Andrew Zhou’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
I needed the revealer to understand this theme, and it made my chuckle. On a Wednesday, that’s enough.
We have four theme answers:
- 20a [1871 Eliot novel] is MIDDLEMARCH. I thought maybe we were doing something with positions.
- 30a [1924 Gershwin composition] is RHAPSODY IN BLUE. So not positions. Maybe the years mean something?
- 39a [2010 Bush autobiography] is DECISION POINT, which I had to get from crossings. Still no idea about the theme.
- 51a [1970 Harrison song] is MY SWEET LORD and now they’re no longer in chronological order. Huh?
The revealer is at 61a: [Exclamation that describes 13-, 20-, 30-, 39- and 51-Across]: BY GEORGE! Of course. GEORGE Eliot, GEORGE Gershwin, GEORGE Bush, GEORGE Harrison. Nice.
A few other things:
- 1d. [ [Warning: explicit content] ] as the Times gets hip. It’s NSFW.
- 8d [Secretary of state during the Korean War] is Dean ACHESON. No relation to Topeka and Santa Fe.
- 21d [Scrape or cut] is LESION, which seems off to my ear. A LESION usually refers to a growth or abnormality on imaging. I’m sure there’s dictionary support for that, but I have never heard medical folk use the word in this way.
- 41d [Flying pest, slangily] is a SKEETER. We had a wet spring. We already have plenty of them.
- 50d [Celebratory cry] is BOOYA, with no tag for slang. Guess it’s mainstream now, and see my first bullet re: the NYT gets hip.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that TAU is the symbol for torque.
I leave you with this because it’s stuck in my head, and I want to share. If you’re looking for Judy Garland, she enters at 5:00.
John Wrenholt’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pole Position” — Jim’s review
I didn’t recognize the constructor’s name, but he has gotten one puzzle published in the NYT. So while this is not a debut debut, it is a WSJ debut, so congratulations are in order!
I have to say I enjoyed this one from start to finish even though I didn’t pay close enough attention to figure out the theme before completing. Once I finished and was still scratching my head, a glance at the title set me straight. Our theme answers all start with a word that can be synonymous with FLAG. And, oh hey, it’s Flag Day!
- 17a [Company founded by John D. Rockefeller] STANDARD OIL
- 21a [When everything goes perfectly] BANNER DAY
- 38a [Oscar-winning song from “Pocahontas”] COLORS OF THE WIND. Lovely grid-spanning find that fits the theme. In the military, the “colors” are posted and retired at the start and end of most formal ceremonies.
- 52a [Paving slab] FLAGSTONE
- 60a [World Series precursor] PENNANT RACE
A solid theme executed well with unassailable phrases. Nice entries, all. And some of them are partially stacked on each other without causing undue constraints on the grid. Impressive work.
The fill is lovely with just a minimum of crutch entries (NOS and ONE-A being the worst of it). There’s KIM and KARDASHIAN crossing at the K if you’re into that sort of thing (I am decidedly not, but it’s certainly valid fill), but my favorite long entry is the high-falutin’ DILETTANTE.
I also like PLEBE, RENOWN, LASSIE, and MT HOOD (which looks a lot like MT DOOM if you’re missing a couple letters). Also, SLEAZE and SNEEZE crossing at the Z. It just seems like there’s solid fill everywhere I look.
And not to be outdone, the cluing is spot on. There’s [Position in an orchestra] for CHAIR, [Conceal from pursuers] for HARBOR, [Play along with] for HUMOR, etc, etc, etc. Nothing too tricky or outrageous or trivia-laden, just solid, interesting clues throughout. I especially liked the contrasting [Legal sweetener] for SUGAR and [Illegal sweeteners] for BRIBES. And also, [Richard Parker in “Life of Pi,” e.g.] for TIGER. (I cannot say “Richard Parker” without using my bad Apu-esque Indian accent.)
In short, this puzzle may have a simple theme, but it’s executed beautifully, and it’s rounded out with sparkling fill and thoughtful clues making for an enjoyable ride through to the end.
Francis Heaney’s AVCX crossword, “Flights of Wonder” — Ben’s Review
It’s Wednesday! I’m at an all-day training for work, so lucky for you, the AVCX review is up early too. Francis Heaney has this week’s puzzle, which carries a 5/5 difficulty rating that I didn’t believe at first – I was filling the puzzle so quickly! Then I kept hitting some areas in the clues that didn’t quite make sense:
- 4D: Spin, briefly — PRB
- 5D: “The Expanse” network — SYNFY
- 6D: Network that is still employing Bill Maher, for some reason — HBCO
- 7D: Program with a doz. steps — AAH
- 8D: Plumbing problems — DRIPASN
- 17D: Chasm — GEULFN
As seen in this example, there are a bunch of letters that don’t fit in these across clues to make the proper answers — these should be PR, SYFY, HBO, AA, DRIPS, and GULF. Finally realizing that their corresponding across clue, “Mexican tortilla dish filled with red meat”, led to LAMB ENCHILADAS, mixed with the revealer for the puzzle, INVISIBLE PLANE (clued in fantastically AV fashion as “Vehicle for Wonder Woman surprisingly unseen in the new film…as opposed to, uh, expectedly unseen? You wouldn’t have seen it anyway, but you definitely couldn’t see it. Wow this is a mess. Anyway, it’s seen…no, it’s IN this puzzle 4 times”), and you’ve got exactly what’s going on – there’s a type of plane in each of the 4 across theme answers (LAMB ENCHILADAS, EAST RALEIGH, ZINC-LINED TRUNK, and MLB LOCKOUTS) that’s treated as “invisible” in the down answers to make those make sense
I loved this puzzle (which was definitely helped by seeing Wonder Woman over the weekend. It’s fantastic and totally unlike any of the other dark, gritty DC movies that have been released in the last few years – GO). The rest of the fill in the puzzle is pretty great, given the constraints here on much of the downs – the fitting in of words like EMPORIUM and CHASSIS are pretty great.
4.5/5 stars. This was a strong showing from Francis, and I really liked what was going on in the grid here.
Agnes Davidson & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
I recently went bed linen shopping with my fiancee. I have no idea what half of the stuff is for, or what makes something a “comforter”. I didn’t see any BOTTOMSHEETs, but possibly it’s Americanese for a fitted sheet? I’m a bit clueless here! Anyway, it’s a hoary old theme trope; four answers are paired with SHEET, and here they are on the BOTTOM of the vertical theme answers. The theme answers themselves were functional: onthatSCORE, newBALANCE, bigTIME, and outofSTYLE.
Theme is dense, but SHAMEONYOU for thinking those acrosses were part of it. Even though a sheet cake is a thing in FUNNELCAKE, it’s the wrong way round and besides it’s not “bottom”…
I note a new clue for OTTO via something called “Sons of Anarchy”; not owning a T.V., I mostly know about shows from social media buzz… [Bishops and knights], MEN; I’d have used “queens” in that clue, just for the jarring effect… I don’t think I’ve encountered a [Retailer that..], REI in or outside of puzzles – probably wise to note for future!