Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fall in the Garden”—Jim’s review
Day three of My Adventures in Blogging with Covid. Doing better today, but still going to keep this short.
First off, that title. Is it referring to the time of year or the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. You decide.
The revealer is FLOWER (65a, [Garden sight, and, if reparsed, a hint to making sense of 10 answers in this puzzle]). The re-parsing is F LOWER. Once again, theme entries come in pairs. The upper entry needs an F but it’s found in the lower entry. Both entries are still crossword-valid in their modified form. Clues match the modified forms (i.e. the words I’ve italicized below).
- CLOWNISH and TEXTFILE become clownfish and textile.
- INCHES and FAT become finches and at.
- INGER and CUB FANS become finger and Cubans.
- REUSE and GRAFTER become refuse and grater.
- LITTERED and FAIRLANE become flittered and air lane.
Really nice theme! The penny fully dropped once I got to the third pairing and really helped with the lower entries. I was a little disappointed that the revealer didn’t participate in the F-moving, but it makes sense that it didn’t.
Best part of the theme is discovering the wordplay in each entry pre- and post-modification. The not-best part of the theme is the revealer with its groan-worthy re-parsing. Still, I enjoyed it overall.
One clue of note: 28d. [Shape of a Belize dollar coin]. DECAGON. Let’s have a look at that thing.
Colin Ernst’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up
Difficulty: Challenging (18m59s)
Today’s theme: DOUBLE DOWN (Gamble boldly, in a way … or a hint to the answers to this puzzle’s italicized clues)
- UPS THE ANTE
- GO FOR BROKE
- RAISES THE STAKES
- BETS THE FARM
Another instance where jumping to the revealer may have helped, as I immediately plunked in the stacked rebuses of DOUBLE DOWN, and was able to go back and take on the rest of the puzzle rather quickly. Otherwise, this played very hard; there are pretty significant fill constraints when you’re stacking 5-6 consecutive rebuses in vertical entries, and the grid is fairly segmented as a result. Finished very slowly in the NE corner in particular, a result of having “paste” in place of DRIED (Partner of cut), forgetting how to spell CITROEN, and thinking that VIBISTS are, like, you know, the cool kids, hey?
Cracking: GO IT ALONE, clued as (Ditch assistance), really had me looking for a AAA/tow job angle, was angry at first but now appreciate the misdirection and the fillworthiness.
Slacking: tie between AEOLUS, the Greek God of vowels, and GARRETS, which are people, not places.
Sidetracking: USAIN Bolt, at the 2016 olympics, a full stride ahead of the field, in which he appears to be sheepishly mugging for the camera, almost certainly one of the greatest photographs in the history of sport:
Jim Hilger’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeful Crossword” – Jenni’s write-up
This was one of the hardest Fireballs in my recent memory. Not a complaint! It had an ACPT Puzzle 5 vibe for me with a very satisfying aha! moment. I’m posting Peter’s grid because it shows the theme more clearly than I can.
At first I thought there was a rebus, because 31a [Dancer coworker] has to be COMET but there were only three letters. That’s not how it works. The ME is up above. I figured it out when I got to the two revealers. 47a [Energizers…and six answers in this puzzle in relation to six other answers] is PICK UPS. You can see ME right below that answer, so if we follow the instructions we get PICK [ME] UPS. At 54a we have [Much-worn wear…and six answers in this puzzle in relation to six other answers]: HAND DOWNS. Add in the ME from the line above and you get HAND [ME] DOWNS. The rest of the theme answers:
- 5a [P.T. Barnum and others] is SHOW[ME]N.
- 15a [Follower of boo or yoo] is HOO with an extra ME to make HOMEO.
- 23a [Scanty] is [ME]AGER.
- 27a [Storage structure] is SHED with the ME in front. I kind of like the idea of a ME SHED. That ME also drops down to
- 31a, the aforementioned CO[ME]T.
- 26a [Construction material] is CE[ME]NT.
- 29a [Finishes] is ENDS, presenting as EMENDS and that’s above
- 35a [Vitriolic post], FLA[ME].
- 50a [Line dance] is CONGA with ME on the end to make CON GAME.
- 52a [ ____ boom] is SONIC, which turns into MESONIC which Google tells me means “of or pertaining to a meson.” Those lend the MEs to the revealers.
- 56a [Greek goddess of agriculture] is DE[ME]TER, getting the ME from
- 64 [Article in the constitution], AN which turns into AMEN.
- 67a [Second] is MO[ME]NT.
- 60a [A la vapeur] is STE[ME]AD.
- 66a [Some notes] are, apparently, ES which looks like ESME.
- 69a [Nomad] is ROA[ME]R.
Phew. I think that’s everything. And it’s a thing of beauty and a joy to behold and solve. What fun! I could never think of anything like this, let alone execute it, and I’m so glad there are people like Jim and Peter! And I just figured out the title – THE ME FUL CROSSWORD. Ha.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Jon Batiste won a Grammy in 2021 for WE ARE.
Paolo Pasco’s New Yorker crossword – Kyle’s write-up
Thanks Paolo for today’s New Yorker offering. Intriguing design today–you don’t often see 2×2 black squares in a grid. Lots of fun answers and clues throughout:
- 45A [“Might as well try!”] “SHOOT YOUR SHOT“. I can’t help but think of “Hamilton” when I see this phrase. Does anyone know if it originated from the musical?
- Speaking of musicals, we have STAGE PRESENCE at 20A [Intangible asset for a Broadway actor]. Mini-theme?
- 5A [2023 film in which Cate Blanchett plays a world-renowned conductor] TÁR. A very current cluing angle for this entry–in fact Jennifer Marra and I just had a puzzle in the LA Times last week with a similar clue. One quibble: is it a 2022 or 2023 film? It was released in the US in 2022, and nominated for several Academy Awards in the last award year (for the 2023 ceremony), but according to Wikipedia it came out in Germany this year. *shrug*
- 3D [American poet who wrote “Only a Dad” and “It Couldn’t Be Done”] EDGAR GUEST. I couldn’t say I’d heard of him. Here’s the poem “It Couldn’t Be Done“. Fun fact per Wikipedia: Guest is the only person ever made Poet Laureate of the state of Michigan.
David Distenfeld & Seth Weitberg’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
David Distenfeld & Seth Weitberg’s puzzle seems to be doing two different things: first, phrases are combined using the template DOUBLETEAM – four answers are made up of two “Big 4” US teams (although the my mind definitely goes to the Super Rugby team Wellington Hurricanes first). Secondly all four are clued as “works as…” and are formed as plural verb / objects pairs. I’m not sure how the two parts enmesh, but the clueing angle didn’t feel forced:
- [Works as a decoy vendor?], HAWKSDUCKS. NBA / NHL
[Works as a political consultant?], BILLSSENATORS. NFL / NHL
[Works as a weatherperson?], BRAVESHURRICANES. We just braved THEWEATHER yesterday, odd repeat! MLB / NHL
[Works as a fast-food cook?], BROWNSNUGGETS. NFL / NBA
The clues felt a step up today compared to most LA Times puzzles:
- [Where to find bands on bands], RADIO; I’m still not quite sure how this works. Bands as in areas of the electromagnetic spectrum?
- [Gas up?], BLOAT. As in the frequently fatal disease in dogs and some livestock?
- [Sport with takedowns, for short], MMA – a lot of those about!
- [Step in the shower?], RINSE. Clever misdirection! Not a physical step.
[Helpful item when it’s time to bounce?], TRAMPOLINE. This one felt a bit more try-hard though…
- [1990s series starring David Cross and Bob Odenkirk], MRSHOW. Not the clue, but I only barely recognize the name or the actors…
- [Tamale dough], MASA. Again, not the clue, I just blanked on this word again.
- [Kwik Seal maker], DAP. I thought that was throwing stones?
Enrique Henestroza Anguiano’s USA Today Crossword, “The Kids Are All Right” — Emily’s write-up
A smooth solve today, which is perfect for this time in the week.
Theme: each themer ends (on its right) with a word used for a kid
- 20a. [Constellation also known as the Little Dipper], URSAMINOR
- 37a. [Mariah Carey hit with the line “Our love will never end, no”], ALWAYSBEMYBABY
- 53a. [Rock band that featured Kim Gordon on bass], SONICYOUTH
A fun themer set today of URSAMINOR, ALWAYSBEMYBABY, SONICYOUTH. Two out of the three were music related which was a nice bonus. I heard Mariah as I solved this puzzle today! With the theme, we get: MINOR, BABY, and YOUTH. As for the puzzle title, there are a couple of things that it might be referencing: a 2010 movie or the slightly different spelling for The Who song (and in turn bands riffing on that title including the Offspring).
Favorite fill: LICORICE, SUBIN, and OVERDUE
Stumpers: FORAY (needed crossings), ABUT (also needed a couple of crossings), and SUI (new to me)
This was a quicker solve for me today, with lots of great cluing and entries. Enjoyed the grid too!