Ruth Bloomfield Margolin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Showing Bad Form”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are familiar phrases that end in a shape which is “bent” downward for the last two letters. The revealer is GET BENT OUT OF SHA(PE) (63a, [Blow a gasket, and a clue to making sense of some answers in this puzzle]).
- 17a. [“The pot is legally mine!”] “I WON FAIR AND SQUA(RE)”. I kept trying to tie the clue to weed or cooking. It seems like a wacky clue that’s lacking a question mark.
- 28a. [Diamond ring?] ON-DECK CIRC(LE). This was a bit unfairly tough for someone who doesn’t watch baseball, especially with the punny clue, weird crosser AWEE, and crosser NOVEL clued ambiguously.
- 46a. [Soap opera staple] LOVE TRIANG(LE). Whew! A straightforward clue.
Nice theme, though I struggled with the one answer. Maybe if the cluing was tweaked a bit, or maybe I was just on the wrong wavelength. But still, an enjoyable theme.
Fill highlights include SLOWPOKES, TANGLES UP, HEADACHE, PAR FOUR, OXFORDS (the shoes), and “I MEANT IT” (though “I mean it!” would’ve been stronger). Un-highlights include the aforementioned AWEE, but not much else. Maybe some will balk at DSLR [High-end camera], but I’ve seen it plenty of times in the wild.
Clues of note:
- 23a. [Medium strength?]. ESP. I don’t think I’ve seen this clue before. Nice one.
- 40a. [Personnel chief, at times]. FIRER. This one, along with crosser 40d resulted in me finishing with an error. I went with HIRER, making 40d [Top pick, informally] HAVE. Not the best answer (obviously), but it seemed to work at the time. I’m thinking 40a should’ve included some distinction between hiring and firing.
- 71a. [Equivalent of 100 paise]. RUPEE. Hey! Listen! The new Legend of Zelda game drops this Friday (rupees are the in-game currency)!
- 4d. [It’s usu. 36,524 days]. CEN. I’m just going to give a big Nope to abbreviating the word “usually.” Is it such a crime to have “Abbr.” at the end of the clue?
Solid theme and strong fill, but some of the cluing needed to be tweaked IMO. 3.75 stars.
Sheldon Polonsky’s New York Times crossword — Zachary David Levy’s write-up
Difficulty: Averagish (14m27s)
Today’s theme: E EQUALS MC SQUARED / EINSTEINIAN (Expression of relativity depicted five times in this puzzle / Like some concepts in theoretical physics)
- SWI(M C)AP crossing HEADER
- AR(M C)ANDY crossing AQUACADES
- DREA(M CAR) crossing BENCHMARK
- SI(M C)ITY crossing SULLEN
Had no idea what was going on here for the longest time, but still didn’t have too much trouble until I was Naticked at the AQUA CADES / MADWOMAN crossing and had to run the alphabet — never heard of the Taylor Swift song in question, and thought MAN/WOMAN was equally plausible. As for AQUACADES, what? I’ve heard of AQUASIZING, AQUAROBICS, AQUACULTURE, etc etc etc. AQUACADES yields <150k Google hits, which (particularly when it comes to theme material) is as thin as gossamer.
I’ll give the puzzle credit, though — I do appreciate a revealer that is both on-the-nose and idiomatic, and this one fit the bill. MC (squared) does indeed equal E for the corresponding horizontal entry.
Cracking: CUBIT — based on the average distance from the elbow to the middle finger. CUBITs are all over the Bible. Noah’s ark was literally measured in middle fingers. Stick that in your Sunday school pipe and smoke it.
Slacking: SQMI — submitted without comment.
Sidetracking: KNUTE — the “win one for the Gipper” speech (and the corresponding “Airplane!” sendoff) is an all-time classic.
Will Nediger’s New Yorker crossword – Kyle’s write-up
Thank you Will Nediger for today’s New Yorker crossword. This is the first of Will’s TNY puzzles that I’ve reviewed, and it was a lot of fun to solve – also (by Thursday TNY standards) a bit trickier for me, as evidenced by a slightly longer solve time.
I’m short on time this morning, so I just want to focus on 42A SENPAI [One whose attention is desperately sought, in manga and anime parlance]. I’d never heard of this before and with __NP_I in the grid, I put in KANPAI (which is a Japanese toast). It took all of the crosses to identify and correct my mistake. Nothing unsporting, since all those Downs are common words. After solving I looked up senpai to learn more–apparently in Japanese it has a more general connotation closer to “mentor”. This Merriam-Webster article helps attest to the importance of senpai in anime/manga, and more broadly describes how the word is being adopted into English. I’m definitely adding this to my wordlist, along with its counterpart kohai (the mentee, or the one seeking attention from a senpai).
Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Hole in the Fabric” – Jenni’s write-up
This may be one of my favorites of Peter’s puzzles. It’s not particularly difficult. It was so much fun! The gimmick is amusing and the revealer made me notice something I’d never thought about before.
Each theme answer has a letter swap.
- 18a [Scampi in a Southern stew?] is GUMBO SHRIMP (jumbo shrimp).
- 24a [1994 movie scenes with Tom Hanks?] would be GUMP SHOTS (jump shots).
- 31a [Becomes dependent on something new?] is GAINS ADDICTION (Jane’s Addiction).
- 43a [Betraying fictional investor Gekko?] is CROSSING GORDON (crossing Jordan).
- 50a [Chess and checkers, eg?] are KING GAMES (King James).
- 60a [Bright red gaggle member?] is a TOMATO GOOSE (tomato juice).
That’s a lot of theme material for a daily-sized puzzle, and it’s indeed a little larger (15×16). I enjoyed the theme while I was solving. I like that the top three theme answers have the letter swap at the beginning of the first word and the bottom three at the beginning of the second word. And then I filled in the final answer and that’s when I fell in love with the puzzle. Peter often likes to link the NW and SE corners of his puzzles, even in themelesses. 1d is clued as [See 55-Down] and the answer is HARD G. 55d is [Sounds that changes to a 1-Down in this puzzle’s theme answer] and it’s SOFT G. I thought “those weren’t Gs! They were Js!” and then I sounded out a few words in my head and for the first time in life I realized that J sound and the soft G are the same. Maybe everyone else already knew that. It kind of blew my mind. If I rated puzzles, this one would get five stars.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: there’s that whole J-sounds-like-G thing. I also did not know that MIT is the majority owner of BOSE.
Doug Peterson’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
Doug Peterson’s LA Times puzzle has a different hidden words gimmick to the normal LA Times grist. In this puzzle, the circled squares are separated – parted – by a black one, and spell out things referred to as SHOTS. This is tied together at PARTINGSHOT.
As always, the downside of this theme type is a lack of long splashy theme answers, so it needs a lot of fun short & medium answers to hum. Today features HIMOM, YAYME, RCCOLA (“It doesn’t have to be a two cola system!”), IPRAY, TINYTIM, NATGEO and BICPEN. All are five to seven multi-part answers!