This week’s AV Club puzzle has a contest-y element that requires revealing part of the puzzle to enter, so we’ll have a recap of that up next Monday.
Brian Cox’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
One of my favorite Wednesday puzzles ever! It was not too hard, and I sussed the idea of the theme quickly but had to go back after I finished the puzzle to figure out all the entries. I really enjoyed this one. According to Martin Herbach’s guest blog on Wordplay, this is Brian Cox’s debut. He started strong, and I’m looking forward to his next outing.
We start off at 17a with [Response to “Knock knock”] which is, of course, WHO’S THERE? Then the fun begins.
- 21a is [“Esther …”]. If we follow the formula, that would be “Esther who?” and the answer is ANYONE HOME. (Is there anyone home).
- 36a [“Yvonne …”] TO BE ALONE. My favorite. (I want to be alone, a la Greta Garbo, who never actually said that).
- 42a [“Sadie …”] MAGIC WORD]. (Say the magic word.)
- 52a [“Ken …”] I GET AN AMEN. (Can I get an amen?)
- 62a [“Luke …”] MA NO HANDS (Look Ma! No hands!) This one took me the longest to sort out. Very satisfying.
All the phrases are in the language, all the puns work well enough for my ear, and I just loved this theme. I don’t remember seeing anything like it before.
A few other things:
- 9a [Hindu on a bed of nails] is a FAKIR. David works for a science center, and they used to have a science show where the educator lay down on a bed of nails. No, thank you.
- Politicians I could do without: NIGEL Farage and Vice President PENCE.
- 40d [Like some testimony and enemies] is SWORN. Interesting combination.
- 34d [Components of some batteries] is TESTS, and they’re not talking about AAA batteries.
- 55d gives us a musical theatre clue for AMOS, rather than cookies, with [“Chicago” simpleton ___ Hart].
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Gene Simmons was born an ISRAELI.
David C. Duncan Dekker’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Drive-Thru” — Jim’s review
Summer is moving season for many, at least it is in the military. After nine moves in 20 years we are glad to be finally settling down. Is anyone out there dealing with the stress of moving this summer? If so, maybe this puzzle relieves some of that stress (or maybe it makes it worse).
- 17a [Destructive crime] VANDALISM
- 23a [Grassy tracts] SAVANNAHS
- 39a [Walk all over] TAKE ADVANTAGE OF. Not a fan of phrases ending in prepositions (see 57a RAN TO but not 46a BLOTTO), especially as theme answers.
- 52a [They go with the flow] WIND VANES. We saw this term just the other day, and I have never heard them called anything other than “weather vanes” before.
- 64a [Relocation aid, and a description of its progress through this puzzle] MOVING VAN
It feels like a little bit of a cheat when the placement of the word in question (VAN) is dependent on where the constructor decides to place the encapsulating word, as in the case of SAVANNAHS and WIND VANES. More impressive is when all the entries are 15 letters long and the word “moves” smoothly through them. I am of course thinking of and Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen’s THE DESCENT OF MAN grid by which I judge, fairly or unfairly, all other “moving” themes.
So the theme didn’t wow me and the middle phrase left me flat (I would’ve greatly preferred to see former Wimbledon champ GORAN IVANISEVIC in that position, but maybe not everyone would). But in truth, it all works satisfactorily as the MOVING VAN makes its way from the NW (Seattle?) to the SE (Miami?).
Fill was mostly good with CUTS A RUG, EATERIES, TRAVAILS, ENDIVE, ENIGMA, and BLOTTO. EATERIES gets a clever clue with [Filling stations?].
One question mark for me was 49d [Senator in space, in 1985]. Of course, I was thinking John Glenn, but that didn’t fit. The real answer, Senator Jake GARN, is one I didn’t recognize. Per Wikipedia, his role on the mission was that of a congressional observer as well as a subject for experiments on space motion sickness. (I can think of a few Senators and congresspeople who ought to be put through some of those same experiments.) Apparently, Garn’s case of motion sickness was so severe that he became the eponym for the scale of sickness. One GARN is apparently the highest level one can achieve.
Ed Sessa’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
The pinwheel theme featured today is centred on OSCAR (the grouch), and the theme is synonyms for rubbish. Their thematic usages are not satisfying divorced from those synonyms in all cases. Anyhoo, we have WHATAWASTE, TALKSTRASH, KITTYLITTER (used for tyre traction??? How???), and CHINESEJUNK. NEWSHOES and SOREFEET are not thematic, though you might have thought they were at one point…
[Shrill barks], YELPS – lots of those from Tara, our new puppy (right).
- [Bennie’s band, in an Elton John hit], THEJETS. More of a Budgie fan… He played Peter Gunn in the key of E!
- [Bicycle maker turned automotive giant], KIA. New Kia trivia!