Martin Ashwood-Smith’s New York Times crossword
Martin pulls out left-right symmetry to plunk a quad-stack of 15s at the bottom of the grid, instead of in the middle of a nonstandard (even number of rows) grid. Here are the 15s:
- 52a. [New mint product of 2000], SACAGAWEA DOLLAR. Dammit, I was thinking of candy and gum. Good clue.
- 56a. [Sierra Nevada brew], AMERICAN PALE ALE. Okay, Sierra Nevada just calls it Pale Ale. American Pale Ale is a generic category of beer that Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale is an example of. Sierra Nevada makes over a dozen different beers, and only one is an American pale ale. I call shenanigans on this clue.
- 57a. [Rock groups?], MINERAL DEPOSITS. Don’t care for the conflation of “deposits” with “groups of rocks.” Has anyone on the NYT’s puzzle team studied geology?
- 58a. [“Again, but slower”], “I STILL DON’T GET IT.”
The top fill includes SATCHMO, G.I. BLUES, ORWELLIAN, JOHN STEINBECK, CHOCOHOLIC (any chocoholic worth their salt will turn their nose up at the subpar chocolate in a Hershey’s Kiss), ANGELINA, CAFE AU LAIT, and COWGIRL.
Two NYT puzzles in a row have bygone Toyota models (CELICA here), meh. Additional “meh” moments: IN A HEAP and the woeful IN A PEN; proper nouns ARPEL, ERTE, ARLENE DAHL, ADANO, and BREST; LESE, ARE I, ENDO, AN OX, and OISE; awkward MISADAPT (maladapt is far more common, with 203,000 Google hits to MISADAPT’s minuscule 6,000); and the repeated first-person singular pronoun found in 58a, 53d, 40a, and 13d.
3.66 stars from me.
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “First Quarter Turnaround” — pannonica’s write-up
Another instance of a theme, or at least its title, being well-suited to a crossword’s venue. To wit, I’d venture that the title precipitated the theme itself, which is mechanically quite precise. Each relevant answer is 12 letters in length, begins with a three-letter word, and that word is reversed to form a new one, thus wackifying the phrase.
- 23a. [Bill from a netherworld bar?] TAB OUT OF HELL (bat …).
- 29a. [Crosses off the smallest department on a cabinet list?] XES EDUCATION (sex …).
- 48a. [“Hey, stop pulling on my sleeve!” and the like?] TUG REACTIONS (gut …).
- 55a. [Moneymaking load of coal?] TON FOR PROFIT (not-for-profit).
- 81a. [Head of a head shop chain?] POT EXECUTIVE (top …).
- 87a. [Answer to “Why does my shoe look chewed up,” perhaps?] DOG ONLY KNOWS (god …). The new Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy is receiving generally positive reviews. I’m unfamiliar with the actor, but Max Schneider is good visual casting for a young Van Dyke Parks, at least.
- 108a. [Expert in hydraulics and structural engineering?] DAM SCIENTIST (mad …).
- 118a. [Tanks, cannons, ammo, etc.?] WAR MATERIALS (raw …). The resulting phrase isn’t particularly wacky—it googles respectably—but doesn’t compare in frequency to the original. This tangential Ngram is kind of interesting.
Interesting theme, and well executed considering the constraints. The pairs each have three-letter overlaps.
I’ve significantly more than one ERRAND (39a) to run today, so the remainder of the write-up will be brief, staccato.
- Uncommon but gettable words in 6d [Plant with trees] AFFOREST and 38d [Advocate of the letter of the law] LEGALIST.
- 71a [“We Got the Beat” group] GO-GOS. Clue missing “with ‘the'” clarification.
- Connected squares: 78a [Piazza del Ferrari setting] GENOA, 79d [Kizilay Square setting] ANKARA.
- Favorite clues: 45a [Two in a row?] SPAT, 14d [Nonstop flights?] ESCALATORS. 74a [Pitcher of milk?] is a chestnut for ELSIE, but it’s still pleasing.
- 36a [Colorful garden plant] COLEUS. I’m partial to Coleus, and hoping that my perambulations today—if not, this weekend—take me to Atlock Farm (no website to link to, alas), renowned for its cultivars to pick up a bunch to install at the ol’ new homestead.
- 66a [Chip topping] SALSA. Topping? Not a word I would have chosen.
- Tough and rough crossings: 1d [Gummy candy brand] DOTS / 27a [Saints coach Payton] SEAN. Admittedly, for the former I was thinking of Gummi candies and HARIBO or something like that, rather than the old American staple. 102d [Letter before daleth] GIMEL / 112a [Country singer Tillis] PAM—I can imagine solvers unfamiliar with country music and the Hebrew alphabet might feel PAT and GITEL are plausible. See also 80a [Country singer Tillis[ MEL.
- Additional long entries: LIONHEART, EXERCYCLES, INSOMNIAC.
Good puzzle, above average.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Family Introductions”—Ade’s write-up
Happy Friday, everyone! Hope all is well and hope you’re getting ready to begin Fathers’ Day weekend in style. Today’s crossword, from proud dad Mr. Tony Orbach, places nicknames of family members in front of common phrases and/or proper nouns to create some family bonding puns.
- BROKEN DOLLS (20A: [Toy hospital patients?]) – From “Ken dolls.”
- MALADY BUG (30A: [Cause of an epidemic?]) – From “ladybug.”
- PAPAL JOEY (49A: [Baby kangaroo with a pontifical bearing?]) – From “Pal Joey.”
- SISAL FRESCO (58A: [Painted plaster piece with pieces of rope mixed in?]) – “From “al fresco.”
First of all, any puzzle with ICHOR in it is already a winner (42D: [Blood of the gods]). As per usual with Tony’s grids, there are lively long answers in this puzzle, and a couple of Bs stood out: BACKPEDALS (29D: [Starts to waffle]) and BELLYACHE (9D: [Complain]). First, I initially put in ‘backtracks’ instead of backpedals before correcting that pretty quickly. Also, the clue to that includes the word ‘waffle,’ and one of the across answers intersecting the entry happens to be EGGO (53A: [Kellogg’s breakfast sandwich brand]). I was always enamored with watching ESPN’s Great Outdoor Games and other Highland games events, and probably my favorite event of all was the CABER toss (27D: [Log tossed by a Scotsman]). Honestly, those athletes are as strong as oxen! If you’re a foodie, we have a couple of tasty snacks intersecting each other as well, with QUICK BREAD (11D: [Biscuits or scones]) and ECLAIR, something I haven’t had in a while – unless eating a cannoli counts as having an eclair (47A: [Cream-filled pastry]). Honestly, after trying it for the first time a couple of years back, I try to have a cannoli at almost every available opportunity that presents itself. Is that odd?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: STAUB (5A: [Rusty of 70s-80s baseball]) – Daniel “Rusty” STAUB was a six-time All Star outfielder, most noted for his time with the Houston Astros, Montréal Expos and New York Mets. While in Montréal, the 6’2″ red-headed Staub earned the nickname “Le Grand Orange” as he was the Expos’ first true star player. Staub only played three seasons in Montréal, but was so productive as a player and popular with the fans that his number while with the Expos (10) was retired by the club. Staub was also a key member of the 1973 “Ya Gotta Believe” New York Mets team that made it to the World Series against the eventual champion Oakland Athletics.
Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Today’s puzzle features wacky-style answers without a terminal F. There’s no revealer, just theme answers! The first three are more similar to each other than to the other two, as they all end in a long E sound. The last two are considerably looser, not only do they have a different vowel ending, but they change sound: CHEF becomes CHE and HALF HAL, the last one gaining a consonant too! Now there aren’t any more EEFs that work like the first 3 that I can see (excluding ones with spelling changes) but when three themers work one way and then the rest don’t it’s a little jarring. Anyhoo, considered individually the answers are of high quality, they are:
- [USDA-approved cheese?], LEGALBRIE(F)
- [Query when a certain queen goes missing?], WHERESTHEBEE(F)
- [Plow one’s recently purchased field?], TURNOVERANEWLEA(F)
- [Revolutionary as a successful businessman?], EXECUTIVECHE(F)
- [Improved sci-fi computer?], BETTERHAL(F)
- [“Service at the Speed of Sound” franchise], SONIC. Inferrence!
- [Head of the Greek Titans?], TAU. Clever, though transparent.
- [“The Song of Old Lovers” songwriter], BREL. I just “bought” “Sound of Belgium” in my song guessing game. It’s going to be a bumpy ride! Still, Vaya Con Dios!
- [Dental treatment], VENEER gets a dental clue but its neighbour, [Improves], ELEVATES does not…
- [“Hallelujah” songwriter Leonard], COHEN. I am relieved that I was exposed to the original first. No overwrought cover does it justice…