The Fireball puzzle is still on summer vacation.
Patrick Merrell’s New York Times crossword—Andy’s review
A surprisingly simple theme for a Thursday: three everyday phrases starting with the word NO, reimagined as punny answers to questions with a comma inserted after the NO:
- 17a, “NO, RHYME OR REASON” [Q: “Can I write both a poem and an essay?” A: “___”].
- 36a, “NO, GREAT SHAKES” [Q: “Is that snack bar known for good burgers?” A: “___”].
- 60a, “NO, MAN IS AN ISLAND” [Q: “Should you call that stopover between Liverpool and Belfast a peninsula?” A: “___”].
A cute idea, as expected from Patrick, and the execution is lovely. Even though the theme answers are all quite long, three theme answers feels a little light, especially for a relatively straightforward theme on a Thursday.
In lieu of an abundance of theme, we get quite a lot of Scrabbly letters in the grid: AIR TAXI, Teddy RUXPIN, GARBANZO, XBOX, Mario PUZO, KUNG FU, KIWI, etc. etc. Didn’t notice a ton of junk while solving — just -ETH, ISO-, SLO, and AN A.
Ending on a high note, there was a truly lovely clue in this one!
- 64a, CRAB [Fiddler on the reef?].
Nothing else from me today. Until next time!
Alice Long’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Parting of the Ways” — Jim’s review
The title hints that something is being separated in the theme answers. At first it’s not obvious; when I started to encounter curtailed phrases, I thought maybe the missing parts were bending upwards or downwards (or both). But then I noticed that several entries were clued simply as [Way]. When I saw their positional relationship to the main theme answers, the penny dropped. This is a not-uncommon theme approach employed by editor Mike Shenk.
- 17a [World class activity?] / 19a [Way]: STUDYING AB / ROAD
- 27a [Way] / 30a [Disease expert]: PATH / OLOGIST
- 46a [Destination of an out-of-body experience, perhaps] / 48a [Way]: ASTRAL P / LANE
- 60a [Way] / 61a [AARP The Magazine predecessor]: MODE / RN MATURITY
For the most part I enjoyed sussing out this theme. The entries are solid and the clues are spot on. The only thing that distracted was that three of the “ways” are fairly synonymous (meaning, a track or a trail) and one roughly means style or manner. It would’ve have been more elegant if all four used the same meaning of “way” or else each used a different meaning. Even two of each would have been better.
Not much in the way of sparkly fill today though I do like SPARTAN and TABLOID. There’s a clutch of ODDISH entries (including ODDISH). I could do without FORERAN, and GABBLE really seemed like it wanted to be BABBLE or GOBBLE.
Clues of note:
- 38a [Columbarium array]. URNS. Never heard the clue word. Thought it might be a place that serves lots of coffee. Uh, no. It’s “a room or building with niches for funeral urns to be stored.”
- 41a [“Metamorphosis of Narcissus” painter]. DALI. That’s this painting here.
- 67a [Light bender]. Good misdirection. I thought this was referring to a little drinking spree.
- 9d [Site for scareheads]. TABLOID. Again, never heard the clue word. Scareheads aren’t people; they’re alarming or sensational newspaper headlines.
- 51d [“The Burghers of Calais” creator]. RODIN. That’s this sculpture here.
Enjoyable puzzle. 3.8 stars from me.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Chill Out” — Ben’s Review
Today’s BEQ review is going to be a quick one since I’m in and out of meetings all day – let’s dive into what’s going on with “Chill Out”:
- 18A: One who always takes things the wrong way — KLEPTOMANI
- 24A: Thanksgiving side dish — ORN SQUASH
- 53A: Beat author who came up with the tiles for “Howl” and “Naked Lunch” — JACK KEROU
- 60A: Almost as good as the best — LOSE SECOND
- 37A: Boxes that stick out of certain frames in the summer, and a hint to this puzzle — WINDOW UNITS
It’s the dog days of summer, which means that most of the people I know without air conditioning in their building have one or more A/C WINDOW UNITS hanging out of a window to keep at least one room cool. All of this week’s theme answers also have their AC hanging out the end of the puzzle – KLEPTOMANIAC and JACK KEROUAC on the right, ACORN SQUASH and A CLOSE SECOND on the left.
Keep it cool, y’all.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword — Andy’s Review
Hi all! Andy here. Gareth couldn’t get to this, but I wanted to put up a quick blurb for posterity:
The theme was 58a, ISLAND RETREATS [Vacation spots found in each set of puzzle circles]. There are four sets of circles in this puzzle, each of which spells a popular vacation island in reverse (or, in the language of this puzzle, an ISLAND RETREATing):
- 16a, THE ITALIAN ALPS [Lombardy skiing destination]. Lanai.
- 22a, TEQUILA BOTTLE [One of many standing in a Mexican bar]. Bali.
- 36a, PETER COTTONTAIL [Gene Autry Easter song critter]. Crete.
- 48a, CARMINA BURANA [Carl Orff opus]. Aruba. You might know Carmina Burana as the work that contains O Fortuna.
An ambitious puzzle — lots of theme and plenty of interest in the rest of the fill (OY GEVALT, FOR VALOR, NON-ISSUE, CORVETTE, ASIAN ART) — as expected from Jeffrey Wechsler. Good stuff.