Dave Rus’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Weather-Beaten”—Jim’s review
Theme answers consist of weather events…plus their anagrams which are the “result” of CLIMATE CHANGE (37a, [Existential ecological concern, and what’s happening with the cross-referenced answers]).
- 17a [Weather with an eye (62-Across)] HURRICANE + 62a [Less suitable for young audiences (17-Across)] RAUNCHIER.
- 28a [Weather with a twist (47-Across)] TORNADO + 47a [Oven for baking naan (28-Across)] TANDOOR.
- 44a [Weather-influencing phenomenon (31-Across)] EL NIŃO + 31a [Shopping in skivvies, say (44-Across)] ONLINE.
- 61a [Weather in winter (19-Across)] SLEET + 19a [Tuning fork material (61-Across)] STEEL.
Nice gimmick and a tidy theme. However, solving for time (which I happened to do on this occasion) doesn’t mix well with so many cross references, so I pretty much ignored the theme until I was nearly done. Still, I enjoyed the aha moment when it came.
Fillwise, those stacked 8s in the corners (due to the PRESENCE of a hard-to-work-with 13-letter central revealer) are solid, though maybe not especially sparkly; they are each crossing two theme answers after all. PINAFORE is the highlight of the grid, sandwiched in the SW between three theme answers.
Clues of note:
- 45d. [How Marie Kondo folds clothes]. NEATLY. Maybe not so much anymore.
- 64d. [Components of some IRAs]. CDS. Really? Maybe not the best choice for long-term growth, but perhaps as you get close to retirement.
Good puzzle. 3.5 stars.
Victor Barocas’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
We take to the skies for today’s celestial them: Constellations are used to clue terms that can be punnily described by them.
- 17A. [Ursa Major and Ursa Minor?], OVERBEARS. The Big and Little Bears in the sky. Feels like an unusual form of that word, though. I’d say “he’s overbearing” or “he’s being overbearing” rather than “he overbears.”
- 29A. [Scorpio and Cancer?], NIGHTCRAWLERS. Crabs and scorpions crawl. I guess two- and four-legged animals get to “walk,” while the 6+ crowd “crawls”?
- 49A. [Sagittarius and Orion?], SHOOTING STARS. One is the Archer, the other the Hunter.
- 65A. [Pegasus?], HIGH HORSE. Specifically, a high horse with wings.
Cute theme. (Note: Some commenters grouse if a clue is called “cute,” as if it is an insult or diminution. From me, it is praise! (See sense #5, “mentally keen or discerning,” with an added vibe of “Oh! I like this.”)
Fave fill: ELIXIRS, SPICE BURP in proximity, [Famed diarist Samuel] PEPYS, GANGSTA RAP, CASHEW (one of my three favorite nuts), JIMMIES as a verb (in some parts, the word’s used to refer to sprinkles on a cupcake), and BRATISLAVA (much closer to Vienna than Prague is–so there is time to make new friends and drink plenty of beer on the train from Prague to Vienna).
Two more things:
- 61D. [She’s found in “She loves me not”], ESME. This is a quasi-cryptic clue, such as you might find in the occasional Saturday Stumper if memory serves. She lovES ME not.
- I went awry with 29D. [Be specific about, in a way], NAME, by trying NAIL first. Anyone else?
Overall, a smooth puzzle. Four stars from me.
Emma Lawson & Shannon Rapp’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Once you figure out how Emma Lawson & Shannon Rapp’s crossword theme clues work today, the puzzle becomes a lot easier. They’re almost like cryptic clues, where the second part is the actual clue for the answer, and the first just tells you that the circles spell out a dog breed, explained at RANGEROVER:
- […Flotation Device], POOLNOODLE with POODLE.
- […Mysterious Section of the North Atlantic], BERMUDATRIANGLE with BEAGLE.
- […Minimal performance venue], BLACKBOXTHEATER with BOXER. New vocab for me, but defined in the clue.
- [___ mutter: potatoes and peas dish], ALOO. Familiar if you’ve been to an Indian restaurant. Worth noting that ALOO means potato and MUTTER peas; similarly ALOO GOBI is potatoes + cauliflower. Many of the dishes are named for their ingredients!
- [Expression of love that doesn’t quite land], AIRKISS. Best clue and answer of the puzzle!
- [Pronoun pair], HEHIM. HEHIS?
- [“Beauty and the Beast”, song], BEOURGUEST. Boy does that look like a weird French word in the grid.
- It’s down grid pair is [Fancy places to see the stars], REDCARPETS, which is cleverly clued to boot.
- [Quick note of appreciation], THANX. Boy is that “ks” tiring to write out.
Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword– Sophia’s recap
Sophia here filling in with the New Yorker write-up!
Fave fill: The central MAGICAL THINKING was the clear stand-out to me. PANCETTA, MISHMASH, ON THE CHEAP, FLASH MOB were also great. For a New Yorker puzzle, this was pretty light on proper nouns.
Trouble spots: The classic “how to abbreviate ‘station'” problem – I had “sta”, today the answer was STN. Also “rout” instead of DRUB for [Beat decisively], and I can never spell FOIE GRAS correctly on the first try.
New to me: NICK NEWS (which I am stunned ran until 2015 on Nickelodeon and yet I’ve never heard of it), MR. LEE, that Zeno of Citium founded STOICISM.
- [One called to mind?] for BABYSITTER
- [Movie whose first sequel was subtitled “The Meltdown”] ICE AGE. This might only be a highlight for me, but IMO “Ice Age: The Meltdown” is by far the best movie in the franchise and I’m always happy to see it get a shout out :)
Cute my burro, annoying, like large weekend puzzles, Fridays are generally easier than this thing was
To each …
“Fridays are generally easier than this thing was” … really? … This curmudgeon posted his fastest Wednesday solve time since late-November. As you say, “to each”.
Just curious … what did you struggle with?
OVERBEARS is a legit word, per various online dictionaries, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. And an OVER BEAR is not how anyone would describe Ursae M and m. But the other themers were good.
I don’t know if Stan Newman is wholly to blame for these ‘name hidden in a phrase’ clues but I wish they would stop.
Chillax about the name clues and have a big rum punch!
OVERBEARS did seem a bit different, more punning, than the other theme entries, so a slight inconsistency. Still, yes, a cute NYT puzzle. I did find the NE harder, between remembering the spelling of geography, the two names coming across, and JIMMIES, which you don’t see everyday. But the last was nice to discover and my avenue to the other three.
I find x-refs burdensome, but must admit that they are so integral to the WSJ theme, which isn’t bad at all, as to justify them.
New Yorker: I call it closer to “challenging” than “lightly challenging,” but maybe that’s just my unfamiliarity with MAGICAL THINKING in the sports context and my impression that a FLASH MOB is more of a protest action than a “dance performance” (not that I am objecting to that clue).
I did like the clue for BABYSITTER, though I didn’t really think it through and ended up with BABY SIsTER — a mistake that took a minute to find.
It felt about right to me, but then TNY is almost always harder than its difficulty self-ratings would suggest — although, yet again, it’s safer going by setter than day of the week.
I did know MAGICAL THINKING but hesitated to apply it. I’d have said that pregame rituals have more to do with building team spirit than with wishful thinking. But no doubt some do treat it this way.
WSJ: That’s the kind of theme I wish I could come up with. Not super flashy, but fun and easy to understand. Overall, a breezy solving experience.
I didn’t recognize Dave Rus’ name. This site has one other puzzle by him, from the WSJ last July. I may have to try and find it.