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.
Pretty good puzzle with the exceptions of the things Amy mentioned at the end of her commentary. In particular, I liked owlet moth. Yesterday I found a giant swallowtail caterpillar on my lime tree which I transferred to my chrysalis cage. It looks like a small snake
I thought this was a great puzzle.
I have been taking yoga classes for the past month at a health club (not a specific yoga place), so the unnamed form of yoga I am learning is for all levels, I do not remember the teacher calling it CORPSE POSE at the end of the class (maybe because by that time, I am so grateful it is almost over), but I do remember CHILD POSE, COBRA, CAT, and WARRIOR 1 and 2 ( I think there is also a WARRIOR 3).
The women are much better than the men as a generalization. If you ever want a lesson in humility, try to stand on one leg and hold the other leg out parallel to the floor. If you can then do a knee dip with the leg you are standing on, you have my utmost respect.
Here is the pose;
I hope you stick with it. I know a few people who say they’ve benefited greatly from the exercises. Alas, I’m not one of them. I have enough trouble staying erect with both feet on the ground.
DNF for me. I had ADDSIN rather than ADDSON, which led me to OWLETMITES (entirely plausible), which gave me ASPISE, which made no sense, but then ASPISH doesn’t either, not much anyway, and in a puzzle with HYSONS I thought it was just one more strange word.
I didn’t know INSANA (sounds more like a Fox news name) or ONEALS, but they were gettable. HOVLANE was nice, but does everyone know that term or is it regional?
HOV LANE is absolutely a regional term. Illinois bandied about the idea of a “carpool lane,” with “HOV” not entering the parlance. An acquaintance in Los Angeles talks about the “carpool lane.” “HOV lane” might be more of a New York and traffic-insidery sort of term.
HOV LANE is a gimme to anyone in the DC-to-Boston corridor, I think. Not sure about elsewhere.
As for the Rows Garden set, I can confirm that the Hardest version of the puzzles is very hard indeed. I managed to get through about 85% of the first one on Hardest, but confess that I had to Google to get through the remaining 15%.
I think I’m going to try one more on Hardest before crying uncle and going for the merely Harder ones. If I’m not mistaken, the Harder ones follow the same conventions as joon’s “Thorny” puzzles.
Nashville uses HOV.
Sounds right, I’m in the DC area. We now have HOT lanes too–High Occupancy Toll lanes–to add to the confusion.
In Honolulu we have an HOV lane and a ZIP lane.
In Los Angeles we call it the carpool or diamond lane but the state’s actual term for it is the HOV lane. I’m not sure if I learned about the term from crosswords or reading a driving manual.
One of the more annoying features is that in LA Country you can only leave the lanes at designated spots but all surrounding counties you can move in and out of them at will.
About HOV. Not used in New York. I found it in California when I went back on a visit but many years ago when I drove and picked up passengers it was not used yet.
You are not alone, David: I had OWLET MITES as well. :(
I believe it should be TCM not TMC. Or is there another channel called TMC?
TMC is The Movie Channel, a premium channel. TCM, Turner Classic Movies, shows older movies and is a basic cable channel.
I think I spent more time in the top-left than anywhere else. NOTONEIOTA was difficult to parse, and I didn’t know INSANE, AIRPOPS or STARTERSET or CORPSEPOSE. Quite bizarre after slamming down IMACOP at 1A…
Me too. Plunked in IMACOP right off but finished that corner last. Puzzle felt quizzy but was SOLVABLE which is good construction I reckon.
Loved the LAT revealer. Enjoyable puzzle.
I’m on the same page with Amy. The long entries were pretty amazing (except for NOTONEIOTA, I feel like we’ve been exposed to this NOTONE… formula a bit too much lately), but I couldn’t get the same marvel out of especially the 6-letter ones. NW corner was about to drive me nuts because it looked unSOLVABLE (INSANA, ATARUN and ANNE are not entries that one can guess out of thin air). MOTION unlocked everything there, and NOTONEIOTA actually helped me finish the puzzle much to my chagrin.
Also, the clues were a bit lacking for a Friday. [Outmarch?] is cool, but a tad groany. [Hog’s squeal?] was pretty good, but I would have liked a couple more of those.
Overall, a very solid puzzle nonetheless with a superbly executed central stack. 3.85 stars.
I fancy myself something of a tea nerd (studied Japanese tea ceremony for 10 years, been drinking Chinese tea gong fu cha style for nearly 20 years), yet HYSON was a new one on me.
NYT: “ON TOE”? Uh, no.