David Poole’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “What’s Up?”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are things that rise that are also “rising” (written bottom to top) in the grid. The revealer is THE SUN ALSO RISES (7d, [Hemingway title, and a hint to a three-letter answer that fits with four stealthy seven-letter answers]).
- 3d. [Delicate dessert] ELFFUOS. Soufflé.
- 15d. [Thermometer contents] YRUCREM. Mercury.
- 36d. [“Around the World in Eighty Days” conveyance] NOOLLAB. Balloon.
- 43d. [Stage hider] NIATRUC. Curtain.
Nice theme that took a few minutes to figure out. Just right for a Thursday. However, I’m not sold on the whole “hint to a three-letter answer…” thing. 45d is NUS (clued [Greek consonants]) which is obviously SUN going upwards. But I sure don’t see a need for that extra layer. The theme is sufficient with the revealer telling us that THE SUN ALSO RISES (in real life) in addition to the theme answers in the puzzle that we have to find. I solved the puzzle and grokked the theme without even knowing there was an upward SUN in the grid. However, if you really want to include the upward SUN as a hint, I’d say the revealer clue needed to be a little more explicit, perhaps like so: [Hemingway title, and a hint to 45-Down which itself is a hint to four seven-letter answers in this grid].
During the solve, I wasn’t sure where the upward entries were going to be found, so I kept looking for them in the wrong places (i.e. the NE and SW corners). That slowed things down (in addition to the Thursday-level clues). But all in all, it was a fun challenge to suss out the theme.
Fun fill with MACEDONIA, TOP-SEEDED, SETUP MAN, SOUVLAKI, IGUANA, BAMBOO, “ALL MINE!,” Elvis Costello’s ALISON, and “INDULGE ME.” Some eyebrow-raisers in MISUSER, VELO.
Clues of note:
- 42a. [Brief Bartlett’s byline]. ANON. Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, that is.
- 5d. [Blixen and Black, for two]. KARENS. Notable for not being a derogatory clue.
- 12d. [Pepper rating]. HOTNESS. Meh. I wanted SCOVILLE, but it was one letter too long.
- 28d. [“The Problem With ___” (“The Simpsons” documentary)]. APU. Recently I’ve been learning about voice acting. This documentary was a seminal moment in the industry putting the spotlight on a white guy (Hank Azaria, whom I respect for his vocal talents) doing the voice of an Indian man.
- 38d. [Poor choice for the archery team]. BAD SHOT. Not sure I’m following the clue here. How is a BAD SHOT a “choice”?
- 62d. [Org. for good students]. NHS. I mainly know the NHS as the UK’s National Health Service, not the National Honor Society.
Good puzzle. Four stars.
Chase Dittrich and Christina Iverson’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up
Difficulty: Easy (7m13s)
Today’s theme: no letters, no cry
- NO N APOLOGY
- NO T TOO SHABBY
- NO S/E JOB
- NO R/S/E GODDESS
- NO B/E/L PRIZE
Flew through this, which always makes a puzzle endearing in a confidence-building kinda way. As for the puzzle itself, I really appreciate how the number of missing letters increases as you progress through the theme answers, and those last two entries were particularly clever (NO R/S/E GODDESS and NO B/E/L PRIZE).
Cracking: ALOHA shirts.. why? I’ve got a closet full of Reyn Spooners, that’s why.
Slacking: any reference to Sequoia sempervirens should make me all warm and tingly inside, except in this instance — because El PALO Alto is actually tiny by coast redwood standards (barely over 100 feet — I’ve got tulip poplars bigger than that in my front yard!) and is a relatively young pup by the same measures (1000 years, ho hum). In the sheer mind-bending splendor of sequoia superlatives, El PALO Alto is a speed bump, a footnote, an also-ran to the also-ran-th power. I am being forced to besmirch trees as a result of its unspectacularness.
Sidetracking: although she hasn’t yet won a NO B/E/L PRIZE, Jennifer EGAN did win the Pulitzer for “A Visit from the Goon Squad”, which means it’s good enough for you to give it a read.
Matthew Luter’s LA Times crossword – gareth’s Summary
Matthew Luter provides us with a sort of thematic amalgam of the list and clue-reversal theme tropes. Four answers are clued as [>THING< with steps] and are indeed, different things that have steps; it’s important to try and make sure all four are different kinds of steps, and they just about are, although some are quite similar to each other:
- [Device with steps], FITNESSTRACKER. Walking.
- [Activity with steps], BALLROOMDANCING. Dance moves, which are similar to walking steps.
- [Structure with steps], SPIRALSTAIRCASE. Which are things you walk on.
- [Booklet with steps], IKEADIRECTIONS. Which is a bit contrived, but is the most distinct, being parts of a task.
Stumpers, of which there felt like quite a few for a Thursday:
- [Meredith Grey’s mother], ELLIS. I only realised now this is a TV clue.
- [Minnesota home to the Mayo Clinic], ROCHESTER. Not Rochester, NY then…
- [“Wellness you can trust” publication], SELF. Not sure I trust anything that calls itself “wellness”, but it appears to be some kind of magazine…
- [Lighthouse output], SIGNAL. Eh? I guess..
- Drop down?], MOLT. As in feathers…
- [“Queen __”: pop music icon with a “hive” of fans], BEY. Apparently a Beyoncé nickname?
Sally Hoelscher & Olivia Mitra Framke’s USA Today Crossword, “Front Pockets” — Emily’s write-up
Another fun collaboration today with a great theme! Also, today’s puzzle was edited by Jared Goudsmit.
Theme: the first word of each themer (or front) can prepend “pockets” to form a new phrase
- 20a. [Product that’s in demand], HOTTICKETITEM
- 38a. [Take control of a commodity], CORNERTHEMARKET
- 53a. [Complain publicly], AIRAGRIEVANCE
As we now barrel towards the holiday season, there will be lots of talk and articles about the latest HOTTICKETITEM, especially when it comes to toys. CORNERTHEMARKET is a phrase I haven’t heard in a long time so it took me a few crossings before I could fill it in. Usually AIRAGRIEVANCE is plural when I encounter it so that threw me off for just a little bit as well. Fun set though and with the theme we get: tasty HOT POCKETS, CORNER POCKETS, and AIR POCKETS.
Favorite fill: IDINA, TOTE, and REDPANDA
Stumpers: DEEM (originally had “seem”), TOPHATS (needed a few crossings), and VEIL (new to me)
In addition to the themer set and lengthy bonus fill, there’s also many talking animals too: OINKS, MOO, MEOW. There’s some fun pairs: OUI and NYET. Plus Spanish is also represented with OCHO. Is it a faux PAS to include or exclude it as well? Ce’st la vie!
Alex Eaton-Salners’s Fireball Crossword, “Leading Averages” – Jenni’s write-up
Late and brief entry since the site was down.
The title is “Upon Reflection…” and I had absolutely no idea what was going on until I got to the revealer.
69a [When looking at this puzzle’s answer grid in one, the five long Down entries are unchanged] is MIRROR.
So I guess MOUTH TO MOUTH, AWAY WITH YOU, I AM WHAT I AM, OTTUMWA IOWA, and TUWHIT TUWHOO are all the same when you look in the mirror. Can’t say I care about this at all, and TUWHIT TUWHOO might as well be completely made up.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that I AM WHAT I AM is a song from “La Cage aux Folles.”