Julie Bérubé’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “’Wow Mom!’”—Jim P’s review
I love the title here which I only just grokked. It’s a hint that Ws are changed to Ms in the theme answers.
- 17a [Site of European capital capitalism?] BERLIN MALL. …wall.
- 23a [Macho royal?] PRINCE OF MALES. …Wales. Do all males really have to be macho? Asking for a friend.
- 38a [Mole with a mane?] SPYMARE. …ware.
- 51a [Heavily defended source of gold?] FORTIFIED MINE. …wine. This one was really hard to parse since it started with FORT and I was thinking it would be something related to Fort Knox.
- 61a [Sorcerer who’s not late?] LIVING MAGE. …wage. Extra trickery in the clue here.
Not bad. Nothing here struck me as lol-funny which is what I’m always hoping for in wackified puzzle themes, but it’s solid enough.
The solve proceeded slowly for me though. I didn’t feel like I was on the right wavelength, and halfway through I got thoroughly distracted by the news of the ACPT cancelation (see the previous post).
But that doesn’t take away from the nice fill here: JUPITER, BANDANA, LET SLIP, VIRILE, GENOMIC and CLOSE RACE (such as our Washington state Democratic primary which is virtually still neck and neck). Some crosswordese in ABOIL, ALIA, ULAN, etc.
Clues of note:
- 10a. [It may be stolen while thousands look on]. BASE. I was thinking KISS (as in the kiss cam), but this makes more sense.
- 22a. [35-Down, for example]. DIVA. 35d is KIRI Te Kanawa. I always think of the word DIVA as a pejorative word, but I guess it doesn’t necessarily have to take on negative connotations.
- 65a. [John Paul’s successor]. ELENA. Got me. I was thinking popes, not justices.
- 54d. [Soffit spot]. EAVES. I’m going to throw this one out to you, solvers. What is (a) soffit?
Solid puzzle. 3.4 stars.
Ruth Bloomfield Margolin’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
As soon as I hit the center theme clue of this Thursday’s NYT, I shredded through the rest of the puzzle, getting a near-record Thursday time. It was that much of a giveaway:
- 34A: Author of the concise yet evocative story told in this puzzle — ERNEST HEMINGWAY
Though it’s apocryphal at best, Hemingway is supposed to have won a bet with other authors by writing the following SIX WORD (58A) story:
- 17A: Part 1 of a story… — FOR SALE
- 24A: Part 2 of the story — BABY SHOES
- 49A: Part 3 of the story — NEVER WORN
It takes the right eye to notice that BABY SHOES and NEVER WORN are the same length, as are FOR SALE and SIX WORD, but something about this theme still felt lacking. This didn’t feel as experimental as I expect a Thursday NYT to feel.
stick with this song and you’ll see the connection to today’s puzzle…
Elsewhere in the fill:
- I’m not touching 15A, and I’m sure it’s not intended that way, but it felt a little off-color given the Hemingway story referenced.
- the one-two punch of “Dub, say” for ENTITLE and “One being dubbed” for KNEELER was a nice little run of cluing that rewards being solved simultaneously
- I like that I’ve gotten far enough along in my crossword solving that I trust my instincts when it mentions a pope and just start with LEO IX. That was richly rewarded when I realized “Popular new holidays gifts of 2001” was definitely XBOXES.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Making Sense”–Jenni’s write-up
This is not blazingly hard. In fact, unless I missed something, it’s NYT Wednesday-level.
The theme answers take us on a tour of the five senses.
- 18a [1965 Best Picture Oscar winner, with “The”] is SOUND OF MUSIC.
- 26a [1991 comedy film subtitle, with “The”] is SMELL OF FEAR. That’s “The Naked Gun 2 1/2,” in case you were wondering.
- 36a [What causes some people to faint] is the SIGHT OF BLOOD.
- 51a [1987 Grateful Dead hit] is TOUCH OF GREY.
- 60a [Shelagh Delaney kitchen sink drama, with “A”] is TASTE OF HONEY. According to Google, a “kitchen sink drama” is a “play or film in a post-war British style that was characterized by realistic depiction of drab or sordid subjects and used working-class domestic settings.” Good to know.
After I got the first two, I was hoping the theme would be all movie titles. Two movies, one song, one play-turned-movie, and one random phrase is less satisfying.
A few other things:
- There was some misdirection in the clues, at least for me. I kept reading words in the clues as a different part of speech than Peter intended (which I suspect was his goal). This was an issue from the first corner: 1d is [Starts] and it’s ONSETS. See? Noun, not verb. [Intimate] at 52d is GET AT. Verb, not noun or adjective.
- 3d [Top-level business execs] are the C–SUITE. I know this because I read Ask a Manager. I love advice columns.
- 32d [Ability to pitch well, in baseball lingo] is STUFF. We would also have accepted [What Gerrit Cole has in abundance]. We’re supposed to be two weeks away from the start of the season, but who knows what will happen?
- 40d [Offensive forward pass whistle?] is a great clue for CATCALL.
- Thank you, Peter, for not cluing EEG with reference to the Emergency Room.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: A whole lot of stuff. Never heard of “The Boy From Oz” and thus didn’t know it included Liza MINNELLI. Never heard of Dutch singer ESMEE Denters. Did not know the Dallas Texans played in the AFL in the early 1960s (the current Texans are unrelated). Did not know that SCORPIO was the third of the four fixed signs (I didn’t know there were four fixed signs). And I did not know that the FAA is headquartered in a building named for Orville Wright. Poor Wilbur.