John-Clark Levin’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
This puzzle is much luckier than the Friday the 13th pub date would suggest. An unusual grid pattern, with 18 7-letter entries stacked in threes, plus some longer answers in the mix–I like it!
Started right off wanting CANDLES for 1a. [Ones getting lit at a party, maybe], but TEN made much more sense for [Hamilton] than any 3-letter word starting with N. MATCHES for lighting those birthday candles or, I dunno, cigarettes, blunts? I’ll take the cake.
Fave fill: MOSAICS, VANILLA, the SCREAMO rock genre, VOICE TEACHER, CHATGPT, MERMAID, PORTA-POTTIES (fun clue: [Music festival lineup]) echoed by a BIDET, TIE IT UP, SPACE CADET, SCREEN TEST, ANECDOTES, and the SNARL/GROWL pair.
Least common entry: 5d. [Choppers], HELOS. Short for helicopters, familiar enough to me but it looks weird in the grid.
Four stars from me. Onward to the weekend!
Sean Ziebarth’s Universal crossword, “Sidesplitting”—Jim’s review
Theme entries are familiar(ish) phrases whose outer letters (marked by circles if you’re so lucky) spell out a synonym of “smile.” The revealer is CRACK A SMILE (60a, [Fail to hide one’s amusement, and what 17-, 27- and 44-Across each do)].
- 17a. [Rocky facade (In this answer, note the first letter + the last 4 letters)] STONE VENEER. Hmm. “Stone facade” sounds more natural to me than this phrase, and it does better on Google’s ngram viewer. However, STONE VENEER still gets plenty of hits.
- 27a. [Mythical Halloween figure in a “Peanuts” special (… first 2 letters + last 2)] GREAT PUMPKIN.
- 44a. [Release pent-up emotions (… first letter + last 3 letters)] BLOW OFF STEAM.
Solved this while completely ignoring the parantheticals in the clues (as it should be). Pretty standard example of this type of theme. Solid enough and the theme answers are all relatively lively.
In the fill, CLARK KENT and an exultant “I’M DOING IT!” are quite fun. PANORAMA, TELEGRAM, SALAMI, and PICNIC round things out nicely.
Clues of note:
- 42a. [Cereal conveyor]. SPOON. I was imagining the manufacturing process, not the consumption process.
- 13d. [Canned meat served on Maui]. SPAM. Per Hormel’s numbers, Hawaiians consume 7 million cans of SPAM per year. That’s five cans of person per year. But those of us of Guamanian descent have got that beat. Guamanians consume 16 cans per person per year!
Solid puzzle. Nice fill. 3.5 stars.
Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
- 34a/37aR [… up on the latest trends, and a fitting description of the answers to the starred clues?] FASHION | FORWARD. The theme answers are originally two-word adjective-noun phrases that are articles of clothing; in each case the words are swapped and the noun becomes a verb while the adjective becomes a noun.
- 17a. [*Refrain from walking on the lawn?] SKIRT GRASS (grass skirt). (11d [Keep clear of] AVOID.)
- 22a. [*Doesn’t pay enough in island taxes?] SHORTS BERMUDA (Bermuda shorts).
- 46a. [*Gives the third degree to the decorator?] PUMPS DESIGNER (designer pumps).
- 52a. [*Put a limit on wash time?] CAP BATHING (bathing cap).
Nifty and well-turned theme.
- 3d [Financial performance measure, for short] ROI. Return-on-investment, king me!
- 36d [Clods] OAFS. Rewatched The Third Man the other night. “Clod” is the exact word I used to describe Joseph Cotten’s character Holly Martins.
- 38d [Grown less appealing] WORN THIN. No reference to clothing here; that’s very fine with me.
- 47d [City near Rome] UTICA. This is upstate New York.
- 57d [Island purchase] GAS. I guess this refers to island at a filling station, but it’s a bit confusing, especially with the mention of ‘island’ in themer 22-across.
- 43a [Less risky] SAFER. 62d [Less restricted] FREER.
Emily Carroll’s New Yorker crossword—Matthew’s recap
Down-running themers culminate in a revealer to the right: [Step taken by the Federal Reserve to manage inflation … and what’s illustrated by this puzzle’s circled squares] RATE HIKE. Indeed, from left to right, the circled squares are progressively higher in their columns.
SARA TEASDALE is a great find for the theme set, and the grid and fill does well to work around the theme’s constraints – ALGEBRA EXAM is a little general, but I quite like MASTERPIECE, RITA ORA, and LOVE TAP in the NW corner. A quick, but flavorful, entry to the weekend. Thanks Emily!