David Alfred Bywaters’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Kin Group”—Jim P’s review
I need to make this short and sweet. Ongoing shoulder issues mean sitting at a computer is very uncomfortable for me. Just got out of an MRI so hopefully I can start to get some relief soon.
Theme: Silent Ks are added to the Ns in certain phrases.
- 17a. [One whose armor interferes with bedtime comfort?] SLEEPLESS KNIGHT. Possibly the oldest pun on record? (Not the “sleepless” part, just the night/knight part.)
- 31a. [Sweater shoppers?] KNIT PICKERS.
- 48a. [Achieved equilibrium?] KNEW BALANCE.
- 64a. [Macramé class request?] CAN WE PLEASE KNOT? I like this one best, although I usually hear this phrase without the please and in the second person singular (“Can you not?”).
Nice theme. Good choices.
Top fill: BIG SPENDER, BALLERINAS, SULTANS, SCHISMS.
Clues of note:
- 5a. [Lincolnshire sausage ingredient]. SAGE. I went with LEEK for my first guess. I know somebody over does this. Ah, there’s the Glamorgan sausage, a traditional Welsh vegetarian sausage, made of cheese, leeks and bread crumbs.
- 20a. [Cowboy headgear]. HELMET. Oh, I finally just figured this out. Cowboys on the football field, not on the range.
- 5d. [Seraglio figures]. SULTANS. Seraglio is defined as either (1) the women’s apartments (harem) in an Ottoman palace, or (2) a Turkish or Ottoman palace, especially the Sultan’s court and government offices at Constantinople. I’m guessing we’re using the second definition.
Kind of a basic theme for the end of the week, but the puzzle itself is solid all around. 3.7 stars.
Steve Mossberg’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
It’s Thursday! Let’s crossword:
- 20A: Something directly following a penultimate position — that is to say, diametrically opposed to a primary one — THE LAST WORDILY
- 34A: L iKe aN Ov eN — HOT MESSILY
- 39A: Golden blades that may be tenderly chew’d by equine or bovine beings — HAY LOFTILY
- 53A: The cat’s meow, baby. Dig? — ALL THAT JAZZILY
This Thursday’s puzzle doesn’t feel quite as conceptual as the last few Thursdays. Adding in commas helps to parse the cluing here – HOT, MESSILY is “L iKe aN Ov eN”. We also have THE LAST, WORDILY, HAY, LOFTILY (my favorite of these clues), and ALL THAT, JAZZILY. The more I sit with it, the more this theme grows on me, but in the midst of solving I wasn’t really getting anything to hang onto until I realized I had one theme clue ending in ILY and had letters in the grid that meant all the theme answers would likely follow suit.
25A: Girl group with the 1999 #1 album “FanMail” — TLC
other nice grid bits: ATAT, A AVERAGE (which I tried to make RAVE AGE, but ATE IT in the downs wouldn’t allow that), ARSONIST, EGO TRIP, TWANG, LATTE, ALGIERS, and YOGA MAT
Stay safe! Be well!
Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 145” – Jenni’s write-up
Short review tonight because I have had enough of staring at the computer screen. SO MUCH ZOOM.
Anyway. I enjoyed this Themeless. I would have loved a bit more challenge – in general, I’d be happy if more of the Fireballs were, indeed, blazingly hard. It’s a good puzzle.
The Trademark Peter Gordon Very Long Clue shows up at 48a [J. Robert Oppenheimer said that he remembered the line from the Bhagavad Gita “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” after the first one]. The answer is A–TEST.
Things I noticed:
- 1a [They don’t crack when pressured even when they’re full of beans] is SOFT TACOS, which is utterly obvious when it’s filled in and not immediately evident from the clue. The rest of that corner consisted primarily of gimmes so it didn’t slow me down.
- I haven’t seen ACCURST in a very long time. Google Ngram viewer tells me that it peaked in 1807, a smidgen before my time.
- 20a [Bent an elbow, perhaps] is SALUTED, which is a nice misdirection. I was looking for something to do with alcohol.
- I enjoyed the juxtaposition of BAHAMA MAMA and THERESA MAY.
- As he so often does, Peter slips in a couple of nearly matching entries in the NW and SE. The answer symmetrical to THERESA MAY is THERE‘S A WAY.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that OREO CHURROS are a thing.
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1335), “Movin” — Jenni’s review
This was a fun puzzle to solve and an amusing theme, even though I can’t make head or tails out of one of theme answers. I’m counting on our very smart and generous commentariat to enlighten me.
The three theme answers I understand swap the first two letters of one of the words.
- 20a [Pioneering law student?] is THE FIRST ONE–L (“The First Noel”).
- 32a [Pelotons?] are INNER BIKES. It has a question mark. It’s symmetrical with the other theme answers. I know it’s correct (I checked). NINER BIKES? INNER IBKES? No idea.
- 39a [What to do when wagering gold isn’t allowed at the poker table?] is ANTE SLVER (Nate Silver).
- 47a [ESP?] is UNCLEAR POWER (nuclear power).
I like the theme already and I’m sure I’ll like it more when someone decodes 32a for me.
Lunch break is almost over, so here’s “what I didn’t know before I did this puzzle.” I didn’t know OMAR Ilhan’s Twitter handle (@IlhanMN) or that the national bird of PERU is the Andean cock-of-the-rock. Quite the handsome avian, that.
Jeff Stillman’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
It’s clue/answer reversal time. Today’s answer is [V] and the clues are three v-shaped things: VICTORYSIGN, TSHIRTNECKTYPE (such an awkward clue… er answer), and GEESEFORMATION. Then, combo-breaker! We have CAESARSFIVE.
With such a staid theme, we could have used some fancy clues, but I count [Summer shade] for TAN and [Long division?] for EON.
I still find it bizarre that Americans would consider a BIGMAC a [Classic fast-food sandwich…] when it’s clearly made with a bun and not slices of bread.
I finished the Times without too much trouble. But I still don’t understand it. Hot, messily sort of helps me get where this is going. But the ily words aren’t words and don’t really mean anything.
I didn’t really get it until it dawned when I was on my way here to find out what the…?
wordily, messily, loftily and jazzily are real words, descriptive words, and describe the way the first part of the answer was clued.
As Ben said, you kind of need to put a comma between the first part and the “..ily” word to get the sense.
Re Fireball: The best thing about the THERE’S A WAY / THERESA MAY juxtaposition is that when you look at them in the grid with that juxtaposition in mind, you can read them as THERESA WAY and THERE’S A MAY.
Today’s NYT is the most underrated one I can remember in a long time. Why so many 1-star reviews? I loved the theme and execution — lots of fun.
I agree. Nice Thursday crunch difficulty, & I personally didn’t get the point of the theme right away even after having all the fill, so the “aha” was soooo nice when I got it before reading the write-up :) .
I thought it was fun and nicely done. Much more than a ‘meh’ Thurs.
I don’t rate the puzzles, but if I did I wouldn’t have rated this one very highly. I couldn’t make any sense of the theme until coming here for the explanation, and when I did understand it, my reaction was, ok, well that’s that then.
I liked the theme, too. I picked it up as soon as I got close to the bottom theme entry, but it was still a challenge implementing it in the ones above — reading the raised letters as messy and the explanation of the end as opposed to the beginning as wordy.
The fill was hard for me in the top half. I, too, wanted the 90s to be an age, and it didn’t help that I’d never heard of AMAL. I had “bosh” rather than the Briticism for nonsense and didn’t know LANA either. But the theme made it worthwhile.
Just one old fart’s O
I don’t think I gave a *, but not many. I thought the fill was pretty lean and the ‘theme’ was very uninspired, relating back to the cluing (meh). I mean this was a Thursday, after all. NW was indeed a tougher corner, but not by much, certainly a NYT trademark, like AAPPL-related cluing.
Then again, I am no fan of Will’s all-over-the-mapness editing
-neat-o new DROP
-juvenile ‘bullet in a food fight’ PEA
The theme was OK, and I get that Thursdays should be hard, but the fill really made it a slog.
BEQ: Jenni… I had the same problem, with that Inner Bikes. After anagramming both words any way I could, all I could come up with was Niner Bikes. I had to google to find out that Niner Bikes are actually a thing, a high end thing I guess (I know Jack about bikes, motor or otherwise).
Thanks for the write up and now I don’t feel quite so small for not knowing what Niner Bikes are :) . I really did enjoy the puzzle a lot, even more knowing Niner Bikes now LOL!
p.s. some of them run in the $6000 range, which sounds astronomical to me but again, I don’t know bikes.
I’m usually on BEQ’s wavelength but not today. I listened to a few sea shanties but not enough to know the WELLERMAN. I had NUGGETS for small acorns until I came across 48d. I knew it should have been MIC but I insisted on MIKE for 63a.
“Niner” in the name refers to the change in mountain bike wheel size, from 26″ to 29″, which was a thing that started around 20 years ago. I think that “niner bike” can refer to one with 29″ wheels, as well as “Niner Bike” referring to that company.
WSJ–Cowboys in rodeos are now commonly wearing helmets as well.
I felt illy when I finished the NYT. Who would think that *theme* was wittily? Goodbye Felicially.
I enjoyed today’s Inkubator but I’m not seeing the significance of the circled letters. Could anyone explain the theme to me? Thanks!
NYT: Naticked early at the ATAT/TARTT crossing, & had over 75% of the puzzle to go. *sigh*