Adrian Johnson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Lots of good stuff in this puzzle. Fave fill: TRASH PANDA, “WE’RE SO DEAD,” “I WASN’T DONE,” OPENLY GAY, my RIDE OR DIE, “EID MUBARAK!”, FREE SAMPLE, SEASON PASS, PAW PRINT, artist AI WEIWEI, NOOGIE, PUB GAMES.
I’m not entirely convinced that this is an idiomatic thing people say: 42D. [“Or, here’s a thought …”], “NEW IDEA.” Probably URBAN ART is a thing, but being a city person, I just call it street art. So many wonderful murals in Chicago now!
A couple clues I liked:
- 2d. [“Whoa! … say what?!”], “REWIND!” “Wait, back up!”
- 55D. [Play checkers, informally], REFS. The people who check the legality and such of the plays in a sporting event, referees.
Four stars from me.
Hanh Huynh’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
By the second long across entry, I understood that the theme was inserting the bigram AD to wacky effect. Figured the revealer would be something like ‘AD PLACEMENTS’. Alas, that’s too long—or at least its length doesn’t match any of the theme answers.
- 59aR [Words on an empty billboard, and a hint to how the answers to the starred clues were formed] YOUR AD HERE.
- 17a. [*Abandoned in the shallow end?] LEFT WADING (left wing).
- 23a. [*Group that oversees some sauces in the kitchen?] MARINADE CORPS (Marine Corps).
- 36a. [*Not fully self-indulgent] HALFWAY DECADENT (halfway decent).
- 49a. [*Job description for a private eye?] SHADOW AND TELL (show and tell).
Those are pretty good. I found them to be entertaining enough to sustain the theme.
- 10d [Improve] REFORM. Not always.
- 30d [Jazz legend James] ETTA. More a blues/R&B legend, and a jazz dilettante. And I say that as a fan.
- 33 [Continuity problems] PLOT HOLES. Does this work? Perhaps I’m just thinking in narrow terms but I feel (in cinema) ‘continuity problem’ typically refers to a minor goof, whereas a plot hole is a major shortcoming (which may involve an issue with continuity). Maybe I’d just feel more comfortable if the clue read [Some continuity problems]?
- 37d [Rabbit conjurers] WANDS. Couldn’t shake the obviously-too-long MAGICIANS and ILLUSIONISTS from my mind, and then I thought it might be HANDS. So this one, appropriately, misdirected and fooled me.
- 58d [Isl. with four provinces] IRE. Guess I usually think of Ireland in terms of the two nations and also the many counties? The provinces are: Connacht, Leinster, Munster, and Ulster.
- 59d [Hong Kong actor/director Donnie] YEN. As you can see with this and the previous clue, the difficulty has been increased by opting for less common referents to these often-seen entries (e.g., ‘anger’ and ‘Japanese currency’). Same with 46-across SEPT eschewing the ninth month in favor of [Nombre entre six et huit].
- 65a [Ramona, per Beezus] PEST. Surprised myself by dredging this up.
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Utter Nonsense”—Jim’s review
Today’s theme answers are all idiomatic phrases about speaking, but they’re clued literally thereby causing crossword wackiness.
- 16a. [Bishop’s advice to a priest preparing a sermon on sins?] “SPEAK OF THE DEVIL.” Ha. Cute.
- 25a. [God’s comment after the first 24 hours?] “LET’S CALL IT A DAY.” Instead of the “Royal ‘We,'” I guess that’s the “Divine ‘Us'” in there.
- 43a. [Waitress’s guidance to a first-time customer?] “SAY WHAT YOU LIKE.” Good, basic advice.
- 57a. [Parent’s exclamation after a toddler’s first sentences?] “NOW YOU’RE TALKING!” Fun, emphatic entry to finish with.
I liked this one a lot. It’s consistent throughout, and each phrase has good surface sense despite the unexpected scenarios. Each one uses a different word as a synonym for verbalization, yet they’re all fun, colloquial phrases. A lively set!
Elsewhere, THIN SKIN and “WHY, YES!” are fun. STAMP TAX is less so, but it’s plenty solid. I don’t remember the game DJ HERO [Video game with turntables], but it’s a fun entry, although I wonder if you’re looking at D_HERO and you can’t guess the crossing JLO whether you might get stuck there.
Clues of note:
- 13a. [Aerial tour vehicle, informally]. COPTER. “Chopper” is easier to say, so I’d bet it’s much more common.
- 14a. [“Chariots of Fire” actor Charleson]. IAN. He had the lead role, but that was a long time ago. There are a lot more current Ians. I never actually saw the film, but my favorite Chariots of Fire memory was playing a board game with my younger kids (7 and 9-ish) in a hotel lobby. It was one of those Cranium games with the oddball challenges. One of us (can’t remember who) had to run around the room in slow motion while another vocalized the music. Thankfully there was no one else around, so we got it done after a lot of laughter.
- 62a. [They’re all good]. SAINTS. Rather a Christian-centric puzzle, eh? How about a football clue for this one?
- 18d. [Fare reductions?]. DIETS. Good clue.
- 31d. [It comes easily to hand]. YOYO. Not when I do it.
Max Schlenker’s Inkubator crossword, “Signature Dishes”—Jenni’s write-up
Max’s name wasn’t familiar to me. The puzzle description says they’ve published puzzles in the Universal Crossword and LAT. My loss that I’ve missed them! This one was fun and I look forward to more from Max.
All the theme answers are plays on names, which could be a challenge if you don’t know them – one gave me some trouble. The crossings are fair and I really enjoyed the wordplay.
- 11d [Beverage sipped by California’s first openly gay elected official?] is HARVEY‘S MILK.
- 17a [Cheese enjoyed by a “Community” actress?] is ALISON‘S BRIE. This was the one I struggled with. Never watched the show, never heard of her. I have heard of Brie Larson so for a while I thought there was inversion thing going on, and then I figured it out.
- 24d [Hearty entreé eaten by a two-time NBA MVP?] is STEPH‘S CURRY.
- 58a [Fruit savored by an alternative singer-songwriter?] is FIONA‘S APPLE.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: ALISON BRIE. I also did not know that HER won the 2021 Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Will Nediger’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s recap
Hello from my new home in Hawaii, where settling in is going slowly, my pets are on edge, and my furniture is at least four weeks away. Alas. We’ll see what I can do with timezones that we can get these puzzles up at a reasonable point in the day.
Straightforward theme, but I struggled in a number of spots thanks to some (welcome) pithier clues.
- 19a [Shaw work whose title character is burned at the stake] SAINT JOAN
- 22a [Ibsen work whose title character burns an important manuscript] HEDDA GABLER
- 39a [Ancient Greek work whose title character gives humans the power to burn things] PROMETHEUS BOUND
- 51a [Tempts fate … or a description of 19-, 22-, and 39-Across] PLAYS WITH FIRE
I quite like this — I only know HEDDA GABLER from puzzles (shame on me) and didn’t recognize until the revealer that all three were “plays.” So a nice aha.
Notes on fill, where I found some real trickiness:
- 24a [Angle variable] THETA. Digging back to trigonometry and calculus classes, the Greek letter theta is used to notate an unknown angle.
- 49a [Ignored the signs, in a way] SPED. Not sure I’ve seen this angle before, and I quite liked it.
- 57a [Nervous speakers might clutch them] PODIA. I wasn’t seeing this until all the crosses came in, and then it was right there. You can easily imagine someone tense in front of a microphone.
- 1d [Dog that doesn’t belong to a single breed] MIX. I wondered if I was dealing with a rebus early on, trying to make MUTT work.
- 20d [Driver of “The Last Duel”] ADAM. I don’t know this film, nor have I seen literally anything ADAM Driver has been in (shame on me), so while this wasn’t a misdirection with a hidden capital-D, I thought in the moment that it might be, and I might be very clever to see through it.
- 22d [Intimidate] HECTOR. I don’t see this word very often, and I’ve not bothered to look it up. Let’s see… indeed, it’s directly from the Iliad, taken up in Late Middle English. From etymonline: ‘from Hector of the “Iliad,” in reference to his encouragement of his fellow Trojans to keep up the fight. Earlier in English the name was used generically for “a valiant warrior.”‘
- 23d [Shin ___ (instant-noodle brand)] RAMYUN. I have perhaps seen the packaging, now that I’ve looked it up, but I wasn’t familiar enough to not wonder if a punny RAM-*YUM* thing was going on.
- 36d [Agcy. that helped finance the film “The Watermelon Woman”] NEA. If you read too fast, have the N-, and drop in “NSA,” gonna have some trouble. Another film I’m unfamiliar with, but it looks great. From Wikipedia: “It stars [Cheryl] Dunye as Cheryl, a young Black lesbian working a day job in a video store while trying to make a film about a Black actress from the 1930s known for playing the stereotypical “mammy” roles relegated to Black actresses during the period. The Watermelon Woman is the first feature film directed by a Black lesbian and is considered a landmark in New Queer Cinema.”