Morton J. Mendelson’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme is a 67-letter “punny” quip: THE PRIME SUSPECT / KNEW HE WAS COOKED / AFTER HE / WAS GRILLED BY THE / POLICE DETECTIVE. I really wanted his goose to be cooked, because that feels like a more familiar idiom than the person being cooked. And I tried CRIME SUSPECT, but I guess it’s PRIME because, like, beef or steak might be GRILLed? The quip did not hit my funny bone.
The theme density leads to a number of compromises in the fill. 51a. [Titular queen of Castile in a Handel opera], ALMIRA? I don’t recall ever seeing that one in a crossword (or anywhere else) before. The awkward patches of fill are exacerbated by really strange cluing choices. Why the hell is LAN clued as 20a. [Chilean-based carrier]? Why is AVENGER clued as if it’s a perfectly ordinary word that describes a literary character? You normally say someone is avenging an insult, or getting vengeance, not that he or she is an AVENGER. JOHANNA from Sondheim, also entirely unfamiliar to me. And a weird clue for INGOTS in that corner, plus semi-awkward answer ACT LIKE … this all made things harder than they needed to be. Other things in my “What’s up with this fill?” and “Why on earth is this the clue?” groups: ROSSI clue, GUSH clue, EN LAI fill, ESTELLE clue, RUTH clue, ATRI fill, OYER fill, DOTTED I fill.
I did like HAD A BEEF, CIS, ANTOINE de Saint-Exupéry, muy BUENO, and UTERUS.
2.6 stars from me.
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Wrapping Paper” — Jim’s review
Tidy little theme this, but all the wordplay is in the title. The rest is just a matter of construction.
We have four grid-spanning newspaper titles from different parts of the country—three going Across and the fourth straight down the middle crossing the other three. This sounds quite impressive, and it is, but from a construction standpoint, it’s been made immensely easier by the theme.
The theme entries are:
- 17a [Illinois newspaper] UNTIMES CHICAGO S. Chicago Sun-Times.
- 37a [Southwest newspaper] IC ARIZONA REPUBL. Arizona Republic.
- 57a [Florida newspaper] ANDO SENTINEL ORL. Orlando Sentinel.
- 6d [Connecticut newspaper] RD COURANT HARTFO. Hartford Courant.
The gimmick is that the newspaper titles “wrap” around the edges of the grid, so they don’t have to start at the left edge (or the top, in one case). This gives the constructor a great amount of leeway in finding one newspaper title that can cross three others. Instead of having to find a specific letter in a specific location, the constructor can “slide” the Across themers left or right as needed in order to get a valid crossing. All that’s needed is one letter anywhere in the entry that can match the vertical crossing. Got it?
Think how much harder it would be to construct this grid if all the newspaper titles had to start on the left or top of the grid. Finding just the right combination of four titles, might be impossible. Of course, having a vertical entry is not necessary for the theme, but it definitely increases the wow factor, and otherwise, once the gimmick’s uncovered, there’s not a lot of excitement to revealing the rest of the entries.
When I first encountered the clue for 17a, I figured it would be a Chicago paper and counted the squares to see if CHICAGO SUN-TIMES would fit. So I was pretty sure about it, but when the letters didn’t match up, I knew something was wonky. I was able to reveal UNTIMES along with a C and a G, so then I fit the rest of the title in and the penny dropped. Then it was just a matter of figuring out the other titles and where in the grid they started.
I’ve heard of the SENTINEL, but didn’t know the REPUBLIC or COURANT. That made those a little bit harder, but not terribly so.
The rest of the grid was Thursday-like, i.e. TRICKIER, but not terribly difficult. I had the most trouble in the middle and northeast sections because of these three entries:
- 9d. Did not know Krakow could be spelled CRACOW.
- 24a. [Meaning of the French verb that’s the root of “denoument”] took a while to understand, and then of course, I just plain didn’t know the answer would be UNKNOT.
- 34a. [One of Greece’s Seven Sages] is SOLON. No idea.
Favorite entries are LIGHTHOUSE (especially the fact that I somehow knew that that’s where you’d find a Fresnel lens), ZANINESS, and MEASURED UP.
All in all, this is a fine puzzle, but I look forward to Thursdays for some clever wordplay. This is impressively constructed to be sure, but it just had the one gimmick and that’s it.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Tee Times” — Ben’s Review
If you subscribe to the Breakfast Table rule, you may want to finish your coffee before starting today’s BEQ. Things get (mildly) risque in some of the theme clues of today’s puzzle, “Tee Times”:
- 17A: Blondie’s view from within? — BAKING X-RAY
- 23A: Elf’s orgasms? — MICROCLIMAXES
- 31A: Cost of a server system? — UNIX PRICE
- 40A: Transmit an image of a thumb? — FAX FINGER
- 47A: Dessert that makes you itchy? — CHICKEN POX PIE
- 60A: Endless booty? — SEX FOR LIFE
It’s all about crossing your T’s incorrectly here and making them X’s – BAKING TRAY, MICROCLIMATES, UNIT PRICE, FAT FINGER, CHICKEN POT PIE, and SET FOR LIFE all get slightly warped in meaning. This was a nice theme, in my opinion – straightforward, but there were some nice reveals as I figured out exactly what the X’s were replacing.
- 19A: Hacker’s cry — I’M IN (This in the same grid and within proximity of 22D‘s I’M UP felt a little repetitive)
- 43A: Feature made by glaciers — FJORD (I love this word)
- 41D: Dark reddish-purple — FUSCHIA
- 43D: Pre-Dropbox uploading protocol — FTP (remember FTP? I’m so glad we have things like Dropbox now)
- 44D: Cesta sport — JAI ALAI (this gets so much use in individual word fragments that it’s refreshing to see in full in a puzzle)
Fun theme, pretty nice fill.
Greg Johnson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Hidden word themes are a common trope. I think this one is a well-made example. It has a specific and apt revealer: INNERCHILD. This is translated as “four entries have a gender-neutral synonym for child spanning some of their words”. QWER(TYKE)YBOARD is a great entry, especially as it looked so wrong as it was going in! There is also a TOT in WENTOTOWN, a KID in KIKIDEE, and a YOUTH in WHATDOYOUTHINK.
KIKIDEE is interesting to me as an answer. In the U.S., she was pretty much a one-hit wonder, that I can see. Her career outside of that duet wasn’t that successful, even in the U.K. She had a second duet in 1993 with Elton, a Cole Porter cover, that was also quite big…
JPEG in the same area as QWERTY is an interesting gambit. It’s mostly well contained, though whether it was indirectly responsible for OTTS or not is an open question.
[Its website has a range finder], AMANA. This clue is trying to be cute, but I don’t think it works. It might have worked if that was an actual feature on the website, but no. There is a list of ranges: http://www.amana.com/#ranges/ , but no “range finder”.
[Dance provocatively], TWERK. Not in my definition of “provocative”.
[Pop’s Perry], KATY. I find this cover of her “Firework”, oddly mesmerising…
Jeff Chen’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Getting Schooled” —Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well! We get to FISH in today’s crossword (brought to us by Mr. Jeff Chen) as that entry explains what’s happening with the puzzle’s theme today (59A: [Word that follows the starts of 22-, 27-, 48-, and 53-Across, in a Dr. Seuss title]). Sadly, I never got a chance to read the book or have any of my schoolteachers read us this book when growing up.
- ONE MOMENT (22A: [“Hold, please”])
- TWO-FACED (27A: [Duplicitous])
- RED BARON (48A: [Snoopy’s nemesis in the air])
- BLUE BLOOD (53A: [Aristocratic sort])
How many people still use digital alarm clocks with the SNOOZE BAR on it to help them get up in the morning (6D: [It’s often pressed in the morning])? I can probably speak for a lot of people my age in that we now use our cell phones as our alarm clocks, though I still have an digital alarm clock/CD player that has a snooze bar on it. Can’t tell you if it actually still works, though. Actually am blogging at a coffee shop, so missed the chance to have some LATTE ART with my drink while doing this puzzle (39D: [“Drawing” made by a barista]). Fun fill, though, just like some of the other long downs in the grid, like I CAN RELATE (31D: [“Me and your both, brother”]) and JEEZ LOUISE, which I usually spell with a ‘g” (geez) instead of a “j” (3D: [“Oh, come on!”]). Wasn’t too much of a fan of INLEAF, though, but that’s me nitpicking more than anything (4D: [Covered with foliage]). Alright, time to head out, and maybe I’ll PRANCE out of the coffee shop in doing so (43A: [Gambol]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: FARM (1D: [Produce producer]) – This puzzle gave me probably the toughest time in terms of coming up with a fresh term to give a sports spin. What I’ll do is talk about my time broadcasting games on radio for one of the Baltimore Orioles’ FARM teams, located in Salisbury, Md. It was in 2007 and 2008, and the league the team (Delmarva Shorebirds) was in was called the South Atlantic League. During my time there, I got to see players who currently are starring in the major leagues. Some of those players I saw as minor leaguers include current San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (Augusta GreenJackets) Cleveland Indians All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley (West Virginia Power), former National League Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan (Greensboro Grasshoppers) and current Philadelphia Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez (Lake County Captains).
TGIF tomorrow! Have a good rest of your Thursday everyone!