Ron and Nancy Byron’s New York Times crossword
- 17A. The BRIDGE TO NOWHERE is the famed [Alaska boondoggle in 2008 campaign news], which ex-Gov. Palin was famously for before she was against it. A slam dunk of a good crossword entry if I ever saw one…though it’s possible that a decade from now, a solver doing this puzzle in a book compilation will say “Huh?” In dentistry, a bridge is a partial denture.
- 27A. FILLING STATION is a [Place to get gas]. I always call it a gas station. A filling is known in dental circles as a restoration.
- 48A. CROWN VICTORIAS would be a little better in the singular, but these [Full-size Fords] are a terrific non-dental CROWN answer, lively fill. Crowns replace the tooth’s natural crown with an artificial one.
- 63A. BRACES FOR IMPACT is clued with [Gets ready to crash]. My mom is almost done with her orthodontic braces.
I used to be a dental editor, and I’m pleased to report that this theme doesn’t strike any false notes.
I like the suitably historical clue for IBM PC: [1980s hardware that used Microsoft Basic]. BOHEMIA is the [Western part of the Czech Republic]; the eastern side is Moravia. The [State north of Ill.] is WISC., or Wisconsin—home of the Green Bay Packers, whose playoff game is nearing a close as I write this. (Ooh, a touchdown to tie the game. Go, Pack!)
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Girls of Song”—Janie’s review
And with the exception of the first theme entry, these “girls” refer not to the singers but–as indicated in the clues–to the kinds of “girls” mentioned in the song titles. You may want to turn up your speakers (or not…) to sample the array of jukebox tunes Ray’s woven through the grid. Press:
20A to hear GWEN STEFANI ["Hollaback Girl" singer (2001)]. Uh. Well, what it lacks in subtlety, sophistication and wit it makes up for with its great beat…
11D for NEIL SEDAKA ["Calendar Girl" singer (1961)]. Omg. See above.
28D for DAVID GATES ["Goodbye Girl" singer (1978)]. Hmm. So the message here seems to be: “If you love somebody, let them go. If they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were”…
55A to hear VAN MORRISON ["Brown Eyed Girl" singer (1967)]. To my relief, couldn’t find a “good” video of this on YouTube. The link’ll take you instead to lala.com for the music only. As it was recorded back then. Better.
Two more “girl” songs are suggested by the names RHONDA and NINA, clued today as [Actress Fleming] and [Fashion designer]. But let’s not forget either the Beach Boys’ “Help Me, Rhonda” or Sir Noel Coward’s “Nina from Argentina.”
While the videos for this particular collection of “girl” songs do little to promote the most positive role models for young women, they’re genuine “time capsule” material, and the theme itself is okay. Ray has also taken advantage of the opportunities for gender equality that it offers. See? There’s not only the bonus track of the gender-spanning “A BOY [Named Sue” (Johnny Cash song)], there’s also MALES [Y chromosome carrier], PAPA [Mama's mate] and SILOS–or [Fodder figures?]. That’s your cue for an audible GROAN [Pun follower, at times].
Other strong fill and cluing today includes TEAPOT [Tempest locale?], ANXIETY [Butterflies in the stomach], [Song from on high?] for YODEL (think Alps for the “on high” part), ["There's no other explanation"] for “MUST BE,” and [Happy response to a marriage proposal] for “YES!”
John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I’m not quite sure how to describe the theme. Four unrelated phrases that have a lot of Ps in them? Four phrases that have two words that start with P, and the second word ends with PER, and there may or be another P in there, too? Here they are:
- 20A. [Piece of Peter Piper's peck] is a PICKLED PEPPER. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, and “Peter Piper” fits this theme. The other theme clues do not.
- 37A. POSTER PAPER is a [School project medium in large rolls]. We never called those giant rolls POSTER PAPER.
- 44A. A [Killjoy] is a wet blanket or PARTY POOPER.
- 59A. [Cinema counter fixture] is a POPCORN POPPER.
- 32A. [What sips and nips do] is RHYME. A few clues earlier there’s a mention of whiskey, which made me think the answer would be INTOXICATE.
- 66A. [Transfusion fluid] sounds automotive, right? BLOOD!
- 68A. HELL is clued factually as [Handbasket rider's destination?].
- 11D. CHERRY PIE is a [Fruity dessert]. I had some black cherry gelato yesterday. I prefer my cherries cold.
- 27D. Wait, [Totally unhip] and NERDY are no longer synonymous, are they? In an era when the cool kids are in swoon to their technogadgets and everyone wants to work at Google, isn’t NERDY hip?
- 56D. Somehow, I had trouble figuring out [Reckon, in the boonies]. I S’POSE it should have been easy.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Pest List”
This theme did nothing for me. It’s a quote theme, a joke by Eugene MIRMAN, whom I’ve never seen. He says IF YOU’RE AT A PARTY WITH MORE THAN FIVE PEOPLE NAMED CHAD, GET THE F#CK OUT RIGHT AWAY. This is funny? According to the Baby Name Voyager, the name Chad was quite popular for babies born in the ’70s, but not so much in the decades before and after. Do Chads have a particular demographic identity aside from “guys in their 30s”? Really, all Mirman is saying is “don’t go to parties with too many American men in their 30s.” Ten years earlier, would his joke have been about Jennifer and Jason and Amy?
The 74-square theme is accommodated by a roomier 17×17 grid, but the fresh and good fill (like “WHO WON?” and BUGABOO) feels swamped by the low-octane fill. To wit: SABRA and OGEES cross SOU, AGRA, and REATA; OPA, NUI, OCA, ESSO, and DCLIV lurk like jellyfish elsewhere.