Addison Snell’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “You’re Positive?”—Jim’s review
Theme answers consist of words and phrases whose beginnings would seem like they should negate the root of the entries…but they don’t. The revealer is NON-NEGATIVE (63a, [Zero or greater, or a description of the circled letters, which do not affect the meanings of the answers]).
- 17a. [Capable of combustion] INFLAMMABLE. I’ve seen the word, but I’m betting “flammable” is far more common.
- 26a. [Commingled] IMMIXED. This word I don’t think I’ve ever seen.
- 28a. [Disentangles] UNRAVELS. I don’t know anyone who would ever use “ravel”…except in capitalized form as a proper name.
- 40a. [“Everybody knows that, dummy”] “NO DUH!” This one’s an outlier since it’s two separate words and not a root word with a prefix.
- 48a. [Put-on appearance] DISGUISE. Solid.
- 50a. [Filleted] DEBONED. I can’t imagine using “bone” to mean “remove bones from.” In my experience, it means something waaay different.
Despite my little quibbles above, I like the theme. It just goes to show what a crazy, mixed-up language English is when prefixes can be added that don’t do a damn thing. Sometimes the prefixed version is more commonly used (as in the last two instances), and sometimes the non-prefixed version is preferred (the first two). I also like the mathy revealer. It makes me try to remember what’s the difference between a whole number, a natural number, and an integer. (Here’s a refresher.)
Fill highlights include CHRISTINE (clued as Stephen King’s evil car), DINOSAUR, IN ON IT, and LANDED ON (clued as a synonym to “arriving at” an answer). DAMPS as a verb (clued [Muffles]) is strange.
Clues of note:
- 1a. [World’s most populous nation]. INDIA. This just happened recently when INDIA overtook China in this category.
- 54a. [Puts on]. AIRS. I resisted this answer because AIRS are things you “put on.” Then I realized it was a synonym for “broadcasts.”
- 56a. [Star pitcher?]. AGENT. Nice tricky clue, but I really really wanted the answer to be NINJA.
Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.
Jennifer Hoelzer’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
I did not at all see the theme while solving, but it became obvious when I began scrolling through the clue list to look for a theme revealer. Not! That is, each Across clue begins with the word “not.” Now, I did see the twofer of [Not doing anything] for FREE and IDLE, but we get such doubling plenty of other times.
Each entry feels like it’s part of a themeless puzzle, so the theme is more an “I see what the constructor did!” experience than enjoying solving the theme entries.
Fave fill: BLEARY-EYED (it me), ON THE FENCE, the NEBULA awards.
- 50D. [Often a river runs through it], CANYON.
- 33D. [Possessive type?], DEMON.
3.5 stars from me.
Alex Eaton-Salners’s AV Club Classic crossword, “Tip-Top Shape”–Amy’s recap
The grid is 16×16 and it has diagonal mirror symmetry, so it doesn’t fit the norm. TWIN PEAKS is the inspiration for the theme: its PEAK sounds like the end of SNEAK PEEK, and then the circled letters give four other spellings of that sound. The circled letters intersect at one end, and if you spin the puzzle 45 degrees clockwise or 135 degrees counterclockwise, you get the “twin peaks” with PIC/PEK and PIQUE/PEAKE, from PICABO STREET / PEKING OPERAS and CHESAPEAKE / FIT OF PIQUE. Intricately wrought and unusual theme.
Clues that popped out at me:
- 9a. [Maker of tech products (not plastic spoons, that’s the other product)], CISCO. The food service company is spelled Sysco. There’s also Star Trek‘s Benjamin Sisko and “The Thong Song” singer Sisqo, since we’re archiving alternate spellings for sounds today.
- 21a. [Structure with two legs?], LAP. Do study that structure next time you sit down.
- 24a. [J and K, notably], DRS. The Dr. J part was easy enough (basketball legend Julius Erving) but I just blanked on Dr. K–baseball’s Dwight Gooden, with the K standing for the strikes he threw.
4.25 stars from me, though I worked way harder on solving than AV Club’s “2/5” difficulty level led me to expect.
Will Pfadenhauer’s Universal crossword, “Spread the Love” — pannonica’s write-up
- 17a. [*Wildly disorganized (Note: The title hints at the expanding word hidden in the starred clue’s [sic] answers)] ALL OVER THE PLACE. In the .puz version the relevant squares—L-O-V-E—are circled. As you can see, the expansion is regular and even.
- 31a. [*As far as the eye can see] FIELD OF VIEW.
- 36a. [*Needing no encouragement from others] SELF-MOTIVATED.
- 51a. [*Paid the price for shouting too much] LOST ONE’S VOICE.
Left-right mirror symmetry is an understandable choice for a theme such as this.
- 3d [House that’s really cool!] IGLOO. Well, yes and no. I would have preferred to see a question mark instead of an exclamation point in the clue. 42a [ __ opposites] POLAR.
- 7d [Broadway figure] ACTOR. 26a [Performing group] CAST.
- 11d [“Bear” that sleeps up to 20 hours a day] KOALA. Definitely needs those quotation marks.
- 24d [Is in charge of] HELMS. Had HEADS until I saw that an L was necessary for the circled square.
- 33d [Great Plains tribe] OTOE. I checked to see if theirs was the language that gives us 8d [Chevy SUV] TAHOE; it is not.
- 4a [They get smashed at parties] PIÑATAS. Ouch.
- 61a [Taiwanese laptop maker] ASUS. Oh, the other one (i.e., not ACER).
Lynn Lempel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Today’s puzzle theme by Lynn Lempel features street names, two generic, three specific, reimagined in some way. Each is now clued to be about going to a place implied in the first part of the answer, with the clues tortured quite a lot to get to that place:
- [Route to church?], SERVICEROAD
- [Route to the navy yard?], FLEETSTREET
- [Route to a showing of “Jaws”?], GREATWHITEWAY
- [Route to basketball camp?], PASSINGLANE
- [Route to the liquor store?], FIFTHAVENUE
My favourite moment was when the Z was the intersection of SELTZER and ERSATZ and the J PJS and JETSAM. Using these letters to have zippy answers is the key!
Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
So much great fill in this puzzle! It did take me more time than the “lightly challenging” target promised, but super easy themelesses actually bore me a little because I never even see so many clues when filling in broad swath of crossing answers along the way.
One of the grid’s 13s was new to me: 26a. [Nigerian soccer star nominated for a Ballon d’Or in 2022], ASISAT OSHOALA. My soccer-fan husband did not know her either, but will look her up on YouTube to marvel at her play. Here’s her Wikipedia page so you can see her impressive record. I highly doubt she’d ever play in the US women’s pro league when she currently plays in Liverpool.
Fave fill: “SO ANYWAY…”, “REPEAT AFTER ME,” CUMIN (yum!), AFROBEAT, “I’M AFRAID SO,” SISTER CITY, MARY JANE, POTATO SALAD with a clue from contemporary Black discourse ([Subject of some cookout scrutiny]–don’t put raisins in your potato salad, people! that is a step too far!), “THAT WAS FAST,” IN REAL TIME, LET LOOSE, BUILD-A-BEAR.
A bit surprised to see [Screwed, for short], SOL. Short for “shit outta luck.”
I’m not sure how broadly familiar the term STIM is, but it’s a verb you should know: [Pace or rock back and forth, for example]. It would behoove you read up a bit if you don’t know what stimming is and what it may include among folks on the autism spectrum or with developmental disabilities.
4.25 stars from me.