Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
This is probably a personal best for me on a Wednesday crossword – or possibly on any NYT. I don’t think I’ve gotten under 3:00. It played like a Monday puzzle with a Monday theme. I didn’t get 1a until I had a few crossings but everything else fell right away.
The third theme entry gave me the connection.
- 16a [Slimy outdoor pest] is a GARDEN SLUG.
- 24a [Item in the lingerie department] is a GARTER BELT. Not quite obsolete but these days worn primarily for, um, recreational purposes.
- 33a [Classic 1976 Ramones song that begins “Hey! Ho! Let’s go!”] is BLITZKRIEG BOP.
- 45a [Diamond-patterned footwear] is the classic ARGYLE SOCK.
- 54a [Improvised] is OFF THE CUFF.
SLUG, BELT, BOP, SOCK and CUFF are all kinds of punches. That’s the whole thing. Consistent, well-clued, and not particularly interesting. We might consider 55d [Boxing decision, for short] part of the theme, although it’s not clued that way. It’s TKO.
Our esteemed blogmistress just told me she found the theme hard to discern. Interesting. What say you all?
A few other things:
- 1a [Worthless mounds] turn out to be ASH HEAPS, which makes me think of The Great Gatsby. Emma read Gatsby for English this year. She didn’t like it. Sigh.
- 11d [Hardy work shoe feature] is not STEEL TOE. It’s STEEL TIP, which I haven’t heard used in reference to shoes, although Google tells me it’s common usage.
- 21d [Like antlers and pitchforks] is probably the most interesting clue in the whole puzzle. The answer is PRONGED.
- Props for cluing SISSY as [Actress Spacek] instead of a slur aimed at gay men.
- 49a [“I’ve seen better”] is how I feel about this puzzle. Definitely MEH. I’ve also seen worse, to be fair.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Amazon calls its Kindle technology E-INK.
I leave you with the Ramones. Of course. I apologize for the lack of visual interest.
Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Know Your Place” — Jim’s review
Phrases beginning with “IN” are used to locate, literally, certain words identified by the clues.
- 16a [Reef’s place?] IN FREEFALL
- 23a [Copa’s place?] IN LOCO PARENTIS. Not sure that I like the inconsistency here where LOCO actually means “place.” It might be serendipitous, but it’s also a bit distracting.
- 46a [Twit’s place?] IN CONFLICT WITH. This phrase feels weakened by the final preposition. The others are solid “IN phrases,” but this is a bit roll-your-owny.
- 56a [Hero’s place?] IN THE ROUGH
It wasn’t until after I had fully uncovered two theme answers (the last two) before I started to get an inkling of what was going on. And then it wasn’t so much “Aha!” as “Oh.” As in, “Oh, that’s it.”
I think maybe it’s just that third theme entry that’s got me down. The rest are really quite good.
But what I think is really eating at me is that the clues seemed overloaded with trivia. Cases in point:
- 1a [Visits a souk] SHOPS. A souk is an Arab marketplace or bazaar.
- 15a [MGM co-founder Marcus] LOEW. Hint: He’s not Metro, Goldwyn, nor Mayer.
- 20a [“Dachsund Doll” sculptor]. ARP.
- 44a [Audrey’s “Robin and Marian” co-star]. SEAN. That’s Connery, SEAN Connery.
- 51a [Lego brand for youngsters]. DUPLO. A gimme for me since we still have a binful in the house, but maybe not so easy for others.
- 52a [Former baseball commissioner Vincent]. FAY.
- 62a [Ransom of automakers]. OLDS. I know we just saw a similar clue recently, but still.
That feels like a lot of trivia; and that’s just the Acrosses. There are more in the Downs, the toughest one being 4d‘s [Capital of Mauritius] (PORT LOUIS). Yeesh!
And one other entry irked me: IT’S A JOB clued as [“Pays the rent”]. I think most people would say “It’s a living” instead.
One final note: 55d [Bill’s partner] is COO, as in, apparently, “bill and COO,” which means to kiss and cuddle. I have never, ever heard this. Is this in the common vernacular?
P.S. Hey, I got one for ya…[David’s place?]
Jake Halperin’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today’s theme is fairly by the book. The revealer is SPLITHAIRS, and the theme answers have the pattern HA*IR. There are only three themers, and I had only heard of one of them. That doesn’t happen to me too often, but both seem perfectly legitimate. HANDBELLCHOIR seems to be a (American) thing; never even encountered the word HANDBELL before, though it seems to be a… bell; and HAITIANDOLLAR was mysterious, if inferrable. I know what HOMEREPAIR is, at least!
Not a lot of remarks on the clues/entries, for better or worse. Another moment of culture shock was [Soda machine freebie] for STRAW. How does that even work?? WATERRIDE, RAGTRADE and ONMYHONOR were among the choice bits in the longer answers…
Byron Walden’s AVCX crossword, “Heady Mixture” — Ben’s Review
Happy Wednesday, everyone! It was great to see people and say hi at the Indie 500 this year, and I’m already looking forward to Lollapuzzoola in August. Let’s get to today’s AVCX, which felt oddly straightforward to me:
- 17A: HATER — EARTH MOVER
- 26A: GRUBER — BURGER FLIPPER
- 41A: GIFTED — FIDGET SPINNER
- 53A: LAST — SALT SHAKER
After last week’s fantastic puzzle, this felt oddly disappointing. I fully admit there’s something else (or an overarching theme) to these clues/answers I may be completely missing, but the CLUE –> ANAGRAM OF CLUE + ANAGRAM INDICATOR structure of the theme clues felt like something I’ve seen many a time before, which is fine. But it’s just fine, not great.
Things I liked: WAFT clued as “Float like a fart”, SLAP bass, AIDES (as in “Veep extras”), ESTRAGON, ALL-TERRAIN, broccoli FLORETS, agreement from AVCX that ADAM Sandler’s movies are synonymous with “peak white mediocrity and cashing in forever on a modicum of fame”, and completely losing it at “Prepare, as a package before a date?” as the clue for MANSCAPE
3/5 stars. Okay puzzle is just okay – there are some great clues in there, but nothing new is brought to a fairly straightforward theme, and I expect more from AVCX.