Brendan Emmett Quigley’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
I love BEQ’s puzzles, and this is a goodie. It’s got a good Wednesday vibe (yes, I know what day it is – this week) and a theme that I tried to make more complicated than it was.
We have four theme answers tied together by a central connection.
17a [Player of Frodo in “The Lord of the Rings”]= ELIJAH WOOD. I came home from a music committee meeting to do this puzzle, and we were debating which spiritual to sing in our spring concert, so I’m now singing this to the tune of “Elijah Rock.” Only in my head, though.
- 25a [“The Good War” Pulitzer Prize winner] = STUDS TERKEL, oral historian of note.
- 47a [Boston Celtics coach beginning in 2013] = BRAD STEVENS.
- 58a [Detective whose first book was “I, the Jury”] = MIKE HAMMER. You could argue that “I, the Jury” was really Mickey Spillane’s book and that Mike Hammer only appeared in it, but that wouldn’t be worth it.
The central connector is 35a [Pop group suggested by 17-, 25-, 47- and 58-Across], THE CARPENTERS. I filled that in before I finished the puzzle and tried to connect the theme answers to Carpenters songs. Nope. Each of the themes is a name that references carpentry (WOOD, STUDS, BRAD, and HAMMER). I like this theme a lot. I like this puzzle a lot.
A few other things:
- BEQ gets all 21st century with 6d [Text to which one might respond “im gr8”], HOWRU. I guess that’s how Tony the Tiger might answer.
- Raise your hand if URI makes you think of upper-respiratory infection rather than [New England state sch.].
- 33a [“Your point being …?”] is SOO, which made me giggle.
- 26d [There might be a spat about this] was confusing until I remembered that spats are not just quarrels. The answer is SHOE.
- Kudos to BEQ for cluing COY without reference to gender. Anyone can be [Playfully obtuse, maybe].
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that CUJO is a St. Bernard.
Debbie Ellerin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Crime Wave” — Jim’s review
Super cute theme today from Debbie Ellerin. As usual, I worked my way through without giving the theme much thought. Once I had enough material and the revealer to work with I tried to put it together.
The revealer is SWIPE LEFT at 36a [Reject nowadays, and a hint to the puzzle’s theme].
It wasn’t clicking at first as I tried to apply SWIPE LEFT to the theme answers. Did it mean something was left off of each answer? On the left side? Was something swiped from each one?
Then it dawned on me and I got to enjoy a nice a-ha moment. Each theme answer is a two-word phrase in which the first word (i.e. the left one) is a synonym for swipe.
- 17a [Mountain pass] LIFT TICKET. I adore this clue!
- 22a [Go to bat for somebody] PINCH HIT. Another ambiguously good clue.
- 53a [Break] TAKE FIVE
- 60a [Compact container] POCKET BOOK. And another good clue.
So simple, yet cheekily elegant. It’s not often that a simple synonym theme works so well, but the revealer is at once spot on, modern, a bit ambiguous, and just a touch naughty.
(If you don’t know what SWIPE LEFT means, you can read about it here.)
And there’s a lot of great fill besides. The stacks of 7s in the corners give us “WHERE TO?,” ORIGAMI, MOROCCO, and “LOVED IT!” In the center we get a TIMEOUT. Not sure I like IN A SNAP or ONE NOTE, but they’re gluey necessities.
On the crosswordese front, we have IMS, ITO, HAD I, and ET AL. But there’s also interesting short stuff like KOKO, SIMP, SIKHS, and JACKO.
Cluing was strong throughout, especially with the themers as mentioned above. I also enjoyed the misdirection with 25a [Surfing equipment]. I immediately put in BOARD, but the puzzle really wanted MODEM.
More clues of note:
- 24d [Toddler’s punishment] is a TIMEOUT. As a stay-at-home dad and Chief Enforcer in our household, I was never much into the “TIMEOUT” phraseology nor the counting to three that often accompanies it. To me, both of those seemed like wishy-washy ways to ameliorate the parent’s trauma of eking out punishment.
- 64a [San Antonio landmark] is, of course, the ALAMO. I used to live in San Antonio, so I have been to the ALAMO several times. People are generally surprised by how small it is, but the truth is, the grounds around the original mission were much larger. All that’s left are a few buildings surrounded by city streets, government buildings, and tourist traps. But I hear tell that the city is buying properties around it in the hope of making it into an interactive park. The surrounding touristy stuff like Ripley’s Believe It Or Not will have to move elsewhere.
- 2d [They’re not company men] is a great clue for HERMITS. I.e. they’re not men who keep company. See! I told you the cluing was good.
Overall, a really fine puzzle with a simple but nifty theme, strong fill, and even stronger cluing.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Holding All the Aces” —Ade’s write-up
Happy hump day, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, is fun with puns, as the theme entries are result of removing the letters “ACE” from the ends of well-known proper nouns, with its clues creating helping to create those offbeat answers.
- WILLIAM WALL (17A: [Mural depicting Kate’s royal husband?]) – William Wallace.
- THE PHANTOM MEN (24A: [Ghosts from the first “Star Wars” episode?]) – The Phantom Menace. Speaking of Star Wars, Rest in Paradise, Carrie Fisher.
- BUCKINGHAM PAL (49A: [Friend of Queen Elizabeth II?]) – Buckingham Palace.
- MARTIAN SURF (59A: [Where the breakers are out of this world?]) – Martian surface.
Had some stops and starts in completing this grid, but it definitely wasn’t a grid that had me ILL AT EASE while doing it (3D: [On edge]). So yesterday, we had “Canadian quarter” as one of the theme entries and, today, we have LOONIE, which might be the first time Canadian currency has been featured on consecutive crosswords (15A: [Canadian coin, familiarly]). I have some Canadian coins laying around my place right now, acquired from my trip to Montréal last July. It’s sort of a reminder to make sure I make it back to Canada sometime in the near future. My college roommate had a gold Ford Mustang, and I, nor anyone I’ve ever known, has ever referred to the classic American muscle car as a STANG (33D: [Sporty Ford, to aficionados]). Maybe I have to indeed go to a car show and hang out with serious car enthusiasts to find people who would call it that. One of the highlights of the grid was the clue to CLEAN, which caught me off-guard for a second, but then chuckled when realizing what the answer was going to be (51D: [Free of four-letter words]). Actually thought for a second that there was an actual term for writing that indeed didn’t have words made up of four letters in it! Good thing that wasn’t the case at all!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SHOW (34A: [Theater production]) – Who was the pitcher who gave up Pete Rose’s record-breaking 4,192nd hit? The answer is the late Eric SHOW (pronounced as if you were starting to say the word “shower”), who happens to also be the San Diego Padres’ all-time leader in wins with an even 100. Show caused a stir In 1984, the year the Padres made its first World Series appearance, when he revealed that he was a member of the John Birch Society. Show struggled with drug addiction later in his career, and he succumbed to it in 1994.
Thank you so much for your time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today features a cute category theme with a punchy revealer and entries. The answers are four things with STRINGSATTACHED: BALLOON(PAYMENTS), YOYO(DIETING), VIOLA/(DAVIS) (There’s another Davis other than Geena, Ossie and Bette??) and BIKINI(ATOLL).
Mystery name of the day: [Big name in beauty products], ULTA.