Whoops! Missed seeing that the AV Club puzzle has a meta and is a contest puzzle. Watch for the write-up on Sunday night or Monday morning. Just so you know, there were eight ratings posted for the puzzle before I took the post down: four 5-star ratings and four 4.5-star ratings.
Tracy Gray’s New York Times crossword
I like this theme, though the circular triple-checking of that many squares inevitably leads to compromises in the fill. Four phrases with a rotational angle put the word that’s subject to said rotation into a circle of circled squares that dangles from the rest of the entry:
- 17a. [Ride on which to try for a brass ring], MERRY-GO-ROUND, with the MERRY closing its own loop before the GO-ROUND part. Now, this one might be a little bogus, because there isn’t a thing called a merry that goes around; there’s a thing that goes around, and it’s rather merry.
- 29a. [Textile machinery of old], SPINNING WHEELS. One thing that accounts for my Thursdayish solving time is that I was fixated on spinning JENNY(S), and that just wasn’t working out.
- 48a. [Once-popular TV serial set in Oakdale, Ill.], AS THE WORLD TURNS. What a terrible clue. Just call it a soap opera, not a “TV serial”! Needlessly difficult.
- 64a. [“Gimme Shelter” band], ROLLING STONES.
The symmetrical theme entries drop their circled words in nonsymmetrical spots, but spaced out. Makes sense. There were so many Scowl-o-Meter triggers in the grid, though. NO EAR crossing ROES; OSS and OHS and AFTS; EWER, RIA, and ATTAR; TO A TEE and OSTEAL; IRENEE ([The “I” in E. I. du Pont] … eyes goggle) and OCH. More than maybe three such answers in a grid and it’s going to stand out.
On the plus side, POWER NAP is absolutely terrific, TEA TOWELS is quaintly nice, BLOW-UPS are dramatic, the YELLOW SEA is solid, and I liked seeing 37a. MAISIE [Williams of “Game of Thrones”] (she plays Arya Stark).
Two more things:
- 39d. [Like some rye], SEEDLESS. It’s summertime! A watermelon clue would have been nice here, or grapes.
- 18d. [Bipedal Aussies, informally], ROOS. Did you see that picture of a kangaroo holding a metal bucket it had crushed? That ROO has clearly been working out. Great muscle definition. I am now officially terrified of kangaroos.
Four stars for the theme, 2.5 for the fill.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Breaking Story”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! It’s story time today, as we break down today’s crossword that was constructed for us by Mr. Doug Peterson. Each of the four theme answers are multiple-word entries in which the letters “STORY” are separated, with the point of separation different with each passing theme answer.
- STORAGE FACILITY (17A: [Warehouse, e.g.])
- STOCK SCENERY (28A: [Standard set pieces used in various performances])
- STRING THEORY (48A: [Hard-to-understand physics concept])
- SLEEP LABORATORY (63A: [Research site with many bedsl])
As mentioned before, it was good to see the separation point of “STORY” differ each time to really make the theme stand out. Oh, and the puzzle was good because I can reminisce of the days when I wore HIGH TOP sneakers regularly (5D: [Type of athletic shoe]). The 1980s were all about wearing high tops like Run DMC (without the shoelaces) and your favorite basketball players of the day. High tops faded in popularity over the years, partially because they were a hassle to put on and partially because low cut sneakers became the norm. But they’re making a comeback, and in the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing kids wearing the Patrick Ewing high tops that were launched in the late 80s that are now making a comeback. There’s definitely a chance that you’ll catch a B-GIRL wearing something like this, if they make these shoes in her size (45D: [Female hip-hop dancer])…
I’m now so used to typing in señora, sra., srta., or niña in referring to a lady from a Spanish-speaking country that CHICA came to me much later than it should have (19D: [Young lady, in Yucatán]). Just finished watching DR. NO about a couple of weeks ago, so that bit of information about the character was fresh in my mind (22A: [Bond villain with the first name Julius]). Don’t think there was much with this grid that you would get FUSSY over (1D: [Not easy to please]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SMYTH (55D: [Rock singer Patty]) – Which player has scored more power play goals than any other in the storied history of the Edmonton Oilers? Wayne Gretzky? Mark Messier? Jari Kurri? Each of those three Hall of Fame players, as great as they were, would be wrong answers. The correct answer is recently retired NHL player Ryan SMYTH, who scored 126 power play goals in his career as an Oiler, tying for first on that list with another Hall of Famer, Glenn Anderson. Smith retired after the 2014 season with 386 career goals and 842 career points, scoring 618 of those points as a member of the Oilers. Smyth is the sixth all-time leading scorer in Oilers history, and the five ahead of him are all in the Hockey Hall of Fame: Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Anderson and defenseman Paul Coffey.
Thank you so much for your time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Jeff Stillman’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Today’s theme is pretty simple: WINGSPANS means that WING encircles the four other long across answers. There are only 3 ways to split WING: W/ING, WI/NG and WIN/G, so one gets used twice. No biggie. Theme entries were a little bland. WINTEREGG was the most obscure by a large margin, but also possibly the most interesting. It was readily inferrable too, however. Themers are:
- [*Health and prosperity], WELLBEING
- [*It might require treatment with an EpiPen], WASPSTING. Puppy / dog with mysterious swollen face (most amusing when it’s a shar pei!) is a common presenting complaint for dogs around here. Very difficult to ask what stung them, but wasps would be one of the more likely choices. Dogs stick their faces in everything!
- [*Dramatic way to go out], WITHABANG
- [*Fabergé item auctioned for $9.6 million in 2002], WINTEREGG
It’s a pretty well-balanced grid, with four double-stacked sevens. There’s a lower than usual count of multi-word phrases, so we have to settle for some colourful one-word entries: PLATEAU, VERTIGO and WASABI offset by drier stuff like EERIER, ALIENEE and the when-did-it-become-a-verb TINSELS. [Serious depression], CRATER is a simple, but elegant clue. [Dutch South African], BOER on the other hand, is a bit over-simplified. Most BOERs/AFRIKANERs are of Dutch/French/German/Scottish ancestry with a less-acknowledged dollop of Malay and Khoisan…