of CAR options for the third one, so I wonder if something a little bit more closely related to food could’ve been found. But these work just fine.
Another grid with big corners today, and plenty of strong fill such as IRISH PUB, TEAM USA, ME TOO ERA, ART CLASS, and a Mario Party MINIGAME. Nice.
On the chewier side, DOG IT [Slack off] was hard to parse, and PSHAW [“What hogwash!”] feels quite stale these days.
Clues of note:
- 18a. [In a loose way, in a loose way]. SORTA. Nice clue.
- 25a. [Studi of “Dances With Wolves”]. WES. The man is still active, so I wouldn’t have minded a newer reference…like the fact that in 2019 he became the first Native American to win an Oscar.
- 5d. [Some track stars]. DASHERS. Meh. Aren’t they typically called “sprinters”? Why not go with a DoorDash clue? After all, people who deliver food for them are called DASHERS.
- 10d. [Bar code]. LAW. I’d say for sure that this needed a question mark. Same for 61d [Cut a diamond, say] MOW.
- 36d. [Place for posers?]. ART CLASS. And I’d say this could’ve gotten by without a question mark.
Paolo Pasco’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
A lost opportunity here, with VISUAL NOVEL in the center. This should have been something edible, seeing as how it’s sandwiched between the TASTE TESTER and their taste buds and the SOFT PALATE. GAPING MAW just isn’t long enough.
Fave fill: BENCH PRESS, IN THERAPY, VAPE PENS, battles over THERMOSTATS, THE AVENGERS, DEV PATEL.
New to me:
- 6d. [2022 Vera Drew film that adapts a DC Comics character’s story into a trans allegory], THE PEOPLE’S JOKER.
- 39d. [Castro who created and starred in the Comedy Central series “Alternatino”], ARTURO. The show ran in summer 2019. Just went to YouTube for a sample and it’s hilarious!
3.75 stars from me. A bit less entertaining than I was hoping, but a solid themeless pitched to a gentle level of challenge.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Jeffrey Wechsler’s puzzle theme today didn’t appeal much to me personally. At heart, it’s just words that rhyme with hats, plus a convoluted clueing pattern that’s a little too cute:
- [Hat that sounds right for an eco-conscious poet?], SOLARBOWLER
- [Hat that sounds right for a futuristic cartoon poet?], JETSONSTETSON
- [Hat that sounds right for a poet’s annual party?], BIRTHDAYBERET
- [Hat that sounds right for a poet on Election Day?], VOTERBOATER
Other notable clues and answers:
- [Hair-covering garments], HIJAB versus a NIQAB that covers the face as well.
- [Army swimmer?], OCTOPUS because they have eight arms.
- [Kitchen storage option], OPENPANTRY. How does that even work?
- [“I’ve never seen anything so weird!”], ITSBIZARRE. That’s not how the song goes…
(Re NYT) A kneeboard is a clip board that can be strapped to your leg (so it doesn’t fall off in turbulence) that you keep flight plans, charts, etc on. Nowadays most pilots use iPads instead.
Some crossworders carry a clipboard with a stack of puzzles to do. They need to strap it to their leg!
So it don’t fall off
I didn’t know it either and thought it was an example of the puzzle’s generally fresh fill. By the same token, a bit hard for me for a Wednesday, but a truly nice one. MARC / ARLO was the closest to an unfair crossing, but still not bad.
I thought the clue was about steering a plane with your knees, the way you do in a car when you’ve got pizza in one hand and a beer in the other.
NYT: That was a neat trick at the end– having to double the TMI’s along the way and then when the puzzle is complete, there is only one TMI per spot and it straddles the squares. It gave the puzzle a nice little ping at the end!
It’s weird to be improving my texting abbreviations via crosswords- e.g. BRB…
I happen to be in Chicago today and had gotten the impression earlier in the day that the mayoral race was going to take a while to call, but I guess the results were clearer than expected. I wish this great city the best in this next chapter.
Francis Heaney cracks me up.
Universal: I think the black squares in the grid are supposed to represent the four theme cups, but that could be my imagination.
Good timing on TALC: https://t.co/0dVQNvenme
NYT- Didn’t quite get that “click” from the revealer, but still a great puzzle imo with excellent theme answers, a cute gimmick that was fun to decipher, and very nice/fresh fill despite the stacked themers. Props to the constructor.
In the Universal, you do understand that “The Four Cups” is an allusion to the Seder ceremony at the beginning of Passover (whose first night is tonight), during which four ritual cups of wine are drunk? Hence 32D. [Quality of light, fluffy matzo balls] AIRINESS and 60D [“___ Knows One?” (Passover song)] WHO. Maybe also 13D [Wine, in France] VIN.
You took the words right out of my mouth, Alan!
Happy Isru Chag (assuming you’re in chutz laaretz… ;) )
And Shabbat shalom!
I hope the Detroit News stops using your diagramless puzzles. You violate the crossword rule of the pattern matching top and bottom. If you’re going to do them, why not learn to do them correctly? No joke. Real crossword fans don’t like it.