Michael Shteyman’s New York Times crossword—Andy’s review
I liked this puzzle a heck of a l(ot)! It’s a fairly simple rebus, well executed. The revealer comes at 54a, TRIPLE OVERTIME [Uncommon period in basketball … or a hint to 19- and 37-Across and 4- and 48-Down]. In each of those four entries, the rebus (OT) (short for overtime) appears three times. Like so:
- 19a, G(OT) T(O T)HE (OT)HER SIDE [Made it across]. Crossing the non-theme entries PIN(OT)S and SHO(OT), as well as 4-Down below.
- 37a, ONE P(OT)AT(O T)WO P(OT)ATO [Start of a counting rhyme]. Crossing the non-theme entries (OT)TER POPS, A L(OT) OF, and I THINK N(OT).
- 4d, D(OT) D(OT) D(OT) [Continuation indication]. Crossing the non-theme entries BIG(OT) and (OT)TAWA as well as 19-Across above.
- 48d, H(OT) T(O T)R(OT) [Eager]. Crossing the non-theme entries LI(OT)TA, (OT)TOS, and (OT)ROS as well as the revealer, TRIPLE OVERTIME.
Those OTs affect a lot of entries in this puzzle! Of the themers, only OTROS got an eyebrow-raise from me, though I also didn’t love OYE, O SAY, RECT, I BEG, ZBAR, or ESTS. That aside, this is a 74-word grid with a lot of really great stuff in it — mostly the excellent themers, but there’s also PUMP IRON and SMETANA (so much beautiful Smetana music to listen to! Ma vlast is my favorite).
Two more things:
- I really wanted EYE for 5a, [Peeper], which turned out to be SPY.
- It was fun to see 8a, SIMBA and 34a, NALA in the grid together (I wonder how much of that was intentional and how much was coincidental?).
Maybe I just like rebus themes a disproportionate amount, but I thought this was a joy to solve. I think my rating will be on the high end for this one. 4.8 stars for the theme, -0.8 for the compromises in the fill, so we’ll call it an even 4 stars. Until next week!
Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 105” – Jenni’s writeup
This is another of the smooth themelesses we’ve come to expect from Peter. I had no trouble getting a foothold; I did spend about 30 seconds looking for my error, which turned out to be 57a: [Film character who says “There’s still nobody in the world who can play ‘As Time Goes By’ like Sam.”] Her first name shows up frequently, and I still don’t reliably know how to spell it. This time we get her full name – ILSA LUND – and I entered ILSE and didn’t check the crossing. Pro tip: the ERNO is not a river to the Ligurian Sea.
- 1a [Work done on the premises?] is not about home repair, or home offices. It’s LOGIC, the “premises” being the propositions that form logic problems.
- 19a [Sexually suggestive phrase, if you “double” it?] is ENTENDRE. I can’t say I’ve ever used the word without “double” in front of it. Have you?
- More along those lines with 18a [Film with a lot of raw footage?] which is not a meat-packing newsreel, but rather a BLUE MOVIE.
- 22a [Peeps born around the same time] are not the Easter treat (made by a nice Jewish family right here in the Lehigh Valley). The answer is GEN, which I’m not too fond of. I know it’s used in phrases like GEN X and GEN Y, but I haven’t heard it used on its own.
- 41a [Costar of Mandy and Wallace in “The Princess Bride”] is ANDRE the Giant. Have fun storming the castle!
- 63a [Artisanal bakery fixture] slowed me down a little. It’s not BRICK OVEN but rather STONE OVEN. I’m not crazy about this one, either.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that APU has an “octosyllabic surname.” I have never seen an episode of the Simpsons; everything I know about the show, I learned from crossword puzzles. Cf “Game of Thrones.” For the record, APU‘s last name is Nahasapeemapetilon.
Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “The Wright Stuff” — Jim’s review
Our theme today adds silent Ws before certain words that start with Rs.
- 17a [One eligible for cheap auto insurance?] WRECKLESS DRIVER. Reckless driver. Ha! This one is especially good because the resulting phrase is nearly the opposite of the base phrase.
- 25a [Forcibly evict families in foreclosure?] WREST HOMES. Rest homes. Conversely, this one’s depressing.
- 34a [“The Twelve Days of Christmas,” maybe?] WRAP MUSIC. Rap music.
- 47a [Final works from authors?] LAST WRITES. Last rites.
- 59a [Master mopper’s title?] LORD OF THE WRINGS. Lord of the Rings. Cute.
After the first entry I got the gist of the theme. After the second entry I assumed all the Ws would be at the beginnings of phrases. After the third entry I wrote the Ws in at 47a and 49a. And then of course I had to erase them. *sad emoji*
I found no less than 8(!) other examples of this exact theme in the cruciverb database, so no points for originality today. At least we get three never-before-seen entries, but WRAP MUSIC and WRECKLESS DRIVER are both featured in other puzzles.
The grid is pretty segmented, probably owing to the fact that we have a 9-letter central entry. And no entry in the Down direction is longer than 7 letters. But the corners are mostly nice starting with KOWTOW alongside A PRIORI. Then we have “SAVE NOW!” and ICE CUBE, JOE BLOW crossing J. LO, and ATLANTA and GEORGE V.
Not keen on 4d‘s HICS [Sot sounds] nor 37d‘s CRI [Dernier ___]. For all I know those are random letters. (Apparently it’s French for “the latest thing.”) And ALEPPO [Syrian battle site] is also a downer.
Oh, hey! There’s AMOK (see yesterday’s post).
Cluing seemed easier than usual or else I was just in the zone. However, there were still plenty that gave me pause.
- 43d [Golden Globe-winning Donald Glover series]. ATLANTA. I don’t know the show, but it sounds interesting. In Glover’s words, he wanted to make a show “like Twin Peaks with rappers.” (Note: not wrappers.)
- 40d [London location]. ONTARIO. I got this from the crossings because I tend to forget this. London, ONTARIO has a population of 383,822.
- 65a [GATT successor]. WTO. No idea what GATT was. Apparently it stood for General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. That’s one hard-hitting acronym.
- 53a [First name of comedy] and 54a [First name associated with 53-Across]. WHO and LOU. That’s LOU Costello and the WHO‘s on first routine.
- 15d [Photographer’s solution]. FIXER. That’s digging pretty deep, I’d say. I happen to have been the photo editor for my high school’s newspaper. This was way back in the days before digital. I got the run of my very own dark room and did all the developing of the photos taken by me and my team. And guess what? I didn’t remember that one of the chemicals was called a FIXER. I do remember the developer and the stop bath, but somehow FIXER (that chemical bath which sets the image and makes it light-resistant) was gone from my memory. So I had trouble with this one especially since, as it crosses FACE at the F, MIXER and MACE seemed entirely plausible.
- 55a [Noisy celebration, in Britain]. BEANO. I lived in Britain for 7 years, but I don’t know this definition. I only know BEANO as the dietary supplement that prevents a noisy celebration. (See also 12d‘s clue [Least windy].)
So where do you rate this one? On one hand the theme is remarkably unoriginal. But it’s handled fairly well. But then there isn’t much sparkly fill to write home about. I guess the best I can say is mixed feelings. I still would rather see more adventurous themes come Thursday.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Getting Your Digs In” — Ben’s Review
Another Thursday, another lovely BEQ puzzle with a relatively straightforward theme. This one’s all about knowing when to DIS someone:
- 18A: Two things that might tickle a “Doctor Who” superfan?— TARDIS AND FEATHER
- 28A: Made members of a colony mingle? — MIXED NUDISTS
- 45A: Two roots used in salads? — RADISH RADISH
- 58A: BDSM figure who remains unused? — SADIST ON THE SHELF
I didn’t love that RADISH RADISH was inconsistent with the rest of the theme clues and had two DISes instead of just one, but I also understand wanting to turn RAH RAH into its final form. MIXED NUDISTS made me giggle, and SADIST ON THE SHELF is probably available at your local Spencer’s Gifts around the holidays.
- Hey, much like last week, our friend Ralph FIENNES pops up at 50A.
- “This Is The World of The Theater” – it turns out that “Dramaturgy Deg.” is a BFA. I was misreading it as “Dramaturgy Dept.” and trying to figure out how “theatre” is abbreviated.
- Hello again, MEAT AX. You’re looking well. I almost didn’t look at the clue and wrote in TEA TAX because _EATAX really only has two possibilities.
Matt Skoczen’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
I got the end of the puzzle, looked at the “and literally” part of the hint for CRYPTICCLUE, and was hoping all the answers were &lits. In reality, the theme is more prosaic. Each of four answers contain the tetragram CLUE in various sequences: MIRAC(LECU)RE, STE(ELCU)RTAIN, PA(ULCE)ZANNE, and PROD(UCEL)ABEL.
There is some Hook-y theme stacking going on; I rarely see it being a net benefit here, and sure enough a lot of the crossing short stuff is subpar… At least today, some crossword-ese chunks get seen in full form: ESOBESO and ORAPRONOBIS are normally FITBs. EDWARDTEACH and, in a way, DRRUTH are two more full names, which is always a plus.