Aimee Lucido’s New York Times crossword–norah’s review
Theme: DRUMROLL [55A Display of skill one might request from 17-Across and 8- and 28-Down … depicted literally four times in this puzzle]
- 17-Across MEGWHITE [Half of a 1990s-2000s rock duo with six Grammys]
- 8-Down JOHNBONHAM [Member of Led Zeppelin]
- 28-Down RINGOSTARR [One of the Fab Four] (fun fact – Ringo and I share a birthday)
- Plus, there are four D-R-U-Ms throughout the grid, “roll”ing in the orientations
- COPARENT 19A [One sharing school drop-off duties, maybe] (This is an NYT debut entry)
- RANSOMS 28A [Return payments?]
- AIRPORTS 60D [John Wayne and Ian Fleming, for two]
- CUED 44A [Gave prompt attention?]
- EGOTISM 42A [Number one focus?]
- ELMER 34D [First name in “wabbit” hunting]
Not surprised that NYT would pick this up with the double theme component – either element on its own probably wouldn’t provide the wow factor and the complexity the editing team is often after for a mid-week puzzle. Kudos to Aimee for both the concept and execution with her 16th puzzle for the Times. Aimee reminds us in her constructor notes to check out the women drummers that she’d hoped to include but didn’t make the final cut: Sheila E., Viola Smith, Cindy Blackman, and especially Nandi Bushell – NANDI is on my wordlist; put her on yours too! :)
Wow DIGG – haven’t heard or thought of that one in a looong time! Got stuck a bit in the SW, never having heard of Dr. MESMER, and trying both BYGod and BYGeE, and naticked by NASSER / JOHNBONHAM. Lots of other tricky/unusual fill in this for me – SESTINA, GIMLI, ODEUM, DOUR – nothing super difficult, but just enough that it felt off my wavelength.
Thanks Aimee and the NYT team!
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Lying Down”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are familiar phrases whose first words can double as synonyms of “deceive” and whose final words can double as surnames of famous people.
- 5d. [Deceive comedian Lucille?] SNOW BALL.
- 10d. [Snooker inventor Thomas?] CON EDISON.
- 14d. [Dupe Oscar winner Holly?] BUFFALO HUNTER.
- 34d. [Hoodwink author Thomas?] FOOL HARDY.
- 39d. [Get the better of rapper Vanilla?] PUT ON ICE.
Meh. Not a puzzle for me. There’s nothing terribly wrong with it, and it does the job. But I want a puzzle with wacky answers to be funny, and I just didn’t find anything here to chuckle at.
In the fill I liked DAIKON, CHEMIST, and TAVERNS. Didn’t know old timey slugger Lefty O’DOUL.
Clues of note:
- 1a. [Showing the most skin]. BAREST. Can you really be more bare than someone else? I thought you’re either bare or not bare.
- 8d. [One who may be looking for a reaction]. CHEMIST. Nice clue.
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “Skipping Along” — pannonica’s write-up
Since the theme clues only give at best half the information for the second words in the answers, it was easier to let the crossing entries do the work.
- 20a. [*Rue?] ALTERNATE ROUTE.
- 34a. [*Ra?] EVEN BREAK.
- 42a. [*Flo] ODD FELLOW.
- 53a. [*We?] EVERY OTHER WEEK.
It’s a nifty theme, but one that’s more appealing in the abstract—or for the constructor—rather than the solver.
- 4d [“For __’s sake!”] PETE. Blanks with appendant apostrophe esses always look weird.
- 53d [Scat singer Fitzgerald] ELLA. 55d. [Big name in elevators] OTIS. Remember that old joke about her marrying Darth Vader and taking his surname?
- 19a [Computer command for making a physical copy] PRINT. Something appealing about this didactic clue.
- 50a [Ford Fiesta fuel] GAS. I still call them Ford Piñatas, for no particularly good reason other than it amuses me.
- 58a [Garment that can also be a synonym of “mask”] CLOAK. This clue feels different from all the others. It verges on poetic, somehow.
Caitlin Reed’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
Big thanks to Jenni, Emily, and norah for covering for me the last couple days!
I really enjoyed Caitlin’s easyish themeless. So much fun fill! Faves: “SO I HEAR…,” NO RHYME OR REASON, GET OUT OF DODGE, SMALL POTATOES, ONE-FINGER SALUTE, BOOTLEG. The non-splashy fill is generally quite smooth, too.
Clues I liked:
- 4d. [They’re often needed to make an entrance], KEYS.
- 39d. [Prepares for surgery, perhaps], SEDATES. Been there, done that!
4.25 stars from me.
Jill Singer’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
Jill Singer’s theme today is FACIALEXPRESSIONs and it’s a very elegant, narrowly-defined set. Each of four phrases is [BODY-PART]-X-ING…
- [*”Attractive!”], EYECATCHING
- [*”Noisy!”], EARPIERCING
- [*”Amazing!”], JAWDROPPING
- [*”Delicious!”], LIPSMACKING
Although the overall puzzle played easy, there were a few tricky spots. Is [Breakfast brand], MAYPO really still a thing in the US? [Latin 101 verb], ERAT was clued very vaguely, and not seen much anymore. Also, the clue for WIDOW, [Inelegant bit of typesetting] was a mystery to me; apparently it’s a bit of a paragraph that sticks out??
Mark Valdez & Matthew Stock’s USA Today Crossword, “DMs” — Emily’s write-up
Very smooth puzzle with a fun theme and themer set!
Theme: each themer contains D–M–
- 17a. [Pursue two main courses of study], DOUBLEMAJOR
- 38a. [Cocktail with olive brine and gin], DIRTYMARTINI
- 63a. [“High School Musical” or “The Lion King”], DISNEYMOVIE
Though it’s popular to DOUBLEMAJOR, I ended up taking a variety of classes in many Professors’ specialties and enjoyed them so much! It’s been too long since I’ve had a DIRTYMARTINI! There are so many these days, it’s easy for anyone to enjoy a DISNEYMOVIE.
Favorite fill: GAMIFY, BAGEL, INDIGO, and DIP
Stumpers: HEAL (kept thinking about “hone” for the cluing), ATMYAGE (needed crossings), and IDOTOO (could only think of “ditto” and “metoo”)
I was so excited when I saw this collab and the puzzle didn’t disappoint. Loved the bonus fill including the impressive lengthy ones in addition to the themers and the great cluing. Hope we see more from this duo!
Becca Gorman & Adam Simpson’s AV Club Classic crossword, “Tight Combos”–Amy’s recap
Love the theme! A LACK OF BANDWIDTH is the revealer, [Insufficient time and energy, metaphorically, or what led to this puzzle’s theme entries]. The other three 15s are incomplete band names, because the width of the puzzle is insufficient to accommodate the full lengths of EARTH WIND AND FIR(E), MY CHEMICAL ROMAN(CE), and SMASHING PUMP(KINS). It’s neat that FIR, ROMAN, and PUMP are all legit words unto themselves.
New to me: 37a. [___ Santo (medicinal wood)], PALO. Also had no idea there’s a FONT called Trebuchet. It’s a Microsoft font and I don’t know why you’d name a font after a medieval weapon thta’s popular with physics and engineering students.
Fave fill: “YEESH!”
Smooth fill overall. Four stars from me.