Joe Kidd’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
The theme was cute, and pretty easy once it became clear. We add ELS to the end of common phrases. I was expecting a CTA revealer and didn’t get one.
- 19a [Dromedaries on patrol?] are SECURITY CAMELS (security cam). They can spit at intruders.
- 36a [Henhouses of ill repute?] are CHICKEN BROTHELS (chicken broth). Just, no.
- 49a [The “I” and “o” of “I do”?] are MARRIAGE VOWELS (wedding vow).
Three theme answers, all solidly in the language. Consistent. Nice Wednesday theme.
Since there are only three theme answers, we have room for some interesting fill. I particularly liked two of the longer Downs, which were symmetrical: FAT CHANCE and OH COME ON.
A few other things:
- 3d [Escape tool secreted in a cake, in cartoons] is a FILE, probably made by ACME.
- 26d [Like a basted turkey] is MOIST. Pro tip: no need to baste a turkey. For an unstuffed turkey, bake at 350 for 45 minutes + 7 minutes per pound. Works every time and it’s perfect.
- 30d [Pack-toting equines] are ASSES; I was thinking of llamas, but they’re camelids, not equines.
- I filled in ALBEE and EMAJ from crosses and for a confused minute couldn’t figure out what words they were. [“The Zoo Story playwright Edward] and [Key with four sharps: Abbr.] respectively.
- Do EMIRS always wear robes? Are all guerrilla fighters INSURGENTs?
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’m blank. There’s probably something, but I’m in my fourth hotel room in six nights and my brain is mush.
Dan Fisher’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Head First” — Jim’s review
I like a good before-and-after theme in which two two-word phrases share a common word. There are generally good opportunities for humor, and if the theme is tight and consistent, it gets high marks from me.
This one ticks all the boxes. In this case, the tightness of the theme comes from the first word in each phrase being a part of the head, hence the title.
- 17a [Job in the cosmetics plant?] EYESHADOW BOXING. Sounds reasonable.
- 21a [Florist’s reaction to a job well done?] NOSEGAY PRIDE. Ha!
- 50a [Site of disgusting swab exhibits?] EARWAX MUSEUM. On what planet is this not funny. No planet, I say! That being said, there are actually people who upload videos of ear wax removal onto Youtube. Don’t go there.
- 58a [Benefactor to a harmonica band?] MOUTH ORGAN DONOR. Works for me!
Fun theme (until I started finding earwax videos). And like I said: Tight, consistent, and humorous. A nice win in my book.
Our long Downs are POWDER PUFF (nice) and UTILITY MAN, a phrase I was unaware of [Versatile baseball player]. Not a lot of other interesting fill, though. SERAPHS is nice, and so is PREEMIE, though it’s followed shortly thereafter by PRE which seems like a dupe. I also like CANAPE and AMON-RA, though I went with AMEN-RA to begin with.
With nothing really to gripe about in the grid, let’s move on to clues, of which there were three that caught my attention.
- 64a [Hail target]. I went with MARY at first. The correct answer is TAXI.
- 68a [A few pointers, say]. DOGS. Nice misdirection.
- 22d [Fitting number]. I was thinking music or SONG at first, but it’s SIZE.
Here’s CHER in her Oscar-winning turn as Loretta Castorini in Moonstruck.
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
BREAKINGSTORY is the revealer, and 3 answers conceal STORY at their edges, broken in different ways: SCOREAVICTORY, STOREDISPLAY and STRINGTHEORY. Five letters is a lot to work with, and that possibly explains the more mundane theme answers.
In the rest of the grid, there weren’t that many phrase answers, but there still a number of grace notes. Highlights included: JETSAM, CAJOLES, ROLYPOLY, CRIBBAGE, NICETRY and PSYCHE.
3.5 Stars, and a TRIVIA shoutout to all the llamas starting the season today!
AVCX, “Lollapuzzoola 10 AVCX Themeless #1 & #2” — Ben’s Review
It’s a double dose of themeless fun from the AVCX this week, featuring two puzzles they handed out at the Lollapuzzoola tournament last weekend. I totally recommend getting in on that puzzle set while it’s still available – it was pretty dang fantastic, and I don’t just say that because I ended up placing 11th in my division, my best finish ever at Lolla. It’s good stuff. In the spirit of Lolla, I used these puzzles as warmups and as a way to pass time on the bus ride back to Boston, so no solve times this week.
My handouts from Lolla have different numbering to today’s .PUZ files as to which themeless is number one and which is number two, so I’m going to split them up by their authors. First up, the puzzle by Josh Knapp.
I really dug the grid patter on this one. There’s something about its symmetry that put me in a good mood, and its fill didn’t hurt in that respect, either. There’s something very satisfying about filling in COGITO ERGO SUM and BLOODLESS COUP without any crossings and being correct on both of them. Other nice sets of fill: HOT TOPIC, STIGMATA, LOLLYGAG, and GAME TIME, STAGE MOM, JOE COOL, DEVO, and BEELZEBUB. I ended up using this as a warmup before puzzle 1 and really enjoyed it as a way to get my brain thinking towards the type of clues Lollapuzoola tends to feature. Now, onto puzzle two, after a brief musical interlude:
Okay, onto the next puzzle. This one’s from Andy Kravis (of Cruciverbalist at Law and Grid Wars), ft. Neville Fogarty (who I assume did the guest rap verse that comes in the middle of the puzzle after the chorus if pop music has taught me anything). This one’s also a lovely grid, reminiscent of the fourth grid wars challenge, with a nice stair-step pattern in the middle. The fill there’s nice, with DO SOMETHING, CENTRAL TIME, and WORD LADDERS locking nicely together. In the rest of the grid, I’m fond of WOMBATS, OCTANES, DHAKA, MAIS OUI, TWO FACE, Woodchuck PEAR CIDER, YOU MADE IT, TEST LAB, and I’M STUFFED. This grid is pretty stuffed, and made for a great bus ride solve while somewhere in CT.
Two solid AVCX themelesses in one week is a pretty great treat. Hope you thought the same.