Kathy Bloomer’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Washed Up”—Jim’s review
Theme: Six-letter laundry items are folded up and stacked throughout the grid. The revealer is FOLD LAUNDRY (64a, [Perform a mundane household chore, and a hint to the outlined letters]).
Proceeding from the NW section, the folded items of laundry are SHEETS , SLACKS, TOWELS, SWEATS, SHIRTS, and UNDIES. Most of these are part of fun longer answers like STEVIE NICKS, SHEEPLE, CARSEATS, and SHINOLA.
I thought this was pretty nifty, and catching on to the theme earlier on definitely helped with resolving some of the lower-down entries. I also thought it was cool that the revealer pulled double duty by contributing to one of the theme entries (UNDIES).
Unfortunately all those stacks put a lot of constraints on the grid. In one corner we get “GENIUS IDEA!” as a bit of marquee fill, but it sounds pretty awkward as a phrase when “Genius!” does the job all by itself. In the other corner we get SWELTRIEST which sounds even more awkward. Other shorter bits of tough fill threatened to turn the grid into a slog: NOLI, EWS, SSGTS, THEDA Bara, FOVEA, APA, ERDOS. To make things even tougher, some common words were given the Thursday treatment with more opaque clues (I’m looking at that pile-up of ALONE, ALI, NESS, and OLE in the North). All these added up to a little bit of frustration for me that seemed to grow as I progressed down the grid. (Most of these entries were toward the bottom.)
But ODD SOCK and GALOOT made for fun entries, and like I said, I liked the overall theme.
Clues of note:
- That North section with ALONE [Survivalist TV show], ALI [News commentator Velshi], NESS [Promontory], and OLE [Outboard motor inventor Evinrude], seemed like an unfair collection of crunchy clues.
- 57a. [Boot polish brand that gave rise to a crude colloquialism]. SHINOLA. That early 20th century colloquialism is “Don’t know shit from Shinola.”
- 27d. [___ me tangere]. NOLI. The phrase essentially means “back off” and has had many uses throughout history.
- 36d. [Hellbender’s kin]. NEWT. Never heard of a hellbender before. Apparently it’s the largest salamander in North America.
- 34d. [Hit written by 17-Across]. SARA. All I can hear is the Starship song in my head. Let’s try to remedy that with the Fleetwood Mac song.
Nice theme, but the constraints on the fill made for an uneven solve. Three stars.
Olivia Mitra Framke & Brooke Husic’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
Four trios of 5-letter anagrams are clued such that the trio makes a somewhat plausible phrase:
- 17a. [“Ignoring what my assistant said …”?], “AIDE’S IDEAS ASIDE…”
- 27a. [What might be found outside a hipster cafeteria?], STRAY ARTSY TRAYS.
- 47a. [Wetsuit vis-à-vis a team triathlon?], EARLY RELAY LAYER. Wasn’t sure how plausible this was, but some people form relay teams, and if the swimmer in the wetsuit is tackling two of the three events herself, then maaaybe she’d peel off that wetsuit layer and compete in another leg.
- 63a. [Engravings, e.g.?], NOTES SET ON STONE. This is the only one with a 5-letter phrase (SET ON) instead of word, and it also grates a bit because you’d etch it IN stone rather than ON, no?
Fave fill: Snoopy’s RED BARON (initially I misread the clue as being about Scooby!), ARETHA, Michaela COEL. If you’ve not seen Coel’s series, I May Destroy You, head to HBO Max posthaste. Also nice to see PRUE Leith of The Great British Bakeoff–I had not known she was a chef and restaurateur and not strictly a baker.
3.75 stars from me. STEAL STALE TESLA!
Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
This one felt a bit harder than I expect for a second-easiest-day New Yorker puzzle. New solvers mightn’t know ALTE, APSE, and OLIO, and for those who are not extremely online, “IT ME” could be tough (personally, I love this phrase, with its Twittery playfulness and concision, conveying “I can relate to this” or “oh, this is me in a nutshell” in just four letters).
As a crossword editor who periodically hunts for a fresh PEZ clue angle, I commend Aimee on [Candy that might be dispensed by a tiny replica of a Zamboni or a smiling taco]. Fun!
Fave fill: the ART WORLD, CARE BEAR, “I GUESS SO,” STEAMPUNK, MADEWELL (solely because I just came across the name this week when wrangling a JCREW clue!), “THAT TRACKS,” “TO BE HONEST,” the OBSCENE MUNDANE tower, SELF-ESTEEM, and the new-to-me “ABCDEFU,” clued [Gayle song that incorporates part of the alphabet]. Gayle?? Here she is, a first-name-only singer in her teens who’s already received a Grammy nomination.
Not sure I’ve seen SNORTER, meaning [Humdinger], before–just the longer ripsnorter. Are you familiar with SNORTER, or are you in agreement with an “IT ME” feeling?
3.75 stars from me.
Michael A. McDonald’s crossword – Gareth’s summary
Michael A. Macdonald gives another “find the word scrambled repeatedly in other phrases” theme. Today’s is revealed at CHANGEOFHEART, and HEART is found in three other entries:
- [*Particularly memorable event], ONEFO(RTHEA)GES
- [*Party topper], PAP(ERHAT)
- [*1990 theft at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, e.g.], (ARTHE)IST
The puzzle didn’t feature too many difficult entries today, though there were a few less common angles for nouns, proper or otherwise, though:
- [“A Suitable Boy” novelist Vikram], SETH. Seth is the surname.
- [French Toaster Sticks brand], EGGO. We don’t get those here; it appears to be a variant of the brand.
[“Blue Bloods” daughter played by Bridget Moynahan], ERIN. Don’t think I’m seen more than a few minutes of this show consecutively, but it has been on for a long time…
- [Arctic trout], CHAR. That’s far less known than the verb!
- [Kevin McHale’s “Glee” role], ARTIE. Another show whose characters I couldn’t name…
- [Hall of Fame quarterback Tarkenton], FRAN. Surprisingly, a man, although women’s gridiron does exist.
All right, who’s the bozo who rated the New Yorker puzzle hours before the puzzle is even available? Not sure they’d have seen the LA Times crossword for Wednesday yet, either. Some folks need better hobbies.
Amy – I think people do that accidentally as they’re trying to rate the NYT puzzle. I’ve done it before (I swear it wasn’t me this time). Because The NY Times and The New Yorker are similar names and usually right together in the puzzle list, it’s easy to do.
Except that the New Yorker usually has two full stars more for me than the NYT – that is, unless I see Natan Last’s name. I hate his puzzles, especially on Mondays. Those obscure names can just go away.
NYT: How is TAROT a ‘kind of reader’?
One can read tarot cards?
Yes, but the ‘reader’ would be the person doing it, right? I don’t see how the cards can be the reader.
“Tarot reader” and “tarot reading” are common enough phrases. The clue writer was referencing a tarot reader. So a clue for SCREEN might be [Type of test].
Ah, the dreaded ‘sea anemone’ class of clue…
In a triathlon, the swim is the first leg, so a wetsuit would be a LAYER used in the EARLY part of the RELAY.
That was my reading, too, a bit tidier than Amy’s.
Today’s NYT puzzle is the type of puzzle that irks me. The theme answers are nonsense. I don’t learn anything from them.
I thought they were kind of funny. OTOH, they did seem to force some awkward fill.
Does Norah ever review the AVCX?
I was hoping someone would review this week’s AVXC.
I solved the puzzle easily enough, and I quickly understood the two “shake it up” answers. I also got how HAS A HUNCH ARM/FIRST DO NOH work together.
I just now figured out how LEGO RATIONS/END OF ZELDA (“Legend of Zelda” is a video game, right?)
And I just this minute understood the “Hokey-Pokey” theme. I never much cared for that song.
I usually enjoy Adam Wagner’s puzzles, but this theme didn’t do much for me. I enjoyed it in terms of the fill and clueing.
I got what you got. But I didn’t understand the other ARM and LEG. LEG is reversed for GELION OF DOOM, but CHICKEN PRAM needs anagraming PRAM for PARM. Kinda loosy-goosy logic here.
In GEL ION OF DOOM, the LEG is “shaken all about,” as per the song’s lyrics. Yes, it’s a reversal, but it’s also an anagram.
The puzzle’s logic seems consistent to me. It’s just my own dislike of the song that kept me from enjoying the puzzle more.
Thanks, I see the logic now. I forgot the shake part.
Embarassing, as I was a teen in the early fifties, when we DID the Hokey-Pokey at sock hops in the gym.
WSJ: a staff sergeant (SSGT) in the USMC is not an “Officer” is is a non-com
Good catch. I’m surprised at myself for missing that one. Even though NCOs are non-commissioned officers, they came up through the ranks of enlisted, and you wouldn’t call them “officers”—nor would they want to be identified as such.
“non commissioned” officer.
There’s some support for that, too. Several sites have something like this, from Wiki: “A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who does not hold a commission. . . . (Non-officers, which includes most or all enlisted personnel, are of lower rank than any officer.)” It still bothered me somehow, and it definitely slowed me up. Another site explains that the division is between enlisted and officers, with NCOs granted “officer-like authority.”
But seems like there’s enough to let the clue pass. That and that crosswords often take liberties in cluing an “X Y” as “Y.” I figure, what the heck, it’s only a crossword, with some peculiar give.
Oh, agreed with Amy that TNY was hard for today and harder than yesterday, but they’re often like that, much as it gets to me. And count me among her “not *extremely* online,” much as I spend all day online, who didn’t recognize IT ME.
Universal: Seems like a pretty tight theme, though there are probably other body parts that are in phrases like HEAD COACH or BACK PAGE.
But once again, MOLE is clued with a reference to chocolate, which is usually found only in a mole poblano. (Plenty of other moles don’t have chocolate; I once made a very tasty green mole that was primarily ground-up pepitas (pumpkin seeds).)