Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword
Lincoln’s birthday is Friday, February 12, but Friday’s usually themeless day in the NYT so the 201st birthday puzzle arrives one day early. The whole theme is wrapped up in the clue for the 3-letter answer at 62D: ABE. He gave the GETTYSBURG Address, issued the EMANCIPATION / PROCLAMATION, was the first president elected from the REPUBLICAN Party, and…the end of the clue is cut off in the applet. “…and he liked to eat 48-Down,” NACHOS? Probably not. Across Lite or newspaper solvers, fill me in—how does the 62D clue end?
Among the tougher stuff in this puzzle, we’ve got these ones:
- 69A. SION is the [Capital of Valais]. I’ve seen this answer with a “Priory of Sion”/Da Vinci Code clue, but Valais? Not ringing a bell.
- 31D. OPTO looks weird in the grid, but is plain to see as [Vision: Prefix]. I had oculo- on the mind.
- 12D. A [Knot] of wood is a BURL.
- 11D. EQUATIONS are [Some memorization for a physics test].
- 39D. [Mezza ___] VOCE looks to be one of those musical terms I’m not familiar with.
- 38A. [Beat in a race] clues OUTVOTE, but who’s doing it and what they’re doing feels muddled to me. If you’re the candidate, you beat your opponent but don’t OUTVOTE them. And the people who are doing the voting, they’re not winning the race, they’re picking the winner of the race. What equivalency am I missing here?
- 3D. MERCY? [It's sometimes given to prisoners].
- 10A. Eugene DEBS is the [Third-place presidential candidate of 1920 who ran his campaign from jail].
- 43A. SLS are [Classic Mercedes roadsters]. I needed all the crossings here.
- 46D. The plural of minimum is MINIMA, or [Nadirs].
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Dough? Sí, Dough”—Janie’s review
Found money is always an unexpected treat and Patrick’s puzzle provides a little to brighten your day. The currency in question, as suggested by the title (and confirmed at 73A) is the PESO ["Dough" found in this puzzle's four longest answers]. And those “four longest answers” are all terrific:
- 17A. GRAPE SODA [Fizzy purple beverage].
- 11D. BAGPIPE SOLO [Rendition at some Scottish funerals]. There seems to be a Scottish sub-theme here, with [Highlands girl] LASS and [Kilt crease] PLEAT in the mix. Remember: “If it’s not Scottish it’s crap!!“
- 25D. I SURE HOPE SO [Phrase of expectant desire]. Me, too! (Interesting. We don’t usually see the hidden word at the end of the phrase.)
- 64A. SCOPES OUT [Examines, slangily]. Love this phrase. Also cases out. But, dang–there’s no dough in there…
Now while the theme letters don’t appear right next to each other, they do appear sequentially for one more coin in ESPRESSO [Starbucks serving]. For my money (so to speak) there’s even more to be mined by way of puzzle “gold.” Note that the clue for REGAL is [Suitable for a sovereign], then remember that the sovereign is a valuable coin in England. (And while we’re across the pond, ESSEX is that [English earldom]). Although JAR is clued today as a [Cookie container], lotso folks use one as a coin container.
While the cluing is fine, I feel like the fill outstrips it for liveliness. Clues I particularly liked include the image-specific [Oscar the Grouch's expression] for SCOWL and the scenario-creating ["You wanted my attention?"] for “YES?” I question [Clears, as a hurdle] for LEAPS. Shouldn’t “with ‘over’” be part of the clue here? I’m having trouble with the substitution test…
Some more of that lively fill includes another great phrase, SCARES UP [Locates with difficulty]; BUMPY [Like a toad's skin], LISZT ["Faust Symphony" composer], and HOAX [It's perpetrated by a prankster]. I also like the assonance in the SW corner with ASOCIAL, OCEANS and LOPE.
Once again, Patrick has produced a pangram. As they say in the land where you can spend those pesos, “OLÉ!” ["Superb, Señor!"].
Amy here again—I’m short on time this morning, between my kid being off school and a handyman coming. Quick blogging!
Nancy Salomon’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The theme unifier, LOVE IS ALL AROUND, describes the other theme entries, which follow a LO…VE pattern. LOOK ALIVE and LONESOME DOVE are great, but LOW EXPLOSIVE seems frightfully unfamiliar to be a theme entry, and I don’t know enough about golf to know how “in the language” LONG DRIVE is—but it’s not much “in the language” outside of golf, other than going for a long drive in the car.
It seems weird to clue SAL as [___ soda]. This is a term I have encountered only in crosswords. (And there are people named Sal who would love to be a clue.) Same with NEBS—these [Birds' bills] are a word I’ve only run into in the grid. Maybe ornithologists use it a lot?
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword #6, “Themeless 4″
How’d you like the difficulty level this week? Felt like a Saturday NYT in terms of the effort required, but qualitatively a different flavor. It didn’t feel like an NYT or LAT or Newsday or CS themeless at all.
- COLONEL SANDERS is a [Yum! Brands mascot]. It was either him, the Taco Bell chihuahua, or a nonexistent Pepsi mascot.
- [RFK protector, once] is a TARP. RFK Stadium no longer exists, is that the deal? Kinda wanted SECRET SERVICE but it wouldn’t fit.
- Why is an ALARM a [Cause of a job stoppage?]?
- ALICE is clued as [Actress Faye whose full name is a Pig-Latinized English word]. I hadn’t put two and two together while solving: phallus.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Buzzed Words”
The theme entries are four common two-word phrases in which the first word is turned into a verb and put into the past tense to make that first word into a synonym of “drunk.” Now, the title is “Buzzed Words,” which suggests buzzwords +ED, and the first three theme entries do follow a +ED mode. But that’s not what the theme is doing—it’s take a noun/adjective -> switch to the word’s verb sense -> apply past tense -> get a “drunk” word -> clue in appropriate drunk fashion. So the BOMBED SQUAD of cops is slurring its words in the clue. The PLASTERED CAST of actors can no longer spell. I can hear the slurred hiccups of the WRECKED DIVERS by the pool. The light infantry turns into a LIT INFANTRY.
When I test-solved this puzzle, I suggested changing the title to “Buzz Words” to lessen the “wait, I thought we were adding -ED” experience, but Ben said he had a previous puzzle by that title. No, I don’t know why a title can’t be reused, either.