Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Two-Time” – Jenni’s write-up
The theme of this puzzle is “make up a sentence composed of two-letter words and create a grid around it.” I knew that before I downloaded the puzzle, because this appears in the Email: The clue for 14-Across is quite long, so for those solving in Across Lite, it’s pasted here. [With 24-, 41-, and 54-Across, resigned declaration about whether you and another person had any preference between slaying one yoked animal over hatcheting your father (who hasn’t yet divorced your mother) during his scheduled time for walking past you both [with this enumeration: 2 2 2 2 2 2, 2 2 2 (2 2 2 2 2) 2 2 2 2 2 2 2, 2 2 2!] ]
All that adds up to IF WE DO IN AN OX, OR AX PA (NO EX OF MY MA) AS HE IS TO GO BY US, SO BE IT!
There you have it. And there you can leave it, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not a big fan of stunt puzzles. I want my puzzles to have either amusing wordplay or a high level of difficulty or both. This one has neither. I’m sure someone out there enjoyed it, and it certainly takes the Patented Peter Gordon Very Long Clue to another level. I tried to think of a two-letter word to sum up my opinion, but I needed three: meh.
A few other things:
- 6a [Bets big with bubkes] is BLUFFS. “Bubkes” is Yiddish for “nothing.”
- I really want to see “One Night In Miami…” and not just because Leslie Odom Jr plays Sam COOKE.
- Overly picky alert: [Cholera cause] is Vibrio cholerae. The symptoms are due to the TOXIN produced by the bacteria, but the disease itself is not caused by the toxin. Hey, I admitted it was overly picky.
- ALI Stroker was the first actor using a wheelchair to win a Tony. We had the pleasure of seeing her perform as Ado Annie in “Oklahoma.” Of course, there was no provision made for wheelchair access to the stage, so she had to wait backstage when the individual award was announced and then couldn’t join the rest of the cast when they won for Best Revival of a Musical. Grrr.
- Guessing I’m not the only one who put IZE for [Fossil suffix] at 34a. It’s ITE, which the household geologist says is “True, but not the best cluing.” There are fossils that end in ITE (trilobite and ammonite, for two). There are also a lot that don’t. I’m sure it was intended as misdirection and it probably wouldn’t have bothered me much if I’d like the puzzle more overall.
- [Peter Pan rival] is REESE‘S. Does Peter Pan make candy? Does REESE‘S make peanut butter unencumbered by chocolate? I don’t care enough to look it up.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that the band Eve 6 got its name from The X–FILES.
Gary Larson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Dropoffs”—Jim P’s review
Theme: The trigram OFF is dropped into the vertical direction from familiar phrases.
- 14a. [Smoke, slangily] C(OFF)IN NAIL with 12d BOFFO.
- 20a. [Get miffed] TAKE (OFF)ENSE with 7d BEST OFFER.
- 47a. [Trusting act] LEAP (OF F)AITH with 29d HOT COFFEE.
- 57a. [Resolute desk setting] OVAL (OFF)ICE with 53d DOFF.
Solid theme. Even most of the crossing entries are good. But it’s not exactly original, and I’m starting to get jaded with themes like this, especially when they leave nonsense entries in the grid like LEAPOAITH.
Other turnoffs: BIENNIA which I can’t imagine anyone ever using, and stale crosswordese OATER, ERNO, RFD, and SDI. How many solvers know the name BAYH [Big name in Indiana politics]? I only know it because I went to college in Indiana and a girl I know worked for Evan BAYH’s campaign.
I do like BARCODE, DADGUM, LATE FEE, and TELL-ALL.
Clues of note:
- 59a. [Near ringer]. LEANER. This crosses TEE, and I really wanted TOE/LOANER here, but ON TOE is elsewhere in the grid. I only just realized this is referring to horseshoes.
- 13d. [Libro del Nuevo Testamento]. MATEO. Anyone else go for MARCO first?
- 25d. [Hawk]. SPIT. As in to “hawk a loogie”? Gross. Talk about not passing the breakfast test.
The theme works and there’s some good fill, but also a number of distracting minuses. 3.4 stars.
Danny Lawson’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
Danny Lawson’s NYT is a debut! Congrats Danny!
It’s Thursday, so rebus squares are fair game, and this has plenty of those under the hood:
- 19A: In-flight call? — [HEAD]S OR TAILS
- 28A: “That’s ridonculous” — SHAKING MY [HEAD]
- 45A: “Someone’s going to pay for this!” — [HEAD]S WILL ROLL
- 1D: Fool — PIN[HEAD]
- 25D: Moved up the corporate ladder, say — GOT A[HEAD]
- 32D: Embark on the Oregon Trail, say — [HEAD] WEST
- 59D: Piece of equipment for a telemarketer — [HEAD]SET
- 55A: Lucy van Pelt’s frequent outburst to Charlie Brown…or how to fill some squares in this puzzle — YOU BLOCK[HEAD]
All in all, it’s a nice debut. There’s some cluing in here that felt weirdly obscure, even for a Thursday — cluing LEVI with Levi Eshkol, third prime minister of Israel — and other parts that felt weirdly out of time (I love The Fifth Dimension, but I don’t see Marilyn MCCOO clued too often these days), but that’s all a little nitpicky.
Still, it’s nice to learn something from the puzzle, and it turns out that Michaelangelo’s PIETA is his only signed work. Who knew? I also learned that KELP holds itself up with gas-filled bladders, and that felt neat.
Brendan Emmett Quigley crossword (No. 1377), “Is Not” — Jenni’s review
Each theme answer has the word IS removed from a three-word phrase – sort of. The S remains attached to the first word.
- 18a [Moves effortlessly out of the way of danger?] is COASTS CLEAR (coast is clear).
- 27a [Wields a stopwatch during singer Eddie’s set?] is TIMES MONEY (time is money).
- 40a [Sign above the SCOTUS bar?] is JUSTICES SERVED (justice is served). Now I want to know what each justice orders. We know it’s beer for Kavanaugh….
- 51a [Can’t get enough of a window treatment?] is LOVES BLIND (love is blind) which…kind of works. We don’t usually say BLIND in the singular for a window treatment, do we? It’s a bit forced.
- 63a [Sets a value on a Constitutional privilege?] is PRICES RIGHT (price is right) which also sounds a bit forced to my ear.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: never heard of either ELYSE Sewell or ELYSE Knowles.
Alex Bajcz’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
I can’t argue with today’s concept, though it is a familiar one. Members of a set are hidden between parts of four theme phrases. The circles didn’t make too much sense to me initially. I did drop SONOMAVALLEY in initially, but even once correctly MACOUN didn’t mean anything to me. SPY emerged, but also didn’t seem related. The revealer made everything a little clearer: APPLECORES. I found it hard to accept that a SPY is an Apple but Google confirmed, as it did for MACOUN. I hadn’t heard of 50% of the theme, but I expect you have different Apple varietals than us so. Also, Alex Bajcz, PhD is a plant ecologist and I’m pretty sure his pet subject is fruit. Write what you know!
About half of South Africa’s apple crop is grown one valley east of us; I wonder which varieties are grown there? One of the themers, GALA, is number one, but the others are too wordy to be useful thematically, except perhaps FUJI, but its UJ digram is awkward.
Pretty smooth design choice to include paired double tens GLENNCLOSE/MANYTHANKS and SETTLEDOWN/TEHRANIRAN across two theme answers. There are compromises, but given the crowded theme and awkward themer counts, I’d say within reason.
Tricky spots: PAYS clued opaquely as [Uses Venmo, say] crossing proper noun CAYUGALAKE and SVEDKA/SWAK.
Clue of the day: [Modern test of humanity] for CAPTCHA
Becca Gorman and Hannah Puckers Universal crossword, “K, Whatever” — Jim Q’s write-up
*This puzzle is part of Universal’s Pride Month series
**This appears to be a debut for Hannah Pucker. Congrats!
Super fun title!
THEME: Phrases whose first words start with N now start with K and a homophone. Wackiness ensues.
- 17A [What won’t come undone on the job?] KNOT SAFE FOR WORK.
- 27A [Met the benchmark for second-grade math?] KNEW ADDITION.
- 49A [Training for King Arthur’s men?] KNIGHT SCHOOL.
- 64A [Physically demanded a fresh diaper from?] KNEED FOR A CHANGE.
A familiar theme today, but fun answers nonetheless. Probably the most bizarre of the themers is KNEED FOR A CHANGE– I like that level of “out there.” That’s juxtasposed with KNIGHT SCHOOL, which is very vanilla in comparison.
Filled well. If I had a knit… erm… nit… it would be the clue for PART II [Post-intermission segment]. Post-intermission segments as I know them are typically called ACTS, not PARTs.
HUNDO P is entirely knew… erm… new to me. According to this blog, it was essential 2017 slang. That’s the only year in the past 15 I wasn’t teaching in the classroom. Maybe I missed that fad. Seems like a fun phrase on the outset that would get on my nerves after my third time hearing it.
I was surprised to find the word count higher than normal at 80. I wonder why.
Good time overall- thanks for this!