John Westwig’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
We’ve got a rulebreaker here: the word part THING is used in all three of the central 15s. I was annoyed when the second one emerged, then won over by the third one. SOMETHING TO HIDE, ANYTHING YOU WANT (coincidentally the same letter count as THE SKY’S THE LIMIT), and NOTHING PERSONAL. Everything’s here except for EVERYTHING.
Fave fill: EXCALIBUR, BLOW A FUSE, TELEPORTS (it would be so handy to have that ability), SMARTEN UP, ASSUMED NAME. Not sure how I feel about 8d. [Stumper], PUZZLING PROBLEM, which feels a bit green-painty. “OMG, YES!” looks weird but I think I like that.
Four-day work week with seven days’ worth of work? I’ll sign off here with an assessment of four stars. TGIF!
Universal, “Universal Freestyle 75” by Catherine Cetta — norah’s write-up
THEME: None (ish)
- LISTICLE 37D [Online piece whose title may begin with “The 10 Best …”]
- IMPUMPED 34D [“This is gonna be awesome!”]
- YESLETS 15A [“We totally should!”]
- MOXIE 61A [Chutzpah]
- SUREDID 40A [Casual response to “Have you handled it?”]
- ITALIC 11D [Inclined to be stressed?]
- DOESNTHAVEACLUE 17A [Is hopelessly unaware]
- TIGON 47A [Lion-tiger hybrid]
I love this adorable grid! It did, in fact make me PUTONAHAPPYFACE. I wouldn’t go as far as to call this a minitheme, but I appreciate that the grid art is linked to a spanner, rather than either just hanging out on their own. While I do wish there was a piece or two more of fill that was a little more sparkly or modern, the constraints of the grid art don’t leave a ton of room for iteration. Too, I’m impressed with the cleanliness of both bottom corners, with a 6-9-8-8 series running down through the spanner on either side. Nice work.
Thanks Catherine and the Universal team!
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double Header” — pannonica’s write-up
Wherein BI- is prefixed to various words and phrases, wackifying them. I have no idea if this is an intentional nod to Pride Month and bisexuality.
- 23a. [Tour de France’s hardest part?] BIKING OF THE HILL (king of the hill).
- 34a. [Cave creatures just hanging around?] BIDING BATS (dingbats).
- 47a. [Set of championship games played in part of the Bahamas?] BIMINI SERIES (miniseries).
- 63a. [Archie Bunker, on his TV show?] BIGOT WITH THE PROGRAM (got with the program).
- 82a. [Chess player about to make a diagonal move?] BISHOP LIFTER (shoplifter).
- 96a. [Subject of Colorado no-hunting regulations?] BISON IN LAW (son-in-law). I would have thought Wyoming a more immediate choice, as it’s (1) the primary location of Yellowstone National Park, home of the largest free-roaming population, and (2) its state flag features a bison.
- 107a. [POTUS, when behaving sinfully?] BIDEN OF INIQUITY (den of iniquity).
A rather modest theme, executed well.
- 1d [Little lion] CUB.
- 18d [Easily attached, say] ADDABLE. <moue>
- 17d [Capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco] GUADALAJARA. So I guess it will do.
- 31d [Person whose work is picking up] CABBY.
- 58d [He was baptized Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone] ST FRANCIS. 9d [Dumas’s Comte de la Fère, familiarly] ATHOS.
- 75d [Left, in the extreme] SOCIALIST. I believe true communist (if such a thing exists) and anarchist would be farther left.
- 83d [Typewriter roller] PLATEN. Plucked that one from my memory surprisingly quickly, even though I haven’t thought about it [Since way back when] IN AGES (48d).
- 92d [Priest, rabbi and pastor’s place, jokingly] IN A BAR. For a time it seemed the answer was to be THE BAR, which I grumbled at. Not sure how much I care for the correct entry either—the clue seems insufficient, as it indicates A BAR just as well, if not better.
- 7a [“We Built This City” band] STARSHIP. Gah! Curses!
- 21a [Vehicle procsession] AUTOCADE, not MOTORCADE, which Ngrams much more robustly.
- 33a [Goddess of wise counsel who was the first wife of Zeus] METIS. Forgotten lore! I wonder whose idea it was to separate.
- 71a [Exposed checker, in backgammon] BLOT. I saved the crossing of this entry and 67d [Balzac’s “Père __”] GORIOT for last, as I wasn’t entirely certain of the O.
- 99a [They might come from a bank] BOATS. Hands-down the most oblique clue in the puzzle.
- 105a [“2 Cool 4 __” (BTS album)] SKOOL. 11d [PTA meeting place] SCH.
- 117a [Publisher that merged with Holt and Winston in 1960] RINEHART. Did anyone know this? I sure didn’t.
- 104d [Blue hue] AQUA. 42a [Feels like it’ll never end] DRAGS.
Ben Zimmer’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
This one played out like a typical easy-mode Stumper, where I was always able to establish a pseudopod that could encroach into a new area to be filled.
The pivotal event was breaking down and writing out/crossing off the letters for 1a [NINE __ (anagram of PUNISHMENT)] in order to see THUMPS. From there I corrected 3d [Orange derivative] from PULP to UGLI, understood 5d [Tomatoey sister brand of V8] was not a juice but a sauce—PREGO. At which point, 14a [Engraver admired by Charles Lamb] was obviously HOGARTH (whew!) and everything else fell into place.
I could then be certain that 19a [Unionization of a sort] was TYING THE KNOT, and bang! there was my entry to the upper right corner, the final section to fill.
- 7a [Russia, before Peter the Great] TSARDOM, which orthographically so wants to be STARDOM, much as 6d [Sabermetricians, for instance] STATHEADS evokes STATE HEADS.
- 16a [One-vowel North American capital] ATLANTA; 55a [One-vowel North American capital] TORONTO.
- 33a [Word on the Big Ten city list] ANN. Must be Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- 35a [Runway frequenters] TIARAS. meh.
- 36a [One you’d expect to hustle] SHAKEDOWN ARTIST. Not sure about this clue. I mean, it’s accurate enough, but seems weird.
- 43a [Fill in] TEMP. Made slightly trickier by the omission of a hyphen, which would signal noun forms rather than a verb.
- 45a [Be upset, say] LOSE. Did not fool me for a moment. I believe this was the first entry I put in.
- 49a [Competitors in the IPA market?] BITTER RIVALS. Cute.
- 60a [Wide receiver’s extremity] END LINE. I don’t know what this means, but it’s obviously football.
- 61a [They’re seen in shower scenes] METEORS. With the M already in place from 55d [Silicon Valley successor of Steve] TIM (“Tim Apple”) this was practically a gimme.
- 62a [Fuel addition] GAS TAX. Good, understated misdirection.
- 7d [Showbiz coinage circa 1915] TALKIE. Who knew it was so early? People obviously were anticipating the advances in technology to be realized over a decade hence (31d [Antonym of “hence”] AGO, for which I first tried TIL).
- 20d [In other places] ELSEWHERE. I like this as a center-grid entry.
- 27d [Slew] PASSEL. Another that I got surprisingly easily, in retrospect.
- 28d [Glorify gleamily] ENHALO. Conversely, I definitely needed several crossings to even understand the clue here.
- 34d [They can’t gambol in casinos] PETS. Definitely wanted TOTS here.
- 44d [Base homes] HOVELS. This one fooled me too; nothing to do with the military.
- 46a [“Sea” creature] OTTER. The quotes here refer to the common name of Enhydra lutris, which does indeed spend much of its time in and on the ocean, but is probably not typically thought of as a sea creature.
- 48d [Aurous appellation] GILDA. The clue is just asking for a gold-related name, but I was fooled into thinking of auroral apparitions.
- 50d [European leader] INDO-. No helpful question mark here!
- 52d [Ore door] ADIT. Some hoary old crosswordese that I filled in without crossings, expecting to have to revise it later on. Imagine my surprise.
- 54d [Cheaters, casually] SPEX. I was unaware of this <ahem> appellation for spectacles, but there’s ample dictionary support for it. Seems to be both old and new slang.
Emma Lawson and Larry Snyder’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
This is a fun, if slightly too easy, Saturday. Some high- and lowlights:
- 1A [Age of the information superhighway] is DIGITAL ERA. I really wish the clue for this had been harder — right away, “age” in the clue gives away ERA in the answer, and if you try INTERNET to go with it and quickly realize it’s a letter too long, DIGITAL won’t be far behind.
- 11A [1980s pop duo] is WHAM (with an exclamation point not included in crosswords), and I am always here for a Wham! reference. In fact, I am now listening to “Freedom” because of this puzzle, so thank you to whichever of the constructors or editor I owe that pleasure to.
- 15A [Hardest part of making guacamole] is a very cute clue for AVOCADO PIT. Cute, if not particularly tricky, given that the ease of getting 1A meant that I was able to put in a lot of the crossings before I looked at the clue.
- 19A [Sounds from a bull pen] sounds like a Patti baseball reference, but in fact it’s about a pen with actual bulls in it, and the answer is SNORTS.
- 23A [Mathewson who was one of the first five inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame] has Patti’s name all over it, because I suspect many people would have gone with Turlington, the supermodel, for CHRISTY.
- 36A [Richard Williams, to Venus and Serena] is DADAGER. Is that a thing the way MOMAGER is? I don’t think so — it gets 8.3K Google hits to MOMAGER’s 1.3 million.
- 40A [Group that meets regularly to practice spelling?] is a clever way to clue COVEN.
- 3D [Focus of actors working as waiters?] is pretty funny: The answer is GODOT, as in the play Waiting For Godot.
- 38D [Sun chaser?] is MON, as in the abbreviation for Monday, which comes after Sunday, abbreviated Sun. I think it’s a little stretchy without a period after “Sun,” but cute.