Zhouqin Burnikel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Hey! Zhouqin, is this your first published themeless? Good to see you join the ranks of freestyle constructors with this 70-worder.
Favorite fill: STONE-COLD, KIT KAT, VOICE COMMAND, WINDOWS PHONE, ATM INSIDE, tasty CIABATTA, and “I’LL BITE.”
I can’t say I was really aware there was an ESPN RADIO, so I had to lean on the crossings for the last 5 letters of the [Longtime “Mike & Mike” airer].
Idiom I’ve never heard before: 30a. [Like ___ of corn (really easy)], A CAN. [Open up ___ of worms] would perhaps be too easy for a Friday puzzle … but am I the only one who was mystified by this? Apparently it has baseball usage.
Five more things:
- 57a. [Halves of twinsets], CARDIGANS. The other halves are simple sweaters, typically short-sleeved, with both halves often a fine-gauge cotton knit.
- 61a. [One with eye patches], PANDA. Had to get all the way to the bottom of the puzzle for a Chinese grace note!
- 39d. [Person, e.g.], PRIMATE. I like the broadness of the answer here.
- 10d. [Actress Polo and others], TERIS. Plural name goes in the debit column.
- 12d. [Project Gutenberg job], BOOK SCAN. Project Gutenberg uses OCR scanning to digitize old books. I don’t know if they still have a volunteer corps proofing the texts online, but I did a little of that back in the day. The phrase seems contrived as clued, though. Don’t avid readers (which account for a lot of avid Friday crossworders) who eyeball the best-seller lists know of Nielsen’s BookScan, which tracks unit sales of books?
14d. [Home to the Royal Opera House] clues London’s WEST END. I can’t say I know the Pet Shop Boys’ “West End Girls,” but I know that Martin Ashwood-Smith is a huge PSB fan, so here’s the song’s video. No idea what it’s about—I can’t make out the lyrics. Enjoy!
3.85 stars from me.
James Sajdak’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
I think themes like this are more common in the NYT? It’s a kind of rebus, in the general sense, if not the crossword one. Four phrases are stacked as pairs of horizontal answer, in reverse order. All of the phrases are arranged counterintuitively – BOTTOMSUP: THROWS(under)THEBUS, GETS(under)FOOT, LIES(under)FOOT, PLACES(under)ARREST. Elegant little theme, tied together with an excellent revealer…
Speaking of which, I’m sure most of you already have this earworm grating in your minds, but to make sure we’re all in it together…
All four theme pairs are in “big” corners, partly because of the nine letter revealer. This means the fill around the theme is under a lot of strain. Things are held togethe pretty well considering, except perhaps the top left, where EINE/AGHA/LAI/ETTA is quite a stack of convenience!
- [Shred of evidence?], DNA. Loose, though flavourful clue.
- [RV Chain], KOA. The poor Hawaiian acacia gets surprisingly little crossword love!
- [String next to E], FGH. Answer-type that must die! Cute clues only make it grate more!
- [Former NHL defenseman Krupp], UWE. More familiar with schlock director Boll…
- [Break on “Downton Abbey”], TAKETEA. My path was ADVERTS/HIGHTEA…