Timothy Polin and Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The theme is an Egyptian pyramid, though the grid looks like an upside-down butterfly. The thematic answers include 17a PYRAMID SCHEME, 28a TUT, 21d TOMB RAIDER, 23d PHARAOH ANT (which I’d never heard of), and—with the instructions “In the print version of this puzzle, the five squares in 50-Across each have a small number in them, as follows: 5 | 29 | 47 | 34 | 43″— MUMMY at 50a, “buried” beneath/in a triangular patch of black squares. King TUT was buried in a tomb at the Valley of the Kings and not in a pyramid, mind you (though some other mummies may have been found in pyramids).
Four other things in this 15×16 grid:
- I don’t care for TWO HEARTS as an entry, nor for it crossing TWICE. Don’t care for the AT appended in SWAT AT, nor its duplication of MAD AT. Nor plural AHS and plural French ETS, nor ANIS.
- 34a. [“The only sensual pleasure without vice,” per Samuel Johnson], MUSIC. I typically do like clues that use interesting quotes. Can’t help thinking that Samuel Johnson never had a massage … or a long, hot shower … or a ride on a swing, though. What’s your favorite vice-free sensual pleasure?
- 41a. [They come with strings attached], TEABAGS. Raise your hand if you had TAMPONS.
- 1d. [Passover mo., often], APR. I somehow misread that as “Rosh Hashanah mo.” and figured the gimmick was going to be opposites! Wanted to fill in OCT, and APR is as far as you can get from OCT, but yeah, wrong holiday.
3.75 stars from me.
Pancho Harrison’s Fireball crossword, “Back to Front”—Jenni’s write-up
This crossword made me think of Billy Preston. Go ’round in circles, indeed.
The clues to the theme answers have three parts and are framed in ellipses. The second of the three parts is a straightforward clue for the entry. The front and back seem to connect to one of the words in the theme entry…except not exactly. I didn’t figure out what was going on until I’d finished the puzzle and looked it over again.
From top to bottom:
- 17a [… reveler / Satire featuring Napoleon / Minor-league …] = ANIMAL FARM
- 22a [… nine / One not out for individual glory / Old-time…] = TEAM PLAYER
- 32a [… music maker / One of 88 / Index …] = PIANO KEY
- 41a [… entry / Hangman, e.g. / Deuce …] = WORD GAME
- 51a [… follower / Court leader / Sentry …] = POINT GUARD
- 60a [… building / Fraternity shindig / Serious …] = HOUSE PARTY
Turns out there are six other theme entries. The ellipses tell you that the definitions overlap “Back to Front,” as do the answers. So we have
- Minor-league….nine = FARM TEAM
- Old time…music maker = PLAYER PIANO
- Index…entry = KEY WORD
- Deuce…follower = GAME POINT
- Sentry….building = GUARD HOUSE
- Serious….reveler = PARTY ANIMAL
I really like this theme. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. You could (and I did) solve the puzzle without knowing the trick. I enjoyed going back and figuring out the extra layer. Very very nice.
A few other things:
- 1a [Get comfortable with dukes and counts?] is my favorite clue in the puzzle. The answer is SPAR.
- Raise your hand if you actually have a ROAD MAP in your glove compartment. I do not. I’m not sure we still own a paper road map (as distinct from geological and topographical maps, of which we have many).
- Trademark Peter Gordon very long clue is at 16a: [Its catalog font switch from Futura to Verdana was described as “so offensive to many because it seems like a slap at the principles of design by a company that has been hailed for its adherence to them” in a 2009 New York Times article], describing IKEA.
- 18d [They come from the heart] is AORTAE. I’ve been working in US hospitals since 1974. I have never seen this plural written nor heard it said. If it’s use elsewhere, clue it as a variant. Otherwise, let’s get rid of it, shall we?
- Does anybody get fooled any more by seeing “Boxer Ali” in a clue? It’s LAILA, of course.
- 40a [One way to sway] is FRO.
- 58a [One of three in jillions?] is DOT.
- 44d [Fixes] is NEUTERS; it took me a while to see that 55d [Fix] is DESEX.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Bret HARTE wrote a short story called “The Luck of Roaring Camp.”
Colin Gale’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Hybrids” — Jim’s review
We get a Moreauvian puzzle today from editor Mike Shenk. He’s hybridized several creatures who share three letters of their names.
- 23a [Large mammal hybrid?] ELEPHANTELOPE. I like this one best; it just rolls off the tongue.
- 49a [Reptile hybrid?] IGUANACONDA. This is a close second. I’d like to see one in real life. Minor demerit for the mismatched pronunciation of the merged section.
- 4d [Small mammal hybrid?] BADGERBIL. We would also have accepted the clue [Admonishment to a pet rodent?]. I would think the gerbil wouldn’t have much to offer in this hybridization.
- 10d [Soaring bird hybrid?] FALCONDOR. Why not [Bird of prey hybrid?]? Another pronunciation mismatch.
- 32d [Colorful bird hybrid?] TOUCANARY. Canaries may be yellow, but are they really “colorful”?
The fact that the hybrids are critters from roughly the same animal group is a plus. On the whole, I thought the theme was fine and it was interesting trying to imagine these products of some mad scientist’s experiments.
My Thursday solves are usually disjointed affairs as I jump around the grid looking for clues I can answer. But this felt especially disjointed with nine separate sections — especially those upper corners where you have only one way in and out. So for me, that made for a longer solve time. I got there in the end, but it seemed sloggier than usual.
At first blush you’d think 30d and 35d are going to be themers, but they aren’t. They are, however, good fill (BALTIC SEA and AVALANCHE). The other long Downs that flank TOUCANARY aren’t quite as interesting (DRAINAGES and SELECTIVE).
And that about does it for long fill. I do also like FLASHY, GUTSY, and SEEKER, but not so much CAULS [Fetal membranes] and SPICERS [Mace merchants of old].
A few clues of note:
- 13d [Bash at CNN]. DANA. She’s the network’s chief political correspondent and occasional anchorwoman.
- 5a [Trio working threads]. The FATES are often depicted as weavers of tapestries.
- 18a [Force militaire]. ARMEE. Whenever I see this word I think of the Cercle National Des Armées in Paris. It’s a posh hotel in Paris for French military officers, but it’s open to officers of other countries as well. We were fortunate to stay there on two occasions and enjoy great views of the city.
- 52a [Ernie Banks nickname]. Couldn’t get this at first, then I realized I’d seen the name recently…in Tuesday’s NYT. That led me to the Cubs and the name MR CUB.
- 51d [Girl with a song cycle?]. DAISY. From “Bicycle Built for Two.”
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
In today’s puzzle, the letters PIN drop down in successive rows from top to bottom, much like we’ve had with RAIN, and horizontally a man going down stairs and several other variations. Here, the symmetry is left-right to fit a non-standard revealer: HEAR/APINDROP. A PINDROP is a dive. I’m not sure about the HEARA bit thematically. I guess it’s a puzzle so you aren’t saying the words… But it’s a bit tenuous.
Elsewhere, BBQRIBS is cleanly executed. IFELTSAD is a sentence, but not a crossword answer.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “DOGGING IT” — Ben’s Review
Hey! It’s Thursday, work was busy, but I’ve finally gotten around to solving this Thursday’s BEQ puzzle
This is a nice twist on the standard “add something to phrases to get new phrases” theme. There’s something a little different about how this week’s themers work:
- 17A: Pulpy fruit that bounces up and down? — YO-YO TOMATO
- 28A: Tableware from Canada’s largest city? — TORONTO SILVER (fun fact: RED-HEADED is the same length)
- 48A: Slowpokes on marijuana — HIGH TORTOISES
- 64A: Classic line from “The Wizard of Oz”…and the theme of this puzzle — AND TOTO, TOO
Like I said, this one breaks the mold a little bit, and I liked how TOTO was incorporated into the answers in two places rather than the usual one. As for the rest of the grid:
- 26A: Recite, as from memory — REEL OFF (I’m more familiar with “rattle off”, but this feels reasonably close)
- 34A: Sing in one’s lederhosen — YODEL
- 39A: “See ya, Ho” — ALOHA (that’s Don Ho.)
- 67A: Roman attire — TUNIC (tried to make this TOGAE at once)
- 5D: Unpacked gunpowder — LOOSE TEA (loved. this. clue.)