Evan Birnholz’s Washington Post crossword, “Crossing Over” – Jim Q’s writeup
Weird 23×19 shape? Unchecked boxes? You have my attention.
THEME: Bridges, whose unchecked boxes are very meta if you read them north to south
- 30A [2001 Prince album that tells a story of a religious utopia (New
York/Ontario)] THE RAINBOW CHILDREN.
- 37A [Food magazine based in a Big Apple borough (New York)] EDIBLE BROOKLYN.
- 62A [Old military outpost that served as a battle site during the War of 1812 (Michigan)] FORT MACKINAC.
- 71A [1989 Martin Amis mystery adapted into a 2018 film (England)] LONDON FIELDS.
- 101A [Attraction without a straight orientation (England)] LEANING TOWER OF PISA.
No revealer necessary!
This puzzle was a lot of fun to solve. I was having such a good time with the fill clues themselves that I didn’t bother to start considering the long theme answers until I was almost halfway through the grid.
Mr. Happy Pencil didn’t come up at the end because I had misspelled MACK(A)NAC (it’s my first time hearing of it, and I inferred). But it was an easy mistake to fix because, clearly, the unchecked squares had to work together in some sense. And BRADGE ain’t lookin’ too good. Easy-to-fix error.
Seriously though, one clue after the next was just great with loads of nifty trivia that tested inference skills. Here’s just a handful:
- 29A [It pays the Bills] NFL
- 34A [Cool joint?] HIP
- 66A [Private sector?] BOOT CAMP
- 69A [Setting in the 2012 book “Narcopolis”] OPIUM DEN. Don’t know the book, but it has to be drug related, right?
- 111A [Nation in which people spend pounds] SYRIA. Was unaware that Syria used pounds.
- 113A [Ram rod?] AXLE. Car misdirection alert! By the way, am I the only one who
constantly screws up AXEL/AXLE spellings?
- 122A [R and R in Rochester, e.g.] ENDS. As in the name “Rochester” ENDS with the letters R and R.
- 21A [Dueling blade] RAPIER. Anyone else just automatically start writing EPEE?
- 6D [National flower of Venezuela] ORCHID. Trivia!
- 17D [She has 2020 visions] WARREN. Fantastic clue.
- 38D/39D [Craft seen on game day]/[Croft seen on game day?] BLIMP/LARA. [Insert slow clap here].
- 42D [Nation that has 11 governorates] OMAN. If you know your four letter nations, it’s no prob.
- 43D [Disney duck princess whose name rhymes with a deli sandwich fish] OONA. Woulda gotten OONA soonah’ had I read the whole clue and figured out tuna.
- 67D [O one] OPRAH. Clue sounds like a score!
- 84D [One making a scene?] NOVELIST. Hehe.
- 102D [Series of numbers?] GLEE. As in the television show about a GLEE club.
- 104D [Pieces of one’s heart?] ODE. Fresh take on an old entry.
And my most embarrassing stumbling spot:
- 103D [Instrument featured in a Ralph Vaughan Williams concerto] TUBA. I had TU?A and couldn’t figure it out. I wanted OONA‘s TUNA there.
I really don’t have a helluva lot to say about the theme other than I liked it! WaPo, once again, finding ways to stay fresh and unique.
VIDEO GAME CLUE OF THE WEEK:
The aforementioned [Croft seen on game day?] LARA.
Andrew Kingsley’s New York Times crossword, “Get Your Mind Out Of The Gutter”—Amy’s recap
Quick one, I’m on my way out. The theme is familiar phrases clued as if they have to do with bowling. Revealer is 109d. [Bowlers’ targets … 10 of which can be found appropriately arranged in this puzzle], PINS, and the letter string PIN can be found presumably where bowling pins would be set up, in a 4/3/2/1 triangle. I’ll highlight the initial P’s where I see ’em.
- 3d. [Perfect places for bowlers to aim?], STRIKE ZONE.
- 5d. [Comment when you need a serious comeback at the end of a bowling game?], NO TIME TO SPARE.
- 12d. [Whether to aim at 7 or 10, in bowling?], SPLIT DECISION.
- 14d. [Disappointing news for a bowler?], LANE CLOSURE.
- 73d. [Pace at which bowlers complete their games?], FRAME RATE. This is a film term.
- 78d. [Hip bowling enthusiasts?], ALLEY CATS.
I guess the 3×3 black block is supposed to be a bowling ball? In the .puz format, it is decidedly unrollable.
Did not know: 93a. [Fort ___ (where Billy the Kid was killed)], SUMNER. Tried SUMTER. I only know that Gordon Sumner is Sting’s birth name.
Fill mostly as you expect in a 21×21, some crummy bits here and there. Four stars, over and out.
Paul Coulter’s Universal crossword, “People You Might Know”—Rebecca’s review
THEME: Common phrases re-imagined as people’s names
- 22A [Good name for a gardener?] MAY FLOWERS
- 24A [Good name for a Diamondbacks owner?] CHASE FIELD
- 42A [Good name for a color consultant?] JADE GREEN
- 47A [Good name for a discount store manager?] MARK DOWNS
- 52D [Good name for a car thief?] JOY RIDE
- 68A [Good name for a sailor?] LEE SHORES
- 72A [Good name for a birdwatcher?] BOB WHITE
- 94A [Good name for a Beatles fan?] PENNY LANE
- 120A [Good name for a construction worker?] JACK HAMMER
- 122A [Good name for a Greek restaurant server?] OLIVE GROVE
This puzzle is fine theme-wise, but a bit of a slog to get through. Had I not been reviewing this I probably would’ve stopped midway through, which is a shame because I think this could’ve been great as a 15×15 – it’s just not enough to stay interesting for such a large puzzle. To me, MAY FLOWERS, MARK DOWNS, JOY RIDE, PENNY LANE, & JACK HAMMER were the best answers of the group, and could’ve been put into a much more satisfying smaller puzzle.
With no long answers, this also felt a bit choppy and having the longest answers at 10 letters when you have 21 spaces to work with feels like a missed opportunity. The fill was similarly fine. Nothing bad, just not especially exciting or interesting.
I wish I could say more, but I really didn’t find much to discuss here.
Pam Awick Klawitter’s LA Times crossword, “It’s a Plus” – Jenni’s writeup
This is not my favorite kind of puzzle. There’s no wordplay. We have six sets of circles in the grid which comprise the theme, plus a revealer. Once you suss the theme, the puzzle gets easier.
Each set of circles makes a plus sign formed by a Greek letter crossing itself. I’ve highlighted the squares in the grid below.
I don’t think the Greek letters spell anything (ETA, CHI, PHI, PSI, TAU, RHO). The revealer sits in the middle: 65a [With 67-Across, what appears in each set of circles] is GREEK CROSS. I admire and appreciate the effort that went into the construction of this puzzle. It wasn’t much fun to solve.
A few other things:
- I did enjoy some of the long answers that helped form the crosses, especially A STITCH IN TIME and NIPS IN THE BUD.
- 26a [Amber and silver] ALERTS are missing children and seniors, respectively. A depressing clue for a word that could have been clued so many other ways.
- 43a [Google __] is CHROME. Hands up if you also started with EARTH.
- 60a [Match play?] is an amusing clue for ARSON. Arson is not amusing, of course.
- Google Images confirms that Rodney Dangerfield’s EPITAPH is indeed “There goes the neighborhood.” The same website has Merv Griffin’s “I will not be right back after this message.”
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Brian ORSER shared an Emmy for “Carmen on Ice.” His co-winners were Brian Boitano and Katarina Witt and the category was “Outstanding Classical Music-Dance Program.” This clip reminded me that I watched it at the time – I’d completely forgotten about it.
Erik Agard’s Universal crossword, “TV Stars”—Jim Q’s review
THEME: Television stars whose names have the letters TV in them (bridging first/last name)
- 20A [Star of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”] ROBERT VAUGHN.
- 38A [Voice star of “The Legend of Korra”] JANET VARNEY.
- 57A [Star of the midnight edition of “SportsCenter”] SCOTT VAN PELT.
I really hate to admit that I’ve never heard of any of the TV stars in the theme. Thankfully there are no curveball spellings and their names are easily inferred with a few letters, and fairly crossed throughout. “The Legend of Korra” is not a show I’m familiar with either. The other two, I’ve heard of, but have never seen. So maybe not as enjoyable for me as for many other people, themewise.
Fill is well done! I loved OOH OOH next to BOO BOO. Both childish and rhyming. Very cute. AIGHT is a fresh, accurate entry. And the clue for RESIN referencing SIN is clever.
Other good stuff includes BROUHAHA (not BRO(O)HAHA as I originally spelled it), TOOK TO GO, PLAY IT SAFE, and BRUNCH MENU.
Overall, a clean solve with some new and interesting names to uncover.