Blake Slonecker’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
What the heck? I was not expecting a sub-4:00 finish on a Saturday puzzle. And the grid’s not jam-packed with names (which I’m good with), it’s just … easy. Same vibe for you?
Fave fill: HOSTESS snack cakes, PENROSE tiles, DRUG TRIALS (I’m in one!), NAVY PIER (had an al fresco dinner there last weekend on a warm November day), GENE WILDER, a HOT BATH, the SANDMAN, DIRTY WORDS.
A few more things:
- 1d. [Steamy scene?], HOT BATH. So tempting!
- 46a and 47a are both clued [Put on a pedestal], and “put” can be both past and present tense, ergo ADMIRED and IDOLIZE both fit. Going for a three-fer, 48a STANDS is clued as [Pedestals].
- 34d. [Coffee first cultivated in Yemen], ARABICA. Arabica beans from the Arabian Peninsula? Makes sense.
- 45d. [Fantasy sports format, informally], ROTO. I assume that’s short for rotisserie baseball, which devised by crossworder and journalist Daniel Okrent 40-some years ago. Wild how fantasy sports went from a group of journalist friends to the giant business it is now.
Crosswordese appearance: 19a. [Denim dye], ANIL. For your cluing consideration: globally known actor Anil Kapoor.
Four stars from me.
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Permutations” — pannonica’s write-up
Simple theme: per- has been prefixed to familiar phrases.
- 23a. [Antarctic native in charge of the coffee?] PERKING PENGUIN (king penguin).
- 27a. [Individual most likely to talk back to the control tower] PERTEST PILOT (test pilot).
- 48a. [Acting career?] PERFORMER LIFE (former life).
- 63a. [Kid who keeps asking “May I? May I? May I?”?] PERMISSION CREEP (mission creep). That’s weirdly funny.
- 87a. [Plucking, cutting, packaging, etc.?] PERDUE PROCESS (due process).
- 106a. [Statue from a depraved sculptor?] PERVERSE FORM (verse form).
- 116a. [Litigant who won’t drop the suit?] PERSISTER IN LAW (sister-in-law).
Works, but doesn’t feel special.
Infringing on the the theme: 100d [Intrinsically] PER SE.
- 43d [Profusion of ploys] GIMMICKRY. I confess that as it emerged via crossings it seemed unlikely to be a recognizable word.
- 51d [“Melancholia” director von Trier] LARS. I recently rewatched his first feature, The Element of Crime, which looks like no other film I can think of—like monochromatic Mark Tansey paintings, thanks to the sodium lights used on set. I still don’t really understand it, but suspect that there isn’t too much to understand. Hallucinatory and elliptical is how I’d describe it.
- 65a [Sea of Knowledge setting] MOON. Mare Cognitum.
- 67d [Focus of a series of 1979 Madison Square Garden concerts] NO NUKES. Another entry that took many crossings to resolve.
- 71d [Banister support] POST. 121a [Banister supports] NEWELS.
- 98a [So-so range?] OCTAVE. The interval from one so (or sol) note to another. Nice clue.
- 117d [But, in Latin] SED. Don’t see this much in crosswords.
- 21a [“Will you let me try?”] COULD I.
- 44a [Board of inquiry?] OUIJA. Nice. 25a [House of the spirits?] TAVERN.
- 74a [Cockpit array] DIALS.
c’mon, isn’t this what you were thinking of?
- 78a [Pound sound] WOOF. 123a [Speaker component] TWEETER.
- 80a [Battleship in a Sergei Eisenstein movie] POTEMKIN. When I write my novel, I’m going to find a way to include a business called Potemkin Realtors.
- 104a [The Golden Bears of the NCAA] UCB. University of California at Berkeley.
Rich Norris’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
I love Rich Norris — he was one of my first mentors in constructing — but I’m sorry to say I don’t love this puzzle. The longest answers, like ETRADE BABY, ELECTROLUX, KENO GAMES, NILE GREEN, and ORONO MAINE, didn’t feel satisfying, and there were quite a few entries like UMIAK, J-BAR, RATA, and OGEE that usually get a submission nixed in the era of computer-assisted constructing.
Sorry Rich! I still love you!
Matthew Sewell’s Newsday crossword, Saturday Stumper — pannonica’s write-up
Another one where it initially felt impossible yet is belied by my completion time.
First footholds were bottom-center, from where I expanded to the lower right corner. First fill was 46d [Recess] APSE, but that was quickly corrected to NOOK, as 58a [Moviedom’s “Eighth Wonder”] was no doubt KONG. Next was 49d [Where le Carré taught French] ETON—an educated guess, if you will. From there, slow working and weaving to finish the area.
30a [Joey of fiction] was going to be either PAL or ROO, and the latter just felt more right, which is sometimes a dangerous choice in Stumper land.
- 1a [Receptionist’s pronoun] WHOM. Is that like in the stereotypical response, “Whom shall I say is calling?”?
- Top center I needed to correct my earlier forays from SOU and TONY at 6d [Icon of small change] and 13a [What Dewhurst got for “Taming of the Shrew”]: the correct answers are ABE and OBIE.
- 15a [What Russian America was subsequently called] ALASKA TERRITORY. So simple, I feel as if I should have been able to get it without any crossings, but no.
- 19a [Mideast word for “lighthouse”] MINARET. Another that should have been obvious but mysteriously was not.
- 23a [Where Pulitzer’s Big Apple office was] WORLD BUILDING, which I’ve never heard of. Not to be confused with worldbuilding or terraforming.
- 29a [Goggle] STARE. Being able to get this sans crossings was a major stepping stone in the solve.
- 39a [Tonic cocktails] ESPRESSOTINIS. Pretty sure tonic is not an ingredient as instead being used more figuratively. Easily got the -TINIS suffix but needed to wait on crossings for the front end. Didn’t help that I’d provisionally had 21d [With added zest] CITRUSY as blank-something ending in -LY.
- 45a [Word on US commonwealths list] MARIANA. I kept thinking this but was reluctant to put it in the grid, not knowing who these Pacific islands belonged to. The MARIANA Trench is the deepest known part of the oceans.
- 3d [In high gear?] ON STILTS. Clever clue, but the answer is greenpainty.
- 8d [Resa alternative] TERI. I had no idea what this was about until this very moment, with a little focussed thinking. They are possible nicknames for Theresa.
- 14d [Slide stuff] STAIN. Nonplussed here.
- 17d [Pit of the stomach] INNIE. Absence of a question mark makes this tricky indeed.
- 26d [Indy 500 setting] LATE SPRING. Also the title of a famous and highly-regarded film by Yasujiro Ozu, which has long been on my to-see list. His Tokyo Story is a masterpiece and one of my favorites.
- 32d [Takes a course] OPTS, not EATS. I wasn’t fooled, yet needed to wait on the answer anyway.
- 38d [Desserted?] ATE LAST. <side-eye>
- 40d [Part of the 2024 Olympics opening ceremony parade route] SEINE. Got this off of the N in BRINK OF DISASTER. It’s fortunate, my being aware of next year’s locale.
- 42d [Circumference] AMBIT. Not GIRTH.
- 43d [Water near Verona] GARDA, a lake. GARDA is also short for Garda Síochána, the Irish police force.
- 47d [Big shock] AFRO. Clue trying too hard.
- 51d [It sounds like an inspiration] ERE (‘air’).
- 53d [Athletics degree] DAN. In judo, and perhaps others?
Universal Freestyle 98 by Brian Callahan, norah’s review; 3:20
- ⭐ BOATYMCBOATFACE 33A [Winning entry in a 2016 online poll to name a British research vessel]. *obviously* the entry of the puzzle here. so so so fun! According to my research, this is its first appearance in a mainstream puzzle. So so happy Universal picked this one up.
- ALLITERATE 10D [Ask “Who? What? When? Where? Why?,” say]. Mostly because I’ve been pondering related theme ideas.
- PHTEST 41A [Experiment with acid, say?]
- INKED 57A [Sporting a sleeve, say]
- MIDAS 6D [King in a touching story?] very cute.
- PLANTBASED 26D [Like a diet filled with Impossible things to eat]
- (honestly there is so much great stuff in this puzzle I could go all day)
Woot! So happy to see Brian’s themeless and Universal debut today :D
Brian is one of the editors for Lil AVC X in 2024. The application for the constructor roster is only open for a couple more days. This is a great opportunity for early-career constructors to work with an editor and mentor under the AVCX umbrella for a whole year.
Pretty standard Universal themeless grid here today – 8-10 stacks in the NW and SE paired with 10-10s in the NE and SW and a (great) spanner, with SLEEPLATE and OFFTHEMAP tying the quadrants together. Really solid effort and result.
- 18A ALFA [NATO leader?]. In addition to just being a fun clue, this is a great reminder to self to add the NATO alphabet to the list of things to study going into the 24 tournament season.
- 42A UBERED [Used a certain ride-booking app]. Uber-enjoyed (sorry) seeing this in the colloquial verby sense.
- 1D JAWA [“Star Wars” scavenger]. I just like them.
Thanks Brian and the Universal team!