John Farmer’s New York Times crossword
Three incantations appear in the grid: HOCUS POCUS, ABRACADABRA, and OPEN SESAME. Running diagonally from Seattle to Miami in the grid is the phrase SAY THE MAGIC WORD, and that magic word appears in the circled squares, spelling out PLEASE. Isn’t that cute? I like the double meaning of “magic word” here.
Toughest fill and clues:
- 22A. [Some brothers and sisters] in frats and sororities are ZETAS.
- 24A. [Lab monitor?] is a LEASH that a Labrador retriever might wear.
- 28A. Ron CEY is the [Former Dodgers third baseman whom Chris Berman nicknamed "Born in the U.S."]. As in “born in the U.S.Cey?”
- 33A. TAMMIE [__ Green, 1987 LPGA Rookie of the Year] must be the most famous TAMMIE out there. Don’t recognize the name.
- 40A. Misread [Ancient Britain] as [Ancient Briton] and couldn’t figure out how to make ANGLE fit. Answer’s ANGLIA.
- 51A. CANEA is the [Former capital of Crete].
- 12D. [Equipment that comes with sticks] clues DRUM SET. Of course.
- 29D. Who-what? Never heard of EMA [__ Savahl (couture label)].
- 44D. Not so difficult, but an unusual entry: ONE-ONE is [New Year's Day, datewise], as in January 1.
- 50A. A teacher’s [Lesson writer?] might be a piece of CHALK to write on the chalkboard with.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “V-Six”—Janie’s review
If, because of the title, you thought this puzzle would have an automotive theme–after all, there’s CYLINDER right there at 3D clued as [Engine chamber]–you’d've thought wrong. Instead, Patrick has given us another peppy “add-a-letter-to-the-familiar-phrase” exercise (the letter “V”)–with a twist in the last of the theme fill, where he adds two of ‘em. “Two V or not two V,” here are the answers (and throughout, note that clever cluing):
- 17A. Alley cats + V = VALLEY CATS [Felines that are, like, totally from San Fernando].
- 25A. Yard sale + V = YARD SALVE [Ointment for newly mown grass]. “Aah,” I imagine those cut blades sighing, “That feels so much better, doesn’t it?”
- 38A. Archie Bunker + V = ARCHIVE BUNKER [Fortification for files]. I really like the complete change of meaning this added V gives the new phrase.
- 51A. Gray area + V = GRAVY AREA [Crater in one's mashed potatoes, say?]. Something like this.
- 61A. Say “uncle” + V = SAVVY UNCLE [Hip relative?] Cool.
Once again, we have a puzzle with some discernible sub-themes. First there’s what I’m calling “Pre-K,” which is brought to us by TYKE [Small fry] (though not NIÑO today, as it’s clued in relation to the weather pattern and not as a stage of development for a male child), “DOES SO!” [Retort in a verbal volley], and [Final word of "I'm a Little Teapot"], OUT. For anyone who needs a refresher where this childhood lyric is concerned, here ’tis.
The other mini-theme goes by “Actors and Their Roles,” and that covers:
- [Bruce of "Enter the Dragon"] LEE
- [Antonio's "Evita" role] CHE
- [Peter who was the voice of Anton Ego in "Ratatouille"] O’TOOLE
- [Burt of "Smokey and the Bandit"] REYNOLDS; and one role sans actor with
- ["Cheers" bartender Sam] MALONE.
There’s a tip o’ the hat to some of the ladies, too, with STUNNER [Beauty] JACLYN (Smith) [ "Charlie's Angels" costar of Farrah and Kate]; AMYS [Sedaris and Poehler], two very funny women; and the literary O’HARA, or [Scarlett of fiction] (whom we saw last week as well).
I’m also fond of the world history/geography fill of ETRUSCAN [Ancient Italian] (which hearkens back to Carthage, the “ancient African city” we saw earlier this week) and KRAKATOA [Volcanic island near Sumatra].
[Wd. like "where" or "when"] is ADV. So, too, is FISHILY, an adverb which I do look at [In a suspicious manner]…
Completely new to me: [Nen whose signature pitch was called “The Terminator”] for ROBB. Coulda fooled me. And did, apparently! I took more delight in the “J” of CAJOLE [Sweet talk] and the stylistic range of vocal music represented in the NE with ["Believe" singer Groban] JOSH and ETTA [James with four Grammys].
Scott Atkinson’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Favorite clues: 13D: [Project done to a tee] for TIE-DYE and 46D: [Hams are often seen on it] for EASTER.
For more on the puzzle, this viral blogger refers you to PuzzleGirl’s L.A. Crossword Confidential post.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword #10, “Themeless 8″
No real trouble spots here, though not knowing 1A: MAGDALEN meant that the northwest corner was the last part I filled in.
I wonder if THE JOE SCHMO SHOW was requested by one of Peter’s cruciverbal patrons. The show aired in 2003-04. What makes it crossword-worthy at this late date? Was the Season 2 DVD (released last year) a big hit or something?
Updated Thursday evening:
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “When I’m With You”
- 20A. [Conduits for toppings?] are SLUICES OF PIZZA.
- 30A. [Dull crossword constructor's work?] is STATIC CLUING.
- 40A. [Feeling regret about not trading one last stock?] is RUING THE BELL. At the NYSE, the closing bell signals the end of the trading day.
- 55A. [Hotel room overlooking Love Canal?] is SUPERFUND SUITE.
- 58A. [Polish Holocaust hero Sendler] is named IRENA. Go read her inspiring story.
- 60A. [Common exhibition space acronym] is MOCA. That’s the Museum of Contemporarary Art copying off of MoMA with the O. Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art is abbreviated MCA.
- 10D. The uncommon word HEMIC means [Blood-related].
- 38D. [Condition for Homer Simpson and Michael Stipe] is ALOPECIA (baldness).
- 46D. [S-word, often] is a PLURAL. Not the “S-word” that starts with S.