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.