Kevin Curry’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Comma Folk”—Jim’s review
Happy National CB Radio Day, good buddy!
Today’s theme answers are familiar phrases that end in a person. Commas are added thus separating the phrases into an imperative and the recipient of the command.
- 17a. [Command to a texting pedestrian?] “LOOK OUT, MAN!”
- 25a. [Command to a dancing sibling?] “STEP, SISTER!” Hmm. Not sure anyone would say this.
- 35a. [Command to a helicopter parent?] “STAY AT HOME, DAD!” Don’t mind if I do.
- 49a. [Command to somebody full of dirt?] “GOSSIP, GIRL!” Good entry, but the clue is a little too cutesy, IMO.
- 59a. [Command to a suspicious senior?] “FREEZE, POPS!” Ha! I like this one best. Nice to end on a high note.
Fun theme. The second one is a little iffy, but everything else is lively and enjoyable. Nicely done.
Top fill includes PHOTO OPS, OLYMPIA, BIG HEAD, OLD WEST, “GOOD ONE!,” AREA CODE, and DYSTOPIA. Had trouble with SHOWN OUT [Led to the exit]. When I figured it wasn’t SHOWED OUT, I wondered if there wasn’t an error in the clue.
Clues of note:
- 2d. [Favorable times to get shots]. PHOTO OPS. Reminder that now is a good time to get your vaccinations (flu, COVID, and RSV).
- 12d. [Finch named for an island group named for dogs]. CANARY. Neat factoid.
Good puzzle. Four stars.
Gary Larson’s New York Times crossword–Amy’s recap
I suspect that some AI BS was the inspiration for this theme, in which each of the four theme entries can swap an “A” and an “I” in two spots to make a different word (plus the eight crossing entries that also have double clues, one with “A” in the answer and one with “I”).
- 20a. [What to compile before travel or a “choice” that’s not really a choice], PACKING LIST (I never travel without first making my packing list!) or PICKING LAST, as when choosing teams. (Picked last is much more familiar.)
- 59a. [Dynamos or menus], BALLS OF FIRE or BILLS OF FARE (which feels like it’s gotta be the seed of this theme).
- 11d. [Lip cover or bettor’s pile], CHAPSTICK or CHIP STACK. Apparently CHIP STACK is a thing in gambling and it’s not just for Pringles.
- 33d. [Sensational scoring feats or sensational songs], HAT TRICKS or HIT TRACKS. The latter feels a bit green-painty to me, as opposed to something like hit songs or hit singles.
I’m not wild about PICKING LAST and HIT TRACKS, but overall I liked the theme and enjoyed having more of a Thursday challenge/trick in a Wednesday puzzle.
Not at all sure that I knew OTIOSE meant [Superfluous]. That might be a … superfluous definition. Merriam-Webster goes with futile, idle, and functionless.
Fave clue and also least favorite: 70a. [Fly in the face, e.g.], PEST. Nice trick, but also eww. Other fave clue: 46d. [“This Is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams, essentially], APOLOGY. Really? I think the poem about the plums in the icebox is more of a “sorry not sorry.”
3.75 stars from me.
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Outline” — pannonica’s write-up
- 61aR [Writes hurriedly … and a hint to understanding 17-, 29- and 47-Across] DASHES OFF. That is, we are to ignore the hyphens in the clues for those entries.
- 17a. [Co-ops?] HENHOUSES, or coops.
- 29a. [Re-signs?] CALLS IT QUITS, or resigns.
- 47a. [A-side?] OUT OF THE WAY, or aside.
Theme is serviceable but slight. I also feel that it would have had more in the tooth department if the editor had decided not to include those question marks in the clues.
- 27d [Farewell that’s 80% vowels] ADIEU. Aha! Not if you count the volume of each letter.
- 43d [In a way] OF SORTS. Crossing OUT OF THE WAY.
- Collocations! 55d [“Tall” story] TALE, 68a [Hurl snowballs at] PELT.
- 20a [Dastardly person] FIEND. Hey!
- 33a [Apt letters missing from “br_ _e’s v_w”] I DO. I am once again calling for a moratorium on this type of clue.
- 57a [Tuscan city associated with a reddish-brown pigment] SIENA. The color gains an N in English: sienna. Also, what’s that hyphen doing here??
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
Fave fill: JAPANESE LANTERN, A FAREWELL TO ARMS, THE AFRICAN QUEEN, GEARHEAD, COMFY, POWERBAR, ARMADILLO, BANK ON, LITTLE ONE, BANTER.
Clue that interested me: 49a. [Mineral whose name comes from the Latin for “fingernail”], ONYX. I’ve seen the medical terms like onycholysis, never connected it to onyx. Apparently when onyx has white or “flesh-colored” (hey, Wikipedia, you forgot that not everybody’s flesh is a light color) banding, it can resemble a fingernail.
Four stars from me. Easy, not excessively breezy.
Dan Caprera’s AV Club Classic crossword, “Romantic Boundaries”–Amy’s recap
The theme revealer is LOVE HANDLES, which usually refers to waist flab but is repurposed to have “handles” mean names/nicknames. Four terms of endearment lose a letter at the edge of the grid: (L)IGHT OF MY LIFE, INAMORAT(O) (much more common as the female counterpart, inamorata), (V)ALENTINE, and CUTIE PATOOTI(E). Those letters outside the grid spell LOVE, and they serve as HANDLES by which you could imagine picking up the crossword. Cute! It would have been fun to hold the puzzle till the day before Valentine’s Day, but I don’t think AV Club gravitates much to holiday-observance puzzles.
Did not know that the POPLAR tree (poplars, aspens, cottonwoods) was used in the manufacture of cardboard. Also pulpwood, paper, plywood, Camembert boxes, etc., Wiki tells us.
I’m working my way through the Bible in a game called IBBLE that you can no longer download, where you slide tiles around to unscramble text excerpts. I just read the Book of Esther, where indeed, I learned that pur means “lot” as in the casting of lots, so the plural (like seraphim) is PURIM. I would not have instantly known the answer to [Holiday that means “lots” in Hebrew] otherwise. (Side note: Esther is one of the least repetitive, most accessible books in the Old Testament. It’s also one of the shortest. Those folks needed an editor!)
Four stars from me.
Matt Forest ‘s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Today’s puzzle has a 2×12 square explanation: THEENDISJUST/THEBEGINNING. I’m not sure that’s a real idiom? In any case, we have four answers that start and end with the same trigram:
- [*Synthetic pump], ARTificialheART
- [*Cheap shot], LOWbLOW
- [*Regional collective pronoun], ALLyALL
- [*”There really is a wolf now!”], IMEanitthistIME
- [Machine that helps with 51-Down], CPAP. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this in a puzzle, nor it’s cousin, the BIPAP.
- [Towers that may have scratching posts], CATTREES is also an unusual entry. We get many second-hand ones donated, but often they’re quite well-used!
- [Great Plains grazer], ELK. I think most other deer are browsers though?
Jasmeet Arora & Brooke Husic’s USA Today Crossword, “MATERIAL WORLD” — Emily’s write-up
A fantastic puzzle collabo today!
Theme: the first word of each themer is a type of building material and the second word of each is a type of place in the world
- 19a. [Metaphor for a high-risk leadership position that may set a woman or nonbinary person up for failure], GLASSCLIFF
- 35a. [Crowded city with a competitive atmosphere], CONCRETEJUNGLE
- 54a. [Tech hub in California’s Bay Area], SILICONVALLEY
This is a fun dual theme, with each part of the themers has its own commonalities. The concept of a GLASSCLIFF is a new one to me but not too tough to figure out. CONCRETEJUNGLE and SILICONVALLEY though are more familiar so were easy fills. Love the two-parter theme that makes use of every part of the themer set today. I’ve personally not seen that done before so I really enjoyed it. Nicely done!
Favorite fill: SLOPPYJOE (topped with a slice of extra sharp cheddar cheese please!), MEHNDI, SARI, SALSACLUB, and RAITA
Stumpers: none for me today
Loved this puzzle! The fun grid had a smooth flow and the excellent bonus fill and cluing were on my wavelength so this was also my fastest solve time. How about for you all? Hope to see more from this duo in the future!
P.S. After all these food entries, I’m hungry! Totally making curry and naan tonight though wishing I had some raita now too.