Rafael Musa & Hoang-Kim Vu’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
You ever notice that BADMinTon and BAD-MOUTHS have a lot of letters in common? If you’re a themeless constructor, you probably knew this.
Fave fill: OVERDRAW, GO COLD, ENGAGEMENT PARTY (fun clue: [Gathering to show off a new rock band?]), GORDITAS, TIC TACS instead of just a TIC or TAC, THROUPLE, “NO WONDER,” Gretzky the “GREAT ONE,” “WHO DOES THAT?”, TELEPORT, and the PAD and TAMPON combo (not a one of us would exist without menstruation so let’s not be squeamish).
Not so familiar to me: LAND ART as a term for an [Outdoor installation using earth, rocks, vegetation, etc.]; SAKE BOMBS, [Some beer cocktails].
I’m beat! Four stars from me. Good night!
Samantha Podos Nowak and Katie Hale’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
For this 16×15 grid, the letters T-R-Y have been inserted into various phrases, to wacky effect.
- 60aR [“Go on, take a taste!” … or an apt title for this puzzle?] GIVE IT A TRY.
- 17a. [Feature of a jean jacket with a snowflake design?] WINTRY BACK (win back).
- 24a. [French dessert for a romantic date?] PASTRY DE DEUX (pas de deux).
- 37a. [Handwoven textile that’s a big source of comfort?] SECURITY TAPESTRY (security tapes). Yes, in the news.
- 48a. [Group that oversees tablets?] IPAD MINISTRY (iPad Mini).
A fairly standard-type theme.
- 1d [Beach blanket, often] TOWEL. Well, no. A beach towel is one thing and a beach blanket is another.
- 6d [Wayfarer maker] RAY-BAN. Was going to observe that this should be Wayfarers, but then I realized that that’s probably just the colloquial way of referring to the model name.
- 18d [ __ sax] BASS. I really wanted this to be BARI, because I firmly believe that almost any song can be improved by including a baritone saxophone.
- 27d [“Eh, this happens a lot”] I’M USED TO IT. Nice.
- 38d [Monte of the 1950s Giants] IRVIN. Who?
- 47d [Brand named for two states] ORE-IDA. Oregon, Idaho.
- 61d [Sun shade] TAN. Okay, how does this clue work?
- 10a [Menu item] FILE. 52d [Hit Ctrl-S] SAVED.
- 31a [Introductory offer?] NAME. Good clue.
- 62a [Highlander’s pattern] PLAID. Technically a tartan, whereas a PLAID is a certain woven product.
- 66a [Part of a bridal quartet?] OLD. Plus new, borrowed, and blue.
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “What’s What?”—Jim’s review
Theme clues are familiar phrases of the form “What’s ___?” Theme answers are definitions of the FITB word.
- 16a. [What’s new?] NEVER BEFORE SEEN.
- 26a. [What’s happening?] ALL THE RAGE.
- 37a. [What’s up?] AWAKE.
- 43a. [What’s good?] BENEVOLENT.
- 58a. [What’s cooking?] FOOD PREPARATION.
Nice theme. I got it in my head that the person asking the questions is an English learner trying to make sense of these new words they’re learning. I wasn’t sure about the “happening” one at first, but it works if you consider the slangy meaning of the word.
We’ve seen IT’S A TRAP not infrequently in crosswords, but it’s still fun. And for me I always hear it in Admiral Ackbar’s voice from Return of the Jedi. Other goodies include CAR PARTS and HOMESICK. My daughter went on a 2-week school trip to Mexico earlier this summer, and it was a rough first few days, let me tell you.
Clues of note:
- 1a. [Zimmer of film scoring]. HANS. Well, linguist and sometimes-crossword-constructor Ben didn’t fit.
- 57d. [Singer with a musical “Gang”]. KOOL. I never thought about who “KOOL” was. Turns out that’s the self-appointed nickname of Robert Bell, bassist for the group. Fun fact: His godfather was Thelonious Monk. Here’s an interesting interview from The Guardian.
Nice puzzle. 3.75 stars.
Aimee Lucido’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s recap
Hoo boy, I really liked this! I found this on the tough side for a New Yorker Friday, and tough in a different way, in that I clocked the theme early, with a revealer in the NE corner, and still even knowing the them had to parse the affected entries out. Really a pleasure.
I only encountered one theme entry before reaching the revealer, but let’s start with those:
- 5d [Ceremonial celebration of the savory?] UMAMI RITE
- 18d [Sets of harpoon throws and peg-leg lifts aboard the Pequod?] AHAB WORKOUT
- 25d [Macrame for mustelids?] ERMINE CRAFT
- 37d [Medicare for All Who Are North of the Forty-ninth Parallel?] HMO CANADA
And the revealer: 11d [Something to put on when solving a problem … and what 5-, 18-, 25-, and 37-Down each feature?] THINKING CAP.
So reparse the themers to start with a short word than indicates thinking: UM, AM I RITE?; AH, AB WORKOUT; ER, MINECRAFT; and HM, O CANADA.
Really delightful. I was expecting all themers to use UM, and they don’t, and all four are fresh in their base phrase and humourous in their theme-altered state. Just good for my money. The log horizontals EGOMANIACAL and JUST IMAGINE were each highlights to the solve, and MASHUPS and AVATARS are also colorful entries. Between that non-theme architecture and the excellent theme set, I truly barely noticed perhaps more short stuff and abbreviations than is typical. For me, a worthy tradeoff to make this work.