Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Well, That’s Fare” — to coin a phrase. – Erin’s write-up
Hello lovelies! A quick write up today as I have to cover for someone at work. Let’s see what we have today.
- 17a. [Annoying consumer levy] NUISANCE TAX
- 24a. [With authority derived from one’s position, in Latin] EX CATHEDRA
- 37a. [They’re quintessential] PERFECT EXAMPLES
- 48a. [114-year-old gas station logo] TEXACO STAR
- 59a. [Payment down to the penny (or what the theme entries exhibit?] EXACT CHANGE
In each theme entry, then order of the letters EXACT is changed.
- 14a. [Friendly New Orleans address] MON AMI. Not a physical address, but referring to someone as “my friend” in French.
- 26d. [“It’s… Little ___ Horne!”] ALEX. Alex Horne is 6’2″, but his BBC game show Taskmasker co-host Greg Davies is 6’8″, so introducing Horne as little went over well and became a running joke.
Until next week!
Matt Linzer’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Trailing Behind”—Jim’s review
Another debut today, and it’s quite nice. Congrats!
Theme answers are familiar phrases whose final words can double as synonyms for “rear” (i.e. “tush”). The revealer is REAR ENDS (58a, [Causes a fender bender, and literally parts of 17-, 21-, 27-, 34-, 42- and 51-Across]).
- 17a. [Stereotypical surfer] BEACH BUM.
- 21a. [1970s pants style] BELL BOTTOM.
- 27a. [Cinnamon rolls’ British cousins] CHELSEA BUNS. Never heard of these.
- 34a. [Camel waste?] CIGARETTE BUTT. Nice clue.
- 42a. [Chest full of doubloons, say] PIRATE BOOTY.
- 51a. [Sports car feature] BUCKET SEAT.
Hmm. We had a synonym theme yesterday. Seems odd we’d have another one today.
But regardless, this one’s quite tidy, and even impressive. There are seven theme answers here when you include the revealer, and that’s quite a lot when you consider that they’re all in the Across direction. Further, having a 13-letter central entry adds to the challenge of construction. So yes, it’s a straightforward synonym theme, but the execution is remarkable.
I don’t think there’s a single Down entry that doesn’t cross one of the theme answers, and many of them cross two. To have that level of constraint and not have the grid filled with gunk is quite a feat. And there are a couple of nice entries like SANTA HAT, BIG BEN, and CULOTTE. Yes, there are some things you wouldn’t come across in everyday life (ANIONS, OCULI, BASSI, ENBLOC), but all things considered, that’s not bad at all.
Clues of note:
- 8d. [It tolls from the Westminster clock tower]. BIG BEN. Yes, the tower is in Westminster, but it’s officially named the Elizabeth Tower. Why not use the name?
- 18d. [Bachelor’s place?] COLLEGE. Oh duh. I was wondering if there was a college named “Bachelor.” Didn’t think of the degree until just now.
Nice theme with a high theme count and impressive fill on top of that. Four stars.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 645), “Don’t be Sad … be BAD!”—Ade’s take
Hello there, everyone! Hope you all are doing well as you get ready to start putting up your Halloween decorations … at least for those of you who haven’t done that already about 2-3 weeks ago!
Today’s puzzle is a whole lot of BS, in a way! It’s fun with puns, where the answers to the themes are multiple word entries where the syllable of the letter “B” is substituted where the syllable that sounds out an “S” would normally be.
- BUNS OF ANARCHY (15A: [FX TV series about a bakery owned by a biker gang?]) – Sons of Anarchy
- CAESAR BALLAD (27A: [Romantic song for a Roman general?]) – Caesar salad
- BOWL SURVIVOR (44A: [Winner of a tough football game on Super Sunday?]) – Sole survivor
- The JOY OF BECKS (58A: [Best-selling manual for German-beer lovers?]) – The Joy of Sex
Had a major hangup when plopping down Boy Scouts instead of BOYS CLUBS, and that cause havoc given the number of common letters shared between the two (12D: [Youth organizations for males]). Also liked the paralleling entry of MIDWINTER, even if we’re fast approaching that time of the year and most of us are not ready for it yet (32D: [Antarctic holiday that celebrates a solstice]). I recently had JICAMA salsa at a friend’s party this summer, and although I’m usually super picky and set in my ways with food, I liked what I tasted for the first time (10D: [Mexican root vegetable]). Despite adventuring out of my culinary comfort zone, I don’t think I’ll be having anything from a CLAM BAR anytime soon, though (38A: [Eatery with steamers and chowder]). Not a seafood guy, sadly.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ORIOLE (63A: [Baltimore player]) – It has been a whole lot of fun to be a Baltimore Oriole player or fan the past two seasons, and I’ve been so lucky to cover the team in person in the Charm City. Last Thursday, the Orioles clinched their first AL East Division title since 2014 and, in the same same, won 100 games in a season for the first time since 1980. They’ll be playing a postseason game for the first time since 2016 on Saturday, and a really young team has a legitimate chance to make it to the Fall Classic. Will I see you down in Baltimore soon?!
Thank you so much for the time, everybody! Have a wonderful and safe rest of your day and, as always, keep solving!
Troy Laedtke’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s recap
I gather there was an ’80s video game called Slither that worked something along the lines of Centipede, but with the addition of the creature getting longer when it makes a turn? In the shaded letters here, an ASP hits a black square and comes out the other side as a MAMBA, which hits another block to give us GARTER (which is not a snake—a garter snake is a snake, but a garter is an accessory worn on the leg), which grows into ANACONDA and then BOA CONSTRICTOR. Other thematic bits:
- 13a. [Like the “legs” on a 48-Down], VESTIGIAL. I’m sorry, what legs are these? Googling … “Pythons and boa constrictors have tiny hind leg bones buried in muscles toward their tail ends.” I don’t think this was known when I was a schoolkid!
- 48d. [Creature that grows longer in a classic video game (also in this puzzle, when it “eats” a black square)], SNAKE.
Did not know: 9d. [Roman goddess who is the equivalent of the Greek Nike], VICTORIA. There’s a Victoria? Bugged me a bit to have GODS right below this “goddess” clue; could’ve used “deity.”
Fave fill: Dining AL FRESCO (still taking advantage of restaurant patios while the weather holds), COOKIE JAR, EMPERORS clued as [Rulers of the Aztecs and Incas]. Surprised to find STENOS in a Tuesday puzzle.
Taylor Johnson’s Universal Crossword – “Breaking the Fourth Wall” – Matt F’s Review
I stared at this one post-solve trying to wrap my head around the theme. It turned out to be less complicated than it seemed on first blush – I just had to bang my head against a wall for a few minutes until I had a breakthrough.
Each theme answer contains circled letters (or maybe not, depending on your solving interface). All contain words that can precede “wall,” except the fourth one is separated by a black square. Oh, did you see that title? Breaking the fourth wall? Aha, now it makes sense!
- 18A – [Squeeze the water out of] = WRING DRY (drywall)
- 26A – [Heavy regional speech pattern] = THICK ACCENT (accent wall)
- 44A – [“Yum!”] = TASTES GREAT (great wall)
- 57A/59A = [Coffee shop amenity / Overnight flight] = FREE WIFI / REDEYE (firewall)
Fun theme! It’s also fitting that the “broken” wall is a firewall – something a hacker would actually break through in order to access a secure network. Taylor has a knack for making approachable puzzles with creative themes. There wasn’t even a slight hiccup in the fill that I could ind. Very smooth all-around with some fun bonus offerings like HODGE-PODGE and IRISH CREAM.
Thanks for the puzzle, Taylor!
Side note: Taylor is doing some great work in the indie scene as well, running a bi-monthly puzzle suite over at lemonade disco. Constructors are encouraged to submit theme queries based on a prompt that’s announced for each round. Go check it out!
Bill Thompson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Jenni’s write-up
Sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee looking at my slightly misty and sun-lit back yard. Good morning! Life is good. This puzzle was nice and smooth, just like the coffee.
- 17a [*Capital letter creator] is the SHIFT KEY.
- 25a [*Group that plays in foursomes] is a BRIDGE CLUB. “Foursomes” had me thinking of golf.
- 36a [*Say something that doesn’t need to be said] is STATE THE OBVIOUS.
- 44a [*Classic Motown hit about a wedding ring] is BAND OF GOLD.
I had no idea what the connection was until I got to 55a. [Playground fixture, or an apt description of the beginnings of the starred clues] is SWING SET. SWING SHIFT, SWING BRIDGE, SWING STATE, SWING BAND. I asked the resident civil engineer about the bridge (yes, he’s a geologist – undergrad degree in geological engineering) and it’s definitely a thing. A Tuesday-appropriate solve and a solid, consistent theme – nice!
A few other things:
- There was some fill I wasn’t crazy about. HES clued as [Steers and rams] probably wouldn’t have bothered me as much if it weren’t at 1d. That NW corner really sets my mood for the puzzle. Our old friend YMA Sumac made an appearance, and the plural YOS wasn’t great, and we had A HOOT and A NO as partials and FITBs.
- I was amused by the juxtaposition of ESPNU and REHAB, especially since the latter was clued as [Post-injury regimen]. We also had ADOLPH Rupp in that corner.
- I can hear John Astin’s voice saying TISH on the old Addams Family show.
- I filled in HOAGY from crossings and thought “that’s not how it’s spelled” but it’s not the sandwich. It is how Mr. Carmichael spelled his name. My apologies.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: had not heard the term SWING BRIDGE although I’ve certainly seen them. Also did not know BAND OF GOLD. My loss.
Erik Agard’s New Yorker crossword — pannonica’s write-up
I’d say this one was pitched right. Felt like swimming against a mild current, for the whole solve. Just an overall steady progression with a couple of surges, negative then positive.
- 9a [Word before “just in” or “time”] THIS. Somehow I was able to hit on the correct answer right away here.
- 21a [Get takeout, say] ORDER. This one fooled me, as the common crossword answer for this prompt is EAT IN.
- 25a [Havana’s José __ International Airport] MARTÍ.
- 31a [Made it big?] STARTED A TREND. Not the easiest clue for this., which is kind of an unexciting entry anyway.
- 33a [Clichéd] STALE, for which I first tried TRITE. This was part of a genuine salve where I answered a few stacked entries without any crossings. The others were, fortunately, correct: 35a [British nobles] EARLS, 37a [Sharp as __ ] A TACK, 44a [Port city south of Milan] GENOA. 75% success rate for that, not bad.
- 34a [Start of a COVID-surveillance dashboard, perhaps] VARIANT. Yesterday I received my booster for the current VARIANT, which I sense is going to have significant impact this winter.
- 38a [Line of thinking?] BRAINWAVE. Say, on an EEG.
- 50a [Places for bears and beavers] DENS.
- 4d [Bypass with tolls?] AVOID AT ALL COSTS. I think I see the wordplay here, not sure. It makes a sort of emotional sense?
- 5d [Restrained] RETICENT. Had RETIRING until 22a [Totally wipe out] ERADICATE partially wiped out that notion.
- 10d [Something made with palm oil] HANDPRINT. Yeah, okay.
- 28d [Landmark legislation of 1990, familiarly] ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. Kind of shameful that it was so late in coming. Then again, kind of indicative, no? Definitely feels significant factions want to take the country backwards.
- 39d [Up] RISEN.
One thing that was unusual about this crossword was the general vertical orientation, with some impressive stacking including a couple of grid-spanning entries. Refreshing.