Hal Moore’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
If you solved this puzzle correctly and had no idea what the theme was, you are not alone. It solved like an easy themeless. I knew it wasn’t because a) it’s Wednesday and b) there were numbers with some of the clues. Once I solved the puzzle, I had to figure out the theme. At first I thought the numbers might be sending us to look at other entries in the grid – nope. Then I tried putting them in order to see if there was a pattern. There is! And yes, there is a notepad entry, which I didn’t realize was there until I looked at Wordplay to make sure I had the theme correct. Thanks, Martin. The notepad says “When finished, this crossword grid will have 25 things that complete a set, in the order indicated by the clues” and would have saved me a lot of time.
This is how our series starts:
- 1d [Persona non grata to a striker ] is SCAB.
- 45d [Pre-A.D. ] is BCE. That’s not quite right. BCE means “before the common era” and it’s used to signify dates without explicit reference to the life of Christ, which means that people who use BCE don’t, in general, use AD but rather CE. They couldn’t use CE in the clue because it would nearly duplicate the answer, so I understand why it’s clued this way.
- 6a [Things in jewel cases ] are CDS. Ask your parents, kids. They’ll explain.
- 7d [He “made me do it,” with “the” ] is DEVIL.
- 24a [Book borrower’s penalty ] is LATE FEE.
There are pairs of consecutive letters in alphabetical order: AB in SCAB, BC in BCE, CD in CDS, DE in DEVIL and EF in LATE FEE. And here’s how the series ends:
- 54d [Like Playboy models ] is SEXY
- 17d [Patrick of “Dirty Dancing” ] is SWAYZE.
I’ll leave you to find the rest of them. I like this theme, even though it didn’t contribute at all to solving the puzzle. It’s clean and consistent and Wednesday-appropriate. Hal found in-the-language answers that work for the tricky Scrabbly letters – JK ROWLING and BBQ RIBS particularly impressed me. BMW X SERIES was the most obscure, and it’s still fair. 25 theme answers in a 15×15 is a lot of theme material; I didn’t really feel that the fill suffered as much as I would have expected. There are a lot of partials (Act OF GOD, PALME d’Or, Le ROI Soleil, etc) but not much junk.
A few other things:
- 5d [Shah’s domain until 1935] was PERSIA. There was still a Shah after 1935, but the country became Iran.
- 8d [Like games with several lead changes], such as the one I’m listening to now: SEESAW.
- 10d [Distant] kind of stumped me, because I’m really tired. I had the F at the end and thought it ended if OFF. The answer is actually ALOOF.
- More German cars with 23d [Golfs, e.g. ]. The answer is VWS.
- 57d [___ bag (event handout)] is SWAG because you can’t call it a goody bag when you’re giving it to grownups.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: I’d never heard of the BMW X SERIES. I also didn’t know that County CLARE was north of Limerick.
Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Fending Off” — Jim’s review
To make sense of the title, you’ll need to re-parse it as “F-ending Off.” In other words, the F at the end of each base phrase has been removed.
- 17a [Result of using yarn for stitches?] KNITTED SCAR Ha! Infection schminfection. That certainly would be colorful.
- 23a [Secret wish for the cheese course?] PLEASE BE BRIE. No thanks. I’ll stick with the gouda.
- 37a [Rototill some recently acquired grazing land?] TURN OVER A NEW LEA. Pretty good grid-spanning find. Except I don’t know how many people actually use the word LEA in practice.
- 50a [Shearings from Norfolk?] VIRGINIA WOOL. Very good, but you saw this one coming, didn’t you?
- 62a [Queen with an unusual diet?] GRASS-FED BEE. There certainly is an odd farming mini-theme going on here.
Playful theme which works for me. Unfortunately, before I got to that point, I was uncovering such entries as PSSTS, ELEVS, MENTEE, RFD, ESO, and EEG followed by AGEE. Plus there’s ALEE, ELL, ILE, EEL, ALL, AWL, as well as OTC, ATP, EPPS, and ASSAD. Not exactly heartwarming. But the theme got me turned around and brought the grid back into the positive territory. (Note: Nothing really wrong with EEL, ALL, and AWL, but taken in toto, it felt very repetitive.)
Nice long fill in RIVER DELTA and especially CAREER EXPO. OPTING IN is solid if unexciting. WIRE EDGE [Burr on a knife] gets the side-eye from me, though. It checks out, but I suspect very few people are going to know this term. In case you want to learn more, here are 11 and a half minutes entitled Understanding The Burr or Wire Edge.
Lastly, it’s nice to see Aziz ANSARI in the grid. Just the other night, he, along with co-writer Lena Waithe, won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for an episode of Master of None. ANSARI won the same award last year but this was the first time a black woman has won that award. It was really impressive to see such a diverse Emmy Awards show.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s AVCX, “The Lay of the Land” — Ben’s Review
It’s BEQ’s turn at-bat for this week’s AVCX, and he’s lobbed up what felt like a pretty easy baseball-related theme to crack in this week’s puzzle.
54A’s revealer, the GROUND OUT (“Routine play … and a hint to this puzzle’s theme”) was the crux of figuring out what was going on with the 3 theme answers that seemed just a little long to fit in the grid:
- 18A: Viscous Australian leaf extract that might treat asthma — EUCALYPTUS OIL
- 28A: Places for sugary refills — SODA FOUNTAINS
- 45A: Literary character who said “Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.” — HOLDEN CAULFIELD
The “ground” of each answer is OUT of the grid, making each of these entries fit in the squares allotted. The only themer where I found this tricky was 18A, where I had EUCALYPTUS, but couldn’t figure out immediately what went after the S to make some word for ground. S + OIL, of course, solves that issue nicely.
(Crossword constructors around the world thank Mocedades for ERES TU, runner up at the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest)
The cluing on this one helped make this one feel a little more “AVCX” than your standard puzzle. I particularly liked the combo of 43D and 62A – ” Like slightly firm elbows, e.g.” for AL DENTE and MERDE (instead of my expected, misspelled DEAUX) for “Macron’s number two?”. Other fill/cluing I liked: the idea that I always wear my BERET when buying baguettes at the farmer’s market, UDON (my favorite japanese noodle), Pablo NERUDA, POST-PUNK band The Fall, CUE CARD
Roger & Kathy Wienberg’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
I admired the stronger than usual visual element in today’s theme. SCATTERBRAIN is realised by being spelt-out in non-sequential circled letters in three entries. The entries themselves were more on the functional side though: BERMUDAONION, BINARYOPERATION, and PUBLICRELATIONS.
The theme answers are bolstered by two stacks of long acrosses: a [Goal-oriented] SOCCERMOM is lovely clue angle; ABCSPORTS and WALKATHON are also a pair that would be at home in any themeless. New to me was BOPIT, though I was 10 at the time, apparently it passed me by; I thought it was all TAMAGOTCHIs in ’96 (which I suitably eye-rolled at) or was that ’97?