Alex Eaton-Salners’s Fireball Crossword, “Flock Together”–Jenni’s write-up
This crossword is full of sheep thrills. Each ovine reference is in a rebus.
- 4d [Early vocabulary in a foreign-language class] is DAYS OF TH(E WE)EK crossing [Ceremony around graduation time], JUN(E WE)DDING.
- 21a [He’s on Missouri’s state quarter] is MERI(WETHER)LEWIS. A “wether” is a castrated sheep – the sheep equivalent of a gelding. The crossing is [Family road trip refrain]: ARE (WE THER)E YET, which is brilliant.
- 30d [Cause of an ethical dilemma] is MORA(L AMBI)GUITY crossing [New England tradition], which is C(LAMB)AKE, of course.
- 59a [Nonunion?] is EXT(RAM)ARITAL crossing [Increase], (RAM)P UP.
JUNE WEDDING is a bit roll-your-own, and I don’t even care because I love this theme. I love that every rebus is a different word. I love all the other entries. It was fun to solve.
A few other things:
- 1a [Dig up, in a way] is SPADE. That took me a while to figure out.
- 7d [Whopper purveyor?] is a LIAR. When I was in high school, we went to a Burger King on a choir field trip. Our voice teacher insisted that the poor young woman behind the counter sing the entire “hold the pickles” song.
- 25a [Coral, e.g.] really had me stumped until I remembered the existence of the Coral SEA.
- 28d [Nightcap’s counterpart in a twi-nighter] is the OPENER. Also now the pitcher who starts the game and only goes a few innings. Baseball evolves.
- 67a [Modern growth industry?] is WEED.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that AESOP was a contemporary of Sappho. I also did not know that NENA recorded an album called “Made in Germany,” and I’d never heard of George
MIKAB MIKAN. Typo in the grid which I reproduced here. Ugh.
David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Home of the Gentry”—Jim P’s review
“Gentry” in the title could be re-parsed (I suppose) as “G Entry”. Gs are added to certain familiar phrases.
- 17a [Reaction to a disappointing will?] HEIR GLOOM. Heirloom.
- 23a [Tasteless pet owner’s purchase?] CAT GLITTER. Cat litter.
- 34a [Prosthetic thyroid under development by a biomedical firm?] PROMISED GLAND. Promised land.
- 48a [Utter superficiality?] TOTAL GLOSS. Total loss.
- 56a [Winter sidewalk find?] FREE GLOVE. Free love.
An add-a-letter theme doesn’t break any new ground, but there’s a little bit of humor here. I liked the first and last one’s especially.
I’m not too keen on the title, though. If “Home of the Entry” was a phrase, then it would make sense to throw the G in there. I would have been okay with “Gentrification” as a title with a facetious parsing to “G Entrification”.
Like yesterday, there were a few too many grumbly bits in the fill: SOON AS, WHIP IN, HAD AT, RISE FOR, plural SLEETS (or is it a verb: [Falls in winter]?), and the crossing of uncommon PERORATE [Speak at length] and little-known TRALEE [Town on Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula], and I toured around the Dingle Peninsula once upon a time (there’s a joke in there somewhere, but maybe we’d best leave it be). I did like REST AREA, “NOT THAT!”, ARTISAN, and TIE A TIE.
Clues of note:
- 23a [Tasteless pet owner’s purchase?]. CAT GLITTER. I am in complete agreement with this assessment of glitter. That stuff gets everywhere and adds zero value. As a stay-at-home dad of two girls, I have outlawed all glitter in my household (when I’m allowed to).
- 28a [Wrap name]. SARAN. Hmm. Isn’t the name of the wrap “Saran Wrap”?
- 8d [Spot for a criminal’s skimmer]. ATM. Nice to see a different approach for this standby.
A fairly standard theme and grid. 3.4 stars.
Matthew Sewell’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
The AHA on today’s NYT Thursday is a little more slight than I usually expect from this specific day of NYT crosswords to be, but that doesn’t mean some of the theme entries didn’t bring a smile to my face. This one’s pretty straightforward:
- 20A: Bouncer who can always spot a fake? — THE WIZARD OF I.D.
- 30A: Backstory for TV’s Magnum? — LIFE OF P.I.
- 35A: Advice for how the pope can react out online? — I.M. A BELIEVER
- 42A: Statement before “…and that’s Canada!”? — THIS IS U.S.
- 53A: Certain people prefer their computer specialists to be attractive? — SOME LIKE I.T. HOT
We’ve replaced one word in each of these phrases with
Folgers Crystals its equivalent abbreviation form and wackiness has ensued.
Elsewhere in the fill:
- Today I learned that I associate Harry Potter with being a WIZARD more than an ORPHAN and that Al PACINO’s full first name is Alfredo.
- The Weeknd’s real name is ABEL Tesfaye
- Lots of mythological names in the grid – AENEAS, ANUBIS, VISHNU, and ITHACA
Ari Richter’s Universal Crossword, “Culture Shock”—Judge Vic’s write-up
THEME: Dr. Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? was published in 1998 and stayed on business bestseller lists for years. Yet, neither the lead paragraph of its Wiki article nor the Universal Crossword using it as a theme mentions the author by name.
1a [*Aftermath of a white Christmas eave?] ICE DAM–Now, keep your eye on the Edam.
24a [*Insurance might cover it] FIRE DAMAGE
35a [*Made something with unexpected consequences] CREATED A MONSTER
47a [With 63-Across, business fable with two mice … or a hint to a word hidden in each starred answer] WHO MOVED MY
63a [See 47-Across] CHEESE
So, the cheese moves twice, and a two-part reveal tells us about it. Is there more? What is the shock? Feels kinda like two short themes, one a simple, spans-the-phraser and one quipper.
Don’t miss out on
- CRAB CAKES (no cheese),
- HABANEROS (no cheese),
- CAME APART,
- EVEN MONEY,
- CARAMELS (no cheese),
- LATER ON, and
- IT SERVICE.
Good fill. 3.0 stars. Bring on the weekend!
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword, “The Invisible Man” —Andy’s review
The revealer of this one is at 56a, PHIL IN THE BLANKS [Theme of this puzzle (some respacing required). The three theme entries contained blanks which, when filled in with “Phil” and (sometimes) respaced, resulted in a sensical clue for the answer. Like so:
- 16a, COFOUNDER OF NIKE [___ Knight]. Phil Knight.
- 24a, NATIONALS RIVALS [___ lies]. Phillies.
- 42a, STAMP COLLECTORS [___ ate lists]. Philatelists.
Not a lot else to say here. Pretty straight-down-the-middle theme, and the four 15s means the rest of the fill is quite short but fairly clean throughout. Plural JUJUS [Magical charms] was new to me. Really liked the clues for SOAPS [Ivory, Coast, et al.] and ART [Collage class].
Until next week!
John-Clark Levin & Jeff Chen’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
This puzzle is better than your average in a number of ways. The choice of a lively neologism, SIDEHUSTLE, is one. What I really appreciated, was a different take on the directional indicator SIDE. Instead of being at the beginning or end of the word, the thematic part alternates, with each part being against the SIDE. An apt, and different, take on a common theme trope. Also, the informal set of FOOL, CON, SNOW, FLEECE and TRICK has a lot of scope for a variety of phrases.
Bits and bobs:
- [*Trace-amount precipitation], SNOWFLURRIES. These are due to arrive here, at least in the mountains surrounding the town.
- [Prefix with -gram], ANA. That’s stretching the concept of a prefix…
- [Start of D-Day?], DEES. The first two letters. As these clues go, I wasn’t a fan.
- [Car storage spot], GLOVEBOX. Or cubby hole. Do not keep disposable gloves there, they will perish BTW.
- [Sonia Sotomayor’s alma mater], YALELAW. Who else struggled to force a variety of YALEUNIVERSITY into this space?
Never heard of George Mikab either. ;)
George MIKAN / DANBROWN
Finally, a fresh Fireball.
Oy. Typo. I accidentally erased part of the grid and filled it in again before I took the photo, and clearly did it wrong. Oy.
FB: WETHER- seriously?
Opportunity to learn etymology!
“Bellwethers” would be a great title for a Bill Withers album.
Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t imagine why there hasn’t be a Far Side cartoon of two ewes whispering about a nearby ram: “Wether, or not?”
That would be hilarious!
If you’ve ever actually seen a ram, you would never, ever, think you could confuse a ram with a wether.
It may be a bit obscure but I enjoy learning new words.
I learned this word some years ago from the novel Bellwether by Connie Willis. Good book but my favorite book of hers is To Say Nothing of the Dog.