Peter Gordon’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
So I guess Peter Gordon came up with an April Fools Day quip theme that wouldn’t work as well at Fireball Crosswords (plus, April Fools and Fireball means a Trip Payne “Cuckoo Crossword”), so here it is: DUE TO BUDGET CUTS / THE NEW YORK TIMES / CROSSWORD PUZZLE / WILL END TOMORROW. Ha! Of course, the crossword revenues undoubtedly help the Times meet their budget, rather than draining it.
Despite 60 theme squares, we still get a themeless-grade word count of 72, but without the sort of fill you typically see in a Friday NYT. CLOISONNÉ is lovely, but that’s all that jumped out at me.
Four more things:
- Cool to see RAE clued as 38a. [Actress Issa ___ of “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl”]. That’s a web series of some note; here’s episode 2.
- 46a. [You might put stock in it], SOUP. My first thoughts were of stock shares and cattle.
- 27d. [Sandwich topped with tzatziki sauce], GYRO. A New York friend once encountered a street vendor whose food cart billed it as “twatziki sauce.” Please supply your own joke. (And then keep it to yourself.)
- 32d. [Comedian who married Joyce Mathews in 1941, divorced her in 1947 and married her again in 1949 “because she reminded me of my first wife”], BERLE. Miltie! Such a sentimentalist.
Four stars from me.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Fools” —Ade’s write-up
Good day, everybody! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, brings out the fools in the grid. Given that today is April Fool’s Day, the theme answers all fall in line with types of people associated with the day and with fooling around.
- COURT JESTER (17A: [Medieval entertainer])
- PRACTICAL JOKER (27A: [Person with a handshake buzzer, say]) – Thankfully, I have never been on the receiving end of that.
- MERRY PRANKSTER (43A: [One of Ken Kesey’s band of psychedelic drug promoters])
- CATHY’S CLOWN (59A: [1960 #1 hit for the Everly Brothers])
Fun grid, even with the fill of TWEE (56D: [Affectedly cute]) and CHEE in the grid (46D: [Tony Hillman detective Jim]). Longer entries that stood out for me included RAZOR CLAMS (28D: [Long mollusks]) and WAR WEARY (4D: [Ready for a cease-fire, perhaps]). I don’t think I had heard of CIGNA for a few years before doing this grid today, though I was able to enter that pretty quickly after just seeing one of the letters revealed (30D: [Aetna competitor]). Have an early dinner date tonight, so have to PEACE out for now (27D: [Tranquility]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: UPS (11D: [FedEx competitor]) –Pretty short and straightforward one, as UPS, pronounced as if it’s the plural of “up,” is the slang term for one’s jumping ability, especially as it pertains to basketball players.
For those who will be in Stamford, CT for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, definitely have fun! For those who aren’t, I hope you still have a lot of fun this weekend, as I will make sure to do!
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
The theme is dense; the puzzle is plus-sized. It has a revealer plus two other entries that are 16s, and there are five entries in total that make up the theme. The revealer is a great answer – Elgar’s ENIGMAVARIATIONS, and four preceding answers have a jumbled version of the letter string ENIGMA in them… YOUREMAKINGAMESS, STEAMENGINE, LONGRANGEMISSILE and IMAGINETHAT.
- [Pound denizen], MUTT. Working at a shelter, there’s something about that clue that rankles.
- [Conventioneer with antennae, perhaps], TREKKIE. Andorians are a popular race?
- [Design for some MacDonalds], TARTAN. Well played!
- [Noah of “The Librarian” TV films], WYLE. I think Falling Skies is his big recent show, though I see the series referenced is recently current again.
Wren Schultz’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Code of Silence”—Amy’s write-up
There are a bunch of circled letters in the grid, and they spell out a quote theme after you’ve converted them all with a ROT13 cipher (substituting the letter 13 rungs down in the alphabet for each letter).
- 22a. [With 49 Across, cryptography category including ROT13, which, when applied to this puzzle’s circled squares, reveals a gallows-humor quote from “Poor Richard’s Almanack”], CAESAR / CIPHER.
Let’s slog through the grid and type in the circled letters so we can copy and paste into a ROT13 decoder: GUERRZNLXRRCNFRPERGVSGJBBSGURZNERQRNQ. It converts to the familiar THREE MAY KEEP A SECRET IF TWO OF THEM ARE DEAD. Just saw that quote somewhere else this week so it’s fresh in my mind.
Given my disdain for quote themes and general lack of interest in spending time following instructions to do things to a puzzle after it’s been filled in (unless you’re talking about stretching the brain to figure out a meta) … I did not much enjoy this one.
Fave fill: BANK ON IT, TIDAL BASIN, TAKE HEAT, MASERATI, LANCOME and NARS (I’m guessing a lot of men don’t know these brands, but there’s certainly no shortage of androcentric fill that women have been expected to learn), PREREQ. Markedly less keen on EZINE, plural LIDOS, TSAR, IT’S A GO, ENTO-, ERSE and ERNE, NES, -LER, plural AAHS, RED “A,” YSER, and the horrifying HAM SALAD.
2.75 stars from me.