Fred Piscop’s New York Times crossword
- 17A. [Two steeds?] are PARAMOUNTS. That word looks weird in the plural, and the idea of a “pair of mounts” seems weird too.
- 57A. PARACHUTES are [Two water slides?]. This one works great.
- 11D. [Two scout groups?] are a PARATROOPS.
- 27D. [Two charts?] clues PARAGRAPHS.
I kept catching myself frowning at the fill while I worked the puzzle. Two bygone gas companies (AMOCO, ESSO) in one puzzle? This makes me wonder whether this puzzle was in the same Lost Since 2001 pile as the recent Brendan Quigley puzzle. E-MAGS (48D: [Online publications, briefly]) was another frown-inducer.
42D: LAUGHER is clued as a [Lopsided win, in slang]. This sounds not remotely plausible to me, but my sports-fan husband says it sounds fine to him.
10A: SPAM is clued as an [Item usually stuffed with pimento]. No, wait, that’s an OLIVE. SPAM is [Usually deleted e-mail]. It’s astonishing how many spam blog comments try to land on this blog—the filter catches more than 99% of them so that I’m the only one who has to see them. You will never know what high praise one “Elizabeth Manygoats” had for this site…
29A: [Small whiskey glass] clues JIGGER, which was used to clue SHOT GLASS in one of the Sunday puzzles. Is this “small whiskey glass” a wee shot glass or something different?
43A: [Poor, depressed neighborhood] is not a happy clue for GHETTO, but really, is there any happy way to clue that? And no, [___ blaster] is not a good approach. Glad not to see that clue today, at least.
I don’t know if I’ve ever played JOTTO, the 29D: [Word-guessing game]. Googling…it’s like Mastermind but with words.
Lila Cherry’s Los Angeles Times crossword (really by Rich Norris)
This is a smaller version of Merl Reagle’s theme yesterday—to mark the Ides of March (March 15), IDE is hidden in 15 different answers. Merl had a 21×21 grid and 15 longer IDE hiders, while Rich has a 15×15 grid with the IDEs in four long answers and 11 short ones.
What’s funny is that there’s no such thing as a singular IDE! Rich and Merl are surely both aware of that, but liked the idea of having 15 IDEs in a crossword.
Let’s call the four long entries theme answers, shall we? Here they are:
- 16A. HIDE AND SEEK is a [Kids' game with an "it"].
- 10D. BRIDESMAiD is a [Wedding party member].
- 26D. [Like most modern TVs, picturewise] clues WIDE-SCREEN.
- 56A. [Today, to Caesar—and a hint to the hidden word appearing in this puzzle 15 times (including in this answer).
- 28A. [Backyard play apparatus] is a SWING SET.
- 9D, 44A. OAKLAND is a [San Francisco Bay city], and a [9-Down footballer] is a RAIDER.
- 31D. Why do I like the word ELIDE so much? It means a [Drop in pronunciation], as in “top o’ the mornin’ to you.”
- 41D. PAJAMAS…mine are calling me now. The clue is [Dr. Denton's, e.g.]. My PJs are not Dr. Denton’s.
Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “The March of Ides”—Janie’s review
Saith the solver, “AMUSE ME” ["I need to be entertained"], and Tyler complies. From the clever (timely…) turn of phrase in the title (a hint to what the grid will deliver) to the fine fill and cluing throughout, there’s no reason today to “Beware the ides of March!” Rather “Behold the ‘march of ides”" and enjoy ‘em this way:
- 17A. IDÉE FIXE [Obsession]. Note that the letters I-D-E start in the first square of the fill. Now, follow the letters as they move progressively (“march”) through the remaining theme fill, from the second through the sixth squares in.
- 26A. SIDE DISH [French fries or mashed potatoes].
- 32A. GUIDE DOG [Exception to a “no pets” rule, frequently. Step on his/her tail and s/he may YELP AT you [React to, as a startling].
- 46A. DIVIDE UP [Allot].
- 53A. LOW RIDER [Variable-height car]. Here’s one with more bounce to the ounce, apparently…
- 66A. LET SLIDE [Forgive].
["Impressive!"] (x 2) = “OOH!” and “AAH!”
Also “impressive” are the number of clues that relate to one another, and these pairs (like the one above) add to the overall cohesion of the solving experience. For instance, there’s [1993 tearjerker about Notre Dame football] and [React to a tearjerker] giving us RUDY and SOB (while I remember seeing and liking Rudy, I don’t remember sobbing…). There’re also the clues with a patriotic edge: [Pledge of Allegiance phrase] and [Under ___ (Pledge of Allegiance phrase)] for ONE NATION and GOD. Then there’s the Anatomy 101 pair: [The brain and the spinal cord (abbr.)] and [Foot bones, collectively] for CNS (central nervous system) and TARSUS. And the music pair: [Scale start] and [Key of Beethoven's Fifth] for DO-RE-MI and C MINOR.
Question: did the [Colorful computer]/IMAC combo seem off to you? Since Apple only sold them between 1998 and 2002–and because’s today’s model are so neutral and sleek, the clue didn’t sit right with me. Would like to have seen a “One-time” before the word “colorful”…
Other strong, mention-worthy fill of the longer variety includes LAID OUT [Knocked hard to the ground, in football] (is this term exclusive to football? I’m gonna guess “no”…); PRESS TIME [When to put a paper to bed]; WASH DAY [When to do the laundry]; VERITAS [Harvard's motto]–meaning “truth”–or VE RI TAS–which is the way it looks in the Harvard logo; and ENDORSE [Sign the back of, as a check], or [Sing the praises of, as this puzzle].
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
Brendan tries his hand at the triple stack, but stretches the grid a little wider than usual with stacks of 16-letter entries. Three at the top, three at the bottom, one in the middle for good measure. It was the guy in the middle I liked best: chess phenom VISWANATHAN ANAND, whose name I know from Matt Gaffney’s puzzles (and maybe from Brendan’s). I liked it especially because with the VISWA in place, I remembered how to spell the rest of it.
Most of the puzzle (60 of 75 words, if I counted right) consists of 3s, 4s, and 5s, and much of my solving time was spent working through the short fill. Hey! What I like about themeless puzzles (and Patrick Berry’s Rows Garden puzzles) is that you get to spend most of your time noodling out long answers, not the short bits that populate the daily crossword over and over again. And in this puzzle, the 3s, 4s, and 5s were not doing it for me. To wit: DEARY, the E-CARD/ULNAR/REDLY block, plural STPS, partials IS UP and AN IN, playground “I’M IT.” They pulled my focus away from the good stuff, and I noticed them more than the fresh EGO-TRIPPING stacked with ANAND in the middle.
Now, a 16×16 grid with stacked 12s on all four sides, and room for more 6+s inside—that would be cool. Is that doable, Brendan? 15×15 grids can’t have stacked 12s without chunks of black squares, but in a 16×16…