Karen Steinberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Turn! Turn! Turn!”—Jim’s review
First thought: “Whoa! Cool grid design!”
Today’s grid is a representation of the carnival ride TILT-A- / WHIRL (35a, [With 37-Across, spinning amusement ride, and a hint to this puzzle’s design and circled letters]). Those circled letters, found in the corners, spell out synonyms of “spin”: SWIVEL, GYRATE, ROTATE, and SPIRAL. It’s a nice touch that they’re symmetrically placed and each is six letters long.
With such a rigid design and with the revealer and circled letters set, you can predict that there will be some compromises in the fill. And there certainly are. We start off at 1a with the partial AND ALL, and then there’s ERI, ERTE, ONE OR, plural CIAOS, and less common Spanish AYER. But I think it’s all gettable and serves to support the theme. Plus there are indeed some goodies like Barry MANILOW, LOWER LIP, CABERNET, and the theme-adjacent MAYPOLE. All in all, the pluses outweigh the minuses in my opinion.
Clues of note:
- 25a. [Deco pseudonym from the French pronunciation of initials]. ERTE. No idea on this clue. I looked it up so you don’t have to: ERTE is the pseudonym of Romain de Tirtoff (RT).
- 14d. [“Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” jingle writer]. MANILOW. Neat factoid. I think I knew this at one point but had forgotten it.
- 58d. [Valley with a wine train]. NAPA. A popular and well-regarded attraction. I haven’t done it myself, but some family members and friends have.
Very nice puzzle. 3.75 stars.
Brooke Husic & Brian Thomas’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
A new take on a days-of-the-week abbreviations theme. The theme entries start with 3-letter abbreviations: SUNNI, MONTALBAN (don’t know Paolo Montalban; not a ton of acting credits, but I’m always glad to hear of another Hollywood Filipino), TU ES BELLE, WE DID IT, THUMB WARS, FRIAR TUCK, and SATAN. Fair enough, and THUMB WARS is particularly zippy.
Fave fill: DURIANS, RUPAUL, KWANZAA, HELIXES, DATA DUMP.
Language clue that stumped me: 40A. [English suffix equivalent to Spanish’s -ando and -iendo], -ING. I could only think of hacienda , never studied Spanish (I went with German and French) outside of a grade-school summer, and needed all the crossings.
3.75 stars from me.
Catherine Cetta’s Universal crossword, “Doctor’s Orders” — pannonica’s write-up
Medicine delivery devices.
- 17a. [Prescription for an archaeologist] STONE TABLET.
- 27a. [Prescription for a farmer?] CABBAGE PATCH.
- 46a. [Prescription for an astronaut?] SPACE CAPSULE.
- 62a. [Prescription for an electrician?] VOLTAGE DROP.
tablet, patch, capsule, drop: each the second word of a phrase.
Kind of no-nonsense as themes go, but it works.
- Okay, just went through all the downs. Nothing to highlight, just direct cluing of non-unusual words.
- Wow, pretty much the same for the acrosses, save the theme entries.
- 65a [“Gotta hurry!”] I’M LATE.
(I’ve probably shared that song before, but it’s the best I could come up with.)
Curiously austere crossword.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s USA Today Crossword, “Sugar-Coated” — Emily’s write-up
A real treat for everyone today!
Theme: the word “DEAR” encapsulates each themer, split at different parts of the word and progressively shifting one letter from the start of the themer to the end
- 17a. [Exact look-alike], DEADRINGER
- 27a. [Item for keeping track of business appointments], DESKCALENDAR
- 62a. [Sliced, briny sandwich side], DILLPICKLESPEAR
For me, the theme was not readily noticeable to me. I noticed the D—R commonality but needed an assist from Sally (her excellent post has additional insights, as usual) to see the full theme. It probably didn’t help that I was mis-directed by thinking only of the food instead of the term of endearment. The themer set is varied mix today: DEADRINGER, DESKCALENDAR, and DILLPICKLESPEAR.
Favorite fill: REELS, MISO, and MOLE
Stumpers: SEATURTLES (clue and downward entry didn’t get me there today), JEER (needed crossings), and CREAMS (only “beats” and “wollap” came to mind)
Today’s puzzle is clever, though with a disparate themer set, the pattern for the theme was muddled at least for me. I saw part of it but couldn’t quite get there on my own. Otherwise overall it was an enjoyable solve, especially since Zhouqin’s tend to be tougher for me.
Alan Massengill & Doug Peterson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Conceptually, today’s puzzle by Alan Massengill & Doug Peterson is simple and cleanly executed: RIDESHARING is being a taxi while pretending you aren’t, and four answers are two-part and have another ridden mode of transport between their parts. We have: BUS, LIMO, TRAIN, CAR; it would have been interesting to have had more varied modes such as HORSE, but I suspect the limits of which words work between two answers played a role in which were chosen. The theme answers themselves are:
- [*Barbie-inspired doll on “The Simpsons”], MALIBUSTACY. On the one hand, this was an instant answer for me, and I was a pretty casual watcher of the Simpsons. On the other hand, it feels like crosswords expect us to know far more about the minutia of that show than almost any other. I don’t see, for example, minor plot points from NCIS, another top-rated show for multiple decades.
- [*”OK, gotta go!”], WELLIMOUT.
- [*Free baseball, so to speak], EXTRAINNINGS.
- [*Limb for Jaime Sommers or Steve Austin], BIONICARM. The Six Million Dollar People.
- [Spice in pumpkin spice, often], MACE. Mace flavour doesn’t sound as enticing…
- [Metallica’s “__ It Sleeps”], UNTIL. I looked it up, and it’s their only Billboard Top 10 Single. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but the Billboard Charts have a lot of… quirks.
Gareth, as load-shedding looms…
Liz Gorski’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
Getting late, quick peek.
Fave fill: NAPTIME (though I can’t nap), VANILLA ice cream, MINIMART, GO BAG, LOSE-LOSE, and SLEEP IN (now that, I can do). Non-fave: ANODE, RIT, Latin AMO, PENMAN, ARS clued as letter R’s (couldn’t do Latin for “art” with ARTS in the grid), SERA.
Best clue: [Private residences?] for MILITARY BASES.
3.5 stars from me.