Attention, New York Times crossword solvers! If you have a puzzle by Ian Livengood in your newspaper, check back next week for the review; it may well be next Friday’s online crossword. There was a scheduling glitch and the puzzle that was released to the NYT’s online puzzle subscribers is by Kevin Der, but it’s not in today’s paper. Presumably the Times regrets the error.
Kevin Der’s New York Times crossword
Kevin is one of those constructors who make my eyes light up when I see their byline. I know that I’m most likely in for a treat. What we’ve got here is a solid themeless with corners holding 9×4 and 8×3 stacks. It’s not too Quarfooty with wild fill, no, but there is plenty of freshness:
- 6a. [Spots for thirsty travelers], HOTEL BARS. The Brooklyn Bridge Marriott bar, the weekend of March 7-9? Oh, yes. Have you registered for the ACPT yet?
- 16a. [It's rendered in the kitchen], ANIMAL FAT. Blech.
- 20a. ["Thinking back ..."], “AS I RECALL…”
- 21a. [They often precede showers], GYM CLASSES. I was terrified of the locker room showers. Who else?
- 45a. [Bowling splits in which the 5 and 10 pins remain], DIME STORES. I know the phrase but not its appearance in bowling slang. Dime stores were also called “5 and 10s,” hence the split’s nickname. These days, we have dollar stores and lots of the junk costs more than a dollar. In 50 years, I predict “$10 stores” will be a thing.
- 54a. [Extra protection from the elements], STORM DOOR. I need a third layer of door, frankly.
- 3d. [Opportunity for a singer or comedian], OPEN MIKE. Or mic.
- 11d. [Some C.I.A. doings], BLACK OPS.
- 34d. [Pets], MAKES OUT. “Petting” is such an old-school term.
- 35d. ["Now, look here!"], “EYES ON ME.” I need to find an opportunity to bark that.
If 3-letter answers bore you, you’re in luck here—only four 3s in the whole grid.
- 19a. [Hardly a free spirit?], GENIE. Trapped in a lamp.
- 39a. [Cars whose only color until 1952 was bottle green], SAABS. Auto trivia.
- 10d. [Pregnant, maybe], LATE. As in late with one’s period.
- 32d. [Herb whose name is derived from the Latin for "to wash"], LAVENDER. I did not know that.
About this [Large bill holder] for 24a IBIS: The ibis has a large bill—it doesn’t really hold it any more than you hold your eyelid.
ONE-LS and SABOTS feel a little old-crosswordy to me. In general the fill is pretty smooth, though; perhaps a tad dry. 3.9 stars from me.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Wright Brothers” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Three theme entries that begin with a homophone of “Wright,” in essence making them all “brothers,” or related in a way:
- [Movement for one not on the ballot] was a WRITE-IN CAMPAIGN – nice 15 that fell easily.
- [Bar mitzvah, e.g.] was a RITE OF PASSAGE – I wonder if Stravinsky is ever played at one of these?
- [Exactly] was RIGHT ON THE MONEY – another quick 15 to fall.
A second sub-five minute solve for me–I know, no great shakes for most of the solvers here, but they’re unusual for me. This seemed like the perfect weekday puzzle–tight theme with great entries and excellent fill surrounding them. RAG TRADE for [The garment industry, slangily] was a new term to me, but makes sense. (Anyone else watch Under the Gunn last night?) Given that we have friends who spend more time in their Airstream than at home, it would’ve been nice to see a reference to the mobile vehicle than [Fan output]. The tropical fruit PAPAYA for PAWPAW was an early mistake that I corrected when I figured out the theme pattern. The G action in AVENGE and INTRIGUE also intrigued me. Nice work!
Daniel Landman’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Gareth is indisposed at the moment, so here’s a brief overview of the LAT puzzle on his behalf.
Today’s theme is “No P.E.”: 59d. [Slangy denial, and a hint to 20-, 29-, 46- and 56-Across], NOPE. Those four long answers have had PE removed from them:
- 20a. [Franken and Yankovic, for example?], ALS OF LAUGHTER. Peals. Awkward, as nobody has ever called a comedian, for example, “Richard of laughter.”
- 29a. [Silver-tongued speaker?], SMOOTH ORATOR. Operator.
- 46a. ["Sorry, the mayo is put on in advance"?], IT CAN’T BE HELD. Helped. Eww, mayo.
- 56a. ["Heretics only" apartment building ad?], RENT, YE SINNERS. Repent.
This is a decent theme concept—I know because Tony Orbach and I once played around with a 21×21 puzzle with the same theme (but, if you ask me, funnier theme answers). I would have dearly loved to skip P.E. class when I was a kid, so the theme idea pleases me.
The fill, as a commenter already alluded this morning, leaves a bit to be desired. OBLA atop NLER, crossing ARTHRO-? Discontinued Toyota SUPRA crossing EPISC and AROO? TRA ENOL EYER EEE OSO INI LAA ELENI ASSNS ARTOF? Once you exceed three or four such “meh” answers, you tend to lose me. And when the count surpasses 10 … well, then. And the longer IN HIS HAT (39d. [Where Yankee Doodle's feather ended up]) has a contrived feel to it.
On the plus side, I do like BOY TOY, ON DAY ONE, T-STORM, French PARFUM, and HOT CEREAL.
2.75 stars from me.
Patrick Berry and Todd McClary’s CHE puzzle, “Verbal Presentations” — Matt’s review
Matt here, filling in for pannonica. Smart theme from Todd McClary and former CHE editor Patrick Berry: four idiomatic phrases sound like they’re in the past tense, but their past-tense verbs have other meanings in the present:
17-a [Correctly cover the pool table in the family room?] = FELT RIGHT AT HOME. My favorite of the four.
27-a [Establish a new crack in the earth's crust?] = FOUND FAULT
41-a [Chop down trees in a dream?] = FELL ASLEEP
51-a [Escape from a cage made of wood?] = SAW ONE’S WAY CLEAR. My second favorite of the four.
Works for me. Standout fill: PHOTO LAB, VENICE, TIGER LILY, CASTOR OIL, FOGS UP and ALLOW ME. Wasn’t familiar with BLERIOT [French aviation pioneer Louis] but he didn’t cross anything difficult.
Favorite clue: [Lock opener?] for ANTI.
Judith Seretto’s Wall Street Journal puzzle, “Spoiler Alert” — Matt’s review
ROT invades the theme entries, and look what craziness results:
21-a [Vegetables that are safe from nibbling rabbits?] = ARMORED CARROTS (armored cars). Let’s see those rabbits get those carrots now!
31-a [Turn, luau-rotisserie-style?] = ROTATE LIKE A PIG (ate like a pig). Does the apple fall out of its mouth when it’s rotated? I’ll have to go to Hawaii to find out.
45-a [Edicts that are just plain crummy?] = ROTTEN COMMANDMENTS (Ten Commandments). We’ll ding this entry since it’s related to ROT itself. Unless we’re actually putting the German word for “red” in these, in which case, no ding.
63-a [Parts of a showy flower's nuclei?] = LILY PROTONS (Lily Pons). Is Lily Pons a person or a thing? If it’s a thing, why am I capitalizing both words? She was a person.
76-a [Roasted cockatoo serves as an entree?] = PARROT FOR THE COURSE (par for the course). Sounds gamy. And would it mimic your chewing sounds as you ate it? Gross concept, sorry.
91-a [Sent letters to a country's citizens?] = WROTE THE PEOPLE (We, the People).
105-a [Riot squad?] = PROTEST CONTROL (pest control). You pestilent protesters!
And the revealer, slightly oddly placed at 106-d: [Spoilage added to the seven longest Across answers] = ROT.
That’s an add-a-word I’ve never seen and the theme entries were funny, so thumbs-up from me. Also liked STATE MOTTO, HOOTERS, PET PEEVE and PEANUT.