Derek Bowman and Sarah Keller’s New York Times Crossword, – Jim Q’s write-up
Jim Q here, pinch hitting for Andy-
I was looking for an “As the World Turns” revealer somewhere in this puzzle, but that show has ended… and, as Bowman and Keller’s puzzle notes, RERUN(s) are “Seldom-reviewed” (47-Across). So I’ll home in on the real theme instead.
Theme: THE WORLD is literally revolving around the SUN- a single rebus square at the grid’s center.
There aren’t any real theme answers to discuss as far as I can tell besides, perhaps, the central crossing:
- 35-Across [Cowboys may ride off into it]: THE (SUN)SET. I don’t know why the idea of riding into a sunset is restricted to cowboys. I rode off into the sunset tonight in my Jeep Patriot. However, I highly doubt cowboys are idly listening to the latest fund drive on their local NPR stations while doing so.
The other central crossing had me scratching my head a bit:
- 24-Down [Opposite of covers]: LIE(S UN)DER. I’m quite sure this has nothing to do with the theme, but it seems like a wasted opportunity to use SUN in its whole form again.
As far as the circled letters, it was pretty much a gimme- once THE WORLD concept was grokked, filling in those areas was a cinch.
For the most part, it was an enjoyable solve, and quite easy- though some funky crosswordese came to the party. There weren’t many long answers to speak of, so it was rather noticeable when longer answers such as AS A SON (which doesn’t strike me as a stand alone phrase) and B PLUSES (I’ve never said this as a plural- and I’ve given plenty of them) weren’t overshadowed by snappier, longer entries.
48-Down: [Makes sound] HEALS. I was 100% sure it was PEALS… as in a bell pealing… which made 48-Across [Sub] PERO instead of HERO. But I figured PERO had something to do with a submarine- like an alternative spelling to PERIscope. Or something. Whoops. I hate it when confidence gets in the way of logic. I make that mistake all the time.
46-Down: [Roll at a counter] CERTS. I thought it was CENTS… like a roll of pennies. They’re at counters, right?
1-Down: [Squalid places] RAT HOLES. Again… 100% sure it was RAT HOMES– which isn’t a thing.
Things that made me smile:
38-Down: [Female issue] DAUGHTER. I immediately thought it was looking for the name of a magazine.
49-Down: [Equine] HORSY. HORSY as an adjective and spelled without an E? Sure, why not! But you try saying the word “HORSY” right now without smiling. Go ahead. Try it. HORSY. No one says HORSY and doesn’t enjoy it.
14-Across: [Rubber ducky, e.g.] BATH TOY. In the same vein as HORSY, the thought of a rubber ducky… :)
I could do without:
23-Across: [ ___ Gong: Chinese spiritual practice] FALUN. My knowledge of Chinese spiritual practices stinks.
15-Across: [Ancient region of central Italy] ETRURIA. My geography stinks too.
Fun to solve- but not quite the Thursday bite I was expecting- especially after yesterday’s clever Thursday-ish semi-quasi grid art.
3.22 stars from me!
Alex Eaton-Sainer’s Fireball Crossword, “Read the Fine Print” – Jenni’s write-up
The “fine print” referred to in the title is right there in the clues. If you’re solving on the computer, you may or may not get Mr. Happy Pencil depending on what your software wants you to enter in the special squares.
I know at 1a that there was something funny going on, but I wasn’t sure what. The clue is [Common recipe amount] and TBSP didn’t work with the crossings, not to mention that there’s no signal for an abbreviation in the clue. Hmm. So I moved on and filled in whatever I could, working my way around the grid. I finally twigged to the theme – or thought I did – when I got to 50a [2004 film with the tagline “Imagine having to win over the girl of your dreams….every friggin’ day.”] I knew that was some number of FIRST DATES, but couldn’t remember how many. So I filled in the FIRST DATES part and kept going. The rest of the theme answers emerged.
- 21a [Early hit series for Fox] was where I finally figured out the rest of the theme, because I know this answer. It’s 21 JUMP STREET, and it’s 21d. Aha! The “fine print” we’re supposed to look at is the number in the square. Sure enough, 21d is [Like some salutes]: 21 GUN. Now we’re cooking with gas.
- Back up to 1a; the [Common recipe amount] is 1 CUP, crossing 1d [Part of a rack closest to the foul line] which turns out to be bowling, not billiards. The answer is the 1 PIN.
- 8a [1999 Nicolas Cage movie that deals with snuff films] is 8 MM, crossing [Film with the Oscar-winning song “Lose Yourself], which is 8 MILE.
- 27a [2016 film with YouTube stars Mamrie Hart, Grace Helbig, and Hannah Hart] has the number in the last square: DIRTY 30, crossing [Show featuring the show “TGS With Tracy Jordan”] which is, of course, 30 ROCK.
- And finally back down to 50a, which becomes 50 FIRST DATES. If I knew more about rap music, this would have been a gimme. 50d is [Rapper with the album “Curtis”] – 50 CENT.
I like themes that play with the form and break the fourth wall, so to speak. This is a good ‘un. It’s not particularly difficult but it’s lots of fun. I also appreciate the fact that all the answers use the digits when they’re written out. Google Ngram does suggest that “twenty-one gun salute” is more common, but I’ll give them a pass on that.
A few other things:
- 19a [TV character who’s always red in the face?] is ELMO, which I always hear in my head in Elmo’s voice. This is very annoying.
- I filled in 14d from crossings, and couldn’t figure out what AFARCRY was. Some kind of magic? Then I looked at the clue [Very different (from)] and realized it’s A FAR CRY.
- 9d [Country singer Haggard] is not my favorite MERLE.
- 31a [Unfilled part of a schedule] is OPEN SLOT. Alternate clue: where my mother headed first at the casino.
- 66a [Cal. rows] stumped me until I realized it was talking about a calendar, not California. It’s WKS.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that there’s a movie called DIRTY 30 starring YouTubers.
Adam T. Cobb’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “In a Pinch” — Jim’s review
New byline today which could mean we have a debut, or else it’s an anagram of “Combat Dab.”
69a tells us to [Take each of the starred answers with a grain of it], i.e. SALT.
- 20a [*Justice with a shredded side?] SLAW AND ORDER. Chunk-chunk!
- 32a [*Spaghettified, grammatically speaking?] PASTA PARTICIPLE. I wonder if this clue is the reason I thought to make spaghetti for tonight’s dinner.
- 42a [*Baroque masterpiece inspired by rye and semolina?] THE FLOUR SEASONS
- 54a [*Jackson Pollock’s favorite dessert?] ABSTRACT TART
So each theme entry gets a “grain” (i.e. one letter) of SALT. Cute idea.
But my first reaction was that the theme was too loose—that we were just adding letters to any old phrase to make new ones. Then I realized that the new words were all foods (or food ingredients), and this definitely helped to tighten the theme up and make it more interesting.
A couple of long non-theme Across entries (GOLD-PLATED and HAVE ON HAND) were somewhat distracting, but their lack of asterisks made it clear they weren’t theme answers.
Also distracting were the amount and unsavoriness of the odd partials—not so much I DID, but definitely IN ME, SAD TO, and IT OF.
Clues of note:
- 5a [The “band” in “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”]. ADDER. The story is one of the original cases in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
- 25a [Digital communication method: Abbr.]. ASL. Tricksy! I went with DSL at first, but the D stands for “digital.”
- 59a [Impedimenta]. GEAR. New word to me. Looks like its usage peaked around 1920.
- 62d [See 1-Across]. NIL. This is unusual in that 1a doesn’t actually cite 62d. I don’t recall ever seeing that before. The clue [It means nothing] certainly works for both entries, but in other puzzles with this situation, the clue is usually just repeated.
Overall, there wasn’t a lot here that stood out, but I did like the cute theme.
Agnes Davidson & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s write-up
This style of puzzle I always associate with BEQ. GOUNDERCOVER is visually rendered as the digram GO under three types of covers. I appreciate that our constructorial duo did not try and cram more than three examples, as it allowed for a generally peppy grid. I do think Zhouqin is about my favourite regular LA Times constructor, and a big part of this is the loving attention to detail taken in filling the grids.
The entries are: CENTERSPREAD/GORDIE, WETBLANKET/IMAGO and SHEETMUSIC/HUGO. In each case, the GO is under the cover part of the entry.
Fill highlights include the TENFOUR/MONROVIA/BUDAPEST stack, ICECANOE and chatty NOHASSLE.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Think About It” — Ben’s Review
We’re going up late today after a super-busy day at the office for me, so I’m going to keep things short and sweet this week. Let’s dig in to “Think About It”, whose big revealer explains exactly what’s going on with the circled patches of squares:
- 6A: With 66A, logical fallacy, and an alternate title for this puzzle — CIRCULAR/REASONING
Yep, the circled patches each contain a form of reasoning – you have IDEATION in the top left corner, ARGUMENT in the lower right, and ANALYSIS in the middle of the grid. Pretty straightforward, as far as themes go.
Things that made me COME ALIVE: HANOI, REPAIRMEN, NSYNC (who I remember preferring over the Backstreet Boys roughly 20 years ago), German EIS, DAISY AD, OCEANARIA, MEMENTOS, CAIRN, ICEE (though SLURPEE seems like nice bottom-row fill and is also a brand-name frozen drink, just saying),
Stuff that was more of a JOLT: I’m guessing if you’re not up on your hip-hop crew members RZA and MUGGS took you some time, and I didn’t love ASSN, A NOSE, SCORIA, ORANT, or INS as an abbreviation for insurance.
See some of you this weekend at The Indie 500! Happy solving!