Adam Cohen’s New York Times crossword
- 20A. BARNES AND NOBLE is the [Company with the stock ticker symbol BKS], short for “books.”
- 25A. GENENTECH is the [Company with the stock ticker symbol DNA]. DNA is in another clue: A SWAB is a 1D: [DNA collector, perhaps].
- 39A. Mattress seller SEALY is the [Company with the stock ticker symbol ZZ], short for “ZZ Top,” whose fondness for sleep is well known. (Not really.) Competitor SERTA is at 67A.
- 48A. PAPA JOHN’S is the [Company with the stock ticker symbol PZZA]. I can’t say I’ve ever had Papa John’s pizza. Am I missing anything?
- 53A. Wisconsin-based HARLEY DAVIDSON is the [Company with the stock ticker symbol HOG], “hog” being the nickname for a Harley motorcycle. See also 60D: SOW, or [Barnyard mother].
I like this theme—a fresh trivia game for me. It wouldn’t be surprising to see an extended version of this theme in a Wall Street Journal crossword, but who’s going to work on that theme now that this puzzle’s been published?
It took me 30 seconds to find my typo in the bottom corner of the grid—SOW/WICK was SOQ/QICK, which should be words but sadly, are not.
Crazy crossing alert: 65A: [Art Deco architect William Van ___]/ALEN meets 58D: OYER/[___ and terminer]. Runner-up: An unfamiliar ALI at 52A: [Rubina ___ of "Slumdog Millionaire"] runs smack-dab into OJAI, 45D: [Ventura County's ___ Valley].
Hot words light up the Downs. EFFRONTERY is 3D: [Chutzpah]. The DOG WHISTLE at 31D gets a tricky clue, [Item used with high frequency?]. The LIMERICK is 38D: [Often-bawdy verse]. And ISABELLA, the [Queen in events of 1492], reigns at 10D.
I don’t know how you East Coasters deal with doing a crossword at 10 pm and then blogging it. What? Very few of you are blogging it? In any case, I am markedly less perky at 10 than I am at 9. On the plus side, I’ll be able to hit the sack after the big ball drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve this year, the first time I’ve been in the Eastern time zone for the occasion. Yes, I lead an exciting life on vacation, I know.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Quiet on the Set”—Janie’s review
We have a field trip to the film set today. The three theme phrases each begin with a word that the director utters to indicate that it’s time to let the games begin. You probably know them without thinking. What you may not be prepared for are the rich phrases Ray has found to show them off in:
- 17A. LIGHTS UP THE ROOM [Puts a smile on everyone's face]. This is just gorgeous–clue and fill, both of which create very visual images. Shades of MTM, no?
- 33A. CAMERA OBSCURA [Projection device]. I still think photography is magic, and have never understood why the images get reversed (for starters…), but the phenomenon is for real even if the physics of the way light bends confound (me). Pinholes and mirrors are both part of the camera obscura, which is Latin for “dark room,” and the first one was built by an Iraqi scientist about 1,000 years ago. Technology didn’t change as rapidly as it does today and the camera obscura has enjoyed centuries of use as a drawing aid and as away to look at a solar eclipse.
- 53A. ACTION-ADVENTURE [Video game genre]. Also movie genre and book genre.
So we’ve got Lights! Camera! Action! and at the end of the film, when it’s time to “roll credits,” we’ve got the [List of actors] CAST for bonus fill.
The remainder of the fill is just fine if not stellar. The cluing is a tad on the nose, but I liked seeing POIROT and ANGORA and STARCHY in the grid. Just yesterday we had FAIRER clued in context with Snow White. Today it gets a more direct approach and is clued simply as [More equitable]. Yesterday we saw [Poems of praise] as the clue for ODES; Ray goes one better today giving us [Song of praise] for CANTICLE.
Never heard of DACE, those [Silvery freshwater fish]. They come in lots of varieties, but here’s a description of the Common Dace.
For the aural treat, I enjoyed the cross of ROB and BOBBIN for [Rip off] and [Sewing machine spindle]. (This also puts me in mind of the “red, red robin” who comes “bob-bob-bobbin’ along.”) Nice that SPOOLS [Thread holders] found its way into the mix as well. Another aural treat (and visual treat, too) comes in the side-by-side pairing of ROOT BEER and FLOTILLA, clued as [Float ingredient] and [Group of warships]. I’d sure love to see a root-beer flotilla, wouldn’t you? Can you imagine the size of that thing?
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “BEQ’s Top Five Albums of the ’00s”
Oh, man. I had SWIPE in place of SEIZE (23D), didn’t recall what would fit in ****EE/RASCAL, figured 27A had to be one of those ENE/SSW sort of directions, and did not recall the order of Bible books. I resorted to Google to point me to DIZZEE /RASCAL and the rest of that section fell right after.
There are bands called AVALANCHES, FIERY FURNACES, and THE STREETS? And Brenda likes them? Okay, then. For me, this was a lot like a quote puzzle—a bunch of theme entries requiring heavy reliance on the crossings. At least I recalled that SUFJAN STEVENS recorded Illinois, so it wasn’t a total washout for me.
In the fill, ZIP CODE, “NO JOKE,” and I, FATTY were cool, but the rest was uninspiring. I felt unpleasantly duped by the clue for REDO: ["I changed my mind" on a computer]. I asked myself, what’s the text shorthand for that? ICMM? Maybe the clue should have the word “again” in it—UNDO is when you change your mind, REDO is when you change it back.
Dan Naddor’s Los Angeles Times crossword
For my full write-up of this puzzle, please see L.A. Crossword Confidential. The theme, in 25 words or less: PH LEVEL unites four words that contain two PH’s apiece, just phor phun. The PH LEVEL clue doesn’t quite work for me, though.
Francis Heaney’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
Francis tweeted that if this puzzle had a title, it would be “Double Bills”—and knowing that helped me figure out what the theme is. Each theme entry can be pieced together with the clues even if you don’t have any idea who the mashed-up musical artists are. LIARS OF MONTREAL combines LIARS and the improbably named OF MONTREAL (who apparently are from Athens, Georgia, and not Quebec). M.I.A. FLEET FOXES combines the female rapper M.I.A. and the hitherto-unknown-to-me FLEET FOXES. INTERPOL BATTLES…there are bands by those names? News to me. COMMON is a famous rapper; no idea who PHOENIX is/are. To [Snuggle in bed with some assassins?] is to SPOON THE KILLERS; I’m not sure who Spoon is/are, but love this clue/answer combo.
This theme was easier for me to work through than Brendan’s gotta-know-the-music theme, but still filled with a lot of mystery. And I’m scarcely any older than Francis or Brendan! I suspect they’re both more into new music than the average person. Maybe I’m wrong. But when they’re 75, I think they’ll both still be following new music rather than clinging to what they liked when they were younger.