Kevan Choset’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme came as a surprise to me because those first two theme answers? Had no idea those applied to bonny Prince Charles of the Circled Letters. PRINCE OF WALES, easy. DUKE OF CORNWALL, less familiar. Never heard of EARL OF CHESTER (and I’ve been to Chester!) or BARON OF RENFREW (and I have Scottish ancestors from Renfrewshire!). Note to self: Memorize these for future trivia quizzes. Too bad the EARL and BARON’s letter counts kept them from appearing in rank order here.
Asterisk on solving time is because it took me a while to find my typo (CORMWALL/KMIFERS!).
In the fill, I like BIKE PATH, TEARDROP-shaped jewelry, and FROYO. Not keen on OF AN ERA, KNIFERS (ouch), and assorted boring fill.
- 5d. [Younger Trump daughter], TIFFANY. The poor woman (Marla Maples’ daughter) is basically shut out in favor of Ivana’s three offspring. Tiffany, the jewelry store, sells a lot of nice stuff, though. Since Tiffany Trump won’t be much in the news, let’s go with the store next time, shall we?
- 15a I’LL GO clashes with nearby 19a [Goes] for SAYS.
- 55d. [Show one’s appreciation for, in a way], CLAP. “Please clap.”
Four stars for the trivia theme, three for the rest.
Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Old Flames” — Jim’s review
Fairly standard add-a-letter theme from veteran constructor Sam Donaldson. Perhaps Sam just suffered a breakup or is just taking a trip down memory lane, but he can’t seem to keep his past loves out of this puzzle.
You won’t find all his EXES (45d, [Old flames, as found in this puzzle’s theme answers]) in Texas, you’ll find them in the grid, as represented by the letters EX added to familiar phrases.
Oh, by the way, constructor John Lampkin pointed out to me that this theme is the same as last Friday’s LAT puzzle by David Alfred Bywaters. Same theme but completely different entries. Makes you wonder how many more potential entries are out there.
- 18a [Sublime summits?] GREAT APEXES. Great apes.
- 29a [Activity for buff collegians on vacation?] SPRING FLEXING. Spring fling.
- 46a [Eco-conscious gas station?] CRUNCHY TEXACO. Crunchy taco. I had no idea that “crunchy” meant “eco-conscious.” But I guess it refers to the crunch of granola-eating hipsters.
- 58a [Charming hottie?] SWEET SEXPOT. Sweet spot.
On the whole, an adequate set, but not too many yuks among them. I’m always hoping for more humor with when it comes to manufactured theme answers.
We get loads of long Downs, though. Ten, count ’em, ten 8-letter entries, the more interesting ones being REAR AXLE, NORQUIST, MANASSAS, and EL CAMINO. I really struggled with parsing BEAR UPON, mainly at the B and the P. I’ve never heard of the 39a crossing “BEL esprit,” and the meaning of 61a [Grappler’s victory] continued to elude me until just now. (The grappler is a wrestler and a PIN is a win.)
Cluing was Thursday tough, but not too bad. Mostly it felt workmanlike with only a few brighter spots. I liked [Foreman’s job] for BOXING (that’s George Foreman, by the way) and [Apt trophy for a baker] for CUP.
Overall, some good fill, but the theme didn’t light me up and the cluing didn’t feel as fresh as yesterday’s. Maybe that’s an unfair comparison, but there it is.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Drain the Swamp” — Ben’s Review
Only one BEQ Thursday puzzle left this year! BEQ’s picked up the torch from some other guy’s promise and drained swamps all over 2016’s final puzzle:
- 17A: German six-strings? —
- 29A: Vice president Hubert’s paintings? — HUMPHREY ART
- 47A: “Visit Australia” pitches? — ADS FROM AFAR
- 64A: Store that sells nothing but stand-alone kitchen counters? — ALL ISLANDS
If those phrases don’t quite make sense, it’s because they’ve all had their swamps drained to other parts of the grid. 46A‘s FEN combines with 17A to make FENDER GUITARS, 26A puts the BOG in HUMPHREY BOGART, 63A‘s MIRE expands 47A into ADMIRE FROM AFAR, and 40D adds some MARSH to the MARSHALL ISLANDS at 64A.
I thought this was cleverly done and executed, although ADS FROM AFAR didn’t feel like it fully matched the “Aussie” part of its clue too explicitly. Other nice fill included a mention of Hamilton ELECTORS, Salvador DALI, MONADIC organisms (only one cell!), and WASHTUBS
Have a safe New Year’s Eve, all! See you in 2017!
Roland Huget’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
The theme is INSIDEKNOWLEDGE, and with the circles, I’m sure it’s clear what is going on. LORE, KEN and GRASP are, in a very tenuous way, synonyms of each other and of KNOWLEDGE. The three 15’s are good choices as answers: FLORENZZIEGFELD, STORYBOOKENDING and MARDIGRASPARADE.
Four 15s often make for functional rather than flamboyant fill and today’s puzzle is a classic example. The lack of other distractions, make the creaky short fill stand out; perhaps there is not really an excess, but it sure felt like it.
My funniest error was for [Self-named 2002 country album]. I didn’t read it fully, and so the letter pattern led me to KANYE…