Michael S. Maurer and Pawel Fludzinski’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
I am among those who thought Tuesday’s puzzle was a bit harder than usual. Wednesday’s felt a bit Tuesday-ish to me. I like the theme, which is scattered (symmetrically) around the grid.
- 5a [Spanish toast] is SALUD.
- 10d [Hebrew toast] is L’CHAIM.
- 20a [Formal toast] is TO YOUR HEALTH.
- 44d [Japanese toast] is KANPAI.
- 49a [Informal toast] is DOWN THE HATCH.
- 62a [German toast] is PROST.
and the grid-spanner in the middle: 32a [Line from “The Student Prince” appropriate for this puzzle] is DRINK DRINK DRINK.
I like the consistency of the non-English toasts around the periphery with the longer English sayings in the middle, flanking the central entry. Very satisfying.
A few other things:
- 15a [“Oh, quit your joshin’!”] is not a phrase I’ve ever heard. The answer is C’MON. I half expect the clue to be “yer” instead of “your” for maxim yokel-ness.
- 12d [Attorneys’ favorite desserts?] are TORTES. Steve saw that one coming a mile away. So did I, and I’m not even a lawyer.
- 23d [Blue Jay but not Cardinal, for short] is ALER. I have followed baseball all my life. I read the sports pages. I listen to sports radio. I have read books about baseball. I have seen movies about baseball. I watched all nine innings of the Ken Burns show on baseball. I have never heard or seen ALER or NLER outside of crosswords. C’mon.
- 46d [Start of a fairy tale] and 51d [Penultimate word of a fairy tale] are ONCE and EVER, situated close to each other in the grid.
- 45a [Bare-naked Lady] is GODIVA. Nice nod to the band name.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’ve never heard of KANPAI before. Wikipedia tells me its literal meaning is “dry cup.”
Gary Cee’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Love Story” — Jim’s review
At first I thought we were dealing with a synonym theme with the ends of each phrase roughly related to “love.” But the title is more apt than that. We are treated to a full-on love story in 225 squares. (Actually, in just five words—the ends of the theme answers.)
Who is the couple in question? That’s up to you, dear solver. Perhaps they’re young students beginning to test their wings in a cruel and fast-paced world. Or office drones looking for an escape from their workaday lives. Or swamp tourist guides feeling the heat on the Louisiana bayou.
- 18a [Addictive match-three game] CANDY CRUSH. And so the adventure begins with our young couple exchanging furtive glances over the library carrel/water cooler/airboat. Will they or won’t they? (I love this entry since my wife is still addicted to this game. Seriously, that is so 2012!)
- 23a [Happy time for a home buyer] CLOSING DATE. They will! They’ve taken the big step and gone on a date. Perhaps bumper cars and boardwalk games? Maybe dinner and a movie? Or else alligator rasslin’ and pig callin’. Hey! You never know! (Does CLOSING DATE sound legit to you? It didn’t to me at first, but now that I think on it, it seems okay.)
- 37a [Personal matter] PRIVATE AFFAIR. Wow! Whuh happened? First they were dating and now an affair?! Who cheated on whom? Did they ever get married? We need details! Inquiring minds want to know! (PRIVATE AFFAIR! Hey, I knew him when I was in the Army. That was a joke. I was in the Air Force; I would never join the Army.)
- 51a [Diet-busting dessert] BANANA SPLIT. Sadness. What once was a budding schooltime/office/backwoods romance filled with giddy hope and karmic promise has ended in soul-crushing splitsville. Will our once-happy couple ever find peace?
- 59a [The CPU has direct access to it] MAIN MEMORY. Alas, ’twas not to be. Our star-crossed lovers never reunited and have naught but nostalgia left. At least…they will always have bumper cars/water coolers/alligators. (I’m not so sure that MEMORY is the right way to end this chronological set, but it would have been sad to end on SPLIT, and the theme was fun enough that I’m willing to go along with it.)
There’s plenty of good fill in the grid with the likes of ABU DHABI, OREGANO, and RIESLING. Rieslings are the favorite white wine of my wife and me, especially those originating along the Mosel and Rhine in Germany.
We have a trio of prepositional phrases in the grid. But rather than a distasteful entry like RAN AT, these actually work nicely: LOAD UP, STEP IN, and MOVE ON.
One dislike: ORANG. Calling all constructors: Please retire this already. (He said until he needed it to complete a tricky corner in some future construction.)
All in all though, a pretty fun, if slightly sad, theme makes this one work. Add a nice, clean grid and you have a winner.
Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Today’s theme is a not very consistent N?T vowel run… All are in longer words, but some are short vowels some long – and not all pronounce the ‘T’ as a ‘T’ either. On the plus side, they’re all at least somewhat punchy as entries, the most important aspect of doing a basic theme like this. We have NATuralaptitude, NETworkfeed, NITrogendioxide, NOThingflat, and NUTcrackersuite. Wasn’t personally familiar with the name of the piece in the Tchaikovsky clue. Here it is, and the music is definitely familiar!
- AZOV/AZUR is a pretty cheap ‘Z’, and a tad unfair on less geographically minded new solvers!
- How do you feel about SQUAW? That’s certainly the best clueing angle, but does that mean it’s acceptable as an entry?
- SNARF – [Wolf (down)]. We all put SCARF, yes?
- [Harbor sight], PIER – Wanted SEAL…
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s AVCX crossword, “Stall Tactics” — Ben’s Review
It’s BEQ’s turn at the AVCX helm, so I get double my weekly dose of his great themed puzzles. This week’s AV entry, “Stall Tactics”, was a pretty breezy solve for me, though I’m not sure I can fully explain how the theme trick relates to the title of the puzzle:
- 15A: Condiment invented in New Hampshire (not Nizhny Novgorod) — RUSSIAN DRESSING
- 22A: Frictionless — AS SMOOTH AS SILK
- 41A: Pageant held in Vicksburg — MISS MISSISSIPPI
- 54A: 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner for Public Service– ASSOCIATED PRESS
Like I said, I get what’s going on, but I’m not spotting the revealer I’d need in the grid to give me an a-ha between the puzzle title and the grid. As noted above, all of the double S portions of the theme entries are stacked in consecutive vertical squares, leading to things like MISS MISSISSIPPI (the entry that seems to truly relish this theme) being entered as MISMISISIPPI. Do the ESSES form stalls? Does this have something to do with the SS (I hope not, but it’s the first SS thing coming to mind, so…)? I leave this as an exercise for you to do for me. Tell me what I’m missing in the comments.
(I can stack ESSES too)
Other things I liked in the puzzle: BIZ Markie, TEETHE, AL-ANON, WELDER, BANGLE, PAINTINGS by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, OGRESS, LESS-KNOWN, TOILETRY
I’m clearly missing something, but thought this was a good grid.