Robert Charlton’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Two trios of stacked 15s anchor this puzzle. I appreciate that the “oof!” of INDIAN TERRITORY is countered by ANTICOLONIALIST writings from Gandhi and Achebe. The other 15s are cool: SKATEBOARD TRICK, COURT APPEARANCE, CARBONATED WATER, and STICKS AND STONES.
I was a little surprised that the puzzle fell as swiftly as it did, given that 1a [McTwist, for one] did not mean anything to me! Skateboarding? Sure, sure.
Fave fill that’s shorter than 15 letters: RIDE OUT, KONMARI (the Marie Kondo method), BIG BEND National Park (which I did not know of until this week, when I watched the Big Bend episode of an incredibly soothing documentary series on Hulu spotlighting national parks), and IN ONE GO.
Could’ve done without 8d. [Small simian … that’s one letter away from a small computer program], APELET. Yes, it’s a dictionary word, but nobody uses it. I did a Google news search for the word, and there were two hits: the Wordplay column about this puzzle, and something about Keith Ape’s “Let Us Prey.” Two hits!
Overall, despite the APELET blotch, four stars from me. Quite a solid debut for the constructor.
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Extermination” — pannonica’s write-up
Prefixed EX-es? Who needs ’em? GONE.
- 22a. [Paperboy’s work?] PRESS DELIVERY (express delivery).
- 31a. [Checking manifests, inspecting cargo containers, etc.?] PORT DUTIES (export duties).
- 34a. [Bungee?] TENSION CORD (extension cord).
- 61a. [Dramaturgy?] ACT SCIENCE (exact science).
- 63a. [Forced smiles when being photographed?] POSED BEAMS (exposed beams).
- 85a. [Observer making sassy comments?] PERT WITNESS (expert witness). My favorite of the bunch.
- 88a. [Sneaking up on the other players to tag them?] ‘IT’ STRATEGY (exit strategy).
- 102a. [Dates on coins?[ CHANGE NUMBERS (exchange numbers).
Unusually for a Mike Shenk crossword, at least to my thinking, there is no physical overlap of theme entries.
- 7d [Monte __ (deep-fried ham-and-cheese sandwich)] CRISTO. I only know grilled versions. Anyway, this seems to be a deeply polarizing menu item.
- 8d [Iconic image by Robert Indiana] LOVE. You know the one, with the LO perched above the VE and the O rotated at something like a 45° angle.
- 10d [Just clear of the seabed, as an anchor] ATRIP. Not too common a word outside of maritime affairs, I should think.
- 20d [White, on a wine list] BLANC. 59d [White wine from Italy] SOAVE.
- 32d [Ascend, quaintly] UPCLIMB. Have never seen that form.
- 62d [Salon worker] COLORER. Or colorist? Which is more common?
- 67d [Prepare for transport, as groceries] BAG UP. First ATRIP, then UPCLIMB, now BAG UP?! These are awkward.
- 21a [1927 Norma Talmadge movie] THE DOVE. Is it famous?
- 24a [Takes to work, say] RIDES ON. Not the most direct clue, by a longshot.
- 49a [Pennsylvania Dutch Fraktur, e.g.] FOLK ART.
- 67a [Scary critter] BEASTY.
- 68a [Hang out, say] DRY. Li’l tough.
- 69a [Cloud chamber particle] ION.
- 71a [Makes a cameo, e.g.] CARVES. Good misdirection.
- 81a [1990s GMC pickups] SONOMAS. First I had SIERRAS, then SONORAS. I think the SIERRA is an in-production GMC vehicle and the SONORA is a different make and model, but I could be completely wrong about those things.
- 106a [Tubes in torsos] AORTAS. Such a clunky clue.
- 108a [Did some wool gathering] SHEARED. This would have been a lot easier had I not misread the clue as ‘wood gathering’.
Matthew Stock & Caitlin Reid’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
Keeping in mind that this grid is slightly oversized — 16×15 — this was still what I have in mind when I interpret Patti Varol’s description of what the LAT Saturday should be, a “gentle challenge.” I know I complain often that it’s too easy; this was moderate, but with a lot of really fun cluing that felt satisfying. Highlights:
- 14A [Large-eyed primate with a toxic bite] is SLOW LORIS, which is a fun entry, and also I learned something new (the toxic bite part) without having to look anything up, which is always a bonus.
- 45A [Pocket protector?] is a clever clue for MISER (and one in which the deception worked on me, which it doesn’t usually; I needed four out of five crossings to get this).
- 52A [Snack with which one could be caught red-handed?] is FLAMIN’ HOT CHEETOS, which I bet was the seed entry and the reason this puzzle is 16 squares wide. Although I do not love FLAMIN’ HOT CHEETOS and you will never catch me red-handed with them, I love this clue.
- 3D [List for a trial period?] is DOCKET, also clever.
- 7D [Part of a fictional flight plan] is PIXIE DUST, probably my favorite clue in the puzzle. That is, one uses PIXIE DUST to fly in Peter Pan.
- 24D [“lol”] is HEHE, which is a bit of a throwaway except that the clue just as easily leads to HAHA, which brings a little extra difficulty in landing the middle section of the puzzle.
- 31D Some difficulty was added by cluing TRULY, which could easily have been clued without the need for factual knowledge, as the hard seltzer brand: [White Claw rival].
- 51D [Unite beneath a chuppah, e.g.] is WED. Not an especially hard clue (and one I didn’t even notice while solving), but a nice evocative one.
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
A rough one. Ended up having to run the alphabet to finish: the square located at the intersection of 15-across [Sony cofounder and longtime head] AKIO MORITA and 5-down [The Nuremberg Trials, e.g.: Abbr.] IMT (International Military Tribunal).
- 1a [Jets’ address, in part] WINNIPEG, MB. 12d [Home of the minor league RubberDucks] AKRON, OHIO.
- 16a [What “Southern Living” suggests for your succotash] OKRA. Thought it might be FORK.
- 20a [Malcolm, Jr.’s nickname] STEVE. This is, apparently, Forbesiana.
- 25a [It cut a key in half on QVC (2005)] GINSU. Kind of a stupid clue, but on the other hand I got it rather easily.
- 31a [Where a 1948 Declaration of Independence was proclaimed] TEL AVIV. If nothing else, crosswords have hammered home to me that 1948 = Israel.
- 43a [Law enforcement lingo] TEN-CODE.
- 46a [A way to vote no in New York] NYET. Unsure whether this refers to the numerous languages voting materials are furnished, or if it’s about the United Nations.
- 48a [Half a prominent name in modeling] DOH. Really tough clue referencing Play-Doh. It’s a reprieve from all the Homer Simpson clues, at least.
- 58a [Seis Felipes] REYES, crossing 34d [Puzzle app featuring Louis XVI] VIVE LE ROI (which I’d never heard of, but guessed luckily based on the VIV– start).
- 61a [First Asian Best Actress Oscar winner] YEOH. That was only this year.
- 64a [ __ à laine (French sheep)] BÉTE. Is this a poetic name, or perhaps a breed?
- 23d [Choices for toasters] TAVERNS. Come on.
- 44d [Word from the Latin for “mug”] CHALICE. Interesting to learn. m-w.com says this for the etymology: “Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin calic-, calix; akin to Greek kalyx, calyx“
- 50d [Much less than a roar] TEHEE. Ouch.
- 54d [Name related to Hayden] AIDAN. I guess this is better than those clues we saw for a while that were like [Name not related to __ ], right?
Very glad this ordeal is over, so I can make some coffee and breakfast. (yay)
Universal: “Universal Freestyle 91” by Sarah Sinclair, norah’s review, 3:53
- ⭐LITTLEWOMEN 59A [March 4?]
- YOUREONMUTE 18A [Words that break an awkward silence at a meeting]
- GETSTHEICK 29D [Suddenly loses attraction, in slang]
- PUPILS 43D [Black holes for observation?]
I’m always extra delighted to see a banger such as [March 4?] for LITTLEWOMEN in the Universal. Known for being smooth and accessible, we don’t often get clues that have this level of fun misdirection but I’m happy for it when the opportunity presents.
Shorter fun stuff includes [Pirates’ playgrounds] 19A SEAS, [Cookie with dedicated emojis in Microsoft Teams] 39D OREO, [“___, Baa, La La La!” (children’s book)] 8D MOO (at one point in my life I had this entire book memorized!). And we have one of my favorite crossword in-jokes in including the constructor’s name: [Girl’s name often spelled with an “H”] 53A SARA. I less love what is a bit of a rough dupe for me, stacked YOUs in 14A and 18A, but I’m coming around to the idea that I’m a little harder on dupes than others.
6D INUIT [Arctic people in the novel “Sanaaq“] Authored by Inuk educator Mitiarjuk Nappaaluk and translated into English and French, the novel tells the story of a the day to day activities of an extended Inuit family.
Thanks Sarah and the Universal team!