Alan Arbesfeld’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Offensive Line”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Ps are changed to Cs in well-known phrases, as revealed by 60a “NOT P. C.” [Potentially offensive, and the theme of this puzzle].
- 17a [Package on a hand truck?] DOLLY CARTON. …Parton. This sounds like the punchline to some groaner of a joke.
- 24a [Deforestation, say?] AMAZON CRIME. …Prime.
- 34a [Aloof group of actors?] DISTANT CAST. …past.
- 46a [Do some kneading before using the potter’s wheel?] SQUEEZE CLAY. …play.
- 56a [Garage mechanic?] ONE UNDER CAR. …par.
I like the last one, and maybe the Amazon one only because it’s more current, but the rest feel fairly standard as far as attempts at crossword wackiness. None was particularly lol-funny. And I think we tend to see NON-PC in crosswords a lot more than NOT PC. With the ambiguous clue [Development sites] for 44d TRACTS, that made that particular crossing a little bit ornery.
Highlights in the fill: Well, not a lot at first glance. I like “OH, I SEE,” but everything else feels workmanlike.
There were however, a boatload of crunchy clues (in a good way):
- 1a. [Programming solutions]. HACKS. I kept thinking TV here, not computing.
- 14a. [Kindle romance, say]. E-BOOK. Wonderful clue! I was looking the other way for nearly the whole solve.
- 29a. [Joints that swing]. Not bars or dance halls, but HINGES.
- 53a. [Where trapeze artists get together]. MID-AIR. I was thinking bars for this one as well, based on the last letter.
- 1d. [Property divider, at times]. HEDGE. How many of us put FENCE in here at first?
- 3d. [Spot for a stay]. COLLAR. Got me with this one as I’m not one to ever wear stays in my collar.
- 12d. [Milky Way part]. CARAMEL. Not astronomy, but gastronomy.
- 13d. [It involves reading letters]. EYE TEST. A lot of different possible answers for this clue. Good one.
- 32d. [Cards, on scorecards]. STL. The St. Louis Cardinals, that is.
Theme: Average, as change-a-letter themes go. Fill: Average. Clues: Strong. Verdict: 3.6 stars.
Jules Markey’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
I think the puzzle was easier than many a Wednesday puzzle, but my solving reflected having a bandaid on the tip of a middle finger. (I know better than to wrangle a knife that way! I swear.)
The theme revealer is 54a. [Asset that’s all about “location, location, location” … with a hint to the starts of 21-, 26- and 49-Across], PRIME REAL ESTATE, and those three themers are geographic entities whose names begin with prime numbers:
- 21a. [Location of a 1979 accident], TRHEEW MILE ISLAND. You see that? Bandaid typing, I tell ya. THREE MILE ISLAND.
- 26a. [Location where Italy’s capital is said to have been founded], SEVEN HILLS OF ROME.
- 49a. [Location in the New World until 1776], THIRTEEN COLONIES.
I like the theme.
Real life intrudes: 12d. [Droplet] as a clue for BEAD when we hear so much about droplets of contagion? No, thank you. And 38d. [Like some caps and gowns] for SURGICAL when we know that such personal protective equipment is in woefully short supply? Would have preferred a different BEAD clue, for sure. The SURGICAL clue has a great mislead (graduation caps and gowns) but …
Five more things:
- 62a. [12/31, for one], RATIO. It sure looks like a date. This must be fraction format as it appears in-line, yes? Ratios aren’t normally presented with a slash.
- 44d. [Young hare], LEVERET. High-end vocab for a Wednesday puzzle.
- 34a. [Big lug], APE. You like jigsaw puzzles? Illustrator Don Moyer has a new Kickstarter for a jigsaw puzzle he’s designed, and he’s calling it “Apes and Aliens.” The apes are in line for security screening at the airport, naturally. Looks like a toughie! I will look forward to receiving mine in September.
- 5d. [Inside-the-Beltway type], POLITICO. There’s also the blog/news site called Politico, which was cofounded by someone I went to college with.
- 6d. [Seed covering], ARIL. Outside of the pomegranate context, I don’t care for ARIL. It’s a word to remember when playing the NYT’s Spelling Bee puzzle: ARIL LAIR LIAR LIRA RAIL RIAL, your six-pack of anagrams.
3.6 stars from me.
Zhouqin Burnikel’s Universal crossword, “Odd Jobs” — pannonica’s write-up
Workin’ the wordplay here.
- 17a. [Result of a hack job?] DATA BREACH.
- 26a. [What someone in a bank job manages?] STUDENT LOAN.
- 42a. [Rush job?] ROCK CONCERT.
- 54a. [Part of a frame job?] MITER JOINT.
19a [Like 2021] ODD. Indeed. Unless I’m missing something significant, this minimal theme feels a bit phoned in, especially considering the standard Burnikel usually achieves.
- 56a [Judo rank indicator] BELT. Read about the dan system here.
- 9d [Oyster’s “home”] SHELL. Even with the quotes, this is very iffy. The shell’s an integral part of the organism.
- Longdowns are the meaty 3d [Abrupt way to break a habit] COLD TURKEY and 29d [Reuben meat] CORNED BEEF. Plus there’s 36d [Bowlful with beef and beans] TACO SOUP.
- 46d [New Delhi air problem] SMOG. Yes, but the coronavirus lockdown is having a dramatic effect there and elsewhere. Check out this CNN article and especially the image with the slider comparing 3 Nov of last year with 20 March of this year.
1a [Squeaky pests] MICE. Ya know, they aren’t only pests. There are hundreds of species beyond the human commensals, which admittedly tend to have negative impacts on homes and crops.
- 42d [Shouts from a rowdy crowd, collectively] ROAR, followed by 43d [Shouts from a rowdy crowd] CHANTS.
Overall, the puzzle was an quick and easy solve, with non-tricky clues.
Ben Tausig’s AVCX, “Recurring Memory” — Ben’s Review
This week’s AVCX (from editor Ben Tausig) was marked as a 2.5/5 on the difficulty scale, but this played waaaaaay harder for me. More on that in a sec, but first, let’s break down the theme:
- 18A: Recent tech disruptions — ZOOMBOMBINGS
- 25A/51A: Earth Balance alternative — I CAN’T BELIEVE/IT’S NOT BUTTER
- 38A: Getting rich — MAKING BIG BUCKS
- 61A: Give in easily — LACK BACKBONE
Each of these words/phrases contains a size of computer memory (KB, MB, GB, and TB, or kilobyte, megabyte, gigabyte, and terabyte) within it twice. ZOOMBOMBINGS (or when someone gains access to your remote hangout without your permission) is a nice recent addition. I was also pleasantly surprised that I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT BUTTER can be neatly broken into two pieces of the same length.
That much I’m on board with for the 2.5/5 difficulty part. Where this felt harder than that (or at least further from my wavelength for common crossword answers) was in the rest of the fill. Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie BUSS is completely off my radar, as is Lash LARUE of old westerns and the synthetic fabric ARNEL. Similarly, I’m familiar with Art BASEL, but figuring out that GATT was in fact the precursor to NAFTA took a leap of faith. Crossing fill was helpful in all of these cases, but I had more crossing squares where I just didn’t know what vowel went where in this grid
BTW, You want the other “Live and Let Die” by Guns ‘n’ Roses, AKA GNR. Don’t make my mistake and spend a minute trying to figure out a three-letter nickname for Wings that doesn’t exist.
Be well, all! We’re midway through the week.
Bruce Haight & Richard Lederer’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Today’s theme is quite subtle, at least until you get to the simple INE revealer (crossed by INOT and ETS). INE is not something you typically want in your puzzle, but here it is necessary to explain the theme entries’ commonality. Each has the three letters INE (hard to call it a suffix) pronounced differently: two syllables in SINE/QUA/NON and SHRIMP/LINGUINE; one in ENGINE/OF/CHANGE, LAID/IT/ON/THE/LINE and MARINE/LIFE.
New to me: ELCAP as a shortening of El Capitan and RAGER as a party – sounds very 1950’s? Painter Rembrandt PEALE.
DISHY always seems to be [Full of gossip]. Is the sense of [sexy, as a man] not familiar to the US?