Warren Houck’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Change of Direction”—Jim P’s review
Looks like we have a WSJ debut today. Congratulations, Warren!
The title had me thinking we would have entries that turned corners, but that’s not the case. Warren has taken phrases that have a directional word and anagrammed that word into something else, with resulting crossword wackiness.
- 18a [Film festival movies based on “Ratatouille”?] STEW INDIES. West… Kind of an odd clue, but I like the change in meaning of “indies”.
- 20a [Support structure for climbing roses?] THORN POLE. North…
- 33a [What a stuffed animal sits on?] FELT BEHIND. Left… This one feels the most natural, so I like it best.
- 43a [Brews for Adam and Eve?] TEAS OF EDEN. East… “Eden” doesn’t really change meaning here. I wonder if EATS OF EDEN would have lent itself better to a more humorous clue.
- 59a [Place to release your aggressions?] SHOUT PARK. South…
- 62a [Protection provided by a snug belt?] GIRTH GUARD. Right…
I was thrown off for a bit by the inclusion of “right” and “left”; those were the last two I got. It seems odd to include them without “up” and “down” (which obviously wouldn’t work with the theme constraints). And I know it’s not really possible or necessary, but a part of me wanted the directional portions of the entries to be in their respective places in the grid: THORN POLE in the north, STEW INDIES in the west, etc.
With six long theme entires, the surrounding fill isn’t so sparkly, and BOSC at 1a portends rough sailing ahead, but all in all, it wasn’t so bad. I did like HELIPORT (though I wanted HELIPAD), NECTAR, and NOOB.
Clues of note:
- 5a [Yoga pals for some, nowadays]. GOATS. I did hear of this, but know nothing about it. I think I’ll try to keep it that way.
- 23a [Pope who convinced Attila to turn back his invasion of Italy]. ST LEO. So which LEO was this? I? IV? XIII?
- 25d [Response to “I just…”]. DID YOU. I’m just not feeling this one.
- 44d [Kind of 28-Down or 57-Down]. FLAT. 28d is SHOE, 57d is TIRE. I really dislike this kind of clue, and I downright refuse to believe that FLAT is a kind of TIRE. Bleh!
- 61d [Japanese pasta]. UDON. I’m also disinclined to believe that a noodle not originating from Italy can be called a “pasta.”
Some nits could be picked here, but in the grand scheme of things, not a bad debut. 3.5 stars.
David Kahn’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
Quick write-up, got an early morning tomorrow. Theme is 36a. [Subject of this puzzle (1917-2019)], I.M. PEI, who died just under a month ago. The themers are strewn about the grid, with two 6-letter themers noticeably shorter than the quartet of non-thematic 8s that also run Across. There’s the DALLAS City Hall, with the clue repeating a key word of the ROCK AND ROLL / HALL OF FAME. There’s the LOUVRE PYRAMID, and the awkwardly split BANK OF / CHINA TOWER. And then to fill in the theme symmetry, there’s STARCHITECT, which isn’t a term I’ve seen, I don’t think. (Gonna use it for bakers who craft structured desserts with plenty of starch.) The three spots (I’ve circled them) where the themers intersect is a Kahn trademark, but I honestly don’t think such intersections bring much delight to solvers.
Likes: LOSE FACE, BIG DAY, GROMIT. Not keen on seeing in the grid, particularly outside of a tough themeless: ISOLE, IRAE, MAA (can we please kill this entry off? show me the children’s books where we learn that goats make that sound), SKUA, AFTS.
2.9 stars from me. G’night!
Joe Rodini’s Universal Crossword, “History Lesson”—Judge Vic’s write-up
I like quip puzzles, and this is one with a twist. I am unfamiliar with the constructor’s name, so this could be a debut. As you can see in the solution, Joe gives us “a very literal warning:
THOSE WHO CANNOT
REMEMBER THE PAST
ARE CONDEMNED TO
IT IT IT IT IT IT (read that repeat it)
Other good Across stuff:
16a [Lead person in the Middle Ages?] ALCHEMIST–This is cute, as lead here means the substance that humans have always hoped to change into gold.
58a [Physical locations?] EXAM ROOMS
The longest Down answer is six letters, so not much to report on there. But this puzzle is CATCHY. It has OOMPH. And, frankly, all the shorter fill seems just fine to me.
From a fan of quip puzzles, here is a 3.75-star rating, Joe. Welcomed to the club!
Alan Olschwang’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
Your typical word-scrambled-across-the-middle-of-theme-phrases puzzle. The revealer is colourful and apt: DEUCESWILD tells us to scramble DEUCE, with “wild” being a common cryptic anagram keyword. It is quite a large chunk to hide, so the theme entries lean towards the functional: SUEDECLOTH, PRODUCEEVIDENCE, full-name BRUCEDERN getting centre-billing, and COLLEGEEDUCATED.
- DISS clued as [Ph.D. hurdle] and not [Insult]. Who abbreviates dissertation like that?
- [Ancient city on the Nile], THEBES – My first encounter with this was the PC game Civilisation; I’m guessing Greek mythology is a more common entry point.
- [The heck], ONEARTH – are people saying this? My grandfather was fond of “What the?”
- [Oyster or clam], MOLLUSK – the terminal ‘K’ threw me, though I think this is an Americanism?
- [LPGA golfer Michelle], WIE. Such a bare clue. She (eventually) won a major in 2014 after being in the wilderness for a long time…