Rebecca Goldstein and Rafael Musa’s New York Times crossword, “About Two Feet” — Nate’s write-up
– 22A: THE ELEPHANT MAN [1980 film that led to the creation of the Academy Award for Best Makeup]
– 26A: WHEEL ESTATE [Mobile homes, punnily]
– 32A: TOLL BOOTHS [Coin toss spots, once]
– 39A: PIRATES BOOTY [What “X” could mark on a map]
– 69A: SYMBOLIC LOGIC [In which “P or Q, but not both” is represented as (P∨Q)∧¬(P∧Q)]
– 74A: NBC LOGO [Peacock seen on TV]
– 95A: YOU FLATTER ME [“Stop, I’m blushing!”]
– 103A: DECAF LATTE [Evening coffee order]
– 115A: BIG SHOES TO FILL [High standards established by a predecessor … or what you are presented with in this puzzle?]
This puzzle certainly leaves us spaces to fill some big shoes! Each pair of theme entries has the same hidden shoe at the same spot in the grid horizontally, such that HEEL or BOOT, say, takes up a double tall space. The down entries, then, only use each crossing shoe-related letter once (instead of twice), leading to some instances of seeing double when you shouldn’t be.
Once you get past that twist, the puzzle’s pretty smooth sailing from there. I think the only part where folks might get caught up is the NYT / AMOS / OTOE / STP zone towards the middle – that was dicey for me for a bit! Otherwise, this puzzle felt fun and solid to me. Kudos to the constructors! What did you think? Let us know in the comments below – and Happy July!
Other random thoughts:
– Does Lake TAHOE join “chai tea” in the category of redundantly-named things, given the clue that [Its name derives from the Washoe for “lake”]?
– 43A: NINE [Court count] – Too soon, puzzle. Too soon!
Amie Walker’s LA Times crossword, “Film Adaptations” — Jack’s write-up
Theme: Movie titles are inverted to create new phrases with outlandish clues. The revealer at 109A describes it: FLIP THE SCRIPT
- 22A. [Film about double agents at the card table?] = SPIES OF BRIDGE (Bridge of Spies)
- 38A. [Film about college kids trying to clean up the dorm before parents weekend?] = ROOM PANIC (Panic Room)
- 48A. [Film about an out-of-this-world job?] = SPACE OFFICE (Office Space)
- 61A. [Film about the morning meals of a 1980s pop star?] = TIFFANY’S AT BREAKFAST (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
- 82A. [Film about the installation of red carpets?] = LINE THE WALK (Walk the Line)
- 88A. [Film about a bird on a Firebird?] = HOOD ROBIN (Robin Hood)
- 109A. [Reverse course dramatically, or an alternate title for this puzzle] = FLIP THE SCRIPT
I’m a sucker for movie-related themes so I knew I would enjoy this one just from reading its title. I would think that loads of film titles would be amenable to this type of wordplay, but I’m curious if that intuition is correct. The movies aren’t all quite in the same league — Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Office Space, for example, are surely much more famous than Bridge of Spies and Panic Room. Maybe this suggests that themers weren’t a dime a dozen. I think the revealer wraps up the puzzle nicely.
Small detail: It’s interesting that the apostrophe in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is maintained in the new phrase TIFFANY’S AT BREAKFAST but while the former is a possessive, the latter is a contraction (the pop star’s name is Tiffany).
I think many Sunday constructors would have been tempted to fill the long downs at 15D. and 44D. with thematic material, but I’m glad Amie refrained. It leaves room for fun entries like CARNIVAL WORKERS and especially NOTHING PERSONAL. I also enjoyed coming across OLD FLAME, HOT POTATO, GOOD DEAL, and LIMO RIDE.
- 18A. [Dialect that may be part of code-switching, for short] = AAVE. This stands for African-American Vernacular English and was new to me. It’s only occurred in a few puzzles starting in 2020 according to my database. I’m glad to learn it.
- 46A. [Short, secret passages?] = NDAS. Wonderful, tough clue. Non-disclosure agreements are passages, in the textual sense, that are about secrecy, and NDA is the “shortened” form. This is almost like a clue in a cryptic crossword.
- The MOMS/COMB crossing almost sank me. I appreciate when people use fresh cluing angles on common words, but things get dicey when they’re crossing. 85A. [Comedian Mabley] = MOMS and 75D. [Rooster topper] = COMB. In retrospect I think both of these were hiding in the outskirts of my knowledge somewhere, but tapping in that last M sure felt like guessing.
- 54A. [Mouse sound] = CLICK. Very simple misdirection that got me good. I was wondering why “squeak” didn’t fit.
Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword, “Themeless No. 22” — Matthew’s write-up
Themed-looking themeless grid this week from Evan, but lots of latticed long stuff. A little different from the corner or stagger stacks we’ve seen from 21x themelesses in the NY Times (forgive me for not better remembering what Evan’s previous Themeless Nos. 1-21 looked like).
Lots of clues tickled me in this one, so right to it:
- 1a [Dodge on the street] SWERVE. A so-obvious-it-must-be-oh-wait-it’s-not misdirection – I was fully prepared to think through six-letter models from the car company.
- 13a [Hard and soft roof] PALATE. We have the “hard palate” and the “soft palate.” When combined, are they one PALATE? I suppose so.
- 45a [Music critic’s output?] DISS TRACK. Not a music critic, who pens reviews, but a critic expressing their opinions through music.
- 52a [Cutting tool handled by two people, one of whom is often standing in a hole in the ground] PIT SAW. Only *one* person in a hole makes it hard for me to imagine the saw, but I see that the blade is moving along a vertical axis. Still looks odd.
- 67a [Emissions of electrons or positrons] BETA RAYS. Hey, “betrays” is one letter off from BETA RAYS. I’m sure that’s been used before.
- 87a [Like most centers and power forwards] TALL. “Center” and “power forward” being basketball positions.
- 10d [Like the cinematic world of hard-boiled detectives] NOIR. I haven’t yet seen Spider Man: Across the Spider-Verse, but my favorite Spidey from its predecessor was Spider-Man NOIR, voiced by Nic Cage.
- 16d [Comedian featured in Jerry Stiller’s book “Married to Laughter] ANNE MEARA. The full name! You love to see it.
- 58d [1980s auto like the Chrysler LeBaron or the Dodge Aries] KCAR. “If I had $1,000,000, I would buy you a K-Car (A nice, reliant, automobile)”
- 72d [Italian soccer player Girelli] CRISTIANA. A nice reminder that the Women’s World Cup is upon us, beginning later this month, and a less-nice reminder (for my USA fandom, at least) that many European teams have made great strides in the last few years, as the robust men’s soccer infrastructure has *finally* begun investing in women’s sport, as well.
- 79d [Penned remarks?] OINKS. As pigs from a pen.
- 96d [Keep taking Elles?] RENEW. A play on “take the L,” slang for “losing,” and the homophonic relationship between “L” and the magazine “Elle.”
Pam Amick Klawitter’s Universal Sunday crossword, “Signature Songs”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are well-known songs clued as if they were signature songs for apt fictional characters.
- 23a. [Signature song for Aladdin?] MAGIC CARPET RIDE. Song by Steppenwolf.
- 43a. [… for Mr. Magoo?] BLURRED LINES. Robin Thicke.
- 66a. [… for Jessica Fletcher?] PAPERBACK WRITER. The Beatles.
- 93a. [… for Thor?] SLEDGEHAMMER. Peter Gabriel.
- 117a. [… for Dorothy Gale?] BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND. Bob Dylan.
- 15d. [… for Queen Elsa?] ICE ICE BABY. Vanilla Ice.
- 73d. [… for Gollum?] RING OF FIRE. Johnny Cash.
Ha! This is one of those why-didn’t-I-think-of-that? themes. But I probably wouldn’t have done it as nicely as this. All of these are so apt. And while the songs skew mostly older, they are probably recognizable by most solvers just by title alone. I didn’t know BLURRED LINES (because I’m old), but come to find out, I do know the Weird Al parody of that song (“Word Crimes” which I’d much rather embed into this post than the Robin Thicke song…so I think I will). Fun theme.
I didn’t know the book Strega NONA of kiddie lit. It’s considered an Italian folktale (though it came out in 1975) and has been voted one of the Top 100 picture books of all time. The title roughly translates to “Grandma Witch.”
Clues of note:
- 21a. [King-like?]. EERIE. Referring to Stephen King, I presume.
- 51a. [Fourth mo., alphabetically]. FEB. Oh, geez. Who the heck knows the months in alphabetical order? Okay, fine. Here they are: April, August, December, February, January, July, June, March, May, November, October, September.
- 83a. [Houston center, for one]. TEXAN. Referring to the center on the Houston NFL team, I guess?
- 84d. [Glass house? (Abbr.)]. NPR. Ira Glass of This American Life.
Lovely puzzle. Four stars.
Jimmy Peniston’s USA Today crossword, “Side of Vegetables” — Darby’s write-up
Editors: Jared Goudsmit & Amanda Rafkin
Theme: The last letters of each theme answer spell out a vegetable, putting them on the side.
- 19a [“1982 animated film about a lone mythical creature”] THE LAST UNICORN
- 38a [“Fruit-picking place that might have a cider mill”] APPLE ORCHARD
- 56a [“Collections of historical documents not currently on exhibit”] MUSEUM ARCHIVES
I’m such an archives and public history nerd so I was thrilled with MUSEUM ARCHIVES appearing in this puzzle. I’m not sure how well known MUSEUM ARCHIVES are or how often folks think about them, so the crosses on this were especially fair and helpful. Side note: your local historical society will often let you come look at documents not on display! I definitely recommend it.
There was a nice bonus nod to vegetables in 23a [“‘The Ugly Vegetables’ author Grace”] LIN, and generally, there were plenty of food shout-outs, from 9d [“Food truck orders often topped with cilantro”] TACOS, 3d [“Valencian rice dish”] PAELLA, and 45d [“Freezer pop options”] FLAVORS, not to mention the theme itself and the 22a [“___ Grey tea”] EARL
At under three minutes, this was an especially speedy Sunday for me. The asymmetric grid was easy to move through, but it had plenty of great fill. 8d [“Tricolor feline”] CALICO CAT and 39d [“Collection of building blocks”] LEGO SETS were particularly fun. I also really liked 16a [“Really feels that Pilates class”] ACHES and 45d [“Dil’s dad on ‘Rugrats’”] STU.