Christopher Youngs’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Shredded”—Jim’s review
We have EIGHT MINUTE (AB)S (that’s eight “tiny” ABs) scattered throughout today’s grid (59a, [1990s video workout fad (or what this puzzle features)]), with most of them doubling up in the longest entries.
- 20a. [Christ the Redeemer keeps a watchful eye over it] COPAC(AB)AN(A B)EACH. I wanted the last word to be BRAZIL, so I had to piece that together slowly.
- 30a. [John, Paul, George and Ringo] F(AB) FOUR.
- 40a. [Song with the lyric “Been an awful good girl”] SANT(A B)(AB)Y. A nice find. I enjoyed the back-to-back ABs. (Can you have abs back-to-back?)
- 47a. [Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque setting] (AB)U DH(AB)I.
Very nice! Once I got the beginning to the first theme answer (COPAC_) and glanced at the title, I sniffed out the rebus and got to enjoy an aha moment. But I was expecting a six-pack, just as I bet most of you were. So when I uncovered the EIGHT, I thought, “Well, sure, I guess you can have an 8-pack.” Formulating that MINUTE took a little bit (partly because I don’t recall that workout fad), but when I did and realized there was an extra bit of wordplay going on, I had a second enjoyable aha moment. A nice surprise zinger at the end! Well done!
In the fill I enjoyed SOLDIER ON, MALAISE, NESCAFE, WASABI PEA, and EDIT WAR. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the verb ABOMINATE, and I’m not so keen on SHRIMPS clued [Little guys] as I’m one of those vertically-challenged types.
Clues of note:
- 35a. [Polo’s heading]. EAST. That’s Marco Polo, I presume.
- 37d. [Indian drum]. TABLA. Let’s watch some insanely good TABLA playing, shall we?
Good puzzle. Four stars.
Alex Rosen’s Fireball Crossword, “Cued In”—Jim’s review
Jim here, sitting in for Jenni who’s road-tripping and camping for the month of June.
Whew! This puzzle was kind of a slog even though I caught on fairly early. The first inkling we get at the theme is at 16a clued [16a. Instructions for solving this puzzle, Part II]. “Part II”? What happened to Part I?
I had a lot of white space by the time I got down to 29- and 30d where I had my aha moment and realized some clues had an extra letter. Based on that, I was able to piece together 16a to find REMOVE ONE LETTER.
There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which clues had letters added, so the slog continued as I tried to sort out what was thematic and what was just a tricky clue.
Eventually I resolved 59a into FROM TWENTY CLUES. I was hoping for a hint as to which clues got the theme treatment, but there was none. It was just a matter of brute forcing the solve to find those entries.
My last hope was that the added letters spelled something significant. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. And to save you the trouble, I went through and found each entry with an added letter. You’re welcome.
- 1 G: [Aspiring heavyweight] -> [Aspirin heavyweight] = BAYER
- 10 H: [Wash up] -> [Was up] = LED
- 16 I: [Instructions for solving this puzzle, Part II] -> [Instructions for solving this puzzle, Part I] = see above
- 24 H: [“___ shucks!”] -> [“___ sucks!”] = THAT
- 27 Y: [Slimy to the max] -> [Slim to the max] = THINNEST
- 31 O: [Boobs, e.g.] -> [Bobs, e.g.] = DOS (as in hair-DOS)
- 35 L: [In the black] -> [In the back] = AFT
- 36 G: [Finagles] -> [Finales] = EPILOGS
- 44 T: [Boast, e.g.] -> [Boas, e.g.] = SERPENTS
- 59 I: [Instructions for solving this puzzle, Part III] -> [Instructions for solving this puzzle, Part II] = see above
- 7 R: [Mariner of fiction] -> [Mainer of fiction] = KING. Tough one. I wanted it to be Silas Marner or else a Marine, but it’s Stephen KING from Maine.
- 29 E: [Horse feathers] -> [Horse fathers] = SIRES
- 30 R: [Dreadlocked] -> [Deadlocked] = TIED
- 31 L: [Manly men] -> [Many men] = DADS
- 33 R: [Larger units] -> [Lager units] = PINTS
- 38 C: [Musical with many hits in the ’40s and ’50s] -> [Musial with many hits in the ’40s and ’50s] = STAN. Another tough one if you don’t know the name.
- 53 R: [Crooked] -> [Cooked] = DONE
- 54 A: [Beta preceder] -> [Bet preceder] = ANTE
- 57 C: [Company known for scandals] -> [Company known for sandals] = TEVA
- 60 I: [Waiter in a French restaurant] -> [Water in a French restaurant] = EAU
Whew again! This post is even more sloggy than the solve. That’s a lot of cutting and pasting and formatting right there, so I hope you’re happy! (The things I do for you…) ;-)
You may get the impression that I didn’t like this puzzle. That’s not the case. I did enjoy it, and there are some really good tricksy clues both in and out of the theme. Feel free to highlight which clues you liked best.
Good—but slow—puzzle, and I still wanted something to connect the theme clues. 3.75 stars.
David and Karen and Paul Steinberg’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up
Difficulty: Challenging (20m36s)
Today’s theme: Let’s go HALFSIES
- 4/8 (HALF CAF) crossing OUT O(F OUR) HANDS and H(EIGHT)EN
- 2/4 (NOT HALF BAD) crossing I(T WO)NT HURT and PETITS (FOUR)S
- 1/2 (TOP HALF) crossing AT(ONE)D and CREDI(T WO)RTHY
Another “proper” tricky Thursday. Didn’t actually notice it was an oversized 16×15 until after I finished, which may have contributed to the slow solve. Tripped up all over the place — wanted SERRANO to be POBLANO, IFSO to be ELSE, etc. Wrong guesses left and right. I realized that there was some sort of rebus in play when I couldn’t make IT WONT HURT (or any such variation) fit at 37a, but didn’t get the half fraction spin until I was all the way down to CREDIT WORTHY.
Cracking: No part of my performance on this puzzle would prompt one to say: SO SOON?
Slacking: DESELECT, particularly clued as “Turn off, digitally”. I don’t think of anything as being turned off when it is DESELECTED; put into idle or hibernation mode, at most, but not off entirely.
Sidetracking: VOODOO Child (or Chile, depending on the recording)
Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker crossword – Kyle’s write-up
What a collection of long entries in today’s New Yorker! Just look at these intersecting double stacks:
POWER STRIP/BUSY AS A BEE/IDLE GOSSIP/TOM SAWYER
WORLD ATLAS/HAND-ME-DOWN/BELLWETHER/PUT ON HOLD
What’s more, we get some lovely triple stacks in the corners with BARSTOOLS/CALIFORNIA/ART FORGERY and “I DON’T GET IT”/MOBILE HOME/PRICELINE, and nary a junky entry to be found crossing them.
Interesting clue on 19A PEAT [Three-___ (back-to-back-to-back championships). Of course PEAT is a word in its own right, but this is a nice way to put a fun spin on it.
Thank you Robyn!
Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
I don’t really get the appeal of today’s theme by Ed Sessa. At its heart, it’s just a list of pasta shapes: CAPELLINI, GEMELLI, TORTELLI, RIGATONI, FUSILLI, MANICOTTI. Then, there’s an attempt in the clues to zhuzh it up by clueing each shape awkwardly to a profession?
My favourite thing in the puzzle was [Target of a new czar in New York City], RATS, because that’s just an amazing fact. Note, a rat-king is a lot crueler than a rat czar, at least I hope so.
I’m not sure, did anyone else feel a little surprised that [Bad collisions], SMASHUPS was used deliberately? Seems like the kind of thing you want to avoid unless desperate? It’s only going to conjure bad feelings for people.
Nate Cardin’s USA Today Crossword, “Acrosses and Downs (Freestyle)” — Emily’s write-up
Smooth puzzle, fun grid, and great cluing with excellent fill!
Love today’s puzzle! Jumped right in and was causing through until the last third which ate up a bit more of my time so it wasn’t as fast of a solve as what I originally was on track for. PINKYSWEAR tripped me up until I had some crossings and so did SALTFATACIDHEAT even though I knew the book but couldn’t quite get the title in one go.
Favorite fill: FLOATINGHOLIDAY, VELVETRAGE, PANEER, KNACKS, and META
Stumpers: ITRY (needed crossings), ASSURE (needed crossings), and ILANA (new to me)
The flow for this freestyle hit the spot today and it almost felt like a themed puzzle given the layout and lengthy fill, though part of that is probably due to the lack of restrictions usually imposed by having a theme (having tried to construct a few of my own puzzles that just cannot seem to come together with a clean fill). Besides the lengthy acrosses already mentioned throughout, there’s also in the downs: ROOTBEER, SKITEAM, AMPUTEE, and OHPLEASE.
Kudos, Nate, for such a fun and fresh puzzle!