New meta contest from David Steinberg available here.
Joon Pahk’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
At first, I thought the theme was sort of haphazard and untargeted—just a bunch of phrases and names starting with two individually pronounced letters? But what tightens up the theme is that in each instance, the first letter is the one that’s next in the alphabet after the second letter:
- 8a. [Box with handles?], CB RADIO.
- 17a. [“The Invisible Man” author], H.G. WELLS.
- 22a. [Washington M.L.S. team], D.C. UNITED.
- 35a. [“The A-Team” character played by Mr. T], B.A. BARACUS.
- 49a. [Educational institution near Plano, informally], UT-DALLAS.
- 60a. [Some return addresses], P.O. BOXES.
- 64a. [“Four Quartets” poet], T.S. ELIOT.
I can only think of two other potential theme answers using different letter combos: E.D. DRUG, which could be clued as [Cialis or Viagra], and golfer K.J. CHOI. While 53 theme squares is a workable number, cramming in 12 more would have made for much ugliness in the fill. We already have blah bits like ERST and ELLS and INKLESS, and they are plenty. … Oh! I belatedly read the puzzle’s notepad, which declares: “Seven Across answers in this puzzle have a highly unusual property for which we can’t think of a single other common example.” Um, sorry, Joon, Will, and Joel. I came up with two. CHOI was in an NYT puzzle two years ago, even.
Did this play more like a Wednesday puzzle for you? It did for me.
Five more things:
- 48a. [Aromatic seasoning], FENNEL. I hate fennel, anise, and black licorice.
- 51a. [“Straight Outta Compton” rappers], N.W.A. Super-current clue; the movie just came out.
- 62a. [Bug detector?], ANTENNA. Was thinking this was about detecting the wiretap type of bugs at first, but no, it’s insect antennae.
- 3d. [Give a tongue-lashing], BAWL OUT. Lively verb phrase. Other fill I liked includes NEW DEAL and BOHO.
- 29d. [Out of jail, conditionally], ON BAIL. Feel like that’s not a complete phrase—that it’s “out on bail.”
Four stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Love Me Tinder” — Ben’s Review
Okay, say what you will if you didn’t like today’s BEQ, but I thought this was a clever theme, and if I had come across something like this during a tournament like Lollapuzzoola, I would be equally awed after the solve. It requires a little extra knowledge (namely, what Tinder has you do with potential matches depending on if you’re intrigued or not), but if you’ve got that, figuring out what’s going on with the theme answers is pretty easy:
- 17A: Cartilage that covers the wind pipe when swallowing (Swipe) — PIG ELOTTIS (EPIGLOTTIS)
- 25A: Memphis location where Elvis and Johnny Cash, among others, recorded (Swipe) — SUNIO STUD (SUN STUDIO)
- 30A: Very nearby (Swipe) — LOSER ATCANGE (AT CLOSE RANGE)
- 39A: “That’s beyond belief!” (Swipe) — WHODATIT HUNK (WHODA THUNK IT)
- 46A: Utterly lost (Swipe) — TWIT ASEND (AT WIT’S END)
- 57A: French white wine (Swipe) — JOLAIS BEAU (BEAUJOLAIS)
If you don’t quite catch what’s going on with the clues (and I admittedly didn’t until I filled the grid and came back to it later to figure out why the theme clues seemed a bit odd), it’s likely you’re not going to like this one, but as I’ve already said, I thought this was brilliant. It was a nice puzzle as well if you’re into pop culture references – from NBA JAM appearing at 4A (as the only “Sports video game where players caught on fire” I’m aware of) and AGENT K (11D, the second crossword reference to Men In Black I’ve seen in as many days), to some WATUSIS going on at 39D (“Dances done with knees slightly bent”).
There was one music reference I didn’t like (24D – a German Beatles reference for MIR, Brendan? Really?), but I managed to completely botch the middle of the grid for a bit when I kept trying to make Bonnie TYLER the singer of “Love Sneaking Up On You” at 35A rather than the correct Bonnie RAITT. Similarly, two new names I learned this puzzle, in parallel spots: 22D‘s Former Orioles slugger BOOG Powell (with what I hope is just an unfortunate nickname rather than an unfortunate actual name) and 40D‘s ’60s militant H RAP Brown.
It took a sec to get it, but I think this was my favorite BEQ so far this year. Nicely done! 4.5/5 stars
Timothy L. Meaker’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today’s puzzle features an old-school minimalist theme. Just four answers and 36 theme squares, like Nancy Salomon touted in her crossword constructing guides. Important when going this route is to have a tightly defined theme. Here, it’s a little offbeat, but it is consistent. Four two-part phrases begin with one syllable words; these lose their terminal consonant sound, becoming three-letter vertebrate animal noises. These animals are split two/two between birds and (domesticated) mammals, so there’s no odd-man out. The answers are then clued wackily. Boy that was unnecessarily convoluted on my part!
Anyway, the four themers consist of:
- [Caddy for pigeons?], COODEVILLE. Tricky, because you think of golf caddy or tea caddy a lot easier than the slangy form of Cadillac. (Coup De Ville)
- [Statistical aid for sheep?], BAAGRAPH. (Bar Graph)
- [Cantatas for cows?], MOOMUSIC. (Mood Music)
- [Phone service for crows?], CAWWAITING. (Call Waiting)
Surprisingly, there aren’t any truly flashy longer answers. PUSSYCAT and DAYTRADER are about the most splash things here. MARIE/CURIE is placed centrally in the otherwise quiet and unassuming middle. It is worth noting the spelling of […firearms company], BERETTA and distinguishing it from the cop show BARETTA and the hat BIRETTA. One of those confusing threesomes, like YENTA/YENTE/YENTL.
New word for me was VOIT, a [Sports ball brand] – basketballs it seems, which explains why I haven’t heard of it.
3.25 Stars Gareth, leaving you with (apologies in advance) one of those inescapably huge and earwormy pieces of 70’s pop confectionary…
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sales Force”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everybody! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith, is all about men, real and fictional, whose first names start with an A, and whose last names start with a D. The reveal, AD MEN, leads us to what’s going on (28D: [Certain sales force, and a hint to the answers at 20-, 36-, and 48-Across]).
- ABNER DOUBLEDAY (20A: [Purported inventor of baseball]) – Winner of the “Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day entry: A Union general during the American Civil War, Doubleday has been credited for inventing the game of baseball in Cooperstown, NY in 1839, though historians have proved that to be dubious at best. The earliest traces of the game date back to the 18th century, but the man that’s recognized as the one who laid the foundation for the modern game is Alexander Cartwright. In 1845 at the New York Knickerbocker Club, Cartwright was responsible for some of the first rules of the game, including the diamond-shaped infield, foul lines as boundaries and the concept of three strikes for each batter. Also, according to reports, he abolished the rule of tagging out runners by throwing balls at them! Good move, Alexander! Good move!
- ALBUS DUMBLEDORE (36A: [Hogwarts headmaster])
- ALEXANDRE DUMAS (48A: [“The Count of Monte Cristo” author])
Once I already put down the first theme answer, which was right down my sports alley, as well as answered the reveal, I knew this was going to be one of my fastest WaPo solves. It might have been my fastest, actually. I liked, as well as didn’t like OH, BY THE WAY in the grid (27A: [“Incidentally…”]). Not because it’s not good fill…because it is. My problem is that the entry reminded me of how many times I say that to people!! I probably have only done one or two crossword puzzles in pen over the past, so ERASURES are definitely a staple when I do them on paper (38D: [Crossword solvers’ smudges, say]). I’m sure once I get to joon’s Thursday’s grid when I take the train home tonight, there will be a lot of erasures that I make on it! Sorry I can’t stay too long again, as another tennis match is about to get underway that I have to be at in person here in New Haven. But, at least the last graph is taken care of, because…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: see ABNER DOUBLEDAY –
TGIF tomorrow! Have a good rest of your Thursday!