John Hawksley’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Wild grid with that four-pointed star in the middle, bulging with Across and Down stagger-stacks of 11s, eh? I found this 62-worder to be on the hard side for an NYT puzzle, and had to use the “check” function to find my error. I had TELESCOPIUS instead of TELESCOPIUM ([Constellation named for the instrument it depicts]), and yes, that did make for a perplexing crossing: [“___ eaten without either mirth or music is ill of digestion”: Sir Walter Scott], SEAT? No, MEAT. Never seen the quote, not big on meat, meh.
Fave fill: “HE STARTED IT!”, MAKEUP GAMES, HALOGEN BULB (that’s banned now??), SETTING FREE.
New to me: 33D. [Certain zen retreat], MOM CAVE. Heard of the man cave and the she-shed, but sure, I’ll take a MOM CAVE. I have some design ideas for it.
Is this legit? 32d. [Quoth the raven?], CAW-CAWED. I don’t know that I’ve seen the doubled call before.
A clue I liked: 13A. [Roast roost], HOT SEAT. As in the person being razzed at a comedy roast is sitting in the HOT SEAT.
Four stars from me.
Universal, “Universal Freestyle 76” by Evan Kalish — norah’s write-up
- ⭐FIEND 30D [Evil being] (Look, ma! We’re in the puzzle!)
- ITSASCAM 1A [“You’ll get ripped off”]
- NAILCARE 15A [Clipping, filing, etc.]
- SHIFTINGSANDS 32A [Metaphor for constant change]
- AREWEGOOD 36A [Post-apology question]
- DONTEVENSTART 37A [“Keep any objections to yourself”]
- CATLOVER 58A [Persian enthusiast, say?]
- LIVEWIRE 61A [Energetic sort]
- IMSOOLD 13D [Reaction to a reunion invitation, perhaps]
- DOGSHOW 37D [Boxers’ event?]
- LEO 59D [Constellation with a “mane”]
A ton of great entries in today’s grid from Evan. That middle set of SHIFTINGSANDS, AREWEGOOD, and DONTEVENSTART tell a fun story. The layout allows for nice open corners with what feels like lower than usual word and block counts, though it still clocks in at a normal 72 words and 34 blocks.
I learned about WESSEX 62A [Kingdom prior to English unification].
Thanks Evan and the Universal team!
Amanda Rafkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Apologies for recent unexcused absences from blogging (was traveling for work). This was a nice fresh puzzle to come back to. Highlights:
- 1A [Rhyming description of one who’s very extra] is DRAMA LLAMA. Getting 1-Across right in a themeless is deceptively hard! It sets the tone of the puzzle, so you might think a constructor would put her seed there, but sometimes your seed doesn’t work well in that position. Some puzzles are better than others at making sure 1A is an attention-getter regardless of whether it was a seed entry; this is one of them.
- 21A [Oft-used tissue] sounds gross on its surface, but it’s really just SINEW, as in body tissue.
- 33A [Leaves in tears?] is a very clever clue for WEEPING WILLOW, an entry that could’ve been fine but not that interesting on its own.
- The SE stack of SEEMS LEGIT, UPSET ALERT, and ETSY STORES: See? You can have a lot of fun with a 30-square area that doesn’t have a single high-Scrabble-point-value letter in it. Love the clue [Creative outlets?] for ETSY STORES.
- 11D [City that a bubbly person might enjoy] is a nice clue for that old chestnut, ASTI.
Lester Ruff’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s placeholder
Sam Acker’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Picky Eaters” — pannonica’s placeholder