Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword
Solving this puzzle on the computer and ingesting all those beverages makes one have to 13a: ePEE. —Okay, back from that pit stop. 38a. ["I'm buying!," at a bar ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme] clues “DRINKS ALL AROUND!” During the ACPT, I don’t think anyone was shouting this at the Marriott’s bar. Those drink prices!
Let’s see how these drinks are organized “all around” the grid:
- The top has three breakfast clues. 1a. [White breakfast beverage], MILK; 5a. [Orange breakfast beverage], JUICE; 10a. [Tan breakfast beverage], TEA. I’d call tea brown, personally.
- The left side is fermentation city. 1d. [Product of fermenting honey], MEAD; 25d. [Product of fermenting apples], CIDER; 51d. [Product of fermenting barley], ALE.
- The bottom washes down dinner. 65a. [Fizzy dinner quaff], POP (yes! not soda, but pop); 66a. [Plain dinner quaff], WATER; 67a. [Genteel dinner quaff], WINE.
- And the right side has clear spirits associated with countries. 16d. [Clear libation popular in England], GIN; 33d. [Clear libation popular in Russia], VODKA; 58d. [Clear libation popular in Japan], SAKE. Sake is made from fermented rice, while the other two are distilled.
Now I’m thirsty.
Top fill: “DON’T STARE” and “TIME TO GO”; EAGLE EYE; RISOTTO; SNOOKERED; PAPER DOLL. And hey! This JUST IN: Instead of, say, a [Delinquent pop star Bieber] clue, JUSTIN is clued as [Newly arrived]. Usually one would probably opt for the single word, but when the most famous one is reprehensible, two words will fly.
Bottom fill: LED UP, NOW I, AS AN, I-BAR, ELEC., some other “meh” bits.
Props to Jeff for sorting his theme entries into three sets rather than just plunking 12 random drinks into the grid. It didn’t make it particularly entertaining, no, but it gave the puzzle some structure and rationale. 3.75 stars.
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Sports Circuits” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Four sports terms that end with something that is round:
- [National Football League award] was a SUPER BOWL RING – did Bob Kraft ever get his back from V. Putin?
- ["Friday Night SmackDown" bout segment] clued WRESTLING ROUND – never have heard of the “SmackDown,” but I do like how they stylized the name.
- [Backboard attachment] was a BASKETBALL HOOP
- [Post-Derby interview spot] clued WINNER’S CIRCLE
I’m thinking the “wrestling” entry is a bit of an outlier, as the other three really are circular–rings, hoops and circle itself; whereas “round” in that context is just a segment of the entire bout. Even on its own, it’s not something that is round, but the adjective, although there are musical rounds which are circular in their repetitive nature. Perhaps I’m overanalyzing this one. I enjoyed the juxtaposed BAR SCENE, ACCURSED and TEA POTS in the NW, but there was some less savory small stuff in this, such as RHE, -LER and SRAS.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Lending Jokes”
I know what you were thinking when you read the puzzle’s title. “At last! A crossword featuring the sort of humor that loan officers love!” Sadly, no. The theme entries can be seen as “L ending jokes,” as there’s an -EL tacked onto the end of familiar phrases:
- 17a. [Gangsters with a Red Delicious monopoly?], APPLE CARTEL. Apple cart + that L ending.
- 27a. [House of ill repute catering to roosters?], CHICKEN BROTHEL. Heh. I just Googled “chicken breeding” in hopes of finding evidence that the poultry industry’s animal husbandry techniques were brothel-like, but got distracted by learning about the hen’s reproductive tract. Did you know: The yolk is formed first; the egg white is added partway down the oviduct; and the shell is made inside the uterus.
- 47a. [Model train company that REFUSES to face accusations that their faulty tracks endanger millions of imaginary tiny conductors?], COWARDLY LIONEL.
- 60a. [Diamond cut in a significantly new way?], REFORM JEWEL.
We like to see add-a-letter-or-letters themes with amusing results with an element of surprise, and this set is pretty effective. The base phrases are a lively batch, especially Cowardly Lion and Reform Jew, and the CHICKEN BROTHEL and APPLE CARTEL concepts provide vivid images.
Ten more things:
- 1a. [Bit of ironic facial hair, slangily], ‘STACHE. Sometimes unironic as well. The mustache is the bacon of facial hair, in terms of its fetishized trendiness.
- 46a. [Amin who was called, quite fairly, "a murderer, a liar, and a savage"], IDI. Possibly the single least pleasant individual who shows up in a lot of crosswords. Hitler was no better, but he doesn’t make it into a lot of crosswords.
- 50a. [Option for soap or ice cream], DOVE BAR. Yes! Nice clue. I have a Dove chocolate heart and Dove soap in the house, and yet I still needed crossings to figure out this clue.
- 64a. [Weather phenomenon played by Chris Farley], EL NINO. No recollection of this! Is there a clip online?
- 2d. [Drink up], TOPE / 21a. [Lush], ALKIE. She doesn’t read this blog, but I’d like to take a moment to congratulate a good friend who’s been sober for 100 days now. Proud of her strength! And look, this puzzle gave us two oldish drunk-related words without SOT.
- 4d. [Bird, notably], CELTIC. Larry Bird, that is.
- The EAST BERLIN/THRILL RIDE and HOME-COOKED/IMPROVISES pairs are great, though they lend themselves to underwhelming short crossings. One of the pairs neighbors the blah SOHIO, too.
- 18d. [Mourning who won an NBA championship after receiving a kidney transplant], ALONZO. Yes! Alonzo and I have the same diagnosis. I’ve been luckier, as his disease ran roughshod over him quite fast.
- 38d. [Electric Vidal Sassoon product], STYLER. Say what? It’s this.
- 49d. [Author and former New York Times public editor Daniel], OKRENT. Having test-solved this puzzle, I tipped OKRENT off about his upcoming puzzle appearance at the ACPT. He was delighted. I also learned that the entertaining linguist Arika Okrent is Daniel’s niece.
3.75 stars from me. Lots of great clues, and an add-letters theme that works well.
Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Who else saw the question marked theme clues and decided “It’s Wednesday, lets do this via the downs.” It turns out the theme is quite simple, consisting of a word repeated and parsed as two words the second time round. The resulting answers are quiet “Tarzany” but the concept is very elegant. I wonder if there are many more potential answers? Today’s set is:
- 20a,[Signed agreement mailed by someone in prison?],CONSENTCONSENT
- 24a, [Backs a fashion venture?], INVESTSINVESTS
- 41a, [Authorize two bros' get-together?], MANDATEMANDATE. My favourite themer!
- 47a, [Songwriter's dream?], FORTUNEFORTUNE
Aside from the 4×14 theme, it’s a fairly plain grid. Not a lot of exciting stuff, but solidly constructed with only a few frowny spots. I prefer it that way rather than it being a hot mess, but it does makes things difficult to discuss…
Well, there were two longer answers CANTSEE and ITALIANART that I was undecided as to whether they were legitimate crossword phrases or not. So I’m not counting them either way. Opinions?