Michael Schlossberg’s New York Times crossword, “Crunch Time” — Nate’s write-up
– 3D: IN SPITE OF [Notwithstanding] – T inside shaded PIE
– 53D: ALICIA KEYS [Singer with the 2001 #1 hit “Fallin'”] – I inside shaded CAKE
– 6D: PULLED A FAST ONE [Tricked somebody] – D inside shaded LEAF
– 37D: CUP BEARER [Server at a royal table, one] – B inside shaded PEAR
– 13D: APPLIED SCIENCE [Civil engineering or molecular biology] – I inside shaded APPLE
– 56D: FAT CONTENT [What makes an avocado rich] – T inside shaded CONE
– 16D: PLUS MINUS [±] – S inside shaded PLUM
– 119A: VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR [Classic children’s book character eating its way through this puzzle, with “the”]
What a cute theme! Each of this puzzle’s downward themers is something that our VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR might munch into (edited to add: Thanks to Ethan for pointing out in the comments – these are the foods the caterpillar eats in the book – nice!), and the bite marks inside those foods spell out TIDBITS. “Crunch Time,” indeed!
This puzzle felt like a medium difficulty solve for me, hampered a bit by the left/right grid symmetry, which resulted in a lot of tasky three-letter entries and a central section that was a devil for me to ultimately conquer. Otherwise, this was a wonderfully crunchy and nicely challenging solve. Perhaps the toughest cross for me was COSIMO / MOS, with both entries being firmly outside my wheelhouse. TIL, though!
What did you think of the puzzle? Let us know in the comments below – and have a great weekend! If you were at the Lollapuzoola crossword puzzle tournament this weekend, let us know how it was! And keep us SoCal folks and those in Baja Mexico and the Nevada deserts in your thoughts – I thought earthquakes were bad enough, but now we’ve got hurricanes to deal with, too?!
Evan Birnholz’ Washington Post crossword, “That’s an Order” — Matt G’s write-up
Hope folks who traveled are making their way home safe from Lollapuzzoola. I couldn’t make it this year, but expect to be at ACPT and fingers crossed for Lolla as well next year.
A meta this week from Evan, titled “That’s an Order.” We’re prompted to find “the phrase that I’d hope you’d say in response to the question ‘Will you solve this meta?'”
The nine theme entries are obvious (forgive me for not typing out the clues):
- 21a ONE SLICE
- 23a TWO TIMES
- 29a THREE STOOGES
- 50a FOUR EYES
- 64a FIVE WAY
- 81a SIX BALLS
- 96a SEVEN SISTERS
- 107a EIGHT BIT
- 112a NINE HOLE
In metas I often get twisted up in knots, not knowing where to start or how to filter through potentional rabbitholes. The clear order in the theme entries both aligned with the title and focused me on the second word of each.
From there, the first thing I tried worked — the “SLICE” in ONE SLICE looks like it pairs nicely with CUT at 1-Across. It’s a common meta trick — finding partner clues and entries elsewhere in the grid and seeing where it takes us.
Here, each of the words from the themers could be the answer to another clue in the grid — note that this isn’t quite “is a synonym for another entry in the grid.” Running down the list:
- SLICE – 1a [Divide with a knife] CUT
- TIMES – 6d [Instances] OCCASIONS
- STOOGES – 14d [Flunkies] UNDERLINGS
- EYES – 53a [Gets a glimpse of] NOTICES
- WAY – 66d [Path] TRAIL
- BALLS – 79d [Spherical objects] ORBS
- SISTERS – 85a [Convent members] NUNS
- BIT – 118a [Small amount] IOTA
- HOLE – 121a [Something dug in the ground] TRENCH
I won’t bury the lede: we take the first letter from each of these entries to find the meta answer, “Count on it!” Fits the prompt and ties back into the numerical element in the theme entries.
I actually backsolved this a bit after spotting CUT, TRAIL, and NUNS, so I had a slight pause on whether TRENCH was a good pair to HOLE, before I remembered that it’s the clues that can apply to either, not a straight synonym relationship. More importantly, I didn’t realize until writing this up now that the extraction entries (CUT, OCCASIONS, etc) are themselves in grid order, despite the order also being clear from the numbers in the theme entries. A lovely extra bit of finesse.
- 34a [Grant’s portrayer on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”] ASNER. “You got a lotta spunk.” “Why thank you, Mr. Grant.” “I HATE spunk.”
- 36a [Paul who founded a pet food company] IAMS. This was new to me! Obviously I’ve never bothered to look up the origins of the company, or else I’d’ve known, but I never considered it might be someone’s name itself.
- 77a [Fencer’s thrust] PASSADO. Another new one for me — it’s rare enough our crossword fencing terms go to five letters (‘lunge’), let alone longer!
- 44d [Quetzaltenango’s nation] GUATEMALA. Quetzaltenango is west-northwest of the capital Guatemala City and is very near to the Santa Maria Volcano.
- 51d [___ V, ruler of Norway from 1957 to 1991] OLAV. I welcome any tips for keeping OLAVs and OLAFs straight (and will be embarrassed if the answer is “if it’s a Nordic/Scandinavian king, it’s always -V”)
- 95d [English soccer player Williamson] LEAH. By the time most of you get to this puzzle and recap, the England-Spain World Cup Final will be over, but I’ll toss in a “Go Spain!” all the same. To stay on topic, Williamson herself is not participating, missing the tournament with an injury.
- 109d [Father of Ben Solo] HAN. I may eat my words, possibly immediately with tomorrow’s BEQ puzzle, but a lot like Game of Thrones, I think I know everything I need to know crossword wise from this franchise without really having to endure the films.
- 115d [Last word] END. I’ll tip my hat a bit to Evan for not doing some sort of [… aptly placed within this puzzle]-type clue.
Have a great Sunday!
Universal, “Themeless Sunday” by Adrian Johnson — norah’s write-up; 6:20
- ⭐GOODBYEFORNOW 35A [“Take care, and I’ll see you again soon”]
- STORYBOOKENDING 3D [Happy conclusion to many fairy tales]
- ITRIEDTOTELLYOU 11D [“Next time, just listen!”]
- BOXKITES 39A [Rectangular beach flyers]
This one was hard! I mean, compared to the usual anyway. But fun – I enjoy the medium level difficulty in stuff like TONE 4D [An angry parent may not like yours], ATONE 17A [Do makeup work?], PRIME 29A [Two, but not four], ROSEN 45A [Nevada senator Jacky], and so on.
SAOPAULO 31A [Largest city in the Southern Hemisphere] I didn’t know this fact!
Thanks Adrian and the Universal team!
Paul Coulter’s Universal Sunday crossword, “Tempus Fugit”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are familiar names and phrases in which appear the letters SAND (108d, [Material that’s trickling through 3-, 18-, 28-, 64-, and 65-Down]). Entries are placed in such away that the SAND flows down the grid, as in an HOURGLASS (14d, [Old timer … and what’s depicted in the middle of today’s grid]). A bonus revealer is at 75d: DOWNTIMES [Rest periods … and a punny alternate title for today’s puzzle].
- 3d. [“Rushmore” director] WES ANDERSON.
- 18d. [Tricks of the trade] INS AND OUTS.
- 28d. [Dad’s footwear that evokes eye rolls] SOCKS AND SANDALS. Note the bonus SAND.
- 64d. [Sch. in La Jolla whose mascot is King Triton] UC SAN DIEGO.
- 65d. [Seemingly forever] AGES AND AGES.
Really nice theme! I especially like the double-SAND find in the middle (fun fact: the word “sandal” has nothing to do with SAND) and the flowing SAND from top left to bottom right. (Sure, there’s no horizontal aspect to SAND falling through an HOURGLASS, but hey, it’s a crossword. What are you gonna do?) I’m not terribly keen on the repetition of “AND” in three of the entries, but I can look past that if it means we get the elegantly designed grid we see here. And we get some cool grid art which breaks one of the longstanding crossword rules: We have an unchecked square in the center of the grid. All in all, a lovely design.
Truth be told, there are so many long entries in this grid, I didn’t spy the SAND theme until I got to the revealer. So I essentially solved it as a themeless, enjoying the long fill along the way: STAR-NOSED MOLE, NONSENSE VERSE, AIR TERMINAL, DONNIE DARKO, END OF AN ERA, TOWER HEIST, LINE DANCER, and DREAM TEAMS. Other goodies: GO SOUTH, HAS LEGS, and “GO ON IN.” Never heard of ANDAMAN [Bay of Bengal’s ___ Islands], but the crossings are fair.
- 27a. [Burrowing mammal with a distinctive snout]. STAR NOSED MOLE. Said snout is the critter’s primary sensory organ, though it relies on touch, not smell.
- 28d. [Dad’s footwear that evokes eye rolls]. SOCKS AND SANDALS. Here in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve seen more than dads wear that sort of get-up. Hey, if InStyle says it’s okay, who am I to argue?
Good puzzle. Four star-nosed moles.