Peter A. Collins’s New York Times crossword—Andy’s review
In preparation for Lollapuzzoola on Saturday, I decided to solve today’s puzzle on paper. My handwriting isn’t the neatest, especially when I’m speed-solving, but I doubt I’ll be contending for the Worst Handwriting Award.
This one was pretty easy, I thought — it’s always a nice confidence boost to zip through a Thursday! The revealer here is at 62a, GANG OF FOUR [Faction in China’s Cultural Revolution … or a hint to each set of circled letters]. There are three sets of circled letters, which when read clockwise spell out STAR, TOPS, and EYES, respectively
There are also three long theme answers, all clued in roughly the same way:
- 18a, GOOD RATING [First set of circled letters]. By itself, STAR doesn’t clue GOOD RATING. But when preceded by “four,” it (almost) does! (I have issues with this theme answer: “four stars” is a GOOD RATING; “four-star” is GOOD.)
- 23a, MOTOWN SINGERS [Second set of circled letters]. They would be The Four TOPS.
- 53a, GLASSES WEARER [Third set of circled letters]. AKA a four-eyes. As a GLASSES WEARER myself, I think “four-eyes” is so old-fashioned as to be completely benign as an insult.
I think this is a really lovely idea for a theme. I wish the revealer had had more of a circle/ring connection (if RING OF FOUR were a real phrase, that would’ve been great). Still, GANG OF FOUR worked okay for me. FOUR TOPS and FOUR-EYES worked well with their entries, but I don’t see how the adjective FOUR-STAR can clue the noun GOOD RATING.
There were some nice things in the fill (BORZOI, QUIZ SHOW, “AND SO ON…”) but there were also plenty of things like LEY and NIA and TIA and ANNO and TARSI and FAS and AZO. Also, this puzzle has a textbook example of Scrabblef***ing: The NE corner packs in a Q and a Z by including QUIZ SHOW [Quest for knowledge?], but jamming the Q into that corner forces the unfamiliar-except-to-Scrabble-enthusiasts QAT [Arabian stimulant] as well as ANNO and TARSI. I also really and truly don’t understand the clue for QUIZ SHOW; I could use an explanation beyond “quiz shows test knowledge, and in the most technical sense they can be defined as ‘quests’,” if such an explanation exists.
FOUR SQUARE! That should’ve been the revealer! A legitimate phrase that both describes exactly what’s going on with the theme clusters and jams another Q into the grid! Ah, well. Hindsight is 20/20, especially when you’re a GLASSES WEARER.
Until next week (except for those of you who will be at LPZ, in which case… until Saturday! Looking forward to it)!
Alice Long’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Stand Apart”—Laura’s write-up
This took me ages to figure out, and I attribute my eventual success to having seen Thornton Wilder’s 1938 play Our Town, set in fictional Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, sixty-bajillion times. Here we have four words denoting some meaning of stand, set apart from entries that complete a phrase.
- [16a: Capitalist way] + [17a: Stand] = FREE ENTERP + RISE
- [24a: Stand] + [27a: “Our Town” setting] = GROVE + RS CORNERS
- [41a: Mink’s Himalayan cousin] + [42a: Stand] = MOUNTAIN W + EASEL
- [55a: Stand] + [56a: Salmon topping, at times] = BEAR + NAISE SAUCE
[20a: “Hold on…]: ONE SEC while I find this puzzle’s appropriate earworm.
Your feet are going to be on the ground; your head is there to move you around. Is a MOUNTAIN WEASEL a thing? It is!
Nomination for both “thing I didn’t know before solving” and “cute animal of the day.” [34a: “Right back ___”]: AT YA, mountain weasel. BEARNAISE SAUCE is delicious, and since I had salmon planned for dinner tonight, here’s a recipe. A connection I didn’t make right away: [37a: Love of TV’s “The Real”]: LONI — I remember Loni Love as a commentator on those pinnacles of pop culture listicle-shows, VH1’s I Love the 70’s and I Love the 80’s, but I was parsing the clue as if “The Real” was one of the characters on Jersey Shore or something (like “The Situation”). I’m not convinced that [35a: Gray]: SLATY is a thing, but prove me wrong. Otherwise? ALEC MUST WIELD ARMANI BRA.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Tied Up” — Ben’s Review
It’s Thursday! There’s a BEQ puzzle! Apparently this one was his contribution to BosWords a few weeks ago, which makes me slightly sad I couldn’t make it due to another trip that weekend, since I crushed this one in a little over 10 minutes. It was really easy to grok what was going on here and plow through some of the tougher fill:
- 19A:The Godfather during his many stays at a Harlem nightclub? — BROWN OF APOLLO
- 34A:Young princess who looks like her royal father? — DUKE-EYED GIRL
- 60A:Brief Saturday service? — MINUTE TEMPLE
- 79A:Basmati? — THIN WHITE RICE
- 48A: Relocation illustrated by 19-, 34-, 60- and 79-Across — COLLEGE TRANSFER
We’ve got a chain of college “transfers” between phrases here: Thin White DUKE (one of David Bowie’s many personas over his music career), BROWN-Eyed Girl (Van Morrison’s classic song), Minute RICE, and TEMPLE of Apollo all get mixed up to become the above answers. A nice, solid theme for a crossword tourney, with lots of easy fill “grips” to help get your footing in some of the trickier corners.
Other stuff I liked this puzzle: ALOHA OE (clued with a tricky, yet perfectly BEQ reference to Elvis’ performance in Blue Hawaii), NERF, PE RATIO, OMELET, MAN-YEAR, STAMENS, DEEP-FRYER, PERONI, COTILLION, ATTICUS, and EPONYM
Competition or no, this was a nice puzzle.