Todd Gross’s New York Times crossword
Neat theme, though it posits a truly bonkers encyclopedia set that appears to have at least three separate N volumes. There are four familiar phrases that double as an alphabetical range of words starting with the same letter, and these four thin volumes are Down answers, oriented like encyclopedias on a shelf, and placed in the grid in alphabetical order from left to right. The shelf height goes a little haywire thanks to rotational crossword symmetry.
- 4d. [Encyclopedia volume on education reform?], BACK TO BASICS.
- 17d. [Encyclopedia volume on tailoring?], MADE TO MEASURE.
- 7d. [Encyclopedia volume on poverty?], NEXT TO NOTHING.
- 21d. [Encyclopedia volume on wealth accumulation?], RAGS TO RICHES. This is the only one where the base phrase really does connote a range, a directional movement from one to the other (you could say “from rags to riches” but not “from made to measure”).
Some of the fill delighted me:
- 32d. [1979 #1 hit whose title is sung with a stutter], MY SHARONA, by the Knack. I got this off just the M.
- 30a. [“Alice in Wonderland” director, 2010], TIM BURTON.
- 10d. [It would be “a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord,” to Isaiah], JERUSALEM. Not a bible quote I knew, but a great long entry.
- Did I mention “My Sharona”? Pretty much a one-hit wonder but an indelible part of my adolescence. Husband points out that the Who’s “My Generation” does a similar stutter on the “my.” Any other songs in that group?
Did not know:
- 1a. [Actor David of “Dark Shadows”], SELBY. Who?? There were six other actors who appeared in more episodes than Selby, and he’s scarcely a big enough name to merit appearance in crosswords. And! Parked right at 1-Across? No, no, no. Unwelcome.
- 41a. [Indian chief called King Philip], METACOMET. Didn’t know it but perhaps should have. Late 1600s, fought Puritan expansion. His brother’s name was Wamsutta, which you may recognize from the bed linens section at a department store.
I would review more of the puzzle, but I’m too sleepy so I’ll sign off by saying I found this theme CLEVER (8-Down) and give it 4 stars. Without SELBY crossing plural LEONS, I SAY/ I MET, and that lurking YMA, it’d be a bit higher.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 82”
Quick take: Love the SHUTTERFLY/FLUTTERSHY minitheme! Lovely. Lots of stuff I didn’t know (IRONSIDES, MARIA MARIA, TO AUTUMN, UP A STUMP) but still felt easier than most of Peter’s themelesses. I did manage to pin down MATERTERAL after having just the first three letters. Boo-yah!
WORDSMITH is a particularly nice inclusion here. And VANUATU, 42d. [Bislama is one of its official languages]? Never heard of the language and haven’t read any articles on the recent destructive cyclone/typhoon that hit Vanuatu, but I always appreciate learning bits like national language trivia.
Gotta run. 4.1 stars.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Stick Figureheads” — Ben’s Review
How is it already the ACPT next week, you guys? I am feeling nowhere near as prepared as I’d like to be, but I’m still excited – it’ll be my first time doing the tournament in Stanford, and it’s always nice to see my friends on the crossword side of the puzzling community.
Being a nerdy type who’s into webcomics definitely helped solve this week’s BEQ Thursday puzzle – the first syllables of the theme clues are a phonetic tribute to everyone’s favorite stick-figure comic about science, XKCD:
- 18A, “By virtue of position” – EX OFFICIO
- 29A, “Ring leader?” – KAY JEWELERS
- 49A, “The surf in some surf and turf dishes” – SEA SCALLOPS
- 60A, “‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ singer” – DEE SNIDER
Even if you’re not the webcomic type, I highly recommend the artist RANDALL MUNROE‘s (31D/5D) book What If, which answers all sorts of crazy hypothetical science questions with funny and informative answers. But enough about that, back to the puzzle.
The rest of the grid is nice, but there’s oddly nothing that grabs me as being particularly noteworthy for fill – a meme-friendly clue for MAD (46A, “U ____ BRO?”) is a nice twist on things, but overall this feels like good fill for a nice puzzle, with nothing that really sticks out. It’s a bit odd to say the least. Much like 39A (“Rather underwhelming movie”), the main fill this week is a bit of a SNOOZER.
Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Feeling ambivalent about this one. On the one hand, AYTHERESTHERUB is a great revealing answer, on the other hand, it boils down to just three external body parts, used in roughly non-body part contexts. On the other hand, Darren, all three are nice long answers and I particularly enjoyed the long 15’s: FOOTLONGHOTDOGS and BACKTOTHEFUTURE. The latter took longer than it should to get, for some reason “science fiction” didn’t help conjure up that movie initially! The third themer is NECKOFTHEWOODS.
Partly to accomodate the 14’s, this grid uses six areas of stacked 7’s – three on bottom, three on top, and then a constricted middle. Because of the size of some of these stacks, most of the 7’s are functional rather than fun – a lot of ER action (SCORERS, USURERS, ENABLER plus shorter crossers), but none of those are contrived. CALYPSO and ROMULUS add some Classical spice at least. Most of the big stacks have some crutches, but things didn’t get out of control either.
I looked through the clues for things I wanted to highlight and came up empty; make of that what you will.