David Kwong’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
I’m very tired. If it hadn’t been for this puzzle, I would have gone to bed an hour ago. I waited to solve the puzzle and write this post, and it turned out to be a quip puzzle. And a not particularly funny quip, at that.
- 17a [Start of a quip about a whimsical celebrity couple] gives us HOW I WISH NATALIE
- 23a [Quip, part 2] goes on to PORTMAN DATED
- Followed by 37a, which is JACQUES COUSTEAU, a grid-spanner that I presume was the seed entry, and then
- 48a SO I COULD CALL and I could see what was coming.
- Sure enough, 59a is THEM PORTMANTEAU.
Put it all together: HOW I WISH NATALIE PORTMAN DATED JACQUES COUSTEAU SO I COULD CALL THEM PORTMANTEAU. Yeah. That’s the whole thing. Plus Jacques Cousteau is dead, so – ick.
There’s nothing particularly exciting in the fill to make up for the non-sparkling theme. This is not a great puzzle.
Too tired for any more. I leave you with this, because it’s soothing to look at, even if the music is insipid.
David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Spell Check” — Jim’s review
Wow. Don’t say you weren’t warned, because it’s right there in the title.
Our punny theme takes the phrase “There’s no I in TEAM” (which also happens to be 1a‘s clue and answer) and extrapolates it.
- 17a [There’s no X in ___] DIVORCEE. But a DIVORCEE is an ex.
- 26a [There’s no Q in ___] POOL HALL. But there is a cue.
- 41a [There’s no T in ___] LAPSANG SOUCHONG. But it is a tea.
- 52a [There’s no Y in ___] QUESTION. But “why” is a QUESTION.
- 64a [There’s no C in ___] SARGASSO. But that’s a name of a sea.
- 73a [There’s no B in ___] HIVE. But there are bees.
I liked the theme even though the entries felt inconsistent at times; for example, a POOL HALL might contain a cue and a HIVE might contain a bee, but a SARGASSO can’t contain a sea.
But the real struggle was that thorny middle. If you’ve never heard of that type of tea, which I hadn’t (and I certainly didn’t know how to spell it), you were probably in for some trouble. I didn’t feel the crossings were exactly fair either where STUPE at 25d is the answer to [Dummy] and HERALDIC at 9d is the answer to [Like a crest] (I kept wanting HERALDRY or HERALDED even though I know the former doesn’t match grammatically and the latter isn’t exactly true). Or maybe you didn’t know that the [Columbus sch.] at 36d is the Ohio State University, or OSU.
So I’m willing to bet a lot of people got stuck in the middle. But I will give the puzzle and constructor props for cleverness and creativity. And like it or not, that middle grid-spanner is well cheeky! On the whole, I like the theme, even though it beat me up.
Another word I didn’t know is LIEDER at 48d [Schubert wrote over 600 of them]. A lied is “a type of German song, typically for solo voice with piano accompaniment.” But while I didn’t know the word, the crosses here were gettable.
Besides those two hang-ups for me, there is plenty of good fill: CALCUTTA, “HERE WE GO,” TOLD OFF (a favorite term our family adopted from British-English), DOG DOOR (though I generally hear and use “doggie door”), and AESTHETE.
Cluing was strong, especially these gems:
- 35a [Grant in the arts] WOOD. That’s Grant WOOD, painter of American Gothic.
- 44a [Celsius, e.g.]. SWEDE
- 8d [Angel on one’s shoulder, say]. TATTOO
- 31d [Domestic flap?]. DOG DOOR
Overall, a challenging grid but with plenty of rewards to compensate.
Erin Rhode’s AVCX crossword, “Sesquitchewan” — Ben’s Review
Howdy, friends. Let’s talk about this week’s AVCX puzzle, a lovely 16×15 grid from Erin Rhode.
Did you know that it’s CANADA’s sesquicentennial on Saturday the 1st? It is! A very happy birthday to America’s Hat. Doing your best worst Canadian accent will help you parse what’s going on with the theme clues in this week’s puzzle:
- 21A: Make everyone in the capital of Taiwan feel something emotionally? — TOUCH TAIPEI
- 60A: All-you-can-eat Sno-Caps, Raisinets, and Goobers sitting under heat lamps outside the theatre? — MOVIE BUFFET
- 11D:”Dragnet” sergeant, discussing how time is actually a social construction, not a physical fact, if you think about it? — DEEP FRIDAY
- 30D: Personality test in the back of a magazine, perhaps? — SELF SURVEY
Tracking back to what I said in the intro, TOUCH TYPE, eh? MOVIE BUFF, eh? DEEP FRIED, eh? SELF SERVE, eh? You get the drift. Add in a well-placed “Soory” and you’re good to go.
New Arcade Fire, eh? They’re mostly Canadian, don’t cha know*!
I really liked this theme as soon as I got the revealer, and it made the presence of lots of other Canadian references (“Ontario lake” for ERIE, “Great White North” show SCTV, LATTE as a Tim Horton’s order, etc.)…except for in the upper left corner, where they managed to completely stymie me without some googling. Sports aren’t my forte, so “Hall-of-fame centre Lindros” wasn’t an easy crack for ERIC, and I wasn’t aware that Quebec university protests were SIT-INs. This in combo with UHURU Kenyatta made the fill difficult, and prevented the cluing for DUST allergens and TUTUs from being as easy to crack as a way into that corner. That could’ve just been me, though
All of that aside, it was a pretty good puzzle, eh?
*don’t cha know is mostly a Minnesota thing, not a Canadian thing. We apologize for the culture mashup.
Agnes Davidson & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
GAMECHANGER is a very nice revealing phrase. The theme’s extra layer is mostly appreciated post-solve. The middle letters of long acrosses have a scrambled game in them. ERINGOBRAGH hides bingo; CRASHSCENE, chess; PATSDRY, darts; and LISTENINON, tennis.
THEMRS was a nice curveball to open with. I appreciated the non-Tinder clueing of SWIPERIGHT. LANECLOSED, TONYNOD and ANDHOW are further fill highlights.