Alan Massengill’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “The Way It ‘Twas”—Jim’s review
T sounds are added to the starts of familiar phrases that originally started with a W sound. Spellings are changed as needed.
- 19a. [Lessons for those who got behind in the dancing?] TWERKING CLASS. Working class.
- 31a. [Poodle that’s not quite a teacup or a toy?] TWEENER DOG. Wiener dog. Ha. I liked this one best.
- 40a. [Income for a social media influencer?] TWEET BREAD. Wheat bread.
- 51a. [DJ’s platter, when it’s on the turntable?] TWIRLED RECORD. World record. Reminds me of a license plate frame I saw a few days ago: “Visualize Whirled Peas.”
I enjoyed this, probably because I was won over by the second entry. I like the fact that each one requires a spelling change, adding to the theme’s consistency. (Conversely, I did notice that only one entry’s second word doesn’t change meaning.) I wonder if TWILL SHORTS was ever considered for this theme.
Nice long fill: FIRST-RATE, ECCENTRIC, DECK HAND, TIE RACK, “I GET IT.”
Clue of note: 27d. [Fitting]. MEET. This is a deep cut. I had to scour a few different online dictionaries to find this meaning which is labeled “archaic and dialectal British”: “precisely adapted to a particular situation, need, or circumstance : very proper”. Example from Joseph Conrad: “… their ghosts … haunt the fires by which sit armed men, as is MEET for the spirits of fearless warriors who died in battle.” Yikes. That’s a clue more MEET for the end of the week or in a stumper puzzle.
Nice puzzle. 3.75 stars.
Michael Lieberman’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
The theme is bizarre food clues that play on the orientation of various letters within the themers:
- 17A. [Salad dressing with chopped liver], BALSAMIC VINEGAR with the letters in LIVER “chopped up” and strewn throughout in circled letters. Is it just me, or is vinegar by itself a sad excuse for salad dressing? It needs some olive oil!
- 28A. [Sandwich with wild rice], MONTE CRISTO with the RICE gone “wild” within.
- 48A. [Desserts with split peas], PEACH MELBAS. PEACH MELBAS sure does look weird in the plural, given how uncommon it is here in the States. The PE/AS are “split,” and I humbly ask you to please never put peas in my dessert.
- 60A. [Egg dish with a lemon turnover], WESTERN OMELETTE, with NOMEL being LEMON “turned over.” Apparently the Western omelet is the same as the Denver. (I want none of it.) Never heard of a lemon turnover, but the internet has photos and recipes.
Aesthethically, this theme is a nightmare. Peas in the dessert! Just say no.
Fave fill: SALTINES, ORNERY, Brittney GRINER, RUBS IT IN, HOT MIC.
The Scowl-0-Meter groaned into action at the sight of EPODE, [Lyric poem]. Raise your hand if you majored in English and have never encountered that word anywhere but crosswords.
Fave clue: [Ones with chiseled jawlines, often], STATUES. Literally chiseled out of stone.
3.5 stars from me.
Adam Simpson’s Universal crossword, “Totaled Cost” — pannonica’s write-up
- 56aR [“How much do I owe?” … or a hint to part of 20-, 35- and 42-Across] WHAT’S THE DAMAGE.
- 20a. [Food under a bunch of layers?] CHICKEN SCRATCH. Also called scratch grains.
- 35a. [It’s a crisp across the pond] POTATO CHIP.
- 42a. [Time to get a sandwich with co-workers] LUNCH BREAK.
scratch, chip, break – in increasing order of magnitude, even.
- 4d [Something to maintain with a speaker] EYE CONTACT. I’ve always found that I tend to look at peoples mouths quite a lot when they’re speaking. Dunno why, my ears work just fine.
- 39d [Closes down for good] SHUTTERS. The site of my only mis-fill, where I assumed it was going to be a phrase, SHUTS __.
- 55d [Short spat] SET-TO. Spats are already attenuated, so I guess a SET-TO is short still?
- 57d [Goes “mmm mmm mmm mm,” maybe] HUMS. Strong Crash Test Dummies vibe.
- 45a [Opinion piece] OP-ED. Remember, the “op” here stands for opposite (the editorial page).
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s recap
Huh, easier than I was expecting, as it felt easy enough to be a breezy Thursday New Yorker.
Lots of longer entries that aren’t wildly new entities, but that feel fresh to the grid. Fave fill: AVON LADIES, “THE BODY” ([Nickname shared by Elle Macpherson and Jesse Ventura]), JOB SITES, RUBIK’S CUBE, CRAB SPIDER, SKETCHBOOKS, CARRY-ON BAGS.
Didn’t know that CORNELL was the [Only Ivy League university that was never closed to women].
Felt misled by [It might be used to smooth out a track], which had me thinking of Zambonis and racetracks rather than a song track and AUTOTUNE.
Four stars from me, smooth and straightforward.
Olivia Mitra Framke’s AV Club Classic crossword, “See What’s Left”—Amy’s recap
Theme revealer: EYE OPENERS, 56a. [Revelatory experiences, or how you might describe aloud what this puzzle’s theme entries have]. Each themer has an “i” (pronounced “eye”) added to the front of (or “opening”) a familiar phrase or word, changing the meaning.
- 16a. [App graphic designer?] ICON ARTIST. They won’t scam you.
- 24a. [AP Chemistry?], ION COURSE. How long till DeSantis et al find cause to ban AP science courses?
- 34a. [What surfers hope for?], IDEAL BREAKERS. This one’s a little bit of an outlier since dealbreakers is one word rather than a phrase.
- 46a. [Mountain trek that involves scowling at flowers and losing one’s temper with chipmunks?], IRATE HIKE. Funny image in the clue! You know what, though? When I’m in the Magic Hedge bird sanctuary at Chicago’s lakefront and want to take a photo of a cute li’l chipmunk on the trail, that little bastard skedaddles so fast, all I capture is a blur. #ChipmunkRageIsReal
Loved seeing SWEAR JAR in the grid. Also liked RETCON, the SIMPSONS, and the twofer of EVIL and SAINTLY for [Like many a one-dimensional antagonist]. Nice to have 45d. [Iranian-American chef Samin] NOSRAT. She’s got that cooking book, Salt Fat Acid Heat, along with the Netflix show it inspired.
Four stars from me.
Wendy L. Brandes and Sally Hoelscher’s USA Today Crossword, “Uppercase” — Emily’s write-up
Fantastic puzzle from a dynamic duo today!
Theme: in the downs today, the first word of each themer can be prepended with “case” to form a new phrase (or up above it)
- 28d. [Friend to do homework with], STUDYBUDDY
- 17d. [Lover of Renaissance fairs, perhaps], HISTORYBUFF
- 11d. [Queen’s subjects, in a hive], WORKERBEES
STUDYBUDDY takes me back to college in the library, especially given the timing with the start of school. HISTORYBUFF is another fun themer that makes me think of my dad and his love of Minnesota history. WORKERBEES took me a few more crossings today, as I usually think of them as just “workers” though it rounds out today’s set nicely. With the theme, we get: CASE STUDY, CASE HISTORY, and CASE WORKER. This puzzle is just so hard working and studious today!
Favorite fill: SETUP, STUDYBUDDY, MOONPIE (just had my first this week!), and AFOOT
Stumpers: ELEVENTH (needed crossings, tricky (but fun) cluing for me), INCOME (kept thinking about something being lifted and not the money sense), and HOU (new to me)
Given that I had a migraine today, it’s hard to know how much of my time was due to that versus difficulty level. What did you all think today? Was this puzzle significantly tougher than usual? Either way, I still loved it and adored the collab! Hope to see more from Wendy and Sally!
Catherine Cetta’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
I feel like I am missing a layer or two in today’s puzzle by Catherine Cetta. The central down answer is RISEANDFALL, [Move like tides and stock prices, or what the hidden words do in the answers to the starred clues?]. All I’m seeing is four answers with palindromic sections that spell words: NAAN, STATS, MADAM, and NOON. So:
- [*Forensic expert on many a crime drama], DNAANALYST
- [*”Is this a smile on my face?”], HOWMADAMI. Never heard that used as a phrase, ever…
- [*Warning from the paranoid], TRUSTNOONE
[*Like Viola and Sebastian’s ship at the start of “Twelfth Night”], LOSTATSEA
The grid itself felt very open, and featured a lot of six-to-eight word answers. Highlights included [“Aw, darn it!”], OHHELL; [Neighborhood diner?], LOCAVORE; [Restored to mint condition], LIKENEW.