This is Andrew J. Ries’ subscription-only crossword, which you can subscribe to here. Spoilers ahead for “SHORT RANGE“.
Theme: Common phrases whose long vowels have been replaced with short vowels.
- 24A: TAKE THE LEAD – Tip for rendering mechanical pencils useless?
- 37A: REQUIRED READING – Necessitated the purchase of a Monopoly railroad?
- 46A: SORORITY ROW – Spat between collegiate women?
- 14A / 62A: ALL ABOUT THAT BASS – With 62-Across, song about an angler with a strict fishing preference?
This was fun. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Andrew’s puzzles, he rotates between easy, medium and hard ones. This is a medium puzzle, which for me was about the difficulty of a Wed-Thu NYT puzzle. There’s no revealer, so I had to infer the theme from the title after filling in all the answers (which was made slightly more difficult by the fact that I’ve apparently been mispronouncing READING Railroad for the last three decades. Oh, the shame!
Theme works well and it’s cool to see the shout-out to Meghan Trainor’s hit ALL ABOUT THAT BASS. That song got overplayed on the radio stations I listen to, but it’s still good. I was briefly confused as to whether DEAR ABBY (17A: Longtime source of advice) and AGE LIMIT (59A: It’s 17 for the Girl Scouts) were theme answers, since they’re right under themers of the same length, but those clues didn’t have ?’s, so I figured it out fast.
Good fill and solid clues — my favourites were 54A: Many a film noir suspect for HEIR, 11D: Trial participant for GUINEA PIG, and 49D: Word elongated to signify skepticism for RIGHT. Not as much wordplay as I’ve seen in previous Aries puzzles, and I suspect that’s because this was a Medium week. Certainly nothing to complain about — everything is tight and clean.
Did not know ANSON Carter, TONI Collette, or that GAUL was 40A: Ancient region that included Aquitaine, so the left side played harder for me, but it came together in the end. Enjoyed the CFL (44A: Sports org. with a maple leaf in its logo) shout-out — I have season tickets for the Edmonton Eskimos, who recently won the Western division! Go Esks!
Anyway, I don’t really have much more to say about this one. Like a lot of Andrew’s puzzles, it’s good in a way that’s not flashy. I often get the feeling that his puzzles fly beneath the radar of a lot of crossword enthusiasts, so I’m looking forward to digging into more of them over the next couple of months.
Happy Remembrance Day!