Steph Brown’s Inkubator crossword, “Themeless #49″—Jenni’s write-up
Fun puzzle! It’s not particularly challenging; I found it straightforward and enjoyed the fresh fill and and couple of grid-spanning entries I haven’t seen before.
- 7d [Homecoming dates?] are ADOPTIVERSARIES. I prefer this to “gotcha day” for children. I know some people also use that language for pets.
- 34a [Device one might use when trying to stay afloat?] is COPING MECHANISM. The ? in the clue told me we weren’t talking about lifejackets. I thought about financial instruments and then got enough crossings to see the answer. Made me chuckle. And yes, humor is one of my primary COPING MECHANISMs.
- Mmm, SCONES. I prefer those to OFFAL. They have such a lovely AROMA…
- Who hasn’t had a CRINGEY moment in middle school?
- 23a [Tick off?] is not about anger. The answer is ENUMERATE. And the symmetrical answer is FASCINATE. I find that pleasing.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Anne DONOVAN was the first woman to coach a WNBA championship team.
Hemant Mehta’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Wow, Hemant really packed this puzzle with lots of fresh and fun fill. Among my favorites: CHEETO DUST (which you can keep off your fingers by using chopsticks or Snactiv picker-uppers), LOTTO BALLS, WORD SALAD, STUDENT ID, FIELD GOALS, “AND I MEAN IT,” RED SOLO CUP (memorialized in a country song, in case you wondered if it’s too “green paint”), a weary “DON’T REMIND ME,” TORRID, MOBIUS STRIPS, and BLAMESTORM.
Clues of note:
- 17a. [Focus of a get-rich-quick scheme?], LOTTO BALLS. For the vast majority of lotto players, it’s a scheme to relieve them of some cash.
- 32a. [Fitness test with beeps], PACER. No idea what this is all about.
- 47a. [What may be behind the curtain], TUB. The shower curtain. It’s eminently possible that Oz is taking a bath behind it.
- 55a. [Canvas finish?], TKO. As in a possible ending to a bout on the canvas surface of a boxing or MMA ring. (Is MMA done in a ring?)
- 6d. [Pot growers?], BETS. As in the pot for a poker game.
4.25 stars from me.
Jamy Smith’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
The theme entries are two-word names and phrases that have omitted a letter to become wackified. More specifically, the first words of the original versions end in -EY but have dropped the E to become weird adjectives.
- 17a. [TikTok videos made by athletes?] JOCKY SHORTS (jockey shorts).
- 25a. [Small flute made from reclaimed farm wood] BARNY FIFE (Barney Fife).
- 35a. [Beachcombers’ off-season hopes?] SHELLY WINTERS (Shelley Winters).
- 48a. [Taverns in cloisters and abbeys?] MONKY BARS (monkey bars).
- 57a. [Banquet celebrating Ottoman culture?] TURKY DINNER (turkey dinner).
I didn’t find these too entertaining, but the execution is consistent.
- 1d [Arabic for “crown”] TAJ. Did not know this.
- 3d [Core workout rep] AB CRUNCH. Effectively signals the slightly odd singular form.
- 11d [Muppet bear in a pork pie hat] FOZZIE. In case you weren’t aware, his name is homage to the puppeteer and voicer of the character, Frank Oz.
- 14a [Palindromic pop quartet] ABBA. 41a [Palindromic pop trio] AHA, or, more accurately, a-ha.
- 15a [God often depicted with green skin] OSIRIS. “He was commonly depicted as a pharaoh with a complexion of either green (the color of rebirth) or black (alluding to the fertility of the Nile floodplain) in mummiform (wearing the trappings of mummification from chest downward).” –Wikipedia
- 23a [Spot for a donut] TRUNK. That’s a diminutive spare tire.
- 29a [Slangy turnarounds] UIES. I refuse to accept the -ie spelling.
- 40a [Bribes] BUYS OFF. Site of my only mis-fill, where I initially tried PAYS OFF, which … didn’t.
Jeffrey K. Martinovic’s Universal crossword, “I for One”—Jim’s review
Theme: Count the number of I’s in each theme answer then replace the string of I’s with one I and the spelled-out digit you got to begin with. The revealer is “I DIG IT!” (61a, [“Righteous, dude!” … or, parsed differently, a hint to parts of the starred clues’ answers]). The re-parsing is I DIGIT.
- 20a. [*Complainer’s quality] WHIIIIIIIIISS. I count nine I’s, so replace them with I NINE to get WHININESS.
- 34a. [*Not modern] OLD FASHID. One I begets I ONE, hence OLD FASHIONED.
- 52a. [*Certain high-intensity exercise session] CROSSFIIRKOUT. Two I’s give you I TWO and thus CROSS FIT WORKOUT.
This…was not for me. Anything that has me counting squares seems like too much effort. I had to stare at it for some time post-solve to put it all together, and once I did, the payoff just wasn’t there. Hopefully some of you liked it better, but I got no joy from it.
I did enjoy some of the fill though, especially SKIP TOWN, FOG OF WAR, RED WINE, MACHETE, MIRANDA, ALARMIST, RAN RIOT, BUS TRIP, and EN FUEGO (though I admit this last one was difficult to put together).
Not so keen on GROANS AT [Reacts to, as a bad pun]. You know what else I groan at? Entries like GROANS AT. And is NERF HOOP an actual thing? I checked the Hasbro website, and they actually call it a “Nerfoop.”
Clue of note: 38d. [Pass that’s scanned]. E-TICKET. I suspect this entry is in most constructors’ wordlists because of the old Disneyland ticketing system. But Wikipedia has a page devoted to this modern usage of the term, so I guess it’s legit.
I found the theme to be ungainly with little reward, but there’s a lot of nice fill here. Three stars.
Rafael Musa’s USA Today crossword, “Keep It Between Us (Freestyle)”—Darby’s write-up
Editor: Amanda Rafkin
- 11a [Ways to determine how people or places make you feel] VIBE CHECKS
- 16a [“Happens all the time”] I’M USED TO IT
- 64a [“Don’t tell anyone!”] IT’S A SECRET
- 67a [Not going to change] SET IN STONE
I expected not to take as much time as I did on this puzzle because it was so smooth from the start, though I primarily moved through the Downs to fill VIBE CHECKS and I’M USED TO IT. I think I got stuck in enough small places, however, to slow me down, like learning about 20a [Indigenous people of Canada] CREE or having to think through 51d [Anticipate] AWAIT.
However, the puzzle itself was really smooth and had so much fun fill. 23a [“I expected more from you”] DO BETTER was great, as was the inclusion of 8d [Texting symbol that shows love] HEART EMOJI, 27d [What a user sees before entering their phone password] LOCKSCREEN, and 38d [Rooftop landing sites] HELIPADS. The last of these felt goofy, just because I can’t remember the last time it appeared in a puzzle. It brought be great JOY, though.
This puzzle also feels even lighter than usual for a USA Today on proper nouns, with only CREE, 15a [Philly ivy] PENN, 19a ELLA of [“___ Enchanted”], 52d [Rapper ___ B] CARDI, and 61d [Actress Headey] LENA. There were some specific references I needed help with, most specifically 54d [“The ___ of Ink” (The Used song)] TASTE, but most of these fell into place relatively easily.
Overall, a great puzzle!