Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Rise Up!”—Jim’s review
Theme answers come in pairs. The main entries are familiar words and phrases, but they only satisfy their clues once you mentally remove the letters CO. Just below these entries are additional theme answers that need that CO to satisfy their clues. Note that these entries are still valid crossword fill even without those letters.The revealer is COUP (57d, [Overthrow, or, if reparsed, a hint to making sense of four pairs of Across answers]), reparsed as CO UP.
- 17a [Major nuisances] / 20a [Periods of economic growth after a slump]. HEAD COACHES / REVERIES. Headaches / recoveries.
- 34a [What a teacher may do with a note or a sick student] / 41a [Scout’s work]. SECOND HOME / REN. Send home / recon.
- 43a [Like rubies and sapphires] / 47a [Puget Sound metropolis]. PRECOCIOUS / TAMA. Precious / Tacoma.
- 61a [Interpretation of a song] / 66a [Guiding lights]. RECONDITION / BEANS. Rendition / beacons.
Wow! This looks like it was a bear to construct with all those stacked entries needing to be placed just so to get the bottom entries to line up with the CO pairings. And there are some really nice finds here, especially HEAD COACHES -> headaches and SECOND HOME -> send home. And “headaches” / “recoveries” makes for a particularly sublime pairing. Really impressive all the way around, but of course editor Mike Shenk makes it look easy. The solve was smooth and I recorded one of my faster times for a Thursday.
I was wondering if the bottom entries were actually valid fill words when I got to TAMA. But checking the cruciverb database, I see it usually gets the clue [Author Janowitz]. So yeah, definitely valid fill.
With all those thematic constraints, entries like IRAE, UPON A, and OF A PIECE don’t irk so much. Plus there’s good stuff like “TRUTH TO TELL” and LOOSE THREAD.
One clue of note: 2d. [Hoppy Happy Hour choice]. ALE. IPAs are known for their hops, so that seemed like the more logical choice. Not all ales are that hoppy.
Impressive construction. Four stars.
John Nagamichi Cho’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up
Difficulty: Moderate (13m46s)
Today’s theme: BLACK OPS (Covert missions … or what’s covert in eight of this puzzle’s answers)
- CHROMOSOMES and POPPED A PILL crossing OPT FOR and OPEN CALL
- IM NOT A ROBOT and PET PASSPORT crossing SWEETSOP and RAGTOP
Probably should have jumped straight to the revealer on this one — especially after struggling to get real traction anywhere — because the moment I did, I identified the OPs and chugged along at a good clip. POPPED A PILL was really hard to suss out, especially crossing ELVERS and ME TOOER (not clued as the #movement, interestingly enough.) No respite on the other side of the world (somewhere near the intersection of BROOME County and EAST ASIA?), with ARMET and SIGNORS and MARKKA. I do appreciate when figuring out the theme becomes part of the solving experience, rather than completing the puzzle and looking in the rearview mirror to figure out what the hell is going on (though I am comfortably at home in that condition.)
Cracking: AP GERMAN clued as “H.S. course for College-Kredit”, I had no idea what that K was doing there, Is this a Krusty Krab reference?? my inner monologue asked itself.
Slacking: do you know why asteroids are more filling than comets? Because they’re a little meteor, hee haw, not to be confused with MEOR which will never not look like a typo.
Sidetracking: going to pick on POPPED A PILL one last time, although it does remind me of a classic mini diatribe —
Robyn Weintraub’s New Yorker crossword – Kyle’s write-up
Thank you Robyn for today’s New Yorker puzzle. Let’s see what’s in store today:
- 35A [Breakfast carb for someone who wants it all?] EVERYTHING BAGEL. Nice choice for a central spanner that can take some light wordplay.
- 29D [Coffee option with less bitter, more delicate flavor] LIGHT ROAST. Could this and 35A have been Robyn’s breakfast when she made this puzzle? I like this entry a lot. It’s so familiar, yet not something I’ve ever seen in a crossword before.
- 60A [“Reelin’ in the Years” yacht-rock band] STEELY DAN. Knew the song, knew the band, didn’t know the band recorded the song (or that Steely Dan is considered “yacht rock”). Hopefully I can remember this for a future trivia game. We’ve also got the FAB FOUR, RAP GROUP [Wu-Tang Clan or Salt-N-Pepa], BACH, ETHEL Merman, Freddie Mercury in the clue for ROLE, and DUA Lipa rounding out the musical offerings.
- 37D [Traffic-jam sound, when playing with Matchbox cars] BEEP BEEP. Cute! My two-year-old currently has a fascination with garbage trucks, and associates beeps with the truck backing up. It’s fun to see him play with toy cars by moving them backward very slowly while saying “beep, beep, beep…”.
- 41A [___ Institute of Chicago (home to Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”)] ART. One of many iconic pieces in the collection.
Catherine Cetta’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
I wasn’t familiar with the revealing answer [Modern innovator, and what can be found in the answers to the starred clues], CHANGEAGENT. From Google, it seems to be some kind of motivation speaker-ese? In any case, the rest of the theme is a pretty well-worn path: four answers have AGENT scrambled – changed – between two of their parts:
- [*Period of connectivity that began in the 1990s], INTER(NETAG)E
- [*Place for navel gazers?], OR(ANGET)REE
- [*”Let me stop you right there”], DONT(GETAN)YIDEAS
- [*Power source for some superheroes?], MUT(ANTGE)NE. IRL, this usually just makes a non-functional protein…
The rest of the puzzle played again for me very easy, with not too many splashy answers outside of the theme. As is often the case, cramming a central fifteen letter answer forced a more utilitarian approach to grid filling. [Lines of communication?], DIALOGUE was a surprise spelling, as I assumed Americans eschewed extraneous silent “ue”s. If you aren’t a crossword veteran, you may not have known [Desertlike], SERE; it’s virtually extinct, but was dusted off for this puzzle.
Bruce Haight’s USA Today Crossword, “Fairy-Tale Endings” — Emily’s write-up
It’s spooky season and today’s theme put me in the right mindset, though I’m not sure it meant to!
Theme: the last word of each themer (aka the ending) is a word that when combined with the set creates the name of a fairytale character
- 16a. [“C’mon, don’t be uptight!”], LIVEALITTLE
- 31a. [Really angry], SEEINGRED
- 47a. [Driving recklessly for thrills], JOYRIDING
- 62a. [Reveals a car’s engine compartment], POPSTHEHOOD
I hope you got to LIVEALITTLE today, and if not then can this weekend, and not SEEINGRED instead. My mom totally missused JOYRIDING if this is the genuine definition–hers was driving around aimlessly for no reason other than to drive, which she highly discouraged as a teen activity. It’s been a while since I heard POPSTHEHOOD and usually it’s when maintenance is needed. With the theme, from the set we get LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD and all I can think of this time of year is the 1966 hit that’s still played every Halloween.
Favorite fill: RELOCATE, AMIGA, MOORE, and AMIE
Stumpers: IPASS (“folds” was my first instinct), YEAHOK (needed a few crossings), and DUSTS (only “wipes” came to mind)
Check out all of the lengthy bonus fill too! Fun puzzle that was just right for today.