Alex Vratsanos’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Super-Scrabbly fill in this puzzle. It’s packed with Z’s and X’s and a Q: HEDGE MAZE, AXEL FOLEY (a new Beverly Hills Cop movie, with Eddie Murphy, is in the works, and constructors rejoice at a fresh AXEL clue for a break from ice skating leaps), EXXON MOBIL, PIZZA BOX, and MOSQUE are the showiest.
Tricksy clue at 7d. Why is [Weaver’s work?] ALIENS? Because that’s the title of a Sigourney Weaver movie.
Slowed myself down with SORELY instead of SO VERY at 20a, and OUTCAST for OUTLIER at 26d. Oof!
Fave fill: YODA SPEAK, GLIDERS (my dad took glider flying lessons), GO BANANAS, SHORTHAIR cats, VIOLA Davis, ZELDA of the Legend of Zelda video games, ELEANOR Roosevelt, the negativity of NO CHANCE and BAD IDEA, the vegetable CRISPER, and IN THE WEEDS.
Did not know (or just plain forgot): 55d. [Pou ___ (vantage point)], STO. It’s in Merriam-Webster as English vocab, comes from the Greek.
There are quite a few proper nouns in the grid, so the name DORY is instead clued as 35d. [High-sided boat]. Dang, I needed a lot of crossings there! DORY used to show up fairly often as a boat in crosswords, but I sure did not recall “high-sided.” Looking at the pictures here, I must say the sides don’t look so remarkably high to me.
Four stars from me. Didn’t quite vibe with the puzzle all the way, but it’s a solid themeless and the fill isn’t woefully compromised by all those X’s and Z’s.
Karen Steinberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Follow the Money” — pannonica’s write-up
I don’t understand the point of this theme. The longest answers contain various names of money from around the world. Rather than being presented normally, however, they bend around corners. But neither segment of the entry stands on its own as meaningful—in fact, the clues are split across the two entries. So, why?
The more compact format does allow for the striking grid art in the center of the grid: a large dollar sign. It also lets the constructor emphasize strong medium-length fill over more showy entries.
- 4a/8d. [Purple Sunkist product] GRAPE SODA.
- 12a/17d. [Record of a day’s thoughts] DIARY ENTRY.
- 18a/19d. [Massive Tolstoy work] WAR AND PEACE.
- 47d/69a. [Disclose plans] SHOW ONE’S HAND.
- 66a/68d. [Green cruciferous vegetable] BROCCOLI RABE.
- 84d/122a. [Queue up] STAND IN A ROW.
- 98d/123a. [Creator of toy figurines] DOLL ARTIST.
- 105d/125a. [Set of precepts governing Muslims] SHARIA LAW.
A point of consistency is that the hidden names always span at least two words.
- 40a [Sheet of slips] ERRATA. ‘Slips’ as in errors.
- 41a [Woodworker’s securers] C CLAMPS. 48a [Official for a Phila. Union game] MLS REF. These neighboring entries both contain odd-looking consonant clusters.
- 53a [Finger-wagging admonition] SHAME SHAME. 119a [Naughty deed] NO-NO.
- 80a [Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, in Monopoly] REDS. Not your typical [Cabernet and Merlot] or [Crimson and brick] type clue.
- 83a [Ukr. invader] RUS. Accurate terminology.
- 101a [Three-sister band] HAIM. I believe this is only the second time I’ve seen them in a crossword. But, for instance, I haven’t been solving many BEQ puzzles lately, where they’d be more likely to appear.
- 65d [Where rivers meet seas] ESTUARIES. Uncommon to see in a crossword, and welcome.
- 76d [Cook quickly with intense heat] SEAR. 100d [Cook slowly with moderate heat] ROAST.
- 82d [Drummond of “The Pioneer Woman”] REE. Sounds like an old-timey Hollywood actor and film, but no—she’s a contemporary web personality.
- 88d [Bumble blurb] BIO. Was in the process of saying that I don’t understand the significance of ‘bumble’ in the clue, but then a faint memory told me it’s an app, probably a dating app.
- 107d [Fit for a queen] ROYAL. My only misstep, as I was too eager and confidently plugged in REGAL.
“money … money … money … money”
Anna Stiga’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
First I had nothing at all in the grid, but then there were a couple of toeholds in the southwest (TSA and I MEAN) and that whole section gave way without too much resistance at all. Just a small hiccup with DAIS instead of HALL for 49a [Lecture venue].
In the northeast I figured the five-letter answer for 11d [Lad from Lima] had to be CHICO, which gave me OBIE for 25a [Best New American Play award]. Then a bit of a gamble at 10d [What you don’t want to step on] TOES and boom! that section was practically done.
At this point I had enough at the beginning and end of that vertical spanner that it was practically a gimme—and the clue didn’t even seem so hard either: 7d [Since lots wanted it] BY POPULAR DEMAND. After that I fleshed out the center bolus and all that was left were chunks of the northwest and southeast.
In each of those sections I had been fixated on an answer that turned out to be wrong, but now with enough new letters and crossings populating the spaces I was able to see those errors. In the top left it was ACTS for 22a [Book before Obadiah] AMOS, and in the bottom right it was OMAHAN for 61a [Buffett, per his nickname] ORACLE. In fact, for 61-across my very first thought was PARROT, since Jimmy Buffet’s fans call themselves parrot heads (I wasn’t sure about the spelling of his surname).
- 15a [One of British rock’s “holy trinity”] THE WHO. News to me. Also, I was expecting a person’s name for this.
- 16a [Port visited by Commodore Perry] YOKOHAMA. Easy with the KOH sequence in place.
- 23a [Word from the Sanskrit for “silver coin”] RUPEE. Much more obvious than I anticipated, as I’d been provisionally considering ducat.
- 27a [Seattle’s surroundings] is the oddly specific clue for the anodyne SUBURBS.
- 29a [Dept. with a history going back to Nightingale] ICU. Was thinking of a governmental department.
- 32d [With 36 Across, rapper’s woe] TIN | EAR. Also oddly and distractingly specific.
- 51a [Needing seasoning] GREEN. Hands up for BLAND, everyone.
- 60a [“Winterset” playwright] ANDERSON. Don’t recognize the title or the author, from only the surname. Okay, Maxwell Anderson (1888–1959). He also wrote the crossword-ready HIGH TOR.
- 2d [Caddy’s trim] CHROME. Cadillac. Took me a while to break away from golf in my thinking.
- 20d [Maxim’s scratch] RUBLE. Nice misdirection. Maxim is a Russian name. Just checked and it does not share any apparent etymology with the crossing RUPEE.
- 35d [2012 Niagara Falls aerialist] WALLENDA. Knowing this was very helpful for building initial momentum in that southwest region.
- 40d [ __ days] DOG. A neighbor recently informed me that dog days referred to a post summer heat wave, but that didn’t sound correct to me. So I looked it up and it confirmed what I thought: dog days are the peak days of summer. The only term I’m familiar with for the other phenomenon is indian summer, and I don’t know if that’s offensive in origin. Has anyone here heard that first, mistaken description?
- 52d [Brother of Prometheus] ATLAS, a fellow Titan. But I always think of the duo of Prometheus (‘foresight’, loosely) and Epimetheus (‘hindsight’, loosely). Pandora was married to Epimetheus. Oopsie.
Jenna LaFleur’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
This puzzle feels very Jenna in entries like RAP CAVIAR (any reference to Spotify playlists feels young to me, and I’m pretty sure I’m about 20 years older than Jenna is), cluing OREO SHAKE with reference to a song that came out last year, and featuring a trans icon like AMY SCHNEIDER. (In fact, I bet AMY SCHNEIDER was one of Jenna’s seed entries, if not the only seed entry.)
I enjoyed TAIKO DRUM, the cluing of ENDOSKELETON as [Interior support system], and the cluing of ADAPTATION as [2002 meta dramedy starring Nicolas Cage as the film’s screenwriter]. I’ve never seen the movie, which means I couldn’t drop the entry quickly, but the cluing does provide a bit of confirmation after the fact for solvers who don’t know the answer, which is always appreciated.