The Fireball is on vacation.
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Guest Appearances”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are familiar words and phrases that feature the letters INS. However, they’re clued as if the entry didn’t have those letters. The revealer is DROP-INS (43d, [Unexpected guests, and what you’ll have to do to make sense of the starred answers]).
- 18a. [*Be conservative, perhaps] RINSE CYCLE. Recycle. I guess recycling is technically conserving.
- 28a. [*Typographic dot] BULLETINS. Bullet.
- 35a. [*Memo stamp] INSURGENT. Urgent.
- 45a. [*Source of quality time for Tabby] PINSETTER. Petter. Had to look up the entry to verify that’s what the bowling alley device is called. Also, “petter” doesn’t make for the most exciting theme entry.
- 54a. [*Game with colored circles] TWIN SISTER. Twister. This is much nicer than the previous one
I think I was around the third entry when the penny dropped. From there, things moved more quickly. However, referring to a group of people as DROP-INS is just not something I’m familiar with in my experience. Sure, you can “drop in” on someone, but I would never refer to someone as a “drop-in.”
The nine-letter central entry and the 7-letter vertically-placed revealer really dictate much of this grid’s format. As such, there’s not much space for long fill answers, but instead we get stacks of 7s in the corners. Highlights include SCARABS, SOLD OUT, ANDROID, “ALL RISE,” and NEBULAS. AT A PACE [How trainers may train horses] doesn’t sound like a real phrase but an entry borne of necessity. My last letter was the D in DUETTO [Verdi’s “Un dì felice, eterea,” per esempio].
Clues of note:
- 30a. [Haleakala National Park location]. MAUI. Please spare a thought for the people affected by this week’s deadly wildfires.
- 51a. [Netflix category]. DRAMAS. Normally I would say “drama” is the correct answers here, but I suppose this works, too.
- 21d. [May neglect to]. NEEDN’T. “Neglect” implies, well, negligence whereas the answer implies the activity is optional.
- 25d. [Data from TV, e.g.]. ANDROID. ST:TNG, y’all.
- 38d. [Pike]. ROADWAY. We don’t have turnpikes out here in the west, so I’m assuming calling one a “pike” is a common shorthand.
- 45d. [Pogo, e.g.]. POSSUM. From the funny pages.
The New Yorker by Caitlin Reid – norah’s review – 3:08
What a lovely breezy Thursday puzzle to start off the day! Easily worked through this one even at 7am before coffee. :)
- ⭐44d LIBIDO [Screw driver?]
- 13a WOULDILIE [“You don’t believe me?”]
- 16a HOLEINONE [Big shot on the golf course?]
- 56a ABOUTTIME [“Took you long enough!”]
- 13d WHATELSE [“Am I forgetting anything?”]
- 45a BEE [Competition where one might stand for a spell?]
Full of conversational phrases with just the right amount of cute fun wordplay touches, this one is a delight.
I was just reading about Rapa Nui (19A MONOLITH [Any of the massive stone heads on Rapa Nui, e.g.]) a few days ago after solving a harder puzzle with the clue [Rapa ___] so it’s nice to see that again today just for a little retention assistance. Evocative cluing for short common fill is always appreciated. RENEW as [Keep a library book for another few weeks, say] and SLOT [Opening that may be slightly wider than a quarter] paint a nice picture for everyday words.
Caitlin is one of the many excellent constructors contributing to Lollapuzzoola this year! If you’ll be there please find me and say hi!
Thank you, Caitlin and the TNY team!
Natan Last and the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up
Difficulty: Average (13m22s)
Today’s theme: IMPULSE / CONTROL (With 63-Across, Freudian concept of resisting temptation … or a hint to four squares in this puzzle)
- LA(ID) IN / H(E GO)T GAME
- BR(ID)ES TO BE / MOVI(E GO)ER
- MAMMA SA(ID) / OFFIC(E GO)SSIP
- OPIO(ID) / RUB(E GO)LDBERG
The ID versus the EGO, depending on which way you’re going. Tipped off to the rebus by MOMMA SAID, although at first I was wondering whether the title was spelled MOMMA SED, or was it MOMMA SEZ? Skipped ahead to the revealer, and as soon as I saw Freud’s name, I figured this would be an ID/EGO puzzle — HE GOT GAME clinched it.
Somewhere in the cobwebs of my mind (and on the actual, literal cobwebs on my decades-old bachelor’s in psychology), I remember the superego being the opposing force to the ID, with the EGO being more of an arbitrator. Where’s Trent Evans when you need him?
Cracking: the clue on HOUSEBOAT (Accommodations that a bank might float a loan for?, hee hee, har har)
Slacking: LOLED, that single L really bothers me when it precedes ED with a short O sound. Having lazily lolled — that’s the grammar for me.
Sidetracking: call him Siggy!
Drew Schmenner’s Universal crossword, “Cold Ones” — Sophia’s write-up
Theme: Each theme answer has a character from “Frozen” embedded within it.
- 18a [Central American country known for pupusas (In this answer, note letters 1-4)] – EL SALVADOR
- 23a [Certain soda’s trade secret (… letters 6-9)] – COCA COLA FORMULA
- 36a [Concept studied by philosophers and psychologists (… letters 4-7)] – HUMAN NATURE
- 50a [Entrepreneur’s undertaking (… letters 8-11)] – BUSINESS VENTURE
- 56a [NCAA ice hockey finals … or what 18-, 23-, 36- and 50-Across contain?] – FROZEN FOUR
Poor Kristoff, his name is too long to be hidden nicely in a phrase, even if he is a bigger character than Sven :( I guess this puzzle really said “Reindeers are better than people”, huh?
This is a cute theme, albeit one that, if you haven’t seen Frozen, will mean absolutely nothing to you. Frozen was a global phenomenon, so there might not be many people in that camp. This puzzle does feel a little dated because of that though? The height of Frozen-mania was 2014-2015, and Frozen 2 came out in 2019. So it’s a little random to have a Frozen puzzle now, but I’m not upset about it. All of the names are split across two words, which is elegant and consistent, and the theme answers themselves are nice. I know nothing about hockey so I though the FROZEN FOUR would be the semi-finals, because it has four teams, y’know? But the internet tells me it is also used to refer to the final.
Given the high number of theme answers, the fill is remarkably clean, but at the expense of there being any non-theme answer over 6 letters long.
Fave clue/answer: [Agua ___ (fruity taqueria drink)] for FRESCA
New to me: That Michael URIE was in shrinking, that RKO is the studio that made Citizen Kane.
Stella Zawistowski’s USA Today Crossword, “Opening Numbers” — Emily’s write-up
Listen up—make sure that you hit your queue when you jump into today’s puzzle.
Theme: the first word of each themer is a synonym for “song”
- 19a. [Prompt at the end of some TV episodes], TUNEINNEXTWEEK
- 24a. [Monitor the status of an online purchase], TRACKYOURORDER
- 49a. [Preform a rare batting feat in baseball], HITFORTHECYCLE
A fun themer set today, with a little bit of something for everyone. TUNEINNEXTWEEK is a fantastic, iconic phrase, though has fallen by the wayside for “next time on” or “previously on”. TRACKYOURORDER is a common phrase that many people do all the time and it’s so satisfying to watch the progress and countdown the stops until it’s delivered to you—or is that just me? Personally I needed the crossings for HITFORTHECYCLE but for some of you, I’m sure you placed that right away. Also, the title serves as another synonym for “song”, though for a while I was misdirected by thinking in mathematical terms, looking for numerical words initially. Great theme!
Favorite fill: COCOA, RATIO, FLIPCUP, and MIMI
Stumpers: SNARL (got stuck on “growl”), RENEE (needed crossings), and DRAT (“dang” and “damn” came to mind first)
Overall a smooth solve with lots of great bonus fill and a fun grid. Enjoyed how the theme, themer set, and title hint worked for closely together. Nicely done!
Christina Iverson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
The clue-writing is doing a lot of heavy lifty in today’s puzzle by Christina Iverson. Essentially, it’s a list theme of POTSANDPANS, but then the clues are PANS of those POTS. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have kitchen space for much beyond an oven, a kettle, and a microwave…
- [“Two stars! My spaghetti always sticks to the sides!”], PASTACOOKER. In a pot on the stove part of the oven, mine stick to the bottom rather…
- [“Half a star! The ceramic is flaking off the cast iron!”], DUTCHOVEN.
- [“One star! Chocolate gets clumpy, and sauces always separate!”], DOUBLEBOILER.
- [“Zero stars! It spits hot oil everywhere!”, DEEPFRYER
My one error was spelling SYMONE SIMONE, and FRIER seemed a potentially preferred US spelling so I didn’t even stop to consider. My two other sticking spots apart from SYMONE were: [SoCal school], SDSU, but the letters seemed likely enough and
[Bowen of “Modern Family”], JULIE; but it’s a common enough name.
There were a lot of interesting medium-length answers. My favourite entries included: stealth oldies CALLME and INBLOOM; STPATS, HEARYE, AUREVOIR, DRAMEDY and DUDEBROS.