Senator Joe Donnelly and Michael S. Maurer’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
The state of Indiana is known for auto racing, producing Will Shortz, being basketball crazy, and apparently also for Senator Joe Donnelly. Donnelly (D-IN) has held the seat since 2013. He co-authored today’s puzzle, the latest entry in the series of celebrity-created puzzles that started in 2017. We’re no longer celebrating the crossword’s 75th anniversary; according to today’s Wordplay post, this feature was so popular they kept making them. The Senator’s co-author is also from Indiana.
Appropriately enough, the theme answers are all basketball terms with punny clues.
- 15a [Warning during a heist?] is a BANK SHOT. That one made me raise an eyebrow; it evokes dead bank tellers more than cutesy puzzle answers.
- 18a [Gutterball?] is ALLEY OOPS. Much better. Light and funny.
- 37a [Dinner at the end of Ramadan?] is FAST BREAK.
- 57a [Rug store promotion?] is FREE THROW. That one made me chuckle.
- 64a [Something bleeped out for television?] is FOUL LINE.
Aside from 15a, they’re all solid and at least somewhat amusing. Nice.
A few other things:
- 1a [Exchange of words] is DIALOG. This never looks right to me. I want DIALOGUE instead. The Google Ngram viewer tells us that DIALOG was not present until the 1980s, and has risen quickly to be the more common spelling. I learned to spell in the mid-1960s, so I guess that explains it.
- 3d [Digital media player that’s “big” in New York City?] is the APPLE TV. Yes, I understand that this is a play on “big apple.” The entry is fine; the clue is forced and contrived.
- [The end of the British monarchy?] shows up at 26d and 52d, with ZED and ARSE, respectively.
- Baseball shows up in the basketball puzzle with 35d [Two-bagger: Abbr.] for DBL. Meh.
- More sports: 45d [An ejected player might be sent to them] is, of course, the SHOWERS.
People who complain about sports in puzzles will not like this one.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Indiana elected a Democratic Senator.
Adam T. Cobb’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Hot to Trot” — Jim’s review
The title makes a good basis for a theme. Though it does telegraph what’s going to happen in the grid (Hs are changed to TRs), I still found it cute.
- 16a [Staycation?] TRIP REPLACEMENT. Hip…I imagine there was a lot of TRIP REPLACEMENT going on during the recent bomb cyclone event.
- 25a [Notice when the cookies are all gone?] TREAT ADVISORY. Heat…I recently moved the cookies that had been sitting on the counter into the cookie jar (where, counterintuitively, my daughter couldn’t find them) without so much as a TREAT ADVISORY. Consequently, I got to have them all. Mwah ha ha!
- 42a [One who reduces your car’s footprint?] TREAD SHRINKER. Head…Hmm. Not sure that shrinking your tread would actually reduce your footprint. There’d still be the same amount of surface area touching the road. But I’m picking nits.
- 56a [Path ending at Sitting Bull’s tepee?] TRAIL TO THE CHIEF. Hail… See photo.
Fairly standard letter-substitution theme, but having a basis for it (the title) elevates it, and all the theme entries work reasonably well.
A lot of hit and miss in the fill, though. The SPICE TRADE (3d, [Venice controlled it in the 14th century]) has got some zing, but OVERRULING is more vanilla. Considering each of those words crosses three theme entries, that’s pretty good.
I like vowel-heavy ADONAI, but I’m giving plural TORAHS the side-eye. I like RIB-EYE, URBANE, and INKSAC but I’m not so sure about UPCURVE and THE FBI which felt odd with its inclusion of the definite article. And then there’s the usual RIPE stinkers like ERE I, AAAA, OOP, and ESTE.
Speaking of which, ESTE is clued [Noble house of Italy]. I don’t recall seeing that word clued that way before. I don’t feel like looking them up. Anyone?
The other clue that got me was for CAPO [Guitar bar]. Apparently it is a device which clamps down across the fingerboard at a particular fret. Anyone ever use such a thing?
Not much else to say. Cute theme, consistently executed. The fill isn’t so lively, but it certainly works.
Byron Walden’s AVCX, “Poetic Injustice” — Ben’s Review
This week’s AVCX puzzle from Byron Walden was right up my alley, theme-wise, and I blazed through it. Let’s take a look at what’s going on here:
- 17A: Compensation for enduring bronchitis? — ROUGH COUGH DOUGH
- 32A: Motown music about smelly graverobbing monsters? — FOUL GHOUL SOUL
- 39A: Visit to the mills of Gold Medal, King Arthur, Pillsbury, and Robin Hood? — FOUR FLOUR TOUR
- 57A: What English pronunciation often demonstrates — NO RHYME OR REASON
Ah, yes, the many weird ways English can be weird, similar to how Arkansas and Kansas aren’t pronounced the same way, much to non-English speakers’ consternation. ROUGH, COUGH, and DOUGH all have different pronunciations of that OUGH sound, etc. etc.
1A‘s clue was a little tricky – “One of Washington’s Tri-Cities (with Richland and Kennewick)” isn’t my go-to for identifying PASCO (that’d be “New AVCX Constructor Paolo”). Other notes on less-stymieing fill:
- Adele and Cher: both ALTOS
- Ice Cube’s real first name: O’SHEA
- A police protest that uses illness as a pretext is BLUE FLU, not my initial thought of it being a BLUE OUT.
- The LYNX is the national animal of Romania. Who knew?
Paul Coulter’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
I don’t fully get the WRAP part, but the circled parts of the three entries spell out popular-in-the-US sandwiches: TUNA, EGG and HAM. The reveal is SANDWICHWRAPS. Entries are CAUGHTUNAWARE, a tiny NUTMEGGRATER and NORTHAMERICA.
We get a double dose of six-letter crossword-ese with Japanese TATAMI and Jewish month TISHRI; I can see many less wizened crossword solvers working crossers here.