Bonus puzzle: This month’s Bard Bulletin crossword by Caleb Madison, who just celebrated his 17th birthday. You can solve “Rapper’s Delight” online or in Across Lite. Don’t worry—you need no familiarity with rap to solve the puzzle.
Tony Orbach and Andrea Carla Michaels’ New York Times crossword, “Keep an Eye on It!”
Keep an “eye” on things by adding an “I” to the end of a word in the phrases in this fun theme. There aren’t all that many familiar words that end with “I,” so there’s a freshness here that many other add-a-letter themes lack.
- 23A. THE WIZARD OF IDI is the [Sorcerer behind Amin's rise to power?]. The Wizard of Id is that bad comic strip.
- 33A. TAXI EVASION is [Dodging midtown traffic?].
- 41A. I love this one. “YOU CAN CALL ME ALI,” playing on the Paul Simon song “You Can Call Me Al,” is clued as a [1964 Cassius Clay announcement?].
- 57A. [Average karate instructor?] is a COMMON SENSEI.
- 66A. ["Yummy! Here comes your tuna sashimi!"?] clues “OPEN WIDE AND SAY AHI.” Do you announce the name of the food you’re eating? I do not. The final I crosses SUSHI, an [Offering at some bars].
- 76A. Hah! Love this one, too. JEDI CLAMPETT is the [Lightsaber-wielding hilbilly of TV?].
- 91A. Just how famous is Ramsey Lewis? He seems out of place here. [Invitation to cocktails with pianist Ramsey?] clues MARTINI AND LEWIS. Why not stick with Rat Packer Jerry Lewis, partnering with Dean Martin(i)’s martini? Or use Lewis and Clark, with Lewis ditching Clark in favor of booze. And furthermore: If you’re inviting someone for cocktails, you probably wouldn’t use the singular MARTINI when the plural has more bonhomie.
- 100A. [Rotisserie on a Hawaiian porch?] is LANAI TURNER. Excellent repurposing of Lana Turner.
- 118A. This one’s my third favorite entry: “ARE WE THERE, YETI?” is a [Cranky question on the Himalayan trail?]. Perfect.
What else is here? This stuff:
- 1A. [Ol' Blue Eyes], Frank SINATRA, kicks things off at 1-Across. It can definitely set the stage for the overall solving experience, that first answer. When you get it quickly and it’s a lively entry, the puzzle is asking you to like it from the get-go.
- 53A. I wasn’t sure where the clue was going. [Something under a tired eye, maybe] is a POUCH. Aww.
- 55A. [Calls of port?] are nautical AYS. “Ay” and “aye” are the same thing. I kinda wanted something in the “land, ho”/”yo ho ho”/”ahoy” vein.
- 61A. [The Jackson 5 had five] AFROS. I learned a lot about afro maintenance (nightly braiding? I never knew) from a friend on Friday.
- 95A. [Film character known for her buns] is Princess LEIA. Hah! Great clue. Hair buns, not cinnamon buns or a derriere. (See also JEDI CLAMPETT.)
- 122A. PAROLE is an [Out for someone on the inside], in prison.
- 126A. [Showy streakers] are not colorfully painted naked people but METEORS.
- 3D. ["The Seven Joys of Mary," e.g.] is a NOEL or Christmas song. Wow, never heard of that one. I hope one of the joys involves turtle doves or lords a-leaping.
- 8D. “BAD GIRLS”! The [Donna Summer #1 hit] is a colorful answer, but somehow I can’t hear the song in my head at all. “Last Dance,” “MacArthur Park,” “She Works Hard for the Money”…”Hot Stuff”! Gotta love “Hot Stuff.” (Any of these songs earworming inside your head now?)
- 13D. I think TRINI is a [Certain Caribbean, for short] as a curtailment of Trinidadian, but I’m not so familiar with that usage.
- 14D. GENEVA is the [Home of the Palace of Nations]. I kinda wanted this to be EPCOT but it wouldn’t fit.
- 29D. [___ meat] clues DELI. I had DEAD meat at first.
- 66D. ONDIT splits into two words, ON DIT, French for “one says.” It’s clued as a [Bit of gossip].
- 70D. [Got in illicitly] is HACKED, as in getting into a computer system.
- 89D. SLUGFEST is a challenging sports contest, such as in boxing or baseball, says one dictionary. A fight marked by the exchange of heavy blows, says another. The clue is [High-scoring baseball game], a usage I wasn’t familiar with.
- 100D. LISPS are [Features of Castilian speech], which is the Spanish spoken in Spain.
- How are your eyes? 117D: [It may have redeye] clues a PIC or photo. 67D: [One who may have red eyes] is a DOPER. And STYES may be [Sights on sore eyes?]. I feel the need for Visine now.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Boston Globe crossword, “Matchups”
What do you do with a match? You LIGHT (67-Across) it. And so you LIGHT each theme clue, adding the word “light” to the end of each clue to complete it. For example, [First *] is the CRACK OF DAWN, [Red *] is a CHILDREN’S GAME (though we called it Red Light, Green Light), and [Lime*] is a Charlie CHAPLIN FILM. This is one of those flip-flop themes, where the clues (with their “light”s) feel more like crossword answers and the answers sound more like crossword clues.
I resorted to the Across Lite “reveal current letter” option to get the last letter. 43A: [Voltaire's family name] ARO*ET meets 39D: [Teller of Ice-Age tales] A*EL. I tried every consonant in that crossing, to no avail. “Do Manny and Sid in the Ice Age cartoons have a friend named ABEL?” Turned out to be a U, the haven’t-seen-it-before (or if I have, I certainly forgot it) AROUET crossing Jean AUEL of Clan of the Cave Bear fame. The AUEL clue would have been super-obvious for me if only it had mentioned Neanderthals or Cro-Magnons.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “Kindergarten Crime Spree (Part 2)”
This puzzle continues the theme Merl began last week, recounting a detective story (with a kindergarten setting) in the theme clues and answers. In a Cruciverb-L posting, Merl suggested that we solve this one on paper rather than in an interactive online format. The reason becomes apparent near the end: The final theme answer has one square for which any of three letters is correct, but Across Lite and Merl’s online option can’t define three correct answers for one square. The story ends at 113A with “And that’s when the FINGER-P*INTING began.” The clue for the crossing answer, 116D, is [Start of a crime novel by Sue Grafton, whose titles are particularly apt for this puzzle. (This clue has three possible answers. See 113-Across.)]. A IS, O IS, and R IS all work, with FINGER-PAINTING, FINGER-POINTING, and FINGERPRINTING having kindergarten or detective-story connotations. It’s a clever way to make good use of all those Grafton “* Is for ___” titles that so often pop up as partial answers in crosswords.
I’m waiting for Merl’s explanation of why this two-part crossword took him two years to make. The story will appear at Merl’s blog this weekend.
- 60A, 40D. 40D’s clue says [See 60 Across], and 60A says [Golf great]. The golf great is SNEAD, and the Snead is named SAM.
- 62A. ["Convoy" star's first name] is KRIS, Kris Kristofferson.
- 101A. The bird called the MOA is an [Extinct 12-footer]. Twelve feet tall! That is much too big for a bird. It’s kind of freaking me out.
- 111A. [Last two words in the title of an epic 1962 Western] are WAS WON: How the West Was Won.
- 2D. [Embark on ___ career] clues two words, A SOLO. Asolo is also a town in Italy, home to crossworder S.E. Anderson.
- 7D. [Wolf's home?] is CNN—Wolf Blitzer, that is.
- 10D. [Flying wedge sound] is the HONK from a “V” formation of geese.
- 14D. OPEN ORDER is a [Market action that remains in effect until filled or cancelled].
- 20D. [Nobel decliner ___ Tho] is LE DUC Tho.
- 50D. ADAK? [It's an Aleutian] island. The clue kinda sounds like “it’s an illusion.”
- 53D. IN IT [___ to win it] duplicates the “it,” but is more fun than a clue for the abbrevation of “initial.” Madge’s line “You’re soaking ___” would have worked better.
- 76D. [Glenn Miller milieu] is a DANCE HALL. The one-word dancehall is a style of music from Jamaica that spun off from reggae.
- 96D. Love the word GADFLY. It’s [One who may bug you].
Will Johnston’s Washington Post/CrosSynergy themeless “Sunday Challenge”
- 39A. When I had the last 7 or so letters of this one, I wanted the answer to be the toy called a MAGNADOODLE, but then I read the clue and saw that it would be LABRADOODLE, three letters off. It’s a [Crossbred dog with a gentle disposition and hypoallergenic coat].
- 7D. I love EDDIE IZZARD, both as a comedian and as a crossword answer. The [British comedian who toured a "Dress to Kill" show] is touring again—a friend of mine saw his show about a month ago in Chicago.
- 30D. SOFT PRETZEL can be a [Salty stadium snack]. I prefer the buttery, sugary, cinnamon alternative.
- 34A. [Darts from side to side] clues ZIGZAGS.
- 2D. SEMPER FI (semper fidelis) is the [Marines' motto, briefly].
- 40D, 41D, 42D. Yum! RICOTTA is [Lasagna cheese], a KNISH is a [Potato turnover], and [Tortilla triangles] are NACHOS.
- 1A. [Red giant with an abundance of carbon] is a C-STAR. With answers like this, I plunk in STAR and wait for the crossing to tell me what kind of star it is—the various star labels are not information that resides in my head. The word “star” is repeated in the clue for 29D: ALGOL, a [Star in Perseus] and the name of my college yearbook.
- 53A. SLOANE is a [Trendy square in London]. Is there still a “Sloane Ranger” demographic? Yes, there is.
- 37D. [Field scavengers] are GLEANERS, picking over the harvested fields for any missed grain.
- 44D. ["Domani" singer Julius] LAROSA’s fame endures…in crossword puzzles.
Matt Skoczen’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Running on Empty”
- 23A. [Crisp named for an opera singer]/MELBA TOAST.
- 25A. [Illusion]/MAGIC TRICK.
- 36A. [Popular date destination]/MOVIE THEATER.
- 51A. [1936 Chaplin classic]/MODERN TIMES.
- 72A. [Frankie Laine chart-topper]/”MULE TRAIN.” I have never heard this song; I know it only from crosswords.
- 89A. [Painter's aid]/MASKING TAPE. More for a house painter than an artist, I think.
- 105A. [1979 Nobel Peace Prize recipient]/MOTHER TERESA. (See also 4D: ALBANIA, [NATO member since 4/1/2009].)
- 120A. [Singer's voice, e.g.]/MEAL TICKET, idiomatically.
- 123A. [Money-making knack]/MIDAS TOUCH.
I did this puzzle last night and the experience is no longer fresh in my head. Let’s walk through a handful of other clues:
- 98A. [Con ___: briskly, in music] clues MOTO. I know “con brio” and I know “Mr. Moto,” but “con moto” is utterly unfamiliar to me.
- 80D. CULOTTES are [Skirtlike trousers]. Culottes, gauchos, and knickers had a brief and unfortunate vogue during my adolescence. I wore the knickers.
- 24D. [Typical, as a case] clues TEXTBOOK. As in “This is a textbook example of a crossword answer you don’t often see, but which is a completely familiar word.”
- 56A. [Bankrupt Korean automaker] is DAEWOO. Really? When did it go under?
- 70A. [New Orleans player] is a SAINT. Good luck to the Saints in next week’s Super Bowl!
- 76A. [Uses as partial payment] clues TRADES IN, as in trading in your old car to defray the cost of a new one.
- 81A, 108A. [Dark time for poets] is E’EN and [Blake's daybreaks] are MORNS.
- 132A. [Nineveh's land: Abbr.] is ASSYR., short for Assyria.
- 10D. NIM is a [Strategic math game]. It’s explained here.
- 18D. [It's commonly turned] clues an ANKLE. Ow.
- 38D. [Shakespearean merchant Antonio et al.] are VENETIANS—The Merchant of Venice.
- 41D. TARPONS are [Silvery game fish].
- 83D. Inverness is in Scotland, so [Inverness topper] is a TAM. I could see the crossing between TAM and MOTO being a sticking point for some solvers.
- 106D. [Descendant of Noah's second son] is a HAMITE. Ham’s brother Shem is who the Semites’ name derives from.