The staggered central section of the Friday NYT evokes Andrew Ries’s 2017 themeless puzzle set, “The Stagger Sessions.” That puzzle feast was modeled after a record album, so it makes perfect sense that Andrew’s newest puzzle set is a “Five,” a Rows Garden EP. Each of the five Rows Garden puzzles is somehow connected to the number 5, and one puzzle is plus-size with a meta. The price, of course, is $5. I haven’t ordered yet because I’m still trying to decide which difficulty level I want! (Easiest is too easy for me, Hardest sounds too hard … and I could be happy with either Easier or Harder.)
Ryan McCarty’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
We’ve got a 64-worder for the Friday offering, with a staggered stack of 10- and 15-letter entries in the middle. The longest fill is almost all interesting, which is cool. There’s plenty of shorter fill (3–6 letters) that’s less compelling, as you pretty much expect with a low word count.
The central stack impresses with WAR STORIES, PRIDE PARADE, SOUND MIXERS, TOSSES ASIDE, and the unusual OWLET MOTHS. The long Downs are also a cut above bland entries like STRESS TEST: There’s the alarmingly named yoga pose CORPSE POSE, WINE MAKING, WATER TAXIS, and RARE JEWELS. (Speaking of rare jewels, did you hear about the inclusions within the diamonds that a meteorite brought to earth? Apparently they may tell scientists about protoplanets from way back when.) NAME-CALLER and a STARTER SET of four place settings also caught my eye.
Mid-length fill I liked includes AIR-POPS, the “OH, STOP”/”SAY WHEN” combo, “MY WAY,” and BANSHEE.
New to me, I think: 11d. [Annual meteor shower in October], ORIONIDS. Perseids and Leonids are more familiar.
Not striking my fancy: plural HYSONS, [Longtime CNBC commentator Ron] INSANA (I have never been able to summon up any interest in any CNBC programming), AT A RUN, ASPISH (which really wants to be WASPISH), ENHALO, plural -ER ZONERS, and the now-dated-because-the-show-got-canceled O’NEALS.
David Alfred Bywaters’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
The raison d’etre for this letter removal theme is its (note punctuation) clever revealing answer: D-EJECTION. Sure enough, five answers are missing a ‘D’ and clued wackily. This is quite a broadly defined theme, so we hope for some great choices. That said, for some reason, letter deletions are less frequently amusing for me than additions. I can’t put my finger on why, though. My favourite answer was the first, BAR(D)OFAVON; the rest of the set are: SLUSHFUN(D); KEYBOAR(D); (D)ARKMEAT; and (D)RUGABUSE. The ‘D’ isn’t in any consistent spot, which adds to the difficulty somewhat.
I imagine a hypothetical Jane Monday-solver might trip on the RIOJA/ANJOU cross. ANJOU in particular is at least the second most popular pear of crosswords (after BOSC.)
I’ve never seen HASS in a grid before, so although those are not unusual letters, that was actually my favourite answer. Around here, the default avos are FUERTEs, though.