Bill Thompson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Dish on This”—Jim’s review
Theme: SALAD BOWL (34a, [Common kitchen item depicted by the circled letters]). Said circled letters spell out words that can precede “salad.” These are TOSSED, POTATO, SHRIMP, and CAESAR.
salad solid theme. I can’t say it did a lot for me, but it certainly works and it helped me fill in some of those circled letters towards the bottom of the grid. I like the consistency in that each type of salad is six letters long, which makes—to be honest—a rather deep SALAD BOWL. I don’t think I would have objected if two of the salads were four letters long (maybe “Cobb” and “tuna”). But I have no problems with any of the ones chosen.
I do have a bit of a problem with the fill though. Maybe it’s due to the triple-checked squares, but there are some real detractors in the grid like TOILS AT, SNEER AT, STEN, the double-whammy French lesson in CES and LESE, and then toughest of all, ABRIM [Nearly spilling over] (I wanted ABOIL). I didn’t know LYSSA [Goddess of mad rage] nor FERRITE [Compound in low-carbon steel] either, but I look at those as good opportunities to learn something new.
I could’ve done without GO POSTAL though. For one, it’s pretty dated (1980s?). Second, it’s a grim reminder of our current era of mass violence. And third, it’s degrading to all the fine people who work hard to deliver our mail.
There are some definite highlights though, like SWAP MEET, MARMOSET, SERPICO, HERMIONE, and SCHMEAR.
Clues of note:
- 15a. [Aussie’s “marge”]. OLEO. That’s what they call it down there? Funny.
- 3d. [“Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” vis-à-vis “God Only Knows”]. SIDE A. The Beach Boys. I recognize those song titles, but I bet a lot of solvers don’t even know they’re songs. I would’ve picked something less generic-looking.
A fine theme and there’s some nice long fill. But it comes at a price in the form of iffy fill. Three stars.
Mary Crane’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
The theme revealer is 53A. [End of a race … or a hint to the conversation closers at 18-, 26- and 42-Across], FINISH LINE. The other themers are clued with concluding “finish lines” that could be described by the theme entries:
- 18A. [Lover’s “It’s not you, it’s me”?], STOCK SPLIT. Stock because “It’s not you, it’s me” is such a stock, pat line. And the SPLIT is the relationship’s finish.
- 26A. [Psychiatrist’s “I’m afraid our time is up”?], SHRINK WRAP. This one’s great!
- 42A. [Comment like “Sorry you’re upset! Gotta run, late for my nail appointment”?], SHALLOW END. That would indeed be a shallow way to end a conversation.
Fave fill: I can’t believe DREAM HOUSE isn’t clued via Barbie! Also liked AT THIS RATE and the ONs, ON TASK and ON MEDS. (Raise your hand if you’re both.) Not loving FRIEND ZONE at all, as that’s the framing created by men who feel they are owed a woman’s affections if they’re interested in her. If she’s not into you, get over it!
The [Sad trombone] clue for WAH-WAH puts me in mind of Rachel Dratch’s “Debbie Downer” sketches on Saturday Night Live.
3.75 stars from me.
Hanh Huynh’s Universal crossword, “Every Which Way” — pannonica’s write-up
The four words this is the way are rendered in different forms thanks to typography. It may not be exhaustive, but then we needn’t take the title’s description literally.
- 3d. [*This-is-the-way app] GOOGLE MAPS.
- 7d. [*This is the way out] EXIT DOOR.
- 11d. [*This is the “way” text] TAO TE CHING.
- 54a. [*”This is the way” speaker] MANDALORIAN.
As emphasized by the distribution of these theme entries, the grid has left-right symmetry.
Honorable mention to the Chills’ “This is the Way“. Although I like the band, this isn’t one of their stronger songs. Instead:
- 1a [2012 Best Picture winner] ARGO. This is rapidly becoming a reflexive answer. Can we go back to Jason’s ship? Hmm, there are plenty of other namesakes, but they’re relatively obscure.
- 17a [Apt letters missing from “b__m that s_oth_s”] ALOE. I am once again calling for a moratorium on this tedious type of clue.
- 23a [Messi, to fans] LEO. I hadn’t realized that was his nickname. Looks as if it reflects the Spanish pronunciation of Lionel, which makes sense, as he’s from Argentina.
- 9d [Biblical paradise] EDEN. I appreciate the qualifier here; pushes back on hegemony.
- 27d [Thin pancake that’s similar to a banh xeo] CRÊPE.
Solid little crossword.
Alan Olschwang’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Alan Olschwang’s LA Times puzzle today features a fairly typical mid-week LA Times theme trope. As explained at LONGWINDED, the tetragram WIND is spread out across the length of three long across answers:
- [Watch straps], wRiSTBAndS
- [Chardonnay-based wine], wHiTEBURGUndY
- [Reverse chin lock, for one], wRESTLinGHOLd
Tricky points, of which there were few:
- [Not as sweet], ICIER – in disposition, not taste.
- [Outdoor gear co-op], REI – Recreational Equipment Incorporated, apparently. Was trying to remember KOA.
Ben Zimmer’s AV Club crossword, “AVCX Classic Themeless #70”–Amy’s recap
Fave fill: “SIR, THIS IS AN ARBY’S.” True story: A couple years ago, I sent my husband out to Wendy’s for a chicken sandwich and a salad. Instead he went to Popeyes (a superior chicken sando) and kept insisting that salad was on their menu. The clerk showed great restraint in not telling him, “Sir, this is a Popeyes.” SLIDE INTO YOUR DM’S, SWOLE, “NO SHADE,” CONGENIAL, HYPNOSIS. There are also some shorter entries, such as STAN, in the same “contemporary usage” category as SWOLE, NO SHADE, and the 16s. Ben Z is involved in the American Dialect Society’s year-end selection of the word of the year in various categories, so he’s always going to know the words and phrases that have picked up currency.
Buffalo Exchange in the CONSIGNS clue crossing EXCHANGED jumped out at me. Never heard of Buffalo Exchange, which apparently has just 41 stores nationwide but I unknowingly drove right past one of them a few days ago!
Old-school clunkers in the grid: ENIAC, ESTOP.
3.75 stars from me.
Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
Really enjoyed this one, with its Erik Agard trademarks of sparkling, modern fill and a touch of education. Today I learned of CLAUDIA JONES, [Activist and writer who’s the subject of the Carole Boyce Davies book “Left of Karl Marx”]. Everything else was on the Friday-NYT level of pliable for me.
Fave fill: “IT’S PERFECT!”, “WHERE TO BEGIN …”, “I HAD NO IDEA!”, the talented and funny Robin THEDE of HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, TEST PREP, “AMIRITE?”, GO ROGUE, GAVE OUT, PIEROGI, “WHO CARES?”, and “BEEN THERE.” I also like AND UP, [Or higher].
Jumped out at me that this puzzle and the AV Club both have ORBS and CALI, which aren’t entries we see every day. It is not a conspiracy.
Terrific clue for OVAL: [Rectangle alternative, when rug shopping]. I’m a rectangle person myself.
[“Sister, Sister” city] is a fun clue for DETROIT because it evokes sister city while actually being a pop culture clue. I never watched the 1990s sitcom but it’s plausible that a show starring a Black pair of twins (Tia and Tamera Mowry) would be set in one of America’s majority-Black cities.
4.25 stars from me.
Ada Nicolle’s USA Today Crossword, “Buried Treasure” — Emily’s write-up
Today’s puzzle is filled with riches, found with just a bit of searching!
Theme: each themed contains the word —CHEST—
- 19a. [Keeps impatiently checking the time], WATCHESTHECLOCK
- 36a. [Ukrainian group that won Eurovision 2022 with the song “Stefania”], KALUSHORCHESTRA
- 54a. [Moves closerto form a tight group], BUNCHESTOGETHER
Great themes set today with a fantastic theme! WATCHESTHECLOCK is a fun evocative phrase that I can instantly visualize. Though I didn’t catch the competition this year, it’s great to hear that KALUSHORCHESTRA won. BUNCHESTOGETHER took me a few crossings before it filled in for me, but it too is a visual phrase for me that I usually think of in the sense of gathering fabric or tissue paper but it also works for people huddling close.
Favorite fill: CUTIE, ESPRESSO, ILLMANAGE, and PRIOUETTE
Stumpers: CAMI (only “tank” came to mind), CROSS (oddly needed crossings), and GIGI (new to me)
Fun puzzle with a great grid and flow. All the bonus fill, especially so many lengthy ones, were such a treat as well.