Adam Perl’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s write-up
Ben here, subbing for Jenni. Today’s NYT seems like it’s all in the cards…until it isn’t:
- 17A: Where a queen can beat a king — CHESS MATCH
- 39A: Where an ace can beat a pair — DOUBLES TENNIS
- 61A: Where two pair beats three of a kind — SOCK DRAWER
This was cute and totally should have taken me AT LEAST a minute less than it did, timewise, if not for the pairing of BEHAN (as in the author of “Borstal Boy”) at 45A and BINET (as in “Alfred of I.Q. testing”) at 40D. My, but that Natick was nasty.
The three long downs in the puzzle felt kind of weird. GO TO THE DOGS and LAME-BRAINED are fine, but the long solid DO THE BEST YOU CAN just stuck out to me. Other fill I liked: MOOLA, REDBOX, TRIBUTES, OMELET, ASIMOV, DELUXE, and BO PEEP. Less fond of composer LEHAR, PLAN A, TABU, and Henry James PYE.
Gabriel Stone’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Grrr!” — Jim’s review
In which the letters GR are prepended to various words.
- 17a [National Endowment for the Woodworking Arts offerings?] CARPENTER GRANTS
- 30a [One spitefully refusing to share his apple?] GRINCH WORM
- 39a [Watchdog’s warning to a burglar?] NIGHT GROWL
- 55a [Elegant movement of runners around the bases?] GRACE OF DIAMONDS
These seemed fine, but none of them got me laughing. It also seemed pretty loose for a theme. There are a great(!) many words to which you can prepend GR to get another word. It would be nice if there was another aspect to the theme to tie the entries together—perhaps if they were all things related to dogs or things that made people mad (given the title).
Speaking of mad, we have the theme-adjacent entries SEES RED and GOES MAD crossing in the SE corner. And we also have the irritated, but fun, entries “I DON’T CARE!” and “NAME ONE!” in the SW.
Other fun entries are SHELLAC, STEELIE, and the crossers LEG ROOM and FOOTRUBS.
And did you catch the Beatles songs in the grid? [“SOS” or “Help!”] is the clue for SONG at 10a (nice clue that, and yes, I know “SOS” is an ABBA song) while we get a fill-in-the-blank partial at 60a: [“Eight Days ___”] A WEEK.
I have long suspected Gabriel Stone is a pseudonym but I could never come up with the “A-ha!” anagram. The best I could get was “Easter Goblin.”
But today, with a suggestion by the theme, I anagrammed “Gabriel Stone” without the GR. This got me things like “lost beanie,” “lesbian toe,” and “bestial one”—basically nothing really. But somewhere in there, with Beatles on my mind from those two entries, I saw that “Beatles” could be made from “Gabriel Stone” with five letters left over. Those five letters? R-I-N-G-O.
So it would seem Mike Shenk is a Beatles fan in general and a Ringo fan in particular. The only thing left to do is go back and look at Gabriel Stone puzzles and find the Beatles references.
Typically, John or Paul would give Ringo one song to sing on an album. For the album “Help!” that song was their cover of “Act Naturally.” So here ya go.
Francis Heaney’s AVCX crossword, “Birthday Bash” — Ben’s Review
This might be the fastest I’ve every solved a Francis Heaney AVCX puzzle. This one went down smooth, and had a fun theme to boot:
This one’s easier to explain out first rather than using my usual bullet-point approach. 58A reveals that there are three broken PINATAS in the grid, which, according to 59A, CANDY has fallen out of. Here’s the three locations in the grid:
- 20A‘s TAP IN (“Putt even I could sink”) and 22A‘s AT AN END (“Over”) are spilling out ALTOIDS at 27D (“Mmm, minty!”)
- The pinata at 34A‘s PAPI (as in “Big ____”, David Ortiz) and 35A‘s NATASHA (as in “Boris’ partner in espionage”) is full of PEZ (38D, “Mmm…chalky!”)
- Finally, the pinata at 44A‘s DESPINA (the “Saucy maid in Cosi Fan Tutte”) and 47A‘s TAUT (“Sans slack”) is full of M AND MS (52D, “Mmm…chocolatey!”)
(Today’s puzzle made me think of the Beatles’ birthday song from the White Album, which I couldn’t find on Youtube, but could find this mashup of a bunch of their songs.)
This is executed so well, y’all. So. Well. Clean concept, clean execution.
Other things I liked in the puzzle: ANKARA, LGBT FLAG, MR WIZARD, Madeline L’ENGLE, DUCT TAPE, AT PRESENT, MOPEDS, CARRY-ALL.
So good, y’all. So good.
Richard Monsaythe & C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s Review
Today’s puzzle features a spiffy little theme, summed up in the entry CATCHPHRASE, found in the bottom-right of the grid. The last word of four other phrases is something one can catch in a variety of imaginative ways… BRIDALTRAIN (catch a train), BESTINSHOW (catch a show), BITTERCOLD (catch a cold, oh dear!), and NEWWAVE (catch a wave. Gnarly!)
Our duo also worked, piecemeal, poet PABLO/NERUDA into the grid, EASYNOW and OBAMAERA into the grid. The clue for EARLE seems to imply “Guitar Town” is rocky… Hmm.