Fireball is a contest this week. The review will be posted after the contest deadline has passed.
Jules Markey’s New York Times crossword—Andy’s review
I love rebus puzzles, and this one was no exception! Revealer is at 64a, CABLE BOXES [TV adjuncts … or a hint to four squares in the puzzle]. Sure enough, four squares in this puzzle are rebuses containing cable channels:
- 17a, DRE(AMC)ATCHER [Native American charm made with a willow hoop] / 4d, TE(AM C)REST [Image on a soccer jersey]. TEAM CREST was new to me, but I liked learning it!
- 21a, UGLY (BET)TY [Popular TV dramedy based on a Colombian telenovela] / 11d, GLO(BE T)HEATER [Setting for Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”]. Tricky down clue! I’m also never sure whether I’m supposed to write THEATER or THEATRE, so I always hedge my bets until I have a crossing.
- 39a, WIS(HBO)NES [Some gridiron formations] / 24d, DAS(HBO)ARD [Place for a clock or a radio].
- 47a, SA(USA)GE PARTY [2016 comedy that takes place mainly in a supermarket] / 28d, GENI(US A)T WORK [Facetious sign in a lab or office]. Great theme entries!
Exactly the kind of puzzle I like to see on Thursday. The theme was tricky but became clear as the solve went on, and the answers were fresh and well chosen.
The rest of the fill was mostly solid. Some interesting stuff like AS WE SAY, STAR MAP, OB/GYNS, BIC PEN, RHETT crossing O’HARA with the same clue [“Gone With the Wind” role], and the long non-themer IN A PIG’S EYE. A few crosswordese entries like NENE, NEOS, SMA, -ISH, -ILE, and TUV, which was saved with a really nice clue: [iPhone 8?] (as in the letters below the number 8 on a phone — yes, I did have to check my iPhone to make sure the letters were still there). I liked seeing OSAMA clued as the [2003 Afghani film that won a Golden Globe].
Until next time!
Morton J. Mendelson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Later!” — Jim’s review
MJM brings us a deletion theme today. Such themes are often hard to sniff out until you get to the revealer, and that proved to be the case for me today. 60a is clued [“Time to split!” and a hint to the starred answers], and it’s answered with I’M OUTTA HERE. In other words, the bigram IM has been removed from the theme answers.
- 17a [*Race cars and model race cars, for instance?] DECAL PLACES. Decimal places.
- 23a [*Site for legal prosecution?] ROOM TO PROVE. Room to improve.
- 38a [*Inheritances involving really big diamonds?] BALLPARK ESTATES. Ballpark estimates.
- 48a [*Historical period known for tobacco chewing?] SPITTING AGE. Spitting image. Ha! A disgusting but funny entry. It reminded me of the baseball scene from The Naked Gun.
The first three didn’t tickle me (maybe if the BALLPARK one was clued with respect to hot dogs?), but the last one got me, so my overall impression of the theme is favorable.
Aside from the revealer, there is one other IM in the grid at 27d (IMAX), but I didn’t notice it during the solve.
The grid features two strong non-theme long Downs in MARIONETTE and POLITICIZE, and each has a solidly clever clue ([Performer on wires] and [Turn red or blue, say?], respectively). Other standouts include VELCRO, PEORIA, RIPCORD, HATPIN, and KIDMAN. How cool would it be to have your surname contain an oxymoron?
Cluing felt fresh, but I felt like I was on the right wavelength for most of the solve. These ones caught my eye:
- 1a [Marlinsky Ballet company, familiarly]. KIROV. Normally, I think BOLSHOI when I see a Russian ballet clue, but we just had KIROV the other day in the NYT, so in it went.
- 15a [Big bettor at a casino]. WHALE. Video gaming has stolen this term to refer to players who spend a lot of real money on microtransactions (think in-app upgrades, in-game currency like coins or tickets, etc.). Okay, who just had the idea to make a microtransaction-themed puzzle? I’ll save you the trouble of counting; it’s 16 letters long. Do with that what you will.
- 16a [Mug on a fin]. ABE. Mug meaning face, and fin meaning fiver.
- 22a [Spots for retiring?] PITS. That’s re-tiring, actually.
- 26a [It gets pulled in the fall]. Sneaky. It’s nothing to do with crops, but skydiving. The correct answer is RIPCORD.
- 43a [Where do you get off?]. STOP. Relax, this is not a Buzzfeed clue. It’s talking about transportation.
- 46a [Pair for shaking hands]. MITTENS. Ha! I just got this one. Shaking as in cold. Very good clue!
- 8d [Implied, perhaps]. TACIT. Given the theme, maybe this should have had a different clue.
- 24d [Axe targets?]. ODORS. Tricky.
- 34d [Patty Bouvier’s twin sister]. SELMA. This is a Simpsons clue if you didn’t already realize that. The twins are Marge’s sisters.
- 48d [Major’s major mishap]. SNAFU. I believe the clue is referring to the fact that the word has a military origin. It’s an acronym for Situation Normal, All F***ed Up.
- 49d [A whole bunch]. PILES. I’m glad this one skipped the medical meaning.
- 55d [Mjolnir wielder]. THOR. Unlike Captain Hammer, THOR‘s hammer is actually a hammer.
Solid theme? Check. Sparkly fill? Check. Fresh clues? Check. Good puzzle. 3.75 stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Food Hot Takes” — Ben’s Review
When I saw the title of today’s BEQ puzzle, “Food Hot Takes”, I was very concerned I needed to prepare myself for another debate about whether a bowl of cereal with milk counts as a soup or a salad. Thankfully, this was another puzzle where I just needed to do what the title said:
- 16A: Hot take #1: Stockpiling the Half & Half? — SAVING CREAM
- 24A: Hot take #2: Weenie that’s been in the water too long? — SAGGY DOG
- 29A: Hot take #3: Biblical brother’s sausages? — CAIN LINKS
- 44A: Hot take #4: Indian takeout enjoyed mid-flight? — STEP CURRY
- 50A: Hot takes #5 and #6: Bag for Japanese rice wine? — SAKE SACK
- 63A: Hot take #7: Horse meat served at a deli? — PONY BALONEY
Oh, man, this theme was my kind of deal. Taking an H from some slightly more familiar phrases (SHAVING CREAM, SHAGGY DOG, CHAIN LINKS, STEPH CURRY, SHAKE SHACK, PHONY BALONEY) yields some funny fill.
- I got borderline-Natick’d at the K in Alibi IKE/Vermont ski resort OKEMO – both totally out of my knowledge scope
- Other tricky squares: the P at PAP/PECK in the lower middle quadrant, and the middle R in ARA/ORR on the right middle (I love The Cars, BEQ, but cluing ORR with someone other than Bobby is not “Just What I Needed”)
- ILIA KULIK has a name I’m surprised doesn’t make it into crosswords more, given that run of letters.
Remember: if you must be reductive, cereal with milk is a soup, not a salad.
Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
The raison d’etre of this particular puzzle is a very neat bit of wordplay. The phrase DOUBLE/DATE can be reimagined as DOUBLED/ATE, and four other entries have ATE twice within them. Outside of DEFLATEGATE, the entries themselves are pretty standard.
The thing I frowned most at in the puzzle was at 1A: [Jay-Z output], RAPCD; that is 100% green paint.
[“National Velvet” sister], EDWINA is quite a deep EDWINA cut.
[Jittery condition], THEWILLIES. Best answer.