Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword
I finished the whole puzzle without understanding the theme, but eventually the penny dropped. INVISIBLE INK is 67a. [What six of this puzzle’s clues have been written with?] because the single-letter theme clues should really be 4-letter words consisting of those initial letters + “ink”:
- 18a. [K], ECCENTRICITY. Kink.
- 30a. [W], SPLIT SECOND. Quick as a wink.
- 38a. [P], MEDIUM RARE. A local burger-centric restaurant offers “pink or not pink” doneness options.
- 53a. [F], STOOL PIGEON. This one tipped me off to the theme—trying to think of how F related to STOOL PIGEON, I thought of “fink.”
- 12d. [S], FOUNDER. This is the verb, foundering and sinking, and not the noun, one who establishes something.
- 45d. [L], CONNECT. Link.
Simple, yet evasive. Good Thursday theme. To accommodate the 10-letter themer in the center, the grid’s 16 squares wide.
Five more things:
- 13d. [Classic Nintendo game similar to Tetris], DR. MARIO. Never heard of it; neither has my husband, who is more of a gamer than I am.
- 59a. [Opposite of drop out], ENROL. I kind of wish every constructor who uses word lists to help fill grids would delete this entry from their lists. This is America! It’s ENROLL, with two L’s, in this country.
- 7d. [Containing element #77], IRIDIC. Containing iridium? Not an adjective I’ve ever seen. Ridic!
- 3d. [Needs for many digital cameras], AA CELLS. Not sure I know anyone who wouldn’t just say “double-A batteries.”
- 2d. [Affliction with many folk remedies], HICCUPS. Deb Amlen told me to take a spoonful of sugar, and she’s right. It often works.
There are a few words here that I have seldom encountered outside of crosswords: PLEB, ORISON, LIANA, LEA, and ETYMA.
3.75 stars from me.
Jim Hilger’s Fireball crossword, “The Last Shall Be First”
The title phrase explains how the theme answers are formed: The last word of a familiar phrase moves up to be the first word.
- 3d. [Apply to Harvard?], TRY THE OLD COLLEGE. The old college try.
- 5d. [Have a symbolic American dessert delivered?], ORDER IN APPLE PIE. In apple-pie order.
- 15d. [Delivers checks to restaurant patrons?], BEARS THE BAD NEWS. The Bad News Bears.
- 10d. [Outperform in a tree-eating contest?], BITE MORE BARK THAN. More bark than bite.
Not sure why the theme answers are vertical. Two of the themers have 16 letters, but 16 squares wide is certainly workable (see today’s NYT). The theme works well, though. Overall the puzzle felt a bit easier than most Fireballs—no difficult-to-uncover trick here.
Three more things:
- 41a. [Cover to protect from the heat?], ABET. Cops’ heat, not an oven—I was tempted by oven MITT save for that question mark.
- 43d. [Lodger dislodger], EVICTOR. Have not seen this form of the word before, I don’t think. A landlord or a county sheriff might evict you, but their job doesn’t get called EVICTOR. It’s making me think of those horrible E- entries. Who won your online trivia contest? The e-victor.
- 41d. [Big band bandleader Lyman], ABE. Never heard of him. This is the price you pay for Peter Gordon’s preference for brand-new clues.
Most of the fill is ordinary stuff. Not “whoa, so smooth,” not “ooh, sparkly!,” but also not “ugh, terrible.” Four stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Mic Drop” — Ben’s Review
Hopefully this week’s BEQ isn’t as divisive as last week’s seemed. This week’s twist should have been easily figured out by the title, but it took me a little bit to realize that there were two sets of clues affected by what was going on, gaining the extra MIC dropped by the clue above it:
- 14A: Flatfish owned by comedian Bill? — COS(MIC)RAY
- 26A: Tiny organism in the tub? — BATH (MIC)ROBE
- 29A: Indie actor Michael’s weed? — CERA(MIC) POT
- 34A: Stance of a controversial argument? — POLE(MIC) POSITION
- 47A: Crucial part of the Earth’s layers? — (MIC)KEY MANTLE
- 52A: Mining areas that are a real laugh? — CO(MIC)AL PITS
COSRAY felt kind of sketchy as an answer, even with what was going on, but the rest felt fine. There were a few other questionable non-theme entries running around the grid, too: TLALOC (36A, Aztec god of rains), IT PRO (43A, tech support guru, which I expected to be IT GUY), and CKONE (41D, Fragrant competitor of Tommy).
Elsewhere in the puzzle, things felt pretty by the books. I liked BEQ’s clue for LABEL at 8D (Matador or Merge, e.g.), and seeing IGUANODON (11D) in a puzzle was nice. Overall, this was a nice puzzle to kick off July with.
Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “When in Rome”—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! So today’s theme, from the grid of Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, is one that I got and understood, but still was left at a loss a little while solving. Each of the theme answers are common phrases and/or nouns that are reimagined (and clued) so that consecutive letters inside of the entry, that also happen to be Roman numerals, actually act as that Roman numeral when answering.
- VIAGRA PILLS (17A: [Six party poopers from India?])
- RESCUE DIVERS (28A: [Save 504 hospital units?])
- SMOKED CIGARS (45A: [Cured 101 long-nosed fish?])
- LIQUID DIETS (58A: [Weight loss plan for 51 pounds?]) – Quid = one pound sterling.
Despite being left a little underwhelmed at the theme, I did like some of the lively down answers, especially DEGENERES (11D: [Funny Ellen]) and ALSATIAN, a term I learned not too long ago when seeing a YouTube clip on different breeds of dogs (10D: [German shepherd]). Although, I’ll have to admit that I had never heard of the term MONOKINIS before (34D: [Some sexy beachwear]). Are those the same as tankinis, the tank top bikini? Going back to the fun downs, haven’t seen/heard LOVE NEST in a long while, so that was fun to see (23D: [Site for a tryst]). So, for today, SIRREE is spelled with two Rs, which used to be the way I spelled it regularly, at least in my mind, before crosswords continually made me spell me with just the one R (5D: [“No ______!”]). Although I was in a laudatory state on some down answers, I couldn’t wax the same poetic for the adjacent entries of QOM (59D: [Iranian holy city]) and URB (60D: [Metro area]). Those definitely made me want to drink a couple of BREWSKIS (25D: [Cold ones]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CLEM (33D: [Skelton character Kadiddlehopper]) – Former University of Minnesota men’s basketball head coach CLEM Haskins took the Golden Gophers to the Final Four back in 1997. Two years later, he resigned from his post after being implicated in a massive academic fraud scandal that was revealed on the eve of the 1999 NCAA Tournament in which a former academic office manager admitted to doing schoolwork for athletes. Haskins was also penalized by the NCAA, as he was essentially blackballed from coaching in the NCAA for seven years. Haskins, as a player, was one of the first black athletes to play basketball at Western Kentucky University, in 1963, and that was considered one of the turning points in the embracing of integration in terms of athletics programs across universities in the South.
TGIF tomorrow! Have a good rest of your Thursday!
Robert E. Lee’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
The cryptic-style revealer is LEMONTWIST. So the letters LEMON are found across the middles of four other two-word theme answers. LEMON only anagrams in the narrow sense to MELON, so an interpretation like this is necessary. It makes the theme feel rather open-ended though. Still, you get a nice collection of theme answers, and important goal that sometimes gets lost when framing a theme too narrowly. We get [*Serious swearing], SOLEMNOATH; [*Hunt’s rival], DELMONTE; [*Brunch choice], WESTERNOMELET; [*Camera attachment], ZOOMLENS.
Bullets, cos I’m behind “schedule”:
- [Eponymous obstetrician Fernand], LAMAZE. Sort of like macrame?
- [Hip bones], ILIA. That reminds me, got a 14-year old deaf, blind dog with a fractured ilium waiting for us tomorrow. What to do. Hit by owner in car, because it’s blind and deaf and was too slow to get out of the way. Sadly, this happens with surprising frequency…
- [Managing ed.’s concern], CIRC + QID and URI in a 4×3 section with one entrance. This could (SHOULD) have been redone by the editor and is an example of warped priorities on the part of the constructor. No Q is worth mangling an easy-to-fill section of puzzle! Priorities!
- [Longtime maker of convertibles], CASTRO was a completely meaningless clue for me. Apparently an American couch-maker. I need to bone up on those!
- [Solution for contacts], SALINE. Also faecal wet preps, but don’t expect that in a clue soon…