Andrew Ries’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Seemed a tad tough for a Friday puzzle, possibly because I don’t know my biblical geriatrics or the dessert at 14a, and I had ELLEN instead of ESSIE for 19a. [Woman’s name that sounds like two letters of the alphabet]. Took a while to unravel all that!
Fave fill: TRANS ICON, AC MILAN, “WEIRD, HUH?”, the EAST ROOM of the White House, FREE TIME (here comes the weekend!), ART CRITICS (shout-out to regular commenter JohnH), EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, and HONOR ROLLS.
Not so keen on AFT., SMEE, or that single TEA LEAF.
Seven more things:
- 1a. [Building with many drafts], BEER BAR. I’ve never been to one, I don’t think. Presumably a zillion craft brewery taprooms don’t serve any booze besides beer?
- 14a. [“Heavenly” dessert with a lemony filling], ANGEL PIE. A Sunset magazine recipe says it’s freshly whipped cream folded into (laborious) lemon curd, spooned into a light, crisp meringue “pie shell.” I would eat that!
- 16a. [Space between the ribs of an insect wing], AREOLA. It never fails to amuse how scared the crossword is of mentioning a body part that pretty much every single human is born with.
- 33a. [Movement to reduce frivolous lawsuits], TORT REFORM. Wow, that is an editorially slanted clue, isn’t it? That’s the argument for those who want to cut corporations a break, but there are many others who view TORT REFORM as a cut to consumers’ rights and a shield for corporate wallets.
- 43a. [Bob ___, Canadian ambassador to the U.N.], RAE. I might have seen the name before? And maybe I haven’t. If you’re at all notable and RAE is one of your names, you’re gonna find yourself in crossword clues.
- 15d. [Post master?], EDITOR-IN-CHIEF. The Washington Post just got a new EIC, Sally Buzbee, who starts next week. She replaces Marty Baron, who was portrayed by Liev Schreiber in Spotlight.
- 54d. [Potter’s substance], SOIL. Didn’t even see the clue while solving, but if I’d approached it with no crossings, I’d have gone with CLAY. If you like pottery, or good-natured British competition shows, check out HBO Max’s Great Pottery Throw Down. And yes, I wish it were Throwdown in the title, or at least a hyphenated Throw-Down.
Four stars from me.
Orrin Konheim & Brad Wilber Universal crossword, “Tri-State Area”—Jim P’s review
Theme: Each theme answer is a world location containing three pairs of circled letters which turn out to be three state abbreviations. So they are, in a way, “tri-state areas.” Note there are numerous tri-state areas in the U.S. as listed here.
- 17a. [Seoul’s landmass] KOREAN PENINSULA. Oregon, Indiana, Louisiana.
- 28a. [Washington archipelago with a Spanish name] SAN JUAN ISLANDS. New Jersey, Louisiana, North Dakota. These islands are a destination location for those of us living in the Evergreen State. We’ve been in Tacoma for 4.5 years now, but haven’t made it there. Hopefully soon.
- 50a. [Denver backdrop] ROCKY MOUNTAINS. Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana.
- 65a. [Vancouver’s province] BRITISH COLUMBIA. Rhode Island, Colorado, Iowa.
I was really hoping there would only be one instance of each state, but maybe that’s too much to ask for. Otherwise, this was really elegant and enjoyable. It is surprising that TRI appears at 9d when it’s also in the title.
Maybe because there’s so much theme material (two 14s and two 15s), there’s not a single bit of fill longer than six letters. I did like “OK THEN” and UGANDA which I noted has two states (Georgia, North Dakota) of its own.
Clues of note:
- 11a. [Vowelless order at a deli]. BLT, which, obviously, stands for BOLO TIE.
- 32d. [Cynthia with a pair of Emmys]. NIXON. Nice to see this entry with a different clue. I believe the Sex and the City actress ran for office in the last go-around.
Not much in the way of sparkly fill in this grid, but I did enjoy the theme. 3.9 stars.
Zachary David Levy’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
Theme is phrases parsed literally as signals to spell things backward. The answers are common phrases.
- 17a. [YENOH] INVERT SUGAR (honey).
- 26a. [GOC] REVERSE GEAR (cog).
- 36a. [TAR] TURNED TRAITOR (rat).
- 50a. [CBA] BACKCHANNEL (ABC).
- 60a. [NEMO] COUNTERSIGN (omen).
Works well enough.
What else have we got?
- 8d [National animal of Malaysia] TIGER. They’ve appeared on many stamps over the years. But of course they’re extremely RARE (18d [Not seen much]) in life. Considered critically endangered: the World Wildlife Fund’s current estimate is of less than 200 in the wild.
- 11d [Writing tool] ERASER. Minor misdirection there.
- 68a [Case, for example: Abbr.] SYN. This clue format fools me about half the time, and today was one of those times.
That’s about all I have to say. Fine theme, mostly good ballast fill, so a moderately pleasing crossword overall.
Patrick Berry’s New Yorker crossword—Amy’s write-up
A smooth 68-worder from Patrick to close out the New Yorker’s puzzle week. My favorite entry is DOT DOT DOT, [You can imagine what happened next]. This pairs well with the SEX SCENES on the opposite side, where little is left to the imagination.
Other fave fill: HOLE PUNCH, DAENERYS, NORTH FACE, MOIRA Rose, DR. TEETH, and my beloved ETYMOLOGY. It’s nice to have relatively few (8) 3-letter words in a grid, less risk of ungainly abbreviations. Since this is a Berry, it stands to reason that the 4s and 5s holding the long stuff together will also be entirely smooth.
I suppose a 20-year-old solver might not know fictional WKRP and Mike DITKA, so that K could be a tough crossing. I was an ’80s teen, though, so these were gimmes for me.
Two more things:
- 18a. [Flower’s sepals, collectively], CALYX. That is just a gorgeous word, isn’t it? I find it so esthetically pleasing. I may have even worn Clinique’s Calyx fragrance back in the day.
- 59a. [Make known, as an opinion], GIVE AIR TO. This actually feels a bit awkward to me.
Four stars from me.