New York Times Crossword by Carly Schuna – norah’s review
What a fun and fresh puzzle from Carly! This is only her second for the NYT, but she can be seen just about anywhere you get your crosswords.
This one played a little on the hard side for me for a Friday, due mostly to somewhat more ambiguous cluing for entries such as DITCH [Abandon], RECTOR [Service provider?], ATBAT [Up], LOWEST [Bottom], and so on.
The long fill here is great. Starting with the spanner THATISSUCHAMOOD [“I can relate,” in Gen Z slang], then with HELLTOTHENO [“As frickin’ if!”] (both debut entries!) and IMEANREALLY [“Surely you know that’s ludicrous”], this puzzle is really giving us some attitude. This is only the second appearance for IDLI; glad to see it’s finally gained acceptance at the Times. We’ve also got TORTILLA [Mexican wrap] and SMORE [The first recipe for one was published in “Tramping and Trailing With the Girl Scouts” (1927)]. Yum.
Favorite clue of the puzzle: [Dining option where bow ties might be expected] for PASTABAR.
By the way, Carly’s puzzle was the first used for the New York Times “Easy Mode” themeless puzzles, which uses the same grids published on Fridays, but with all new easier clues written by associate editor Christina Iverson. NYT subscribers can access the easy mode for this puzzle here.
Wonderful puzzle. Thanks Carly and the NYT team. Come back tomorrow for another excellent themeless puzzle review from me, this time for Universal.
Spencer Leach’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
- 16a. [Loudness of a kiss?] PECK VOLUME. From this entry, I thought we were dealing with puns and that the base phrase was peak volume. But that turned out not to be the case.
- 27a. [Attraction to certain electric cars?] TESLA MAGENTISM.
- 44a. [Number of times one rents a car?] HERTZ FREQUENCY.
- 60a. [Quantity of dirt displaced by a burrowing garden pest?] MOLE AMOUNT.
So the theme turns out to be: roundabout ways of getting to a result of listing a measurement unit followed by the quality being measured. I feel kind of meh about this.
- 11d [“You’ll get a kick out of this …”] FUNNY STORY. Nicely colloquial.
- 26d [ACLU focus] RTS. That is, rights.
- 45d [Serene] ZEN. 46d [Serene] QUIET.
- 14a [Minor disruption] BLIP. 15a [Secure] SNUG. I wonder if there was an early iteration of the grid when the latter entry was SNAG, with the preceding clue repeated.
- 32a [Dated communication request] FAX ME. Whew, yes it is.
- 36a [Omega-shaped curve in a river] OXBOW. 62a [36-Across, e.g.] BEND. Unusual cross-reference, that.
- 48a [Member of the underground economy?] MINER. Kind of cute.
- 37d [Gen __ ] XER.
Here’s a track for the Gen Xers:
Chandi Deitmer’s New Yorker Crossword – Matthew’s review
Our themers are phrases beginning with common literary or film genres. I like it:
- 17a [Artificial intelligence gone rogue or a time-travel snafu, e.g.] SCI FI CONVENTION
- 20a [Flagon of ale at a goblin’s tavern, e.g.] FANTASY DRAFT
- 35a [Searching for clues and interviewing suspects, e.g.] MYSTERY MEAT
- 52a [Wedding of a cowboy and a saloon girl, e.g.] WESTERN UNION
- 56a [“I’ve never felt this way before” or “You complete me,” e.g.] ROMANCE LANGUAGE
Fun, in-the-language phrases. MYSTERY MEAT doesn’t land quite as solidly as the rest for me; I suppose “searching for clues” and “interviewing suspects” are the metaphorical “meat” of a mystery plot.
- 26a [“____ or Leave It” (political podcast hosted by a former Obama speechwriter] LOVETT. I don’t listen to either, but I more often hear about Jon Lovett’s other political podcast, Pod Save America.
- 61a [Lit] TURNT. I’m surprised we don’t see this more often. The letters are common, and it’s been around a minute.
- 64a [Parts of some Hulk Hogan costumes] BOAS. This took me a moment — I’m both not a wrestling fan and a little young for Hogan’s heydey. But with some crossings, the image snapped right in my brain.
- 8d [Some transports for wadi tours, for short] ATVS. This made me smile, because 10-15 years ago, I learned the word WADI, a usually-dry channel (except in rainy season), from crossword puzzles.
- 21d [Starts to live, laugh, and love] ELS. Oh, the challenge for a constructor, to pick between a golf name and a quasi-cryptic clue.
- 33d [Magazine that gave each member of One Direction his own cover, in 2012] TEEN VOGUE. Teen Vogue no longer publishes print edition, but they have increased political and social commentary, recognizing that young people also grapple with these issues, and I applaud them for it.
- 44d [Sea colloquially called “the Ditch” by Kiwis and Aussies] TASMAN. Today I learned!
Bruce Haight’s USA Today crossword, “Start with a Bang”–Darby’s review
Editors: Kelsey Dixon & Amanda Rafkin
Theme: Each theme answer starts with a synonym for BANG.
- 16a [“Fluffy makeup applicator”] POWDER PUFF
- 36a [“Instagram video that, aptly, plays forward and backward”] BOOMERANG
- 61a [“Hard stick used for building material”] BAMBOO POLE
I loved the comic book feel of this theme! POW and BAM have particular resonance for me as a cartoonish sounds so parsing out the theme was really fun. I filled in POWDER PUFF pretty quickly and BOOMERANG came together by happenstance on the crosses. I didn’t even see what its clue was until I finished the puzzle (and it’s a great cluing angle!). BAMBOO POLE was the hardest, but once I got its beginning, everything fell into place.
This puzzle’s corner’s felt really open. 38d [“Ability to suss out lies, casually”] BS METER was very fun and made me laugh. Generally, I just enjoyed a lot of the fill, like EGO TRIP, WOBBLE, NO CAN DO, and CLEANSE. 42d [“Harrison Ford role in ‘Star Wars’”] HAN SOLO felt pretty apt with the release of the new Indiana Jones film. I loved the simplicity and message of 34d [“___ rights are human rights”] TRANS as well.
Overall, this was TOPs, that’s PLAIN as day.
Joe Rodini’s Universal crossword, “Jack of All Trades”—Jim’s review
Near as I can tell, the theme answers consist of famous people whose last names are also occupations. The revealer is STEVE JOBS (55a, [Former Apple CEO who could aptly supervise 19-, 28- and 46-Across, based on his and their last names?]).
- 19a. [“Rebel Without a Cause” star] JAMES DEAN.
- 28a. [Eight-time Grammy winner who sang “Sweet Love”] ANITA BAKER.
- 46a. [Yankee who hit 62 home runs in 2022] AARON JUDGE.
Hmm. Well, for one thing, I’m not sure how having the last name of JOBS means you get to be the supervisor. Maybe the revealer should’ve been HUGO BOSS (except he was a Nazi). So I thought that cluing approach was odd. Maybe this might work better?: [Former Apple CEO whose last name describes the last names of …].
Another thing is that there are so many last names based on occupations that I’m trying to figure out why these three were chosen. Is there some connection that I’m missing? If there is, please let us know. If not, well, I wish there was.
The fill is quite pleasant though with BIG DEALS, WINE SNOB, SAYONARA, KANJI, UPSIZE, a MOJITO with MINT, and ENORMOUS.
Clues of note:
- 1a. [Many an email from a Nigerian prince]. SCAM. Are there actual Nigerian princes? Because if there are, is email just ruined for them? According to this, there are “princes” in localities but not in the whole of the country.
- 51d. [Asian country whose flag has five sides]. NEPAL. Let’s have a look, shall we?
- 52d. [Command for Fido that bookends this clue]. COME. Noted.
A smooth and clean puzzle, but I wanted something else to tie the theme entries together. 3.25 stars.