Alan Arbesfeld’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
The puzzle seems ill-timed, since UNITED NATIONS is clued as 35a. [Organization honored on October 24 … and the theme of this puzzle]. Why mention the date for UN Day if the puzzle’s not running then? Lots of other ways to clue the term. Anyway—the theme answers are goofy phrases cobbled together by combining the names of countries, and then splitting them into different words.
- 17a. [“You can’t bring in a crazed antelope, Mr. Glass!”?], “IRA, NO MANIC ELAND!” Iran, Oman, Iceland.
- 23a. [Wrigley Field’s beer boycott goes into effect?], CUB ALE BAN ON. Cuba Lebanon.
- 50a. [Mother isn’t straight with actress Vardalos?], MA LIES TO NIA. Mali Estonia. Nia Peeples and Nia Long, sorry. We know you’re both appearing on screen more often these days than Vardalos is.
- 57a. [Suffering caused by reader prejudice?], PERUSER BIAS PAIN. Peru Serbia Spain. Nobody much uses PERUSER as a word.
I find myself wishing the UNITED NATIONS revealer had been scrapped, loosening up the grid so that it doesn’t include so much clunky fill. ORBED (52d. [Spherical]) is perhaps the worst offender. I do like IN CAPS, though. Does seem mildly odd to have UGANDA in the fill, given the theme. I enjoy geography-related themes, but the fill detracted from that wordplay today.
Proper nouns in the grid: ISIS SCOT KOCH GLENN ALI LES STMARK ELIZA EGGO SAM UGANDA RIO LANI ISUZU ULEE (!) ESME IONIA TNG ALANKING CLEO TERI YALTA KONA OPEL. What is that, 24? That’s way too many for the sake of the solvers who aren’t keen on puzzles that quiz them on names.
Three more things:
- 51d. [Japanese import], ISUZU. Guess what? Isuzu no longer makes passenger cars and SUVs, but they do make a few pickup trucks along with commercial vehicles.
- 9a. [Couples], DYADS. Oh, hey! I missed DYAD in Tuesday’s NYT Spelling Bee puzzle. I’m up to 48 words, 172 points. Still plugging away with Gareth, pannonica, and P.D.
- 43d. [Sics on], LETS AT. This is one of my least favorite entries in the category, “awkward verb phrases that are sorely overused in crosswords.”
2.75 stars from me. Without the revealer jacking up the theme density, I think I’d have enjoyed this puzzle a lot more.
Daniel Hamm’s (Mike Shenk’s) Wall Street Journal crossword, “Whatcha Doin’?” — Jim P’s review
Certain gerund-including phrases have that final G elided, thus forming sound-alike words. The corresponding made-up phrases get the wacky treatment.
- 17a [Patissier’s pancetta desserts?] BACON CAKES. Baking cakes. This base phrase doesn’t feel as strong idiomatically as the others. You may debate the value of putting bacon inside cakes.
- 33a [Leader in the pennant race, say?] SEASON POWER. Seizing power.
- 42a [Forepersons at fastener factories?] BUTTON HEADS. Butting heads. Meh. This entry doesn’t have much surface sense.
- 60a [Where early birds deposit their worms?] ROBIN BANKS. Robbing banks. Not bad. I like the imaginative clue.
- 11d [Filler for a pride parka?] LION DOWN. Lying down. Not the kind of “pride” I was thinkin’ of. I’m not sure how you get down from a lion, but I don’t mind the entry.
- 38d [Avian mascot of a British school?] ETON CROW. Eating crow. This one works best, in my opinion. The base phrase is colorful and the entry itself has good surface sense. Although I hardly think a school as prestigious as Eton would have a common crow as its mascot. Still, good entry.
LUCK INTO, LIP READS, and KNEEPADS make for fine non-theme fill. I also like seeing ICARUS and ACACIA. I could really do without longtime crossword staples OTOE and INRE. The little AUK I don’t mind. It’s cute!
A few more things:
- Couldn’t remember what BOLO meant in the clue [BOLO’s kin]. Once I got all the crossings for APB, I remembered it was “Be On the Look-Out.”
- For the clue [Chow line?] and the entry looking like LE_S_, I wanted LETS(EAT) with the EAT rebusized. But the clue is referring to dogs to get the answer LEASH.
- [Its newest member is Congo] clues OPEC. I heard yesterday that Qatar is leaving OPEC to focus on natural gas production.
That’s all I have. 3.25 stars.
Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
Four theme answers have a fire related word: BURN, FLAME, FIRE and BLAZE. Two of the four theme answers don’t seem to be real things. A FACIALBLAZE is just called a blaze. Googling “facial blaze” +horse gives you three-hundred odd hits the third of which is for this puzzle… FLAMETROLLING Googles slightly better, but for an internet phenomenon, not well at all. Pretty sure this is describing either FLAMING or TROLLING and putting them together like that is not a special thing.
The rest of the puzzle is clean and inoffensive. I appreciated not shoving crazy letters in those small corners…
Erin Rhode’s AVCX, “A Bit of a Mind Flip” — Ben’s Review
Another long workday means I just got to today’s AVCX, but it was worth the wait. I had a hunch at what Erin Rhode was pointing to with her title for this week’s puzzle, “A Bit of a Mind Flip”, but the execution’s pretty great:
- 20A: Break during which a stretcher might be brought on the field — INJURY TIME TO SPARE
- 53A: Region that includes Ontario, West Virginia, and Haiti — EASTERN TIME IS RIPE
- 6D: “Act now!” — THE TIME ZONE
- 36D: Earlier than necessary — WITH TIME OUT
- 35A/36A: Hypothetical distortion that causes change to both position and direction, as in this puzzle’s grid — TIME WARP
Each rebus square featuring TIME acts as a warp – INJURY TIME OUT starts in 20A and finishes at the end of 36D, EASTERN TIME ZONE starts at 53A and ends at 6D, and THE TIME IS RIPE and WITH TIME TO SPARE complete the down entries in similar fashion.
The construction on this, given the constraints, is pretty fantastic! Nicely done, Erin.