Joe DiPietro’s New York Times crossword
My favorite word in here is OROGENY, the [Process of mountain building]. Why? I don’t know. Because it lends itself to bad jokes about “Your Orogenous Zones”?
There’s a touch of the familiar here. Just saw I’LL BITE in another puzzle, and here’s “OK, I’LL BITE,” clued with ["You're probably going to get me, but go ahead"]. And I swear I just saw [Organ repair sites, for short] elsewhere, so of course I filled in ORS. Wait, what? It’s ERS here? What organ repair is being carried out in the emergency room? Ideally, you want to go up to surgery for that, don’t you?
- 43A. BAT CLEANUP is a great answer. Straightforward enough clue—[Be fourth in an order]—provided you have some crossings.
- 18A. ROCK OPERA is good, but the rest of the opera/classical fill was overkill: TIN EARS in the plural, Mario LANZA plus CANIO ([Singer of the Leoncavallo aria "Vesti la giubba"]), and a generic ALTO.
- 16A. Astro-trivia: [Constellation once called the Dragon's Wing] is URSA MINOR.
- 30A, 31D. Geo-trivia: [Land of a Million Elephants] is LAOS, and BLACK TEA is the [Food item once used as currency in Mongolia]. I had no idea.
- 11D. DIPS BACK sounds like it should be an insult. “Gawd, he’s such a dipsback!” The clue is [Returns, as from a high level].
- 14D. FRAT BOY, a [Stereotypical college drinker], is another great answer.
- 30D. I commend the NYC health commissioner who’s pushing for LESS SALT, a [Factor in a more healthful diet, perhaps]. Have you had the salad bar at Ruby Tuesday’s? Good gracious, there’s enough salt in the balsamic vinaigrette to salinize the Great LAKES.
- 36D. Currying favor with the puzzle editor by including the lingo of his beloved pastime? Hmph. PEN-HOLD is a [Certain table tennis grip].
- 38D. Is “ESP TEST” in the language? Sounds weird/unfamiliar/awkward to me. [Zener cards are used in it] is the clue.
- 48D. [It can come on white, briefly] reads quite strangely, doesn’t it? White bread, enclosing a BLT.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Lionhearted”—Janie’s review
The king of the jungle (lion) has planted himself squarely in the middle (at the heart) of today’s three theme phrases. And in case you hadn’t figured that out while solving, 34A spells it out: [What this puzzle's three longest entries are all about?]. Why, they’re “all about” (and they surround) the word LEO–the fifth sign of the zodiac a/k/a “the Lion.” Here’s how His Majesty shows up:
- 17A. PURPLE ONION [Unlike its yellow cousin, it's best eaten raw]. Before I was onto the embedded LEOs, I thought maybe the theme was related to “royal” matters (I was thinking of Richard the Lionhearted…) and that purple was a reference to “royal purple.” Nupe…
- 36A. JUVENILE OFFICER [One focused on minor offenses]. Or offenses committed by minors at any rate.
- 59A. BUNDLE OF JOY [Labor package?] Great clue and fill. In other words, all’s well that ends well!
Not surprisingly with a Klahn creation, the remainder of the clues and fill are rich and twisty and fresh as ever. And the grid has lots of fill in the 6- to 9-letter range. Not surprisingly, I like that.
Some fave clues include:
- [Baby's favorite art movement?] for DADA. One theory of how the movement got its name is related to childhood vocabulary, so this clue is quite apt.
- [One for the books?] for CPA. I.e., your income and spending records…
- The punny [Egyptian ruler's favorite game?]. The game is FARO, the ruler is … And it looks like the name of the game morphed from Pharaoh → Pharo → to Faro.
- [High beam?] for RAFTER–and not anything headlight-related.
- [Perfect prose] for EDIT, and note that “perfect” here is a verb and not an adjective…
- [Nus to us] for ENS, as Nu is the Greek alphabet equivalent of our N. The fun in this one is both in the eye-rhyme of nus and us and then in saying the clue aloud, when it becomes “news to us.”
- The “double-screen” offering with [Wilder on the screen] for GENE and [Spot on the screen] for BLIP.
- The “three-stage” approach to the NE corner with [Stagy] for the not commonly used THEATRIC, [King of the stage] for LEAR and then [Decisive stage] for CRUX.
- The percussive pair of [Whiz-bang] and [Bang up] for ACE and MAR; and the more musical [Basso barber] and [Bass complement] for FIGARO and TREBLE. A nice complement to that “basso” is [Verdi's titular tenor], OTELLO. Ooh–and while I’ve mentioned one alliterative example, let me add two more goodies, [Heavy-handed hooligan] for GORILLA and [Terminal toter] for RED CAP.
Fill I’ve not yet mentioned but don’t want to let go without noting includes:
- DUPERY [Deception].
- ZEPPO MARX [Youngest of a zany foursome]. No. Not the Ritz Brothers this time… And Zeppo’s opposite in the grid,
- FRENEMIES [Portmanteau for partners who are also competitors]. It’s official–frenemy has made it into the most recent M-W Collegiate Dictionary.
- MAGPIE [Chatterbox].
- NINJAS [Silent assassins], who sit in high contrast to their noisy counterparts UZIS [Tools of terrorism named for their designer].
- VISCERAL [Gut-level].
- ANGORA [Cat, goat, or rabbit].
- “HEY, YOU!” ["Yo!"] and the equally colloquial GO/NO-GO [Like decisions to quit or continue].
Jack McInturff’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 20A. [Air-conditioning commuter trains?] clues COOLING ONE’S ELS. (Cooling one’s heels.)
- 32A. Mr. Potato Head loses his HE to become MR. POTATO AD, or [Pitch from a personified spud?].
- 41A. YOUNG AT ART (young at heart) is [Like finger-painters?].
There’s too much going going on in this puzzle. 18A: GO ON/[Continue] should’ve been clued as one word, GOON. 42D: GO IN means [Enter], and 9D: GONE BAD means [Rotten].
John Lampkin’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Tom Swiftology”
John gives us a few Tom Swifties to figure out for the theme. As the “ology” title suggests, they’re all scientific in nature. Freud says something DREAMILY about the unconscious mind. Newton’s telescope mirrors are discussed REFLECTIVELY. Edison LIGHTLY remarks about his light bulb invention. Mendeleev speaks PERIODICALLY about the perdiodic table of elements. And Pavlov—my favorite one here—DOGGEDLY says, “I’m determined to finish my behavioral experiments. It’s always good to save the best theme entry for last.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Making a Case”
The theme centers on the MYSTERY that’s the first word of MYSTERY HUNT (this weekend’s MIT puzzling event that Brendan’s taking part in for the first time). Key elements of a mystery appear at the start of the other theme entries: find a BODY (OF WORK), use an ALIBI (IKE) to evade blame, hire a detective or DICK (YORK) to crack the case, identify the WEAPONS (VAN) that were used in the murder. Branching off from the theme, other fill looks quasi-related. The Strokes’ album “IS THIS IT?” could be the dick’s question. A book called The Morning Show Murders is in the clue for a Weatherman, so I started thinking of the Weather Underground radicals. Oh, wait, that’s lowercase weatherman: AL ROKER, who’s been on a morning show for years. I tried to make things tougher for myself.
I call foul on the clue for BAH: [Ebeneezer Scrooge epithet]. First off, it’s Ebenezer, no double-E. Second, BAH is an interjection or exclamation, but it’s not an epithet. Epithets are words or phrases used to describe a person or thing, sometimes used to malign said person or thing. “Dammit!” is not an epithet; “old dirty bastard” is. Epithets may or may not be dirty words, and dirty words may or may not be epithets. Has anyone compiled a Venn diagram to illustrate this?
MATCHBOX cars, AL ROKER, the [Going concern?] UROLOGY, and B-MOVIE are great fill, but there was also a lot of fill in the not-great category, such as APOLAR, KEY ON, ATTAR and ENOL, ASTI and the AIRE, [1942 Preakness winner] ALSAB, and REKNIT.
Gabriel Stone’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “I Have a Dream”
The theme pays tribute to Rev. Martin Luther KING Jr., the 17D: ["I have a dream" speaker], by finding HOPE in strange places. In five of seven phrases with an embedded HOPE, the HOPE spans two words; in ORTHOPEDIST and ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER, HOPE’s sandwiched inside a longer word.
I feel as though the WSJ crossword features a hidden-word theme more often than the other 21×21 venues do. Is it my imagination?
- [Mike Brady, for one] is a STEPPARENT, and CAROL is [Mike Brady's second wife]. Alas, the Marcia in [Co-star of Teri, Felicity, and Marcia]/EVA is not a Brady.
- PLINKO is clued as ["The Price Is Right" game], and there’s really no other way to clue that, is there?
I was not a fan of the first theme entry opening the puzzle at 22A. Chess! I don’t know the chess lingo. I’m sure [Set of chess moves also called the Ruy Lopez]/SPANISH OPENING was red meat for plenty of you, but for me, it barked “Move along now. You can back into this corner when you have everything else around it filled in.” I can’t say I’ve seen the term ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS before. And I’m not familiar with PHOTOSHOP ELEMENTS. Not to mention, ANCHO PEPPER grates on my ear. Ancho chilies, yes. Ancho chili peppers, sure. But ANCHO PEPPER? Do people call it that?