Brendan Emmett Quigley’s New York Times crossword
This puzzle has a split personality. One part BEQ zippiness, one part “blech, what’s that answer doing in a BEQ puzzle?” First up, the best stuff:
- 16d. ["Yeah ... anyway"], SO…THAT HAPPENED.
- 1a. [First rock band whose members received Kennedy Center Honors], THE WHO. Foreigners? Why are we honoring furriners?
- 15a. [Undoubtedly], TO BE SURE.
- 57a. [Springsteen hit with the lyric "Only you can cool my desire"], I’M ON FIRE. Um, are the rest of you creeped out by the line, “Hey, little girl, is your daddy home, Did he go away and leave you all alone”?
- 58a. [Noted graffiti artist], BANKSY.
- 4d. [1955 Pulitzer-winning poet], WALLACE STEVENS. I filled in WALLACE STEGMAN at first, because of Wallace Stegner (1972 Pulitzer winner) and Ralph Steadman.
- 23d. [Ultra sound?], SHORT U.
- 31d. [Literally, "the cottonwoods"], LOS ALAMOS. Know your Spanish tree names and your etymology of notable nuclear place names.
Then there are the answers that I don’t really expect to find in a BEQ. A GESTE and STYES crossing IDEATE, all words I encounter mainly in crosswords. The roll-your-own RENAIL. A spelled-out numeral (V-TEN, 40a. [The muscle of a muscle car, maybe]). 48a. [Kyrgyzstan's second-largest city], OSH, crossing 41d. [Tending to wear away], ERODENT. (E-rodent! Aka internet troll.) The not-sure-I’ve-ever-seen-this-one ALO, 38d. [Spanish greeting].
Who can explain 36d. [Exactly 10 seconds, for the 100-yard dash], EVEN TIME? Steve M?
I didn’t know 25a. [Annual with deep-pink flowers], COWHERB, either. My two main dictionaries of reference don’t list the word, and Wikipedia says it has pale pink flowers. So…that happened.
3.25 stars. If you generally like Brendan’s puzzles and you aren’t also solving his two weekly website puzzles, be sure to check out his site. “Themeless Monday” pretty much every week! Right when the body hungers for more challenging themeless action, when the newspapers are days away from giving us more themelesses, Brendan is there. Since there’s practically no time lag before publication, BEQ can also drop incredibly topical words into his website puzzles, like SHARKNADO. And his Thursday theme this week was Anthony Weiner weinergate puns.
George Shayler’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s Review
Solid enough raison d’etre for a puzzle, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Maybe it was my unhappiness with the fill spilling over into the theme… TURNITAROUND tells us that IT becomes TI in the theme phrases; the resulting answers have been clued “wacky style.” The three theme answers are as follows:
- 20a, [Sloppily kept tents?], CAMPINGSTIES. Sites.
- 33a, [Low clouds on an East Asian island?], TAIWANSTRATI. Strati: the plural of stratus, a type of cloud.
- 40a, [Conditions of kids' shoes, too often?], UNTIEDSTATES. Untied.
I found myself frowning a lot more than I do for a typical LA Times puzzle today. Having a 12-letter revealer, meaning the theme answers lie in the 4th and 12th rows, can make filling the grid somewhat more difficult. There were answers I liked: TSUNAMI, DUEEAST, OLDSCORES, TITANIA, and TEFLON; also ATACAMA and ISOPOD but others may feel differently about those. I didn’t know JARTS but it’s an interesting game… Sounds like a recipe for a backyard massacre!
The list of awkward answers started at 1a: NELS. It’s a variant spelling of NILS, and there aren’t many famous people with that name – so we get the name of a supporting character on “Little House on the Prairie.” Everyone knows NIACIN right? Because otherwise I foresee some wrong letters there! The old-school DOGES who ruled Genoa and Venice, make an appearance, along with two abbrs. (I’m kind of fond of the modern GTG) in the top-right corner. That’s a direct result of stacked DUEEAST and OLDSCORES forcing UL???, which doesn’t have too many other options. UNCS is awkward, if obvious, and is not even legal in Scrabble. To accomodate JARTS, we have the common crutch used to fit J’s in: CMAJ. To get a Z in the bottom-left we have stacked proper names: PHAIR, AIMEE, ZCARS. PARI is apparently [Equal: Pref.]. Does anyone know of any actually English words that use it? Pari-mutuel is French… In the downs, we have the pair ATEE and APAT. Abutting APAT is old-school ADIT. I’ve never seen and don’t know baseball’s Manny MOTA, but I’m counting him neutrally because I don’t know many baseballers. Still, surprised I haven’t met him before, with those letters!
I’m sorry to be this negative, especially as it appears to be George Shayler’s debut puzzle, but I also can’t not write what I feel about the puzzle. 2.25 stars.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Oh Henry!” – Dave Sullivan’s review
The last names of famous (most of them anyway) Henry’s are used as the first word in two-word phrases:
- [Gay Nineties ideal] clues GIBSON GIRL – I recall Henry Gibson most vividly holding a large flower on Laugh-In
- A [Luxury car produced between 1941 and 1952] is the HUDSON COMMODORE – never heard of the car, but explorer Henry Hudson gave his last name to New York’s Hudson River.
- [Brew sold at Milwaukee Brewer games] clues MILLER LITE – did I hear that Anheuser-Busch has been sold recently? Anyway, Henry Miller is the author of Tropic of Cancer among other novels.
- [Easy target] clues CLAY PIGEON – Henry Clay was a representative and senator from Kentucky and admired by many (including one Abe Lincoln) as one of the greatest politicians to have ever served in Washington.
- A [Where to see recurring characters Q and M] are JAMES BOND MOVIES – Henry James wrote The Portrait of a Lady and The Wings of the Dove among other novels.
- [Alternative to rye for a sandwich maker] clues KAISER ROLL – not sure if the Henry Kaiser being referred to is the guitarist or his grandfather, the shipbuilder? Likely the latter, who also lent his name to the Kaiser Permanente HMO.
So as I said above, most of the Henry’s are famous (at least to me). Too bad there isn’t a common phrase that begins with the Roman number VIII, huh? Lots of theme in this one–six entries with two pairs having 10 letters over each other really constrains the fill, giving us a lot of short, not-so-hot, stuff like ABO, NOM, ISM, USM, JKL and SML. Regarding the last of these, SML, I wonder why the clue implies a plural entry, [T-shirt sizes], and I put in SMS first. I did like the misdirection of the clue [CD follower] for ROM when paired with [I followers] for JKL. My FAVE today is the great clue [Target of a head hunter] for LICE.
Tony Orbach and Janie Smulyan’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Double Play” — pannonica’s write-up
Despite the baseball theme, this was a lovely puzzle, so I feel bad that, for a second Friday in a row, I have obligations which preclude me from producing a proper, full-length, and considered write-up. Apologies to Tony and Janie for the short shrift.
Took a while to crack the theme’s conceit. Especially since my first and strongest toehold was 96-across, referencing San Francisco and beginning with ANDREA—— I thought it must be something to do with the San Andreas fault. Also, it took even longer to realize that all the teams in the clues were baseball teams, that no other sports were included.
So, the theme. Since most team names are plurals, the constructors decided to list a pair of examples in place of the titular names. Hence, “double” plays.
- 26a. [Los Angeles team?] CHERUBIM AND SERAPHIM. Angels.
- 37a. [New York team?] SHERMAN AND GRANT. Yankees, Yankee Civil War generals, to be precise.
- 50a. [Kansas City team?] WILLIAM AND KATE. Royals, very much in the news lately.
- 67a. [Minnesota team?] OLSENS AND WINKLEVOSSES. Actresses and Facebook players.
- 88a. [Cleveland team?] ANASAZI AND ZUNI. Indians. Snazzy choices, with those Zs.
- 96a. [San Francisco team] ANDRÉ AND GOLIATH. Giants.
- 107a. [Milwaukee team?] BROOKLYN AND HEINEKEN. Brewers, neither of which are based in Milwaukee.
Cute stuff. Quickly now, some notes:
- Nifty musical stuff in the southeast: 123a [Chopin pieces] ÉTUDES followed by 124a [Chopin's Waltz in __ ] E MINOR is a nice way to make one of those inevitable –M––OR answers palatable. Further, it’s surmounted by 121a [Canon component] MELODY. LATOYA Jackson plays a part too.
- More music in the mix: Pablo CASALS, Abba’s EUROPOP stylings, VIOLAS, [Carillon component] BELL, Jay and the Americans’ “CARA Mia”, rapper NAS, Yoko ONO, Brian ENO, Crystal GAYLE, conductor Daniel OREN, Laura NYRO.
- 53d [To-do list marking] TICK seemed a fresh clue.
- Was expertly misdirected by the clever 47d [Junk movers]: had SCOWS before SAILS.
- 12d and 14d are both clued with [Illegal psychostimulant] for COCAINE and METH, separated coincidentally yet wryly by Curtis Mayfield’s “Move ON UP“. Another double-duty clue for 84d and 100d, [Shade] for HUE and TINT.
- 22a [VitaCraves gummy vitamins brand] ONE-A-DAY. “VitaCraves gummy vitamins,” just let that sink in.
- Interesting longdowns: SPACE DEBRIS, ADAM’S APPLE, ZEPPELIN.
- Probably should have done without 40d [1990 World Series champs] REDS. 89d [Cardinal cap marking] STL is less egregious.
Above average puzzle.