Kunal Nabar’s New York Times crossword—Sophia’s recap
It took me a while to get footholds on this one, but once I did, everything fell into place pretty quickly and I ended up with an average time. Loved the diagonal symmetry of the puzzle – not surprisingly, I found the bottom right of the puzzle to be much easier than the top left, and built my way up from there.
- EPCOT was the first thing I got in the puzzle, off of [Theme park originally conceived as a planned community]. EPCOT itself is an acronym standing for “Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow”.
- The two long across answers are both solid in their own right, but the clues make them both shine. [Playbills?] for MONOPOLY MONEY and [Refresher course?] for PALATE CLEANSER are both clues I wish I’d written.
- For anyone who is new to Friday misdirects, remember SEAM for [Clothes line] and MALES for [Drones, e.g.]. These are tricky, but they come up so often that they’ve become second nature to me.
- Even though the clues are structured the same way, ROCK ON for [Apt cry of encouragement for a geologist?] is a bit less… off-putting.. than [Apt cry of encouragement for a pilot?] being KEEP IT UP.
- I really thought [Top present during the holiday season?] was going to be something about an ugly Christmas sweater, but it was actually DREIDEL. A third type of top!
- I don’t really understand the clue [It might be sold by the yard] for ALE – I originally had it as “sod”. Enlighten me?
- ANKA and OSMOND being stacked could be tricky for folks who are not musically inclined, but in general I appreciated how few proper nouns there were in the puzzle, and how the ones that were there spanned different knowledge areas (i.e. golfer Michelle WIE West, actor TYRESE Gibson).
- For anyone into TIME LOOP movies, I majorly recommend “Palm Springs” with Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti. A great updated take on the concept.
Happy Friday all!
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “No Less”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are familiar phrases without their usual starting word of “No.”
- 17a. [Library’s policy forbidding book reservations?] HOLDS BARRED.
- 26a. [Pals who need more room to stretch out at a sleepover?] LONGER FRIENDS.
- 45a. [True statement about a Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea?] MAN IS AN ISLAND. Nice one.
- 58a. [Malt shop’s claim to fame?] GREAT SHAKES.
Works for me. None of these phrases is common in no-less form (unlike something like “no big deal” where “big deal” is a common standalone phrase). But I bet there are a lot of potential entries that would work with this theme. How about “laughing matter” or “fly zone” or “more Mr. Nice Guy”? It’s more elegant when a theme is close to exhaustive, meaning there are few other potential entries. But I still enjoyed this well enough.
Fave fill entries include NEAR MISSES, SUNLIGHT, “HORRORS!,” SASHAY, COSPLAY, and GREEN SALSA (which isn’t as green painty as “green paint”).
Clues of note:
- 31a. [Dance partner?]. SONG. Cute.
- 53a. [Pans for gold, e.g.]. MINES. Hmm. Really? I take “mining” to be going underground and using a pickaxe to extract minerals from rock. “Panning” is using a pan in a river or stream to look for shiny things. Am I wrong?
- 27d. [Aptly named boat in “Jaws”]. ORCA. I’m not exactly sure what’s apt about it. Ah, according to this site (and some others), great white sharks are no match for actual orcas which have size, weight, speed, and intelligence advantages. Most great whites eat smaller prey (sea lions, seals, otters), thus a great white that would eat an ORCA would have to be fearsome indeed.
Solid puzzle. 3.5 stars.
Luke Schreiber’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
It took a couple of encounters with the circled squares to figure out the mechanism—the down entries veer 90° at those nodes. As I saw the first two letters—L, G—I was disappointed that they didn’t seem to be spelling a word.
But when I arrived at the bottom of the grid and saw the revealer, it was all fine again.
- 64aR [Freedoms protected by the Equality Act, and an apt title for this puzzle?] LGBTQ RIGHTS. To wit, the long down entries each make a right turn.
- 20a. [“It’s all untrue!”] LIES.
1d. [Bounces back] RALLIES.
- 22a. [Coup de __ ] GRACE.
10d. [RuPaul’s competition] DRAG RACE.
- 35a. [Gymnast Simone] BILES.
7d. [Some Arctic Cats] SNOWMOBILES. Note capitalization in the clue.
- 54a. [Froyo choice] TOPPING.
26d. [Extremely beautiful, perhaps] HEART-STOPPING.
- 48d. [Quilting technique] APPLIQUÉ.
71a. [“¿__ pasa?”] QUÉ.
And then a bonus entry: 56a [Subject of many June parades] PRIDE.
It’s a nifty and timely theme.
- 14a [Legends on the road] ACURAS. I should’ve seen through this clue, but it fooled me.
- 17a [Beatles song with the lyric “Sunday morning creeping like a nun”] LADY MADONNA. I wonder if this, symmetrically opposite the revealer, is also a theme-adjacent entry, as Madonna is an acknowledged gay icon.
- 32a [Lucille Clifton’s “Homage to My Hips,” for one] ODE.
- 34a [Bright bloom] DAHLIA. But of course now I’m thinking of James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia, a period detective noir based on real-life events.
- 46a [Halloumi, e.g.] CHEESE. It’s Egyptian, a combination of two or more types of milk.
- 72a [Cheek] SASS. 3d [Truculent behavior, informally] ’TUDE.
- 4d [Seafarer’s choice during a storm] TRYSAIL. New to me.
- 8d [Prepared for a close-up shot] PANNED IN. Panning involves rotating the camera on the vertical axis, so this is a misnomer. The action would be zooming in or dollying in. Nevertheless, the inaccurate term has currency, so it’s a valid entry.
- 13d [Bottom-dwelling fish] MUD EEL. Unusual crossword entry, but it certainly is a useful letter pattern.
- 27d [Corpus __: prosecutor’s concern] DELICTI. Definition from m-w.com: 1 : the substantial and fundamental fact necessary to prove the commission of a crime; 2 : the material substance (such as the body of the victim of a murder) upon which a crime has been committed
- 67d [Manga artist Junji] ITO. It seems he’s primarily known for horror manga.
A nice puzzle, and I believe some of the constructor’s personality and preferences come through via the references chosen among the clues.
Chandi Deitmer & Erica Hsiung Wojcik’s USA Today crossword, “Peak TV”—Darby’s recap
Editor: Amanda Rafkin
Theme: Each theme answer is a Down answer, and the first word of each is a TV show, making them PEAK TV.
- 3d [“Fall meal with found family”] FRIENDSGIVING
- 13d [“‘So lovely to meet you’”] CHARMED, I’M SURE
- 17d [“Ask something”] POSE A QUESTION
These were each super fun. FRIENDSGIVING was an easy one to plunk into place (and I was delighted to see it since FRIENDSGIVINGs are some of my favourite fall activities). POSE A QUESTION was delightful as a phrase, and it really cemented the theme for me, making CHARMED, I’M SURE pretty obvious. Plus, I loved the bonus title nod in 62a [“Synonym for the first word in this puzzle’s title”] ACME.
I really enjoyed this puzzle, though I think I was pretty disposed to do so, given my love of 1a [“___ Punk (electronic music duo)”] DAFT Punk’s TRON: Legacy soundtrack. 16a [“Note that allows you to go to yoru locker during class”] HALL PASS and 58a [“‘It’s not looking good for me’”] I’M A GONER were also both super fun items.
A few other faves:
- 18a [“‘The Woman King’ actor John”] – The Woman King is on my to-be-watched list, so I’d forgotten that John BOYEGA was in it, along with EGOT Viola Davis.
- 63a [“Like some bases and hearts”] – What a cute clue for STOLEN!
- 45d [“___ coat (P. I.’s garment)”] – This clue for TRENCH conjured up a pretty specific image.
Overall, I hope someone answers 5a [“Possible response to ‘Who wants to solve a crossword with me?’”] I DO when asked if they want to do this puzzle.
Adam Wagner’s New Yorker—Matthew’s recap
Themers include city names hidden in alternate letters, revealed at 61-across with the entry SKIPPING TOWN:
18a [Organized agricultural workers (California)] FARMERS UNION (Fresno)
25a [“The parentals are out of town–let’s rage!” (Florida)] PARTY AT MY PLACE (Tampa)
38a [Political topics that impact voters’ wallets, colloquially (Idaho)] POCKETBOOK ISSUES (Boise)
51a [Upper ranges? (New York)] MOUNTAIN CHAINS (Utica)
Several clever finds but I find myself unmoved by the theme — the first entry had me wondering if a notable FARMERS UNION is based in Fresno, but it seems there’s little connection between the entries and the states, other than the cities within. I wonder how constrained a set this is — perhaps it’s quite constrained! But even if it is, it doesn’t really change my experience in the grid.
I’m once again catching up a day later, so moving on without notes on the fill. Hope you’re having a good weekend.