Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 150″—Amy’s write-up
Liked this 72-word puzzle, didn’t love it. Fave fill: GUAYABERAS, TOE SOCK (eww! not comfy!), PECORINO, PLUNGE POOL, MOTLEY CRUE, EEYORISH, SCHNAPPS, POP-UP STORE.
- 17a. [Four-pocket lightweight shirts], GUAYABERAS. These Cuban and Mexican shirts derive from the Filipino barong.
- 25a. [Upholstery fabric], REPP. Huh. I thought it was just a traditional necktie fabric.
- 37a. [Hurt, in modern baseball lingo], ON THE I.L. When did this change from ON THE DL (disabled list)? Was the change made to avoid cheapening the word disabled?
- 1d. [They might be safeguarded by sitting ducks], EGGS. Literally, ducks that are sitting on a nest.
- Tough crossing: Where ON THE I.L. and 35a. [Shooter arcade game featuring isometric projection], ZAXXON met 23d. [More relaxed], COZIER. When 23d’s I is a D in your grid and you sure don’t remember every arcade game from 40 years ago, oof.
- 51d. [___ break (much-sampled drum solo)], AMEN. I’ve never heard of this, and we all know Peter Gordon loves to find never-before-used clue angles. So I googled this and the story’s told in an engaging 4-minute video. Check it out below.
- 49d. [Bats around, so to speak], ROAMS. I don’t get it. If you’re roaming, you’re batting around? Or is there some other meaning of ROAMS that’s meant here?
3.75 stars from me.
Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword—Ben’s review
I get what’s going on with Timothy Polin’s Thursday NYT this week, but I’m not sure how I feel about all the unchecked squares, thematic as they are.
We’ve got three rows of squares where every other square in the grid is black, spelling out ROLLING, ROSETTA, and BLARNEY. These, of course, can all be followed by the word STONE, and with the black squares cutting these words up, these become SKIPPING / STONES (58/59A, “With 59-Across, lakeside activity … or a hint to the words spelled across the fifth, eighth and 11th rows of the completed grid”)
The unchecked squares spelling related phrases helps with the difficulty of not having crossing letters for some of these, but overall I think this one just wasn’t for me.
If you somehow haven’t checked out Ted LASSO yet, I highly recommend it
theme aside, there was plenty to like in the grid: DEWARS, The COSTANZAs from Seinfeld, CHESS GAME, BOY TOY, TYRANNY, HIBACHI, and IN-N-OUT. One question though: is BEAN PATÉ actually a thing? Isn’t that just bean dip?
Kathy Bloomer’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Watch Out!” — pannonica’s write-up
Theme answers are not directly clued today.
- 65a/68aR [… precarious situations, as suggested by the circled letters] SLIPPERY | SLOPES. Following the leads of those descending black squares central to the grid, the circled squares spell out BANANA PEEL, BLACK ICE, and OIL SLICK. All slippery things, all appearing in the grid as a slope.
On that last, awful—yet to a large extent predictable, which is to say, expected—what happened on the California coast this week. Just the latest of our careless assaults.
- 46d [Expression of alarm] MERCY ME.
- 29d [Snick and __ (fight with a knife)] SNEE. Onomatopoeia! Also, old-timey crosswordese.
~In my customary spin through the grid for purposes of this write-up I’m realizing how choppy the center of the grid is, necessitated by those aforementioned stepped black squares. Many four letter entries. Wasn’t so noticeable during the solve, though.~
- 43d [Relaxed phase of a heartbeat] DIASTOLE, the complement to the systole.
- 5a [Beauty and a nightingale were two] ODES. By Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Keats, respectively.
- 9a [Comprises] HAS. Yes!
- 14a [Slow to act] DILATORY. Comes from the Latin meaning ‘to defer’.
19a [Euphonium’s kin] BASS TUBA. Wait, there’s more than one kind of tuba? … Okay, it seems the euphonium is considered a tenor tuba, and that contrabass and subcontrabass (!) tubas exist.
- Row 7 is all-abbreviations: INT, ACCT, FCC.
- 42a [1,300-pound occupant of the Oval Office] OAK DESK. From Wikipedia: The Resolute desk, also known as the Hayes desk, is a nineteenth-century partners desk used by several presidents of the United States in the White House as the Oval Office desk, including the five most recent presidents. The desk was a gift from Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880 and was built from the oak timbers of the British Arctic exploration ship HMS Resolute. The 1,300-pound (590-kilogram) desk was created by William Evenden, a skilled joiner at Chatham Dockyard in Kent, probably from a design by Morant, Boyd, & Blanford.
- 45a [May in the U.K., e.g.] EX-PM. Okay, there’s just a bit too much of this stuff in the grid. The abbrevs. in row 7, plus LPNS, weird plural CSIS, SLA, SPCA, et CETERA. (22a, 1a, 64d, 41d, 54d)
- 69a [Best-known role for Clara Blandick] AUNTIE EM. I uncovered the I-E-E sequence first, and that just looked so wrong.
Kind of a fun theme, but the crossword overall was just too creaky for my liking.
David Van Houten’s Universal crossword, “Bands Together”— Jim Q’s write-up
Titles do get much more spot-on than that.
THEME: Two band names are put together and are homophones for common phrases, clued wackily as if they are a concert act.
- 17A [Concert sponsored by d-CON?] RATT POISON.
- 27A [Concert sponsored by Gorton’s] PHISH STYX.
- 48A [Concert sponsored by Bisquick?] KORN BREAD.
- 60A [Performance starring two groups, perhaps… or a theme hint] DOUBLE BILL.
Love this idea! So much fun. But, c’mon… PHISH STYX is clearly the winner. Have they ever toured together? Because they really need to. That would make for one heck of a concert tee. Never heard of the band BREAD, and I casually scrolled through a few of their hits on YouTube. Pleasant sounding group, but I wasn’t much familiar with their music.
I was a bit bummed that there was a revealer when I was excited to see two more bands together. I don’t think the revealer was necessary at all (especially with the title). Woulda definitely preferred another themer. Can we think of anymore? Hmmm… SNOW QUEEN? This is harder than it looks…
Fairly standard fill. Nothing too exciting. Don’t really get the punny nature of [Worm’s dream home?] being APPLE. And NELSONS is a tough plural to swallow.
Overall, really liked this one. Memorable. 4.25 stars.
Emily Sharp & Kunal Nabar’s USA Today crossword, “Life Partners”— Sophia’s write-up
Editor: Erik Agard
Theme: The first word of each theme answer can precede the word “life” in a common phrase.
- 16a [Human geography, education, economics, and others] – SOCIAL SCIENCES (social life)
- 27a [Level above the ground floor] – SECOND STORY (second life)
- 37a [Donating for a transfusion] – GIVING BLOOD (giving life)
- 50a [Resume section] – WORK EXPERIENCE (work life)
Solid “words that can come before X” theme today. I am always much more likely to enjoy this type of theme if the puzzle has a clever title, and “Life Partners” certainly fits the bill. Kind of interesting that “work life” and “work-life balance” are both phrases, but the “life” refers to totally different things, huh?
Anyone who reads my recaps regularly knows that I don’t love closed off corners in puzzles since they can be harder to break into, and in this puzzle all four corners are just one black square away from being completely closed off. I also don’t mind the number of “helper squares” (black squares that don’t increase the number of words in the puzzle), but because there are so many it felt like there were a lot of short words today. To be fair, though, the short words here are far more interesting than normal! There were a lot of things I didn’t know in this puzzle. As clued, IDLI, ZIWE, HIRO, and WAAD were all new to me. None of them slowed me down too much though (my higher-than-average time comes from a dumb typo somewhere else in the puzzle :( )
- I don’t think 22a [Its N stands for “number”] is a great clue for PIN. There are a lot of three letter abbreviations where the N stands for “number” – SSN, VIN, etc., and once you have the N in place the clue doesn’t help anymore.
- On the other hand, my favorite clues in the puzzle were 20a [A “hot” one is controversial] for TAKE and 24d [The Supremes or the Powerpuff Girls] for TRIO.
- RIP Pluto; this clue for NEPTUNE will always make me sad :(
Michael Paleos’s LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
Michael Paleos’s puzzle theme today has a few more layers than a typical LA Times puzzle. The first four long across answers all have a silent letter, which is circled. The circles spell out MUTE. Lastly, the puzzle theme is finished with SILENTTREATMENT.
- [Chirpy sci-fi critter], ARTOO. Can a robot be a critter???
- [Kalahari-like], ARID. We are heading to Sandveld Nature Reserve, on the eastern edges of the Kalahari, tomorrow, looking for some of their unique avi-fauna like the Sociable Weaver and the Fawn-coloured Lark, as well as some charismatic megafauna (TM)
- [Teeing off], IRING. This spelling ires me.
- [Big squeeze], BEARHUG crossing [Stymie], HOGTIE was my favourite crossing.
- [__ the mark], TOE. Only ever heard of Toeing the line…
- [Attack, to Rover], SIC. Maybe it’s because of my job, but I find these clues in poor taste.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Crossword #1407, “Just Stop”—Darby’s write-up
Theme: All of the Ps can be changed to S in each answer, as in Just S TO P, to form a new phrase.
- 19a [“Device that lets you safely shrink pictures”] CROPPING GUARD / CROSSING GUARD
- 31a [“Program for women monitoring her pregnancy”] KICKING APP / KICKING ASS
- 40a [“Young smoked herring”] BABY KIPPER / BABY KISSER
- 51a [“Periodical for hillbilly dads”] PAPPY MAGAZINE / SASSY MAGAZINE
I struggled here with the theme, folks, so thanks to pseudonym and Mark in the comments for helping me clarify! It seems odd in the last answer since you also have to change the first P to an S while the other themers only have the double P line-up, so not my favorite theme. However, I appreciate the cleverness of the title and the wordplay with STOP’s spelling.
Grid-wise, I’m back on my diagonals with the two trios moving through the center of this puzzle. It was a nice mix of lengths, with the 9-lettered SWAP SPIT, HAND STAMP, CREAMPUFF, and VINDALOO moving into the middle section of the puzzle. All of those were clued well, and they’re just fun ones to see.
The top left corner was my favorite set of answers. I always appreciate a reference to SELMA (16a [“2014 Ava DuVernay historical drama”]), and I thought that DISCS (1d [“Othello pieces”]) & DIALS (1a [“Moog knobs”]) played well off of one another.
Other things I noticed:
- 45a [“Aegean island”] – I was pretty proud of myself when I filled in OGYGIA here, but rough stuff for me, the isle in question was actually LEMNOS, which I discovered on the crosses. LEMNOS is even more obscure. It’s where Hephaestus landed when Zeus chucked him off Mount Olympus. As always, Zeus is a really stellar dad. Today, it’s home to the Medieval Castle of Myrina and the cave of Philoctetes (Hercules’s trainer played by Danny DeVito in the Disney film).
- 59a [“‘Talk L8R’”] – I thought that SRY in 23a [‘My bad,’ in texts”] was better than this TTFN here, which stands for “Ta-ta for now.” It’s still a fun phrase though, and I will be working it into my texting vocabulary.
- 7d [“‘Dat’s cool’”] & 32d [“‘You got me’”] – Both answers began with “I” for I DIG and I GIVE respectively. I preferred the former, but I also thought it was interesting since neither appears super often in puzzles.
- 49d [“Government bond”] – The “T” in T-NOTE refers to “Treasury,” so that’s a good hint for next time I see this appear in a puzzle that I wanted to share with y’all.
That’s it from me for today! If you’ve got better ideas about the theme – hit me up in the comments!
BEAN PATE? WAR POET? Oh boy, names, too!
Top half of NYT left a bit to be desired, not a fan but the broken words were not any problem
I had 3/4 of the puzzle finished, with the NW corner totally blank. I basically made random guesses at the names until I found ones that fit.
I cannot explain why, but the NE corner tripped me up because for some reason I didn’t think COSTANZA fit. And NW didn’t work for me because I raaarrely drink so I’m pretty unfamiliar with Scotch labels. Shame, I thought the theme was good and the lower half gave me little pause. Oh well.
NYT…I really liked this Thursday puzzle!
Amy, “batting around” is aimless activity. My mother used it – “Where were you today?” “Oh, just batting around.” ROAMS works for me.
UNIVERSAL: Loved the answer Phish styx.! Great themer.
Please, dear people, identify the puzzle you are commenting on.
Gotta disagree with calling the theme squares in the today’s NYT unchecked — they’re not unchecked if they spell theme answers! (My only frustration was the inability in the app to type horizontally across those rows.)
Agree with this. Once I understood the theme, I was able to go back and fill in one or two squares in the theme answers that eluded me on my first pass. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if they were really unchecked.
I agree, too. For the first two, I was able to come up with words easily once I had about half the letters from crossings even without their being clued in the usual sense, and then once I had the theme the third one was even faster. So I forgave the difficulty. Besides, I loved the first sight of the unusual grid and appreciated a novel kind of theme. Maybe, too, I’m just used to some unclued entries handled differently, not from the unusual grid but from some clues that just read, say, “See instructions.” It’s especially common in variety cryptics.
FWIW, my hard corner was the SE (with BEAN PATE) and not the NW. I probably should know who competes in that race but didn’t, and I mistakenly tried DRYNESS, which is obviously less of a good fit in retrospect.
I didn’t recognize the name of the war poet, but it did fall ok. Maybe it helped that, while I don’t recognize him from any anthology I have (which would include for those years and their subject Wilfred Owens and Seigfried Sassoon), I do vaguely recognize the poem by name. I’m not excusing the obscurity or saying how glad I was to see something I know. Just reporting that it wasn’t my last to fall.
USA Today: The second word in the theme answers can all be preceded by life:
Hence, “life partners”
@Darby – The letter S is changed to the letter P so CROSSING GUARD becomes CROPPING GUARD, KICKING ASS becomes KICKING APP, etc. The puzzle’s title, “Just Stop”, should be read Just S to P.
Thank you for that clarification!
YW. I, too, was unfamiliar with Sassy magazine.
BEQ: All the themers have “SS’ replaced with “PP”. E.g crossing guard => cropping guard. I think we are supposed to parse “Just Stop” as “Just S to P’. As in change the S’s to P’s in the answers.
However I believe the last themer requires the first P to be changed as well so I think I’m still missing a piece. So IDK, unless “sassy magazine” is a thing (is it?)…checking…I guess it is, just never heard of it.
That’s also what I struggled with, so I’m glad that we’re on the same page!
BEQ: oh Thanks all for the explanation of the theme!
Constructors always get me with the S-to-p type changes. I read it as stop and figured it was the double letter that got changed… period, especially since a Crossing guard holds a STOP sign, and my next themer to fall was Kicking Ass…. which could be construed as stopping some(one/thing). The rest was a blank to me (baby kisser?????) and especially that Sassy Magazine that I never heard of and didn’t try googling since I saw it as Passy Magazine which made no sense whatsoever.