Ryan McCarty’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Rough day, short write-up.
New to me: HOYEON Jung of Squid Game.
Fave fill: ON STRIKE, AUTOCOMPLETE, TADPOLE, BULL SESSIONS, COPY/PASTE, RAY OF LIGHT, and my beloved UBE with a clue that’s spot on! Scowl-o-meter got its hackles up at HORSEFLESH.
Four stars from me. Tell us what stood out for you!
Universal, “Universal Freestyle 77” by Dob Olino — norah’s write-up
- ⭐ADOPTIVERSARIES 13A [Annual days to celebrate a pet’s Gotcha Day]
- SOWHATELSEISNEW 17A [“And how is this surprising?”]
- THINKAGAIN 27D [“That’s where you’re wrong”]
- BINGEREADS 11D [Enjoys a book for hours and hours]
- PITYLIKES 5D [Reactions for posts that haven’t gotten much love]
- ASYOUWISH 32D [“Sure, will do”]
A very happy print debut day to Dob Olino of CrossweirdTV! 🎉🫔
This sort of grid structure – stacked spanners in the top and bottom halves – is rare among the Universal themeless puzzles, and I’m very happy to see it. ADOPTIVERSARIES is such a great seed entry! I believe this is the first time it’s appeared in any puzzle, mainstream or indie. Placing those spanners in the second and third (and 13th and 14th) rows is a bit of a risky move as it requires a total of 30 down entries to pass through two of them. And here the risk pays off – not only are the more open sections in the NW and SE squeaky clean, the chosen entries allow for a ton of personality. At 3:37, this ties my Universal pr on the year (last week’s from Rafa that I solved back to back with this one!) and that’s due to the smooth cluing all over. It’s a tough balance to squeeze in long, fun, and/or evocative clues such as those found for the shorter entries DALI 21A [“The Persistence of Memory” artist Salvador], IKEA 31A [Swedish furniture and meatball chain], NDAS 40A [Things that leave you speechless?], and HAIRS 28D [A baby’s first few may be saved in an album] while sticking to the overall character limit, and this one even clears that bar by a fair amount. Lovely work.
Thanks Dob and the Universal team!
See you again tomorrow for another great one. 👀
Christopher Bolduc and Matthew Sewell’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
You won’t be surprised that I liked this puzzle — I don’t usually go over the four-minute mark on LAT, and I enjoyed the extra challenge without that challenge coming from Naticks. I felt pretty smug when I knew the trivia referenced at 1A [Focus of a Stockholm museum whose slogan is “Walk in. Dance out.”] — it’s ABBA — but quite a few answers that I put in just as confidently later turned out to need to be reworked.
Whether they did so intentionally or not, the constructors lay a couple of traps where more than one answer is totally plausible for a clue, and those two answers share some letter placements in common. 19A [Foot part] is ARCH, but could just as easily be INCH. Although FUR shares no letters with PAS, which one are you going to put at 25D [Faux ___] if you have no crossings? If, as I did, you had ??I?E going into 54A [Bellyache], you might, like I did, put in GRIPE instead of the correct WHINE. This is not okay on Monday but perfectly acceptable, even desirable, on Saturday.
Other things I enjoyed: [Impromptu screwdriver] as a clue for DIME (I have a wireless trackpad instead of a mouse, so I do this every time the batteries die); the current-yet-not-already-on-its-way-out RING CAMERA; cluing CHAIR in the musician’s sense of [Orchestra position]; quite a few clever question-mark clues like [Drinks with steep prices?] for TEAS.
Ben Howe & Owen Travis’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Show Business” — pannonica’s write-up
The theme entries here are fictional commercial entities from television programs. Not exactly my strong suit, but I managed ok.
- 22a. [“Looney Tunes”] ACME CORPORATION.
- 38a. [“The Office”] DUNDER MIFFLIN.
- 48a. [“Scooby Doo, Where Are You!”] MYSTERY INC.
- 65a. [“Breaking Bad”] LOS POLLOS HERMANOS.
- 83a. [“The Simpsons”] MOE’S TAVERN.
- 93a. [“SpongeBob SquarePants”] THE KRUSTY KRAB.
- b [“Iron Man: Armored Adventures] b.
There they are.
- 3d. [Bowlful for a boxer] IAMS. 20a [Bowlful for a boxer] ALPO. I thought one of those would have a different sort of answer. But what could it have been? TALC?
- 13d [Belief in the oneness of reality] MONISM. Not often seen.
- 36d [Bean from which some milk is made] b. 72a [Japanese bean pastes] MISOS.
- 65d [Hail Marys, e.g.] b, nicely paired symmetrically opposite 15d [1969 Series champs] MIRACLE METS.
- 79d [Neutral colour] b. Note British spelling of colour.
- 82d [Unlikely occurrence] FLUKE.
- 87d [Like elbows after skateboarding accidents, maybe] SKINNED. Had SHINNED first, then SCRAPED (crossed with ‘CRUSTY’), before finally fixing it and thus completing the puzzle.
- 21a [AL-Azher Park location] CAIRO. Plunked in DUBAI out of habit.
- 28a [Remove from one’s home] DISPLANT. Not a word I’ve seen before, to my recollection.
- 86a [Any of seven in each foot] TARSAL. Human feet, of course. Cuboid, medial cuneiform, intermediate cuneiform, lateral cuneiform, navicular, talus, and calcaneus.
- 98a [Poseidon’s kingdom] SEA. 60d [Letters that look like tridents] b.
- 121a [Runners carry it] SLED. Nifty clue.
Stella Zawistowski’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
I guess about average stumperiness? Lower right corner was the last to complete, because I’d followed the lead of 45d [Clobber] CRUSH over at 48d [Clobber] and written in SMASH. This in turn prevented me from having a proper toehold to remember how to say “look!” in Spanish (59a [“Look, Luisa”] MIRÁ; 48-down turned out to be STOMP.
Finally decided to take a flyer on 40a [Darn it] and put in SEW, which—combined with MIRÁ—allowed me to finally relinquish any attachment to AÇAÍ or PALM for 41d [They grow purple berries] ELDERS. Whew!
- 14a [Player from 18 Down] HIFI. 18d [Tumultuous time remembered by many] THE SIXTIES.
- 23a [Beat] PULSED. Those terse clues can be so ambiguous!
- 25a [Does as well as others] DEER. As commenter Seth has already mentioned, a great clue.
- 27a [Where Buzz got his Sc.D.] MIT. 1d [40 Project Mercury trainees] CHIMPS. Was for a long time convinced that that had to be AIRMEN.
- 29a [Hardly sugary] SEC. Referring to dryness/sweetness in alcohol.
- 31a [Unknown] NOBODY. Was held up a while on this one due to having SMARTS rather than SMARTY for 13d [Brain].
- 36a [It’s lexicon includes “banner” and “standard”] VEXILLOLOGY. Had I not known this and entered it with barely any letters in place, the crossword would have taken far longer to complete—it was a pivotal entry. The term I always strive to remember is that a y-shaped element is called a pall.
- 44a [“Toy Story” character with knobs and a screen] ETCH. Guessable.
- 49a [Cans of Worcestershire] GAOLS. Fooled me only inasmuch as I was looking for a variation of LAVS or LOOS that could fit.
- 53a [Deep thinking] STUDY crossing 40d [Set spot] STUDIO??
- 57a [Final word of Twain’s “Eve’s Diary”] EDEN. Also guessable.
- 2d [Shaded oneself] HID OUT. Not buying this one.
- 22d [You and mean, essentially] PROTOPLASM. Rather open-ended clue. I was definitely mislead along the lines of PROnouns.
- 32d [What often precedes the question] BEGS. Elevated to stumperdom by the omission of quotation marks for “the question”.
- 33d [Half a harmonious school] FENG, as in feng-shui (‘wind-water’).
- 38d [They have currency] VOGUES. 55a [One on many covers] SUPERMODEL.
- 55d [ __ wagon (vehicle that follows bike racers)] SAG. Did not know this at all.
Malaika Handa’s USA today crossword—Matthew’s recap
Three themers are phrases of the form C???? M????:
- 16a [Symbol on a completed to-do list] CHECK MARK
- 37a [Tangy seasoning blend] CHAAT MASALA
- 59a [Break room cup] COFFEE MUG
Simple, clean theme. Interesting trip through the grid, with the arrangement of black squares in the middle. I think I solved it roughly as three distinct areas; the top, the middle and lower left, and then the lower right. I wonder if it would have felt more connected to me if it were rotated so that the themers ran downwards. I’m fully aware of how nitpicky this point is.
- 15a [Reward enjoyed after a great day] TREAT. Or in the middle of a bad day, or whenever I feel like it?
- 39a [“Crying in H Mart,” for one] MEMOIR. Here’s something I learned from crosswords — I think specifically the New Yorker — that is now high high up on my to-read list, as I’ve learned more about it. If only I had less crossword work to do!
- 10d [Monday, on Tuesday] YESTERDAY. This cluing angle brought a smile to my face. Just matter-of-fact and a little cheeky. I’m sure it’s been used before, for both YESTERDAY and TOMORROW, but it struck a chord with me today.