Lewis Rothlein’s New York Times crossword—Andy’s review
Lewis has dropped the middle initial from his byline, but this is his second NYT publication (both have been Thursdays so far).
The theme of this one is revealed at 42d: [Dramatic ending to a performance … or a hint to answering the six starred clues] is a MIC DROP. That is, the answers to the six starred clues only make sense if you drop the letters “MIC” from them. Like so:
- 15a, (MIC)RON [*Onetime White House nickname]. Ron, as in Reagan. I started off with GIPPER here, which slowed me down a fair bit. It didn’t help that I’d never heard of Frances Moore LAPPE, and that there’s another theme answer in that corner. To me, that was the hardest section of the puzzle.
- 19a, BALSA(MIC) [*What might keep a model’s weight down?]. Balsa, as in balsa wood. Not sure this clue, calling to mind models’ weight struggles, is in the best taste, especially since BALSAMIC makes some sense as an answer to that clue.
- 51a, (MIC)KEY [*Anthem writer]. Key, as in Francis Scott Key.
- 11d, POLE(MIC) [*Word after North or South]. Pole. Wanted PACIFIC here before I got the theme.
- 36d, CO(MIC)AL [*Shade of black]. Coal.
- 39d, FOR(MIC)A [*Discussion venues]. Fora.
I’m surprised this hasn’t been a NYT theme yet. Seems a couple years overdue. The execution is fine. I was expecting the theme answers to be symmetrical, but I don’t think it’s a big deal that they’re not. Some good stuff in here, like EL GRECO across from BEYONCE and crossing CD PLAYER. Hooray for GONE GIRL! Some much less good stuff in here too, though, like OBLA crossing OTRO, LAPPE (I had assumed this was a current bestseller, but no, it’s from 1971, which partly explains why I’ve never heard of it), YEE crossing EEN, NENE, KOED (I’m going back and forth on this one — this is the NYT debut of this spelling, but I think it might make more sense than the more common “KO’d”), INDC, ACHS. That’s a lot.
- I don’t think a lot of other solvers are going to plunk down 1d, MBABANE [Capital of Swaziland] as confidently as I did, so that NW corner might’ve given people some trouble.
- The crossing of 48a, ZABAR’S [Famed deli seen in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan”] and 48d, ZENER [___ cards (tools used in ESP testing)] at the Z feels particularly hard for non-NYC solvers.
- I’m guessing 56a, LIAR LIAR [Start of a kids’ taunt] was originally clued as the very popular Jim Carrey comedy.
- Cute clue for 33a, OLD [What it takes decades to grow]. I guess it depends on when you start counting, and your joie de vivre :-)
- Did you like the clue for 44a, LIMO [Something that’s long and steep?]. I’m still undecided.
- 13a, BEN [HUD secretary Carson]. :-(
3 stars from me. Until next week!
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Leading Ladies” — Jim’s review
HER is prepended to all of our theme answers today.
- 16a [Like Jerry’s “Hello, Dolly!” songs?] HER MAN MADE, er, I mean HERMAN-MADE. Man-made. Jerry Herman is not a name in my knowledge base.
- 24a [Cave roundup activity?] HERDING BATS. Dingbats. Nice that this is so close to the actual phrase “herding cats.”
- 52a [A silvery color (or red, in a whodunit)?] HERRING TONE. Ring tone. Like the previous phrase, it appears just to be coincidence that this answer is so similar to another word—herringbone in this case.
- 60a [Group of commissioners overseeing Everglades avians?] HERON BOARD. Onboard or on board. There’s a heron that hangs out in the creek behind our house. It likes to stand vigil at the bottom of a little dam.
I found the theme adequate, but on a Thursday I’m usually hoping for something more engaging or tricky. An add-some-letters theme feels more Wednesdayish to me.
But otherwise, the grid is filled with good stuff like APENNINES (I tried APPIAN WAY first in answer to the clue [Italy’s backbone]), HEM AND HAW, and TERIYAKI making the biggest splash. AIRPLANE is fine and it has a good clue [One might do some banking], but I’d’ve loved a clue that read [“…and don’t call me Shirley” film].
Only one really subpar piece of fill: ALOOP, but it comes with an obvious clue [You might be thrown for it], so its impact is minimized.
For the most part, clues were outstanding:
- 66a [No longer with the company?]. ALONE
- 7d [Camp accessory]. BOA
- 17a [Phoenix setting]. ASHES. You were thinking Arizona, weren’t you?
- 25d [It’s taken into account]. DEPOSIT
- 26a [15-year-old player]. IPOD
- 28d [The buck stops here]. TILL
- 62d [Future school]. ROE
- 8d [198 inches]. ROD. I wasn’t familiar with this. Apparently it’s common in land surveying and it’s useful because an acre can be expressed evenly with it: 160 square rods (yes, I know rods are usually cylindrical—haha).
- 41d [Dunvegan Castle setting]. SKYE. I like castles so I’m just putting this here as an excuse to add a picture of a castle. Turns out Dunvegan is the seat of Clan MacLeod, made popular in the Highlander films.
- 48d [Felt in the dark]. GROPED. We would also have accepted [Acted Presidential].
Overall, an underwhelming theme for a Thursday, but good fill and great clues make up for it.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “No Big Pun Intended” — Ben’s Review
Today’s BEQ puzzle is a step down in difficulty from his mind-bending puzzle for the ACPT last weekend, but I still liked what was going on here, mostly due to my love of terrible puns. Anyone who’s pop culture-averse may want to avoid this one, since the themers depend on your ability to know some reasonably well-known hip-hop tracks:
- 17A: “‘Jesus Walks’ rapper, do you have any extra cash?”— KANYE SPARE A DIME
- 21A: “Gangsta’s Paradise” rapper’s fleet?— COOLIO JETS
- 36A: “99 Problems” rapper’s coast?— JAY-Z SHORE
- 46A: “If I Ruled The World” rapper serving as a CNN correspondent? — NAS FOR NEWS
- 52A: “Hotline Bling” rapper baking bread?– DRAKE IN THE DOUGH
There are some real groaners up there, y’all, but these are all pretty solid puns.
- I didn’t entirely love the shape of this grid. Too many 3-letter answers for my liking, although they were in service of some good stacks like CHIT-CHAT with PERSUADE and ROCKNE with ANTE UP
- 45A: Computers for people in the arts — MACS (They’re not just for artsy creative types anymore! Lots of places run their businesses on MACS, too.)
- 42D: Class of 2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee– YES (I tried to make this ELO for a very long time)
Richard F Mausser’s LA Times crossword – Gareth
The theme is UNIVERSITYQUADS: YALE and RICE form quads; TULANE and TEMPLE form sestets. The fill is predictable agonizing around these four areas.