Robyn Weintraub’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #42″—Amy’s recap
Ahhh, I do always appreciate a Robyn themeless!
Lots of fave fill to shout out: “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” The RED CARPET. Sensibly ON A BUDGET. SNOW GLOBES, [Gifts that recipients are guaranteed to flip over], meaning they’ll flip the snow globes over, but they may well also flip in the “delighted” sense. “LET’S PUT A PIN IN IT.” “OUT, DAMNED SPOT” messiness beside a little “Marie Kondo has three kids now” CLUTTER. A tasty BELLINI (did not know the sub-pomegranate-for-peach version is called a Tintoretto). The delightful and talented QUINTA BRUNSON. And from pediatrics/neonatology, Virginia APGAR of Apgar score fame. (That the score accounts for appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration threw me off her track for years.)
Fave clue hit me right off the bat: 1a. [You probably don’t want a flat one], which could be so many things. Tire? Foot? Note? It’s a SODA. Also appreciated the 1d crossing, [Type of horse or cucumber?] for SEA. Not to mention the entirely apt [“What the fuuuuuuuck”] for ARE YOU KIDDING ME.
And another thing: The second of the DALIS in the 48d clue is new to me. “The Great Masturbator”! You can read about its various layers here. If you should find yourself in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, do make time for the Dali Museum in St. Pete, and take a docent-led tour. So fascinating!
4.25 stars from me.
Erica Hsiung Wojcik & Matthew Stock’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
Wow! This puzzle just has SO many goodies in it. Among my favorite bits are the edibles: OCEAN SPRAY, CARNE ASADA crossing ADOBO, and ESPRESSO. (But a SPITTED pig? YUCK.)
Other highlights: TRANSLATOR with a neat literary clue, [Jorge Luis Borges vis-à-vis William Faulkner or Franz Kafka], and also a SLAM POET. ESPANOL. A retro CALCULATOR WATCH, being a wristwatch with two different functions (it did not, however, track your sleep or heart rate). Idiomatic DATED UP (as in dating someone who’s out of your so-called league). Northern Finnish FORESTS are on display in the first episode of Apple TV+’s Reluctant Traveler with Eugene Levy. DATA CENTER, “I HAVE TO ASK…,” TORE TO BITS, CUTS A DEAL, A CAPPELLA, STATUS QUO, and SCRIPTURE round out the highlight reel.
The short fill is solid, nothing that blights the enterprise.
Gonna call this one 4.75 stars, as it’s such a lovely example of what a Friday NYT puzzle should be.
Guilherme Gilioli’s Universal crossword, “Spooky!”—Jim’s review
Today’s theme answers have the word HAIR hidden within, and they are each placed in such a way that the word seems to move upward as you scan the finished grid from left to right.
24d. [*Patio seat] LOUNGE CHAIR.
- 5d. [*Carrier to Heathrow] BRITISH AIRWAYS.
- 15d. [*Place to order khao soi (coconut curry noodle soup)] THAI RESTAURANT.
- 10dR. [*Eerie, and a hint to the word that progresses upward through the starred clues’ answers] HAIR-RAISING.
Nice enough theme with good theme entries. Unfortunately, a theme of this type is never going to be as smooth with a four-letter word as it is with a 3-letter word (in a 15x grid, that is). Specifically, the “movement” is uneven as we progress left to right; it goes up 5 squares from the first entry to the second, then 4 squares, and then 2 squares. Compare that to Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen’s masterpiece THE DESCENT OF MAN puzzle where the descent is consistent throughout.
But that’s an unfair comparison, and I enjoyed this well enough.
I could say the same for the fill with “SIT STILL,” HOT YOGA, MAD DASH, NIGIRI, and ANAGRAM. I didn’t know TIRANA [Albania’s capital], so I needed all the crossings there, and I keep giving SCANTY [Hardly sufficient] the side-eye. To me it seems like a made-up word — a cross between SCANT and SCANTILY.
Clues of note:
- 18a. [Putting in a position?]. HIRING. The question mark really threw me off; I thought this was going to be about golf.
- 20d. [___ reflex]. GAG. I went with GUT at first and was surprised it turned out to be wrong.
Nice puzzle. 3.75 stars.
David P Williams’ Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Today’s theme takes the concept of “Latin names” (a misnomer for scientific names) loosely, turning common names of animals back into Latin, with the twist that elements are turned into adjectives ending with -ing. Also, homophones (sometimes). Oh and plurals too.
- 17a. [Feles inquisitae?] POLLING CATS (polecat). (Polecats are mustelids.)
- 23a. [Apes ineptae?] BUMBLING BEES (bumblebee). No real change in the meaning or interpretation of ‘bumble’ here.
- 37a. [Ursi dividi?] POLARIZING BEARS (polar bear). This one adds an ‘ize’ element, because that how polar works syntactically.
- 48a. [Cervi dominati?] REIGNING DEER (reindeer).
- 61a. [Porci circumspecti?] HEDGING HOGS (hedgehog). (Hedgehogs are erinaceids.)
It’s an interesting idea and I feel it’s probably okay for the average audience, but since I’m actually trained in mammalian taxonomy it sends me into conniptions.
- 12d [Cold ones] BEERS. Whenever someone says “have a good one” I think of this idiom, not something like a day or whatever.
- 14d [Head space?] SINUS. Succinct and accurate clue.
- 22d [Took someone else’s wheels] UBERED. Because CARJACKED certainly doesn’t fit.
- 28d [Diamonds that don’t sparkle?] BALLFIELDS. Unless perhaps if they are bedewed.
- 1a [Taylor-Joy of “The Menu”] ANYA. Spoiler alert: s’mores are indeed quite terrible.
- 60a [Silly string?] LOL. As in a letter string.
- 67a [Gastropod for gastronomes] SNAIL. Revisiting the taxonomy of the theme, tangentially.
Kelsey Dixon & Rafael Musa’s USA Today crossword, “BFFs”—Darby’s recap
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: Each theme answer has three words, the first letters of which spell out BFF.
- 14a [“Large bat species found in Australia”] BLACK FLYING FOX
- 35a [“Apple TV+ show about a young amputee starting public school”] BEST FOOT FORWARD
- 61a [“Escapes”] BREAKS FREE FROM
I love that these three themers became BFFs in this puzzle. I’m grateful for the theme itself, since it helped me figured out of these themers, particularly BLACK FLYING FOX and BEST FOOT FORWARD. With two 14s and a 15, I also appreciated the amount of theme content in relation to the puzzle.
The grid itself is just cool to look at, feeling almost like a themeless in some ways because of its open corners. I appreciated the 6s in LURKER, ESSAYS, ASSIST, and NUANCE, which all felt very good and smooth. I GEEKed out seeing 21a [“‘(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay’ singer Redding”] OTIS since I was just listening to that song this morning. I also really liked the inclusion of 23d [“Website with trivia quizzes”] SPORCLE and 11d [“‘Bulls’ and ‘warriors,’ but not ‘heat’ or ‘jazz’”] PLURALS in its reference to a wide variety of basketball team names.
A few other things:
- 44a [“NBA star Antetokounmpo”] – GIANNIS Antetokounmpo plays on the Milwaukee Bucks, and his family is the focus of the 2022 biographical sports film Rise on Disney+.
- 38d [“‘Friends’ actress Jennifer”] – I just watched Murder Mystery 2 with Jennifer ANISTON and Adam Sandler, which I thought was cute and fun.
Pretty good NYT, although boo (again) on OCTOPI. I finished the NW corner last — with abbreviations, admittedly common ones, at 1A and 1D, I thought it was a tad inelegant.
CUTSADEAL has a shady connotation to me. Like a secret handshake where two people agree to keep some dodgy business under wraps. Or when Fox News settles with Dominion rather than have its all-star line-up testify under oath…
I agree it was a good NYT – though my solving time was fast (for me) for a Friday.
CUTS A DEAL doesn’t necessarily sound shady to me, but it does suggest that there was some horse-trading that went on prior to making the agreement.
It’s always interesting to see the differences in solving experiences. For me, the NW corner went in quickly, with no changes. The NE, on the other hand, held out for a while. Nothing unusually hard there – it just took me quite a while to get a foothold.
I do have a nit to pick with 1-A. The NCAA does not offer scholarships (as far as I know) – many of its member institutions do.
Interesting (to me, anyway) fact. Ocean Spray is actually a cooperative – a company owned by the cranberry growers whose produce the company turns into juices, etc.
I wondered about the NCAA clue, but I don’t know enough about the college sports racket to be sure, so just let it go.
Universal review is titled as WSJ.
Oops. Fixed now.
Amy, though your completed NYT puzzle correctly shows 34D as STATUSQUO, your discussion lists StatuESQUE.
Oops. Fixed now.
Re LAT puzzle:
In my experience, “Y’all” in the South is always used for more than one person. So the 3D clue “Southern party” seemed a bit off to me.
Dan, the plural of Y’ALL is “ALL Y’ALL”
Further, party can refer to an individual or a group.
Where is WSJ????
Friday WSJ crosswords are contest puzzles. We don’t post about them until after the submission deadline has passed.
Re LAT: One of these things is not like the others. POLARIZING BEARS doesn’t follow the pattern of adding ING (with possible homophonic spelling changes to the first part). The additional IZ has no counterpart in any other theme entry. Either it should have been omitted or replaced by something more consistent, although I don’t have a good suggestion. SNOWING LEOPARDS, maybe?
Re LAT: 23A Try as I might, I do not understand how to turn Apes ineptae into Bumbling Bees. Apiarium, Apiares, Apis? All the other clues made sense to me, but not this one unless, as pannonica said, “Today’s theme takes the concept of Latin names… loosely”. And the way I think, the answer would have to be “very very loosely”. Am I correct, or did it just buzz over my head?
Apes is Latin for ‘bees’. Apis is the singular. Just as the plural of felis is feles.
I don’t know Latin or Latin conjugation, but a little Googling suggests that ‘apes’ is the nominative form of the Latin word for bee.
(oops … pannonica beat me to it)
I didn’t follow the NYT clue for ADE as an ending for “power,” if I remember right. Help?
powerade is a ‘sports’ beverage that competes against gatorade
LAT: I think the constructor was trying to elude to some of the old “Latin” names that got given the Roadrunner (“Acceleratii Incredibus”) and Wile E. Coyote (“Carnivorous vulgaris”) when those were running regularly. I’m not sure those were ever entertaining, but I’m sure they were to somebody to keep doing them. IMO it fell flat in the puzzle, but it was what it was.
Newsday: I have to say it’s a little strange but it seems the last three Friday’s have been a lot harder as of late, to the tune of being Sat NYT+ today. Course it could be me as I’ve run into a puzzle every once in a while that was a lot worse than norm – case in point today’s WSJ but we’ll get there when that posts. I don’t know if that’s an intended trend there or not with Newsday, but it’ll be interesting if it is.
LAT: The “Latin” names in Roadrunner cartoons get more ‘entertaining’ the older I get, and I’d be willing to bet the cartoonists had the most fun creating them.