Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 149” – Jenni’s write-up
This puzzle has the Patented Peter Gordon Very Long Clue as well as the correspondence between the first and last answers, so it’s a Very Fireball Themeless. I did not find it blazingly hard. Definitely enjoyable!
- We have BELLEVUE and BEAUCOUP at 1a and 64a, respectively. I will spare you the stories of my father’s time at Bellevue as a resident in the 1950s and instead suggest the fascinating history of the hospital by David Oshinsky. As Peter notes, Bellevue traces its roots to 1736, so it’s also a history of Manhattan.
- 9a [Chipotle alternative] uses the hidden upper-case letter trick in reverse. This time it’s not the chain restaurant but the pepper itself. The answer is ANCHO. Chipotle peppers are smoke jalapenos. Anchos are smoked poblanos. I say “yum” to both.
- The Very Long Clue shows up at 25a: [Rumored ingredient in Bubble Yum that was dispelled in a full-page New York Times ad in March 1977 with the headline “Someone is telling your kids very bad lies about a very good gum”]. The answer is SPIDER EGGS (all together now: eeuw). I think Peter got a little lost in his own clue; I don’t think it was the eggs that were dispelled in the ad. It was the rumors. And that may be the longest clue ever in this category.
- We have COOED at 16a and WOOED at 38a.
- I hope the LSATs include the question at 32a [Vodka: screwdriver :: champagne: ____] All good prelaw students know the answer is MIMOSA.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that BURRATA is made from mozzarella and cream. I did know that it’s delicious.
Zachary Levy’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Make It a Double”—Jim P’s review
Theme: ON THE ROCKS (56a, [How three circled words are served in this puzzle]). Those circled words spell out types of alcoholic drinks that sit atop other entries that all share the nickname, “The Rock.”
- GIN is found in IMAGINED which is above 24a GIBRALTAR [British territory from which you can see the African coast]. We were able to visit this unique location while stationed overseas, and if you can go, do. It’s worth a visit, not only for the rock, but for the macaque monkeys, and to see the sheer density of Brits crammed together in a tiny little space on the edge of Spain. Of course, after Brexit, things have changed, though I’m not sure how. Maybe there are a lot fewer Brits now.
- RUM is hidden in GRUMP and on top of 33a DWAYNE JOHNSON [He voiced Maui in “Moana”].
- RYE spans SOLAR YEAR and sits on 52a ALCATRAZ [Sight from the Golden Gate Bridge]. Hey, I just learned of this fun fan theory about the film The Rock. Supposedly, Connery’s character John Mason in that film is actually his James Bond character many years later and in an American prison for—I dunno—spy stuff.
This was a fun theme with a very nice aha moment. Truthfully, I can’t recall if “The Rock” is an actual nickname for GIBRALTAR or if it only goes by its full name, “The Rock of Gibraltar.” But I have a feeling the locals use the former.
Oh hey. I just noticed 17a STRAIGHT UP clued [The opposite of 56-Across]. Nice, theme-adjacent entry helping to keep things somewhat symmetrical in the grid.
The only thing that irks me about the theme is the title, “Make It a Double.” I realize that’s a standard phrase when ordering a drink, but it implies something is doubling in the grid, and that’s not the case. Since the wordplay revolves around “The Rock,” it makes sense for the title to be something to do with rocks, without saying “rocks.” Perhaps, “Stoneware” or “Stonework” or even just “Stoned” might work.
Top fill: WOOL CAPS, MOO COW, SHERPA, RHUMBA, ELYSEE, HYDRAS. Plenty of good stuff to like, although there does exist REECHO [Sound yet again] which looks crazy in the grid. Other kludgy bits: SMA, REOS, ESPO, ERTE, HOI. But frankly, I enjoyed the theme and nearly forgot about this stuff.
- 5d. [“ToeJam & Earl” maker]. SEGA. That’s a really deep cut. I get that you want to avoid including Sonic the Hedgehog because that’d be too easy, but really, how many solvers know this?
- 49d. [Judge in pinstripes]. AARON. Oh, jeez. I had to look this up just now, because I had no clue. It’s the Yankees’ AARON Judge.
Overall, an enjoyable theme with fun wordplay. 3.8 stars.
Blake Slonecker’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
I really like how the full theme on Blake Slonecker’s latest for the NYT slowly revealed itself as I filled in more of the grid.
Working with crossings, I was quickly able to get a revealer that each set of circled squares in the grid represented a FISH HOOK (1D/11D), and from there it wasn’t hard to fill in SOLE, PIKE, HAKE, and SHAD. If that was all that was going on, it’d be nice, but not quite at the full level of a Thursday NYT for me. That’s where the answers that lead into each of those HOOKs lead:
- 4D: Xbox or PlayStation — GAME CONSO
- 8D: Finishing touch on the first transcontinental railroad — GOLDEN SPI
- 37D: Drink that might be served with a metal cup — MILKSHA
- 38D: Vedic religious text — UPANISH
Each of those FISH HOOKS is required to finish the answer — we’ve got GAME CONSOLE, GOLDEN SPIKE, MILKSHAKE, and UPANISHAD. It was a satisfying resolution to what was going on.
“Ailurophiles” “CAT PEOPLE”
In things I learned from the puzzle today: the FROG is an Egyptian fertility symbol, MACAU is the source of the Portuguese creole language Patuá, and “Accouchement” is another word for LABOR.
Daniel Grinberg’s Universal crossword, “Chow Down” — Jim Q’s write-up
This puzzle is part of Universal’s Pride Month series.
THEME: Rather tall dishes are running downward in the grid.
- STACK OF PANCAKES.
- TRIPLE DECKER.
- SEAFOOD TOWER.
- (revealer) THAT’S A TALL ORDER!
I had wrongly assumed that the revealer was the title today, which happens here and there with Universal for me. I just assumed it was foods going down. So I was wondering what was so special about the themers and why they were chosen in particular before I hit that last themer and had a nice little AHA moment. Mind you, I didn’t cry “Aha!” as the clue for 52A might lead you to believe (a Universal staple is to make meta references to crosswords in the clues, which often feels forced to me). But it really was a nice way to pull those together. It also had me think of the themers “going up” in a sense rather than coming down as the title suggests.
Clue of the day: 41A [Type that’s not upstanding?] ITALIC. No it’s not!
- Nods to Alvin Ailey, Lil Nas X, and George Michael in the clues #UniversalXwordPride. I feel like there were a couple more that I’m forgetting now.
- No clue that TRIPLE DECKER was a style of apartment, though that is what shows up first when it’s googled.
- Odd clue for MITTS, no? [Little League gloves]? As far as I know, they are used solely by catchers. Clued that way seems a bit broad, yet strangely specific to Little League at the same time.
4 stars today. Thanks!
August Miller’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
Today’s puzzle by August Miller is LIONHEARTED: specifically LEO, the celestial lion. The puzzle played very easy for me, but perhaps was bumped to Thursday due to the double name action of MERLEOBERON (only the dimmest recognition of the name) & MICHELLEOBAMA. HUMBLEORIGINS is idiomatic, while JAILABLEOFFENSE, well that’s something of a loaded gun.
Some unusual clue choices:
- [Swamp thing], GATOR. “Thing” is doing a lot of lifting to hold up that wordplay.
- [Drawing contest?], RAFFLE is pulled off with a lot more aplomb, as was [Key that will get you out of a window], ESC
- [Yuletide tune], NOEL. I read that as “tuna” the first time round, which was a bit bizarre…
- [Golf announcer’s call…], FORTHEWIN: this seems to be deliberately avoiding the most common and idiomatic way the phrase is used.
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1375), “In The Tank” — Jenni’s review
This puzzle seems to be a matched set with today’s NYT. Each theme answer spans an entire row, connecting what look at first glance to be two separate entries.
- 18a and 19a [Nursery activities] are DIAPERCHANGES. The black squares hide the name of a fish.
- 36a and 37a [Bailaores’ activity] is FLAMENCODANCING.
- 51a and 54a [Business department that books flights] is CORPORATETRAVEL. Not a food fish. Still a fish.
There’s a revealer: 10a [With 63-Across, classic kid’s lunch, and a visual description of this puzzle’s theme]: FISH/STICKS. Definitely more fun to solve that they were to eat! I enjoyed this puzzle – and I think I would have enjoyed it even more if not for the eerie resemblance to the NYT which gave it a deja vu quality.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that a bailaor is a flamenco dancer.