Elizabeth Gorski’s New York Times crossword
I had no idea what the theme was when I finished filling in the puzzle, but there was a great “aha” moment when it clicked. Why is 9A: FIVE-O clued as [Cops, in slang...or a hint to this puzzle's theme]? Because the five theme entries have different spellings of the “O” sound:
- 17A. AU COURANT means [Up-to-date]. Like its partner in the opposite corner, AU COURANT is stacked with a non-theme answer of equal length, which makes the theme less immediately obvious.
- 23A. For [Brut or Paco Rabanne], I tried to squeeze EAU DE TOILETTE in but ran out of room. It’s EAU DE COLOGNE.
- 41A. “OH, TO BE IN ENGLAND…” That’s the [Browning opening line preceding "Now that April's there"]. I leave it to my more poetry-savvy commenters to explain whether this is Robert Browning (my guess) or Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
- 52A. To OWE BACK TAXES is to [Be indebted to the I.R.S.]. The IRS owed me a $6 refund, thank you very much.
- 65A. O PIONEERS! is the [Willa Cather novel] with the same “Is that really necessary?” punctuation as Jeopardy!
How many of us know FIVE-O only by way of the old TV show Hawaii Five-O, and how many are hep to the slang in its own right? I learned of the slang via crosswords, I believe. Story of my life, people.
Favorite clues, favorite answers:
- 14A. WHIPPED UP is clued as [Made quickly, as a meal]. Great entry. Three Ps? You can’t beat that.
- 70A. I like the cheesiness of the term BUDDY LIST. This [Computer setup to facilitate instant messaging] is strictly an AOL/AIM term, is it not?
- 6D. The most eminent IDA is [Civil rights advocate ___ B. Wells].
- 7D. [Light from above] is a noun, not a verb—the SUN.
- 9D. FAR-FLUNG [Widespread] looks weird in the grid before it’s all filled in. I hope somebody somewhere made up the word FARFLING (a form of “to farfle,” of course) because GIV sounded as likely as GUV (“guv’nor,” an [Informal British term of address]) to them.
- 42D. BABA WAWA! That was a classic [Gilda Radner character] on SNL. I preferred Lisa Loopner, Rosanne Rosannadanna, and Emily Litella over the long run, but Baba Wawa is timeless because I think of that characterization about a quarter of the times I see Barbara Walters.
- 53D. Cool clue for WELSH: [Like the name "Bryn Mawr"]. Which of you went to college there?
- 60D. [Prince, e.g.] clues HEIR because Prince is the musical HEIR to Jimi Hendrix, obviously.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Freefillin”
Once again, Matt explores themeless territory with a weird-looking grid. Those snaking 10-square black pieces? The 4×4 corners? It ain’t pretty, but it does give us quadruple stacks of 10-letter answers crossing pairs of 10-letter Down answers which then cross single 10-letter Across answers. Overall, that’s 14 10s and for the hell of it, four 9s. I wonder if Brendan Emmett Quigley wants to take a stab at filling this grid.
- 26D. Who doesn’t love a crunchy WAFFLE CONE? I used to sniff at paying extra for a waffle cone but I finally caved in. I want the waffle cone.
- 49A. When I was a kid, I loved the ICE CAPADES. It may have taken me until today to figure out that the [Skating show]‘s name is a play on “escapades.” That…is not so clever. There is no such thing as capades.
- 29A. [From Sumatra or Timor, old-style] clues EAST INDIAN, as in pertaining to the East Indies, vs. the West Indies in the Caribbean, which are nowhere near India. Mind you, the East Indies aren’t exactly next door to India either. Columbus, what were you thinking?
- 12D. [They may include lyrics] is the clue for LINER NOTES. The waning of record albums and the concomitant waxing of tapes and then CDs has gutted the art of liner notes and dammit, I want to see the official lyrics as presented by the recording artist if I buy some music. You rely on the Internet for song lyrics and bad things happen. My kid’s class was singing “in the cream of the fight” as part of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” in second grade because that’s what the teacher printed off the Internet. “The cream of the fight”? The teacher didn’t have a problem with that. (Sigh.)
- 33D. NEWCASTLE is the [English city known for coal and beer]. Is there a Newcastle Black Coal Ale to go along with Newcastle Brown Ale?
- 45D. SATYR is clued as [Mythical horn-dog]. Mm-hmm, that’ll work.
- 54D. I don’t know this song, but the ZERO clue is cute: [Number in the Cookie Monster song "They Not Take That Away From Me"].
On the down side, I wasn’t wild about fill like “WHAT A SNOB” and the E/S/T density of ESSAY TESTS, ESTATE CARS, SESTET, and DESERT ROSE. In a crazy grid like this, though, you have to expect some of that to facilitate the rest of it.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Act Like a Bird”—Janie’s review
- 20A. RHEA PERLMAN ["Cheers" actress].
- 27A. MARTIN LANDAU ["Crimes and Misdemeanors" star]. I still think of him in connection with TV’s “Mission: Impossible,” I confess–but his work with Woody Allen (and in Ed Wood) have distinguished him in a long career and a competitive field.
- 49A. JAY HERNANDEZ ["Hostel" star]. Oh, dear. Have never heard of either. Keith Hernandez, yes… Note: Just send any jibes to my “Under a Rock” address.
- 60A. ROBIN TUNNEY ["The Mentalist" co-star]. Have heard of the show, but not of Ms. T. (See note above.)
“OHO?!” ["What do we have here?!]. Not only is this puzzle a pangram, but there is a veritable raft of witty and well-crafted clues and/or fill that adds to its lively feel:
- FUTZ [Tinker needlessly] and also the title of Rochelle Owens’s 1967 Obie-winning play.
- SMARM [Obsequious flattery], which ties in by way of rhyme, with DISARM [Render harmless].
- [Mere slip of a skirt] MINI.
- WAFTS [Travels, as a fragrance]. I first became aware of this word in Alan Jay Lerner’s lyrics for “The Lusty Month of May” (from Camelot), when Guenevere sang “Whence this fragrance wafting through the air? What sweet feeling does its scent transmute?”
- [Do well as a stand-up] KILL (i.e., as a “stand-up” comic) at, say, a ROAST [Joke-filled tribute], and not use the force of your BICEP [Muscle that's a gun, in slang]. New slang. Yay!
- [Love in La Paz] AMOR. That’s Bolivia, which is a nice geographic complement to [Andean land], PERU. (And back to amor, is that a shout-out to Tony’s better half in ["Martha My ___ ] DEAR”?…)
- [Bus commuter's expense[ and [Car commuter's expense] give us FARE and TOLL.
- QB SNEAK [Tricky sounding yardage attempt, briefly].
- ACCORDION [Popular zydeco instrument].
- [Sills solo] ARIA pairs well with AIDA [Verdi opera], especially since she sang the title role (among other, more traditional venues) at the University of Utah football field. No kidding.
- [Super-elite swabbies] NAVY SEALS.
- [Totally wiped] ZONKED, and
- [March site for King] SELMA–and not [Site for March King].
Robert A. Doll’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The constructor’s name always makes me think of my Aunt Roberta, whose first name was read aloud as “Robert A.” at her high school graduation. Yes, it was the early ’70s and many boys had long hair too, but really now.
Moving on! The theme is phrases that begin with synonymous words: SNAPPING TURTLES, BREAKING NEWS, CUTTING CLASS, and SEVERING ALL TIES. What I like is that in all four phrases, the “cuting” word isn’t used to mean physically breaking something into two pieces. Good theme consistency. I briefly pondered whether SEVERING ___ was the start of a contrived or a natural phrase, but then SEVERING ALL TIES sprang to mind completely naturally.
My laptop’s screen is smaller than my 20″ monitor at home, so Across Lite clues are smaller. I misread the 8D clue as [Movie girl with "penis"] and thought of The Crying Game‘s Jae. Whoops! It’s PAULINE, the [Movie girl with "perils"] in The Perils of Pauline.
That’s all for me for Tuesday. We may rent a pontoon boot and go look for some manatees in the spring-fed Crystal River they frequent. Who doesn’t love a manatee? Especially because you can move its last letter to the beginning and get “emanate.”