Ben Zimmer’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Musical Soundalikes”—Jim’s review
Theme answers consist of made-up phrases that sound like actual band names.
- 20a. [Network connection not working, sounding like “Just a Girl” singers?] NODE OUT. No Doubt.
- 25a. [Liquor lamentations, sounding like “Blitzkrieg Bop” singers?] RUM MOANS. Ramones.
- 34a. [Dutch granola bits, sounding like “Private Eyes” singers?] HOLLAND OATS. Hall and Oates. I’ve heard “haulin’ oats” before but not this one.
- 50a. [Tale of a love god, sounding like “Dream On” singers?] EROS MYTH. Aerosmith.
- 55a. [Description of this puzzle’s theme answers, sounding like “The Look” singers?] ROCK SET. Roxette.
I enjoyed this quite a bit, in part because all of these bands fall squarely into my wheelhouse, but also because I found a couple of the entries to be humorous. I even recognized all the song titles. I get that not everyone will have the same connection, so your mileage may vary. But it sure worked for me.
Fave bits of fill include MAIN DISH, TENSED UP, SAD STORY, and “IS IT ME?” plus MOJO and DOJO. A number of pop culture references skewed older like Cat BALLOU, BENJI, and ALIENS, so I appreciated Matthew MODINE being clued via Stranger Things.
Clues were on the tougher side for this Wednesday, or at least I was on the very wrongest wavelength. For example, I had CAR for the longest time in response to the clue [One might be jam-packed]. It turned out to be JAR. And that’s just one of several that got me.
More clues of note:
- 18a. [Swift specialty]. IRONY. That’s Jonathan Swift, not Taylor.
- 23a. [Make a father]. ORDAIN. Took me a long time to see this because I had ACH instead of OCH in the crossing [Scot’s exclamation].
- 5d. [1986 sequel that takes place on the moon LV-426]. ALIENS. I love a clue that hits my geeky bone.
- 61d. [Messi motivator]. “OLE!” Tricky, but I like the fresh angle.
Four stars from me.
Kavin Pawittranon & Nijah Morris’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
The name of the game is PAC-MAN (68A.
[Where to find the starts of 17-, 28-, 45- and 58-Across?]), and Pac-Man travels through a maze eating PELLETs and FRUIT, trying to eat GHOSTs before they get him, and the sound is something like “waka waka.” The themers are a zoo’s food PELLET DISPENSER, a GHOST OF A CHANCE, the FRUIT OF THE LOOM brand, and rapper WAKA FLOCKA FLAME. Certainly a fresh theme concept!
Fave fill: ASTROTURF, SAFE WORD, EIGHT BALL (tricky clue: 19D. [Last thing to go in a pocket, one hopes], as when shooting pool).
Newer usage: 55A. [“Whoops,” in a text], MY B, as in “my bad.”
Name I either didn’t see in the 2014 and 2018 Winter Games, or just forgot: 29D. [Yuzuru ___, first skater to successfully land a quadruple loop in competition], HANYU. Two gold medals in men’s singles!
Four stars from me.
John Hawksley’s AV Club crossword, “AVCX Classic Themeless #69
Bonkers grid! The word count is just 58, and that middle swath has five Across 11s crossing another five Down 11s. The fill is quite a bit smoother than I’d have expected.
Taxonomy: 15a. [It has a duck face and a normal face], LOONIE. Technically, while the loon is a waterbird, it’s not in the same order as ducks.
Fave fill: MINNESOTA, DISASTER GAYS (term I hadn’t heard before), STRESS EATER, STOCK TIP, DESERT PLANT, WINTER’S TALE, DINNER GUEST, new-to-me YETI BOOTS.
A few odd word forms here, such as TACTILELY and PONDEROSITY, not terrible but not great.
Four stars from me.
Jared Goudsmit’s Universal crossword, “Spelling Bees” — pannonica’s write-up
Reparsing phrases as if they were describing the locations of letters within one of the words:
- 17a. [B?] BROADWAY OPENING.
- 28a. [E?] END OF TIME.
- 49a. [E?] REC CENTER.
- 62a. [S?] SPIRITUAL LEADER.
These letters, of course, spell “BEES”.
It’s a cute theme, but it really requires most of the crossing letters to be in place before being able to have an inkling about the key entries.
- 1a [Pre-K lesson] ABCS. Appropriate to the theme, and a nice way to open the grid.
- 22a [1,440 minutes] DAY. Right now, that doesn’t seem so long. But I’m sure it’s very much a situational sense.
- 67a [“It’s a __ country”] FREE. Is it? Our freedoms are being eroded at an alarming pace. Especially when it comes to intellectual pursuits and healthcare. Guns, not so much.
68a [Name found in “camaraderie”] MARA.
- 70a m[Boast, slangily] FLEX. 2d [“You just got roasted!”] BURN.
- 12d [“You can’t see me!” wrestler] CENA. I know him only as an actor; is he still active on the wrestling scene?
- 29d [Jones of jazz] NORAH. The curse of being too familiar with a subject. Needed a lot of crossings here.
- 50d [Far from a celebrity] NO NAME. 8d [Low-budget film such as “I Was a Teenage Werewolf”] B MOVIE.
Despite what I mentioned about crossings for the theme entries, overall it was a smooth solving experience and a solid offering.
Enrique Henestroza Anguiano & Brooke Husic’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
So we see a lot of puzzle themes similar to today’s by Enrique Henestroza Anguiano & Brooke Husic. There are words split across parts of longer answers tied together by a revealing answer. Today’s are THREE/TWO/ONE tied up at HIDDENFIGURES. I’m guessing that there aren’t many answers that fit this theme either, given the puzzle has resorted to left-right symmetry. GWYNETHREES is new to me, generally we try to keep theme answers as broadly known as possible, but maybe I’m an outlier? The others are two fifteens: FAMOUSLASTWORDS and WALKONEGGSHELLS.
There a few other tricky proper nouns today:
- [“227” actress Reed Hall], ALAINA. There sure are a lot of variations on this name.
- [Type of roof with dormer windows], MANSARD
- [“A Wrinkle in Time” woman], MRSWHO. The name of the work seems dimly familiar?
- [__ Smiths: Adidas tennis shoes], STAN. Managed to work this out; 1970’s tennis star. Not sure I’d recognize his shoes like I would Lacoste and his shirts…
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s solution
Smooth puzzle, lots of terrific fill, plenty of interesting/fun clues. 13d clues ANGELA Bassett as [Tina’s portrayer in “What’s Love Got to Do With It”], and today we got the news of Tina Turner’s passing. A legend!
I don’t care for +AT entries like YAP AT, but that’s offset here a slew of good 8s and 9s.
Four stars from me, that’s all I’ve got time for today.