Jackie Klein, Michelle Fung & Chase Dittrich’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Not So Loud!”—Jim’s review
Theme: Singing voice types are found inside familiar phrases and are identified by circled squares. The revealer is INSIDE VOICE (61a, [What you may use at a library, and what each row of circled letters reveals]). And this marks a debut for two of our three constructors. Congrats!
- 17a. [A Belieber, maybe] TEENY BOPPER. Tenor. Hmm. I don’t know about this clue. The phrase feels quite dated to me, and only someone above a certain age would use the term to refer to young people.
- 23a. [Small bits of progress] BABY STEPS. Bass.
- 39a. [Directions from a fire safety lesson] STOP, DROP, AND ROLL. Soprano. Nice find and a grid-spanner to boot!
- 50a. [Something stuffed in November?] BALLOT BOX. Alto.
Good theme and fun entries. I would’ve adjusted that one clue, but hey, maybe I’m way off base (according to Google’s ngram viewer, the term TEENY BOPPER is only a little bit off of its peak in 2014).
If I had a wish list, it would be that the entries started with the highest voice type (soprano) and went down to the lowest (bass), but that was probably not possible or would’ve resulted in a less-than-fun grid.
Fave fill includes SUPEREGOS, DOGHOUSES and DEVOTED (which triggers an Olivia Newton-John earworm popular with TEENY BOPPERs back in the day).
Clues of note:
- 31a. [Ref. that added “pinkie promise” and “porch pirate” in 2022]. OED. “Porch pirate” I understand. But why is “pinkie promise” just getting the love now? Seems like a much older phrase.
- 29d. [“Starting with the Banker, each player in turn throws the dice,” e.g.]. RULE. Monopoly, perhaps?
Nice grid. 3.75 stars.
Aaron Rosenberg’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
To accommodate the spiral placement of the theme entries, we’ve got a grid with diagonal symmetry (mirrored along a line from top left to bottom right). That spiral pays tribute to the HITCHCOCK movie VERTIGO, starring James STEWART and Kim NOVAK. There’s (spoiler alert!) an incident in a church’s bell TOWER, which clashes with Stewart’s character Scottie’s fear of heights. The cinematography made use of the DOLLY ZOOM, [Dizzying camera technique invented for 58-Across], or “an in-camera effect that distorts perspective to create disorientation, to convey Scottie’s acrophobia.” One of the 15s is MONKEYING AROUND, with a little echo of the dizzying theme going around, but it’s not shaded like the actual theme entries are.
Fave fill: CRISPR, or [Acronym in genetic sequencing], mainly because it sounds tasty. APOPLEXY! DUST-UPS and CHAT UP are both lively (mild grr on the two UPs). NORMANDY and “I DEMAND A RECOUNT.”
8d. [Award with a Best Play category] fools me every time! It’s the athletic ESPY and not a TONY, OBIE, or (in Chicago) JEFF. D’oh!
3.75 stars from me.
Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
Oh! Forgot to solve this and blog it earlier in the day, and now it’s after 10 pm. Enjoyed the puzzle.
Today I learned a bit:
- 33a. [Visual artist and advocate who was a co-plaintiff in the 1999 Supreme Court case Olmstead v. L.C.], LOIS CURTIS. Did not know the name at all. She was a disability activist as well, the Olmstead ruling pertaining to getting disabled folks out of institutions.
- 24d. [Yoruba god of iron], OGUN. His U crosses CURTIS, but you can’t really call this a “Natick” when CARTIS, CERTIS, CIRTIS, CORTIS, and CYRTIS aren’t common anglophone names and CURTIS is.
- I know a Glaswegian is from Glasgow, but had never seen Dundonian before. It’s in the clue for SCOT so I presume it’s the demonym for Dundee denizens.
I’ve been to a Korean market with a skin-care counter, so [___ mucin (animal secretion in some skin-care products)] as a clue for SNAIL? No problem!
Fave fill: BRO COUNTRY, EXCLAMATION MARK, GARAGE SALE, a SELF-TITLED album, LATE PASS, “YOU TELL ME!”, and a tasty li’l MEALWORM.
It does not go unnoticed that Erik makes space for five Black women (maybe more?) in this puzzle: Janelle James’s TV character AVA, actress ROXIE Roker, Beyoncé in the SELF-TITLED clue, TONI Morrison, and LOIS CURTIS. If you have never complained that five white men were included in a crossword, it would be churlish of you to object to the representation here.
Four stars from me.
Susan Gelfand’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Susan Gelfand’s puzzle theme genre today was guessable pretty early, possibly because it’s a pretty common one for the LA Times of late. Circles span two parts of long across answers. You unscramble them and make new word(s). This one is tied together at GAMECHANGER – each set of circles spells a game. So JANEGOODALL is playing JENGA; PAULCEZANNE is a fan of CLUE; CHARLESSCHULZ has taken up CHESS; and HOWARDSTERN is a DARTS aficionado. I’m not sure why all the base answers are people, but I guess it makes the puzzle more consistent? Maybe each person is meant to be a “game changer”?
Not too many crazy entries in this puzzle, despite the central 13 making a grid design a holy pain (trust me!) Spelling Bee doesn’t believe in the existence of AROAR. [Letters from ones folks?] is a cute misdirection for DNA. I wasn’t really aware of the existence of a clothing store called ZARA, but there are apparently two in my broader urban area. I can’t see myself driving 50km to go there…
NYT: Cool concept for a theme. I guessed VERTIGO early on, which helped with the shaded areas and made for a relatively easy solve. Except for the NW corner…
The clue for CRISPR (Acronym in genetic sequencing) is not right. CRISPR refers to actual sequences within DNA of bacteria, and is not related to the process of sequencing DNA (something that was done way before CRISPR was ever discovered). The technique associated with CRISPR, termed CRISPR/Cas9 is used for editing DNA but again the genetic sequencing definition is not accurate in this context.
Once again, I find myself wishing the NYT would do a more thorough job of checking their scientific clues.
+1 to Huda’s comment about the CRISPR clue
Amen to you last sentence, Huda. I had the same criticism of the CRISPR clue but molecular biology is not really my thing.
I frequently find myself wishing the same thing!
In this case, though, I read the clue as “Acronym in [the field of] genetic sequencing.” Since CRISPR is an acronym for a particular family of DNA sequences, that interpretation of the of the clue made perfect sense to me.
If, however, you read the clue as “Acronym in [the process of] genetic sequencing” you would obviously come to a different conclusion.
I thought this was such an elegant and delightful puzzle! I found it a little on the easy-ish side for a Wednesday, but with a theme centered on a specific scene in a relatively old film, I get that others might not feel the same.
+1 I appreciate your comment, Huda. I write sequence analysis software as part of my job, and others in my lab have used CRISPR in their work. All of us would say this clue in inaccurate.
WSJ: “Something stuffed in November” (9 letters) … I immediately entered TURDUCKEN 😂
lol … I like your answer much better. Since the phrase “stuffing ballot boxes” connotes fraud, here’s hoping that this clue/answer combination is almost always inaccurate!
It’s a tossup as to what’s more unsavory to think about: a culinary monstrosity or an assault on democracy?
(OK, it not even a close call.)
AVCX: I’ve never seen anything quite like this. It’s a tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett, an English fantasy writer who died several years back. I’m not familiar with Pratchett’s work, but I enjoyed the puzzle anyway.
The M.C. Escher-like grid is five midi-sized grids that look like the covers of a book, with the grids joined along five book spines. Some entries cross the spines, some run down the spines. Solving online, the whole array rotates depending on the clue you’re working on. There’s two sets of clues, one that requires some knowledge of Pratchett’s work and one for people who don’t know anything about him.
The fill and “n0n-fan” clueing are not particularly challenging. I don’t know how long it took me to solve, but a fair amount of my time involved retyping letters I had written over because the online interface doesn’t behave the same way as the online puzzles that I’m used to.
I loved this puzzle! The only thing I know of his work is that he’s the author of the ‘Discworld’ series of books which seems appropriate as the grid rotates while you solve it. And I’m guessing the footnoted clues are a bonus for Pratchett fans…
Universal: It took me a couple of minutes after finishing the puzzle to make sense of the revealer. I’m not sure “three-part hint” is the best way to say “Break this answer into three two-letter chunks and sound them out,” but I can’t think of a better way. I guess it works, because I eventually got it.
Nice if not particularly taxing puzzle.