Alan Arbesfeld’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Bingeworthy”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are familiar phrases whose final words double as the titles for popular TV shows. The two-part revealer is SERIES / FINALE (1a, [With 68-Across, end to some bingeing, and what appears six times in this puzzle]).
- 17a. [Cause of many a resignation] SEX SCANDAL.
- 24a. [Important wedding guests] BEST FRIENDS.
- 37a. [“Beat it!”] “GET LOST!”
- 39a. [Media darlings] IT GIRLS.
- 48a. [Novelty #1 hit of October 1962] MONSTER M*A*S*H.
- 59a. [Apollo apparel] SPACESUITS.
Nice theme! I got the gist of it at the beginning then mostly ignored it as I completed the solve, which I could do thanks to the well-chosen theme entries. I had my belated aha moment after the solve.
I felt things got off to a rocky start in the NW with EBEN and I IS. But looking back upon it now, I see there is more than the average amount of theme material with six theme answers and a two-part revealer. Ergo, there are a lot of fill entries that cross two or more theme answers (and some cross three). So it’s pretty impressive that the fill isn’t worse, and in fact we get some really good stuff like FALSE START, JAM SESSION, SWEEPS UP, NFL DRAFT, and CADETTE. For that reason, I can look past the LUIs, AECs, and ICAHNs of the grid.
Clues of note:
- 45a. [Refrain from farming?]. EIEIO. Nice clue. See also [Where cats come to play?] for JAM SESSION and [Bean town?] for LIMA.
- 67a. [Group quarantining together]. POD. I like the modern angle here.
Some iffy fill is excused by the density of the theme and the lively long fill. Four stars.
Guilherme Gilioli’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
I am unreasonably sleepy and drifted off while solving this puzzle. So! The theme is kinda fun, with “I dunno” answers that actually do provide the answers to the clue questions:
- 19A. [Paradoxical answer to “What is ‘Golf’ in the NATO alphabet?”], “GEE, I DON’T KNOW.” Spelled-out letter G there.
- 27A. [Paradoxical answer to “Can you say what ‘nyet’ is Russian for?”], “NO, LET ME THINK.”
- 42A. [Paradoxical answer to “Where does oil come from?”], “WELL, YOU GOT ME.” An oil well.
- 50A. [Paradoxical answer to “What isle is located between Ireland and Great Britain?”], “MAN, THAT’S HARD.”
One further explanation: 5D. [Woman in a Lady Gaga song and album title (2016)], JOANNE. Joanne was Lady Gaga’s aunt.
Four stars from me. Good night!
David Karp’s Universal crossword, “Hang-Ups” — pannonica’s write-up
- 38a/40aR [… take a risk, or a hint to 17-, 23-, 48- and 59-Across] PUT IT ON | THE LINE.
- 17a. [Bait holder] FISHING HOOK.
- 23a. [Buzz source?] INCOMING CALL.
- 48a. [Washing machine output] CLEAN LAUNDRY.
- 59a. [A sharp or E flat] MUSICAL NOTE.
Theme works, yup.
- 9d [“Money City Maniacs” band] SLOAN. I must be officially getting old. I might recognize the name of this band?
- 11d [Hype campaign] MEDIA BLITZ. Nice.
- 24d [Hunting gear, familiarly] CAMOS. Pluralized with an S, really?
- 33d [Ontario canal that becomes the world’s largest skating rink in winter] RIDEAU. I was aware of the skating rink, but not that was a canal or what its name is.
- 36d [Singer who has a fish in the Orinoco named after her] ENYA. Aptly. Per Wikipedia, it’s Leproinus enyae.
- 60d [Inflation meas.] CPI. I believe this is the Consumer Price Index. I first had PSI, pounds per quare inch.
- 20a [2023 Best Picture winner, briefly] EEAAO, Everything Everywhere All At Once. Not to be confused with EO, which was nominated for Best Foreign Film.
- Look at all those doubled letters in the final row ERR TANNIN SASS. Nifty or nah? Or meh?
Aime Lucido’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
Lots of contemporary colloquialisms in this puzzle, and older ones too. I’m partial to “IN THIS ECONOMY?”, SWEAT IT OUT, HITS DIFFERENT, WEIGHT-TRAIN, “IF ONLY,” and RIP TO SHREDS. Could do without “SO WISE” and “IT MUST BE,” though.
If you don’t know what FUNKO POP is, it’s this brand of big-headed, round-eyed figurines depicting cutesy versions of a zillion characters from pop culture.
Fave fill aside from the colloquialisms: HELLISH, AMPHIBIANS, AIR SHOW (advertising for the US military is what that is, mind you), JE T’AIME, SNEAKERS. These are offset a bit by fill like ISERE, UTILE, ETES, RCAS, LLD, UNAS.
3.25 stars from me.
Evan Milvihill & Ryan McCarty’s AV Club Classic crossword, “AV Classic Themeless #71”–Amy’s recap
The AV Club team billed this as 5/5 difficulty but to me it felt like a regular ol’ Friday NYT, a mid-range themeless.
One of the first things you notice is the more salacious fill: BIG ASS right at 1a, along with SKIN FLICK and SEND NUDES. !!
Fave fill: WHEELIES, “AND THEN?”, unfortunate BRAIN FOG that too many people have experienced with long COVID, RIDE OR DIE, BACKROADS, the GOLIATH birdeater spider (!), “BOO! HISS!”, “GOOD TRY,” RED ALERTS, and a CAT TREE.
Language clue for you: 37a. [Difference between ma and má, in Vietnamese], TONE. I wonder how well hard-of-hearing kids are able to master their mother tongue when it’s a tonal language.
Fave clue: 37d. [“Offers” you can’t refuse?], THE MOB. Mobsters may be “offers” in that they off/kill people, and of course this clue plays on the Godfather line, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
Four stars from me.
Jess Shulman & Amanda Rafkin’s USA Today Crossword, “Peace Out” — Emily’s write-up
A chill puzzle collab for you today.
Theme: each themer has the word “peace” wrapping around it, PEA—CE and PE—ACE
- 20a. [Common satay topping], PEANUTSAUCE
- 39a. [Display of a person’s absolute best], PEAKPERFORMANCE
- 53a. [What you might need more of if you ask someone to scoot over], PERSONALSPACE
Excellent set of themers today! PEANUTSAUCE is so tasty on some chicken satay(petite skewers). PEAKPERFORMANCE took me a few crossings but everything was fair so it filled in easily enough. PERSONALSPACE rounds out the set and has great cluing.
Favorite fill: CLEANSLATE, MAISEL, INTUNE, and TULANE
Stumpers: DANCEPARTY (second part tough to get for me), YET (need crossings), and RAD (also needed crossings)
Smooth puzzle overall, though due to my lack of knowledge for some things it took me a bit longer today. Cluing was fun and fresh despite the extra effort needed on my part. Hope to see more from these two! How did you all like it?
Max Schlenker’s Los Angeles Times crossword–Amy’s summary
Filling in for Gareth, who was without electricity (what South Africa calls “load shedding,” semi-regularly scheduled rolling blackouts). The theme is four names or phrases that end with words that sound like “doll”: primatologist JANE GOODALL, a WOODEN DOLL (?), dated pop-culture reference ARLENE DAHL (too bad it’s not the more familiar Roald Dahl, who could pair with an also more familiar paper doll), and the somewhat arbitrary GUJARATI DAL.
Fave fill: AGUA FRESCA! Plenty of tougher fill, like ARSENE, Spanish EXACTO, Latin VENI, French cheese Port SALUT, UTAHN, SLOVENE.
2.5 stars from me.