The AV Club puzzle’s a contest crossword. The deadline’s Sunday night, so look for the write-up in Monday’s post. (Have deleted the ratings widget for the puzzle after just one vote was cast, for 4.5 stars.)
Brendan Quigley’s New York Times crossword
If you ask me, this puzzle has two theme revealers. The theme involves familiar phrases having a B converted into a Q. 63d. BBQ is clued as [Summer event, briefly ... or a phonetic hint to 19-, 26-, 47- and 53-Across], so that’s the ungrammatical “B be Q.” There’s also 27d. QBS, [Play callers, for short]—and those B’s really are Q B’s, if you ask me. I kinda prefer the unifying QBS to the BBQ revealer.
- 19a. [French chicken dish garnished with kernels?], CORN ON THE COQ.
- 26a. [Quartet on an online help page?], THE FAQ FOUR.
- 47a. [What Ben stitched for his business partner?], JERRY QUILT. If you have a Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop near you, try the “SNL” flavor Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch—it’s yummy!
- 53a. [Royal ending to a mathematical proof?], QUEEN-SIZE Q.E.D.
I like that two of the four convert single-syllable B words into three-syllable Q initialisms.
Seven more things:
- 1a. [Tribal symbol of luck], JUJU. Great word, innit? West African connections.
- 66a. [The Time Traveler's hosts], ELOI. Clue looked Doctor Whoish to me, but no—H.G. Wells and literary crosswordese.
- 4d. [Trick-or-treater's cause], UNICEF. Dang! I was interpreting “cause” as “causal thing” rather than “a good cause, charity.”
- 9d. [Swifter], FLEETER. Nope. Never used this form of the word.
- 20d. [How the police might investigate someone], ON A TIP. The “how” feels off to me. ON A TIP doesn’t really describe the “how” of the cops’ investigation.
- 31d. ["You're right about that"], “SO IT IS.” This is sort of a catchphrase from Snowpiercer, with Tilda Swinton’s character saying it a few times. I’ve been saying it ever since I saw the movie in July.
- 36d. [Like the sport of jai alai], BASQUE. I wanted FAST-PACED to fit into six squares.
Top fill: JUJU, SHIFTY, TINKLE, authors UPDIKE and ALCOTT. Wasn’t loving the fill in this one—between your FRAS and AT NO in one corner and UTNE EINE ONER in the other…
3.66 stars from me.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Triple-A-Rated”—Ade’s write-up
Welcome to the middle of the week, everyone!
It’s been a little while since we’ve seen a puzzle from Ms. Gail Grabowski on here, but she’s back with a grid that’s dedicated to the letter “A,” somewhat. In it, the six theme answers (as well as another non-symmetric entry) each have three A’s contained in it.
- RADAR TRAP: (17A: [Speeder's snare]) – It’s never snared this speedster, um, I mean, always law-abiding, under the speed limit driver!
- NASAL TWANG: (25A: [Resonance in some regional dialects])
- BAD KARMA: (31A: [Result of evil acts, supposedly])
- HAM SALAD: (45A: [Sandwich filler])
- BLACK MAMBA: (51A: [Highly venomous snake]) – Or Kobe Bryant’s nickname.
- PAPAL MASS: (63A: [Solemn ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica])
As I mentioned, there were six theme entries, and all of them had three A’s, but there was a seventh that fit that mold, AREAWAY (10D: [Passage between buildings]). But that answer is one word, while each of the six theme answers were two words, so I guess there’s the difference. If you go to the middle of the grid, there’s an answer with three S’s (consecutively, no less), ROSS SEA (39A: [Bay of Whales locale]). There wasn’t too much bad fill at all, and, to my delight, MAC was clued in a way that didn’t reference or allude to computers (1A: [Brit's raincoat]). Loved BICEP as the fill-in-the-blank answer (47A: [_____ curls]), and I can’t tell you how many bicep curls I did at home in high school when my dad brought home a couple of dumbbells as a present. Oops, I did spot one bit of bad fill: AHAS (23A: [Elated exclamations]). But barely noticed it and its clue when solving it, so no big deal for me. THE ASP made me think about Annie for the first time in ages, and I’m actually trying to remember his character (27D: [Daddy Warbucks's bodyguard]). I remember Punjab for sure, but trying to dust off the memory bank to remember anything memorable about Asp (was he always “the Asp” or just “Asp?” Sorry that I’m not up on my Annie lately!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MIAMI (53D: [Dolphins' home]) – The Miami Dolphins, established in 1966, were founded by two men of Lebanese descent: lawyer/entrepreneur Joe Robbie and actor Danny Thomas (he of The Danny Thomas Show fame). Known affectionately as the Fins (and unaffectionately known as the Fish, despite dolphins being mammals), Miami has won two Super Bowls in franchise history, coming in back-to-back seasons (1972, 1973). The 1972 team remains the only team in NFL history to achieve a perfect season, winning all 17 of its games that year (14 in the regular season and three in the playoffs, including Super Bowl VII over the Washington ________).
See you all on Thursday, and have yourself a great day!
Jeff Stillman’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s non-review
This puzzle has a solid theme that I’ve seen before: 3 NASAPROGRAMS are found at the starts of MERCURYSABLE (never heard of it, Mercury’s aren’t sold here), GEMINIDREAM (never heard of it, but not that familiar with late period Moody Blues) and APOLLOCREED. I don’t think any of the theme answers are unfair, and while unknown to me I think they’re at least somewhat interesting as answers.
The fill had the same flaw as BEQ’s puzzle: shoving Scrabbly letters shoved into the small corners causing infelicities that are unnecessary: TBAR/ABA and EIRE are inexcusable in a 4×3 corner, although in general I recognize them as the type of answer necessary to facilitate difficult areas of a grid. BUTYL/ULLA/TASM/ALASS in the top-middle is a high price to pay for ZAMBONI.