Christina Iverson & Jeff Chen’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Belt Line”—Jim P’s review
Theme: The final letters of certain words are doubled and added to the start of the subsequent word for crossword wackiness.
- 17a [What He uses to produce rain?] THE LORD’S SPRAYER. The Lord’s Prayer. Anyone else certain that the clue was referring to helium?
- 22a [Medusa’s sassy snakes?] FRESH HAIR. Fresh air.
- 37a [Dye one’s locks in camo?] GO OLIVE. Go live.
- 47a [Hidden undershirt?] COVERT TOP. Covert op.
These seemed rather run-of-the-mill at first glance, and the whole theme felt really loose to me, especially for a Jeff Chen joint. I mean, there are probably a wealth of phrases one can do this operation with. Then I looked at the specific letters that were doubled: S, H, O, T. Aha! A shot is a type of drink of which you might request a double—an elegant touch that I’m afraid many might miss. But it definitely raises the level of puzzle quality.
And how about that title, “Belt Line”? A belt line is the part of the body around which a belt is placed, but MAKE MINE A DOUBLE could also be considered a line (a saying) about a belt (a drink). Kinda reminds me of a certain recent Sunday puzzle theme that for some reason a lot of people had a hard time discerning. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Anyhoo, super fun fill in PEELED OUT and SPORTS BRA. I loved the clue for REVERE [Rosie of kid lit who’s an engineer]. I probably heard of this book at one point (it’s a little too young for my daughter), but once I thought about the clue, I figured it had to rhyme with “engineer” and voila! It did. Not so keen on the clue for grid counterpart GRAHAM [Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee]. [Trump toady] would’ve worked, but I’d have rather seen something to do with the cracker, Monty Python, or author Greene.
Other clues of note:
- 2d. [Cologne cry]. ACH. Deceptive, since people might think the city is in France. But since the answer is a German expression, the clue should take the German spelling (Köln) to be most accurate. However! I was still thinking of the city when I got to 49d [Cologne containers], which turned out to be about men’s fragrances (answer: VIALS). I’m sure this multi-clue misdirection was intentional, so all in all, nicely done.
- 23d. [Not italic]. ROMAN. Wait. So a roman font can’t be italic? I don’t think I knew this. Why can I choose the italic option for Times New Roman then? Any printing experts in the house?
- 30d. [What Bob Dylan has been on since 1988]. TOUR. Really? Well, I hope he’s taking a little break now.
A sneakily stealthy theme with a cherry on top that I fear too many will miss. Fun fill as well. 3.75 stars.
Alex Eaton-Salners’ New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
Folks, this is the second Alex Eaton-Salners-penned Thursday NYT in 3 weeks. That feels…oddly frequent? Especially since he also recent had a Friday puzzle as well. Anyways, let’s dig into this one:
- 17A: -able — PUT ON HOLD
- 25A: Big nos. — SCHNOZZOLA
- 36A: Op-ed — MADE A CHOICE
- 49A: Mil. post, say — ROAD MARKER
- 58A: Method of communication needed to understand 17A, 25A, 36A, and 49A — MORSE CODE
Parsing the dots and dashes in the phrasing of the clues makes their answers understandable. One dash in morse code is T, so 17A becomes “Table”, which makes sense with PUT ON HOLD, and 36A becomes “Opted” and MADE A CHOICE. One dot is E, so “Big nose” and “Mile post” suddenly click with SCHNOZZOLA and ROAD MARKER. I would have loved to see this pushed further – an ellipsis (…) is an S in morse code, and — is M, so there could have been way more fun to be had with the cluing.
Stereogum’s “The Number Ones” series just left the DISCO ERA of the late 1970s behind, but we’re still getting the intermediate steps dance music was taking in 1980, like Lipps Inc
Be well, all! Stay healthy!
Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Rock Solid”–Derek’s write-up
Derek subbing for Jenni for this week’s Fireball, which had me brainstorming 70s rock bands! Not sure why all of these bands are from the ’70s or so era, other than the fact that there are no cool one-name bands anymore! The central entry in the grid explains it all, and the letters in red all go in the same square. I have paired the across and down entries in order:
- 17A [Star] MARQUEE NAME
- 4D [Director of “12 Years a Slave”] MCQUEEN
- 22A [Most carefree] GAYEST
- 24D [Military affirmative] YES, SIR!
- 26A [Chicago-based film critic of the last quarter of the 20th century] GENE SISKEL – This is the best one in the puzzle! I stared that this for a while wondering what band this could be!
- 11D [Console for Sonic the Hedgehog] SEGA GENESIS
- 49A [Touch up before entering the ring, as a show dog] RE-BRUSH
- 50D [When commuter hubs are crowded] RUSH HOUR
- 52A [Yelled] SCREAMED
- 37D [Bar food?] ICE CREAM
- 58A [Old inventory at a magazine] BACK ISSUES
- 59D [Face, in slang] KISSER
- 35A [Having a small range of frequencies (and a hint to this puzzle’s theme)] NARROW BANDWIDTH
I stole the answer grid image from the Fireball email, as it shows, albeit small, how the grid fits together nicely. The grid image appears larger for this reason. I had only the first letters in my Across Lite grid, and it also showed I had an error since I errantly had a square in as a rebus that shouldn’t have been. Stellar execution here, especially given that these themes are all symmetrically aligned. And with all of these bands having had their heyday 40-50 years ago, this puzzle may be proof that rock and roll is dead! 4.7 stars for this week’s Fireball.
A few more things:
- 18A [Thermals, informally] LONGIES – This may be a New York think; I had WOOLIES in here, but that slang word might have two L’s! I just always called them long underwear.
- 34A [Billy Porter’s role in “Kinky Boots”] LOLA – This is another show I haven’t seen, and since they rarely come to South Bend, IN, they will have to make a feature length movie!
- 46A [“Slip ___ Away” (1977 Paul Simon hit)] SLIDIN’ – More ’70s rock!
- 64A [They can be grave] ACCENTS – This is one of the better clues. This is referring to language accents. It looks like usage varies by language? It isn’t seen much in English, so I will refrain from further butchering the meaning of them here!
- 29D [“Murphy Brown” housepainter] ELDIN – I’ll bet this is the only ELDIN that exists!
- 43D [Sandra Oh show before “Grey’s Anatomy”] ARLI$$ – Another show to binge watch during self-isolation!
- 45D [African river that flows past an anagrammatic capital city] UBANGI – This clue is on Peter’s notes; the capital city is flows past is Bangui. Nice clue!
- 47D [“I don’t have good news”] “IT’S BAD” – Great casual phrase!
- 52D [Massachusetts sent him to the electric chair in 1927] SACCO – SACCO and Vanzetti were just referred to in a puzzle last Saturday. I think it was the most recent Stumper.
- 55D [___ Tuesday] TACO – … getting hungry …
Thanks for letting me sub for this one, and I hope you enjoyed the puzzle. I’ll be back for some reviews in a couple of days. Stay safe and healthy!
Katelyn Glassman and Ross Trudeau’s Universal crossword — “Paper Trail”
A puzzle you can bank on today. And this appears to be a debut for Katelyn Glassman! Congrats!
THEME: Phrases in which the last word can follow “bank.” ***UPDATE: I screwed this up big time. Theme answers are all things one can take to a certain type of bank. Sorry!***
- 17A [Homeowner’s expense, often] MORTGAGE PAYMENT.
- 27A [You may need one to drop a line] FISHING LICENSE.
- 42A [You might have an A+ on yours] BLOOD DONOR CARD.
- 54A [“You can count on that!” … or what you may do with a 17-, 27- or 42-Across?] TAKE IT TO THE BANK.
Solid set and clean theme today! I’m surprised STATEMENT didn’t make the cut as a second word… perhaps it’s too long? BANK LICENSE is a new term to me, but clearly not to everyone else in the world as it googles quite well.
Some fun stuff to boot:
- 38D [Key used to type its name] SPACE BAR. Ironically, you did not need to use it while typing it into a crossword grid!
- 28D [Dramatic rejection of an apology] IT’S NOT OKAY. That is dramatic, isn’t it!
- 29D [Hunter in Genesis] NIMROD. Didn’t know that. I thought NIMROD just meant “idiot.” That’s a fun word to say though. NIMROD.
Enjoy the day!
Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
ELEMENTARY is today’s revealer, and four answers end in the elements GOLD, NEON, TIN and LEAD. The theme answers are in various forced tenses – GROWINGOLD, TIESONEON, the dictionary-phrased HASANINTESTIN – the whole theme feels forced. Maybe a looser interpretation could have made for more interesting theme answers?
Not a lot to remark on elsewhere. There are two pairs of long downs: BAROFSOAP/ECOLOGIST and ATOMICAGE/HITANDRUN. In cricket the last is the more gentle TIPANDRUN… My favourite clue was [Does some fencing, maybe], for ABET.
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1249), “Say Yes”—Ade’s take
Hello there, again! Here is hoping all of you are taking all precautions and are as safe as can be right now.
If you’re not tired out from a Thursday of crossword puzzles, just say yes! Well, in this puzzle, we have some puns in the three theme entries that are created by using the syllables of words that mean “yes” in three different languages. Seems a bit tricky, but so long as you’re familiar with at least one of the words that mean “yes,” it’s not too much of a head cracker.
- THE MIGHTY SEQUIN (17A: [Really massive, totally singular sparkling bit on a dancer’s costume?]) – The Mighty Quin + Sí (Spanish for “yes”).
- GOES ALONG YAHWEH (35A: [Follows a Judaic God side-by-side?]) – Goes a long way + Ja (German for “yes”).
- CONCERT WHEATIES (57A: [Cereal sold at rock shows?]) – Concert tees + Oui (French for “yes”).
Did not get BARABBAS (1A: [Pilate released him]) immediately, which probably would have disappointed my Catholic school religious teachers upon knowing that, but the rest of the northwest fell very quickly, giving me an early foothold and eventually jogging my memory at 1A in the process. A couple of entries made me laugh out loud because of the source of the answers, the first being MATH and the old SNL skit with Chevy Chase playing President Ford during presidential debates (55D: [“I was told there wouldn’t be any ___”]). Though that bit of humor was before my time, the second, ON DOPE, is right in my wheelhouse when growing up in the ’80s (16A: [High as a helicopter]). I’ll let Mr. Hand take over from here…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BORG (42A: [“Star Trek” group]) & AL UNSER (47A: [1991 Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee]) – Interesting that these two entries abut each other, given that the BORG-Warner Trophy is the name of the award given to the winner of the Indianapolis 500, the legendary Indy Car race that AL UNSER won on four occasions (1970, 1971, 1978, 1987). Unser can, literally, be called the face of the trophy, as a small bust of the winning driver is engraved on the trophy and Unser, along with A.J. Foyt and Rick Mears, won The Greatest Spectacle in Racing a record four times.
Thank you so much for your time, friends! Have a great rest of your Thursday, and hope you have a good weekend coming up! Stay safe! Keep six feet apart from fellow citizens! Wash your hands! Stay positive…if you can!