Keith Talon’s New York Times crossword
What an unusual theme. I like it. There’s a MARTINI in the middle (37A: [Cocktail called "the elixir of quietude" by 4-Down], 4D being E.B. WHITE, ["The Elements of Style" updater] who picked up where Strunk left off). Four MARTINI orders are clued with the famous people (real and fictional) for whom those orders are apt:
- 20A. ON THE ROCKS is [Tiger and Elin Woods's 37-Across order?]. Ohhh, too soon.
- 53A. [Paula Abdul's 37-Across order?] is STRAIGHT UP, which is the title of a Paula Abdul song. I couldn’t tell you what it sounds like.
- 11D. We get literary with this one. [O. Henry's 37-Across order?] is WITH A TWIST, a twist of irony.
- 29D. [Popeye's 37-Across order?] involves green produce, but it’s not spinach, it’s EXTRA OLIVE, as in Olive Oyl. Do people order “extra olive”? What’s standard olive and how much more do you get with extra olive?
A few highlights in the fill:
- 27A. [It might start "E FP TOZ LPED"] made absolutely no sense to me. EYE TEST! Of course.
- 32A. Great clue for FOOL: [One pitied by Mr. T]. I dread the day when Mr. T loses his relevance and familiarity. Do 20-year-olds know who Mr. T is?
- 44A. I could picture the [Figure of Greek myth with a statue at Rockefeller Center] from the 30 Rock opening sequence, but needed the crossings to tell me it’s ATLAS. D’oh!
- 65A. Oh, FREDO, Fredo. [The hapless Corleone] from The Godfather.
- 43D. The MOSH PIT is a [Frenzied place at a rock club].
- 45D. TIVOED, the verb, means [Recorded for later viewing].
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Flee-Bitten”—Janie’s review
Who of us hasn’t longed for the ability to hit the magic button and be transported to–well, “anywhere but here”? Patrick speaks to that fantasy in his three-part, grid-spanning quip. His [Computer operator's lament] breaks out thusly:
- 17A. [...Part 1] I KEEP HITTING THE
- 37A. [Part 2] ESCAPE KEY BUT I AM
- 57A. [Part 3] STILL HERE AT WORK.
Oh, for the IT guy or gal who could fix that problem! But somehow, the more we beseech, the more s/he STAYS AWAY [Maintains one's distance]. Why should it be such a problem to [Kick back] and RELAX? Whether it’s to go fly a KITE [Toy with a tail] of perhaps to don SCUBAS [Outfits for frogmen] (and -women…) or use a SKI or two [Piece of biathlon gear] or simply to stretch out on the PATIO [Spot for a chaise, perhaps]–downtime (however you take it) is a beautiful thing and its mental-health benefits are not to be taken lightly. At the very least, it’s sometimes helpful if one NAPS [Grabs a few winks] every now and then to rejuvenate oneself.
What else does Patrick give us today by way of non-theme fill? There are those inviting ENTRYWAYS [They allow access] and perhaps an allusion to the “Itsy-Bitsy Teensy-Weensy Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” with SKIMPIEST [Providing the least coverage]. Because of the one-syllable/two-sound alliteration, I also like the way WITT sits atop WAITE in the grid ([1980s skating champ Katarina] and [Ralph of "The Waltons"]). And [Trap up a trunk] is one terrific clue for TREE. “Trap” here is a verb and not a noun. Good one!
The one cross that threw me? JAMS [Blockages] and JOWL [Droopy cheek]. I started with DAMS for the former and DOWN for the latter, because I was having trouble getting the sense of the clue. And with the exception of a phrase like “cheek by jowl,” I’m not accustomed to thinking of the word jowl in the singular. Jowls, on the other hand? You betcha.
Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I filled in 3D and 17A early on and wondered what else would be in the LEMON LAW/COMMON COLD theme of “alliterative phrases with MON in the middle.” LEMON LAW, it turns out, is just fill, and the theme is C.C. phrases with C.C. clues:
- 17a. [Cough cause] is the COMMON COLD.
- 27a. [Courtside coverage] is COLOR COMMENTARY.
- 41a. [Captain's concern] is COLLISION COURSE. See also: Staten Island Ferry.
- 55a. [Contract clone (whose abbreviation hints at this puzzle's theme)] is CARBON COPY, which “cc:” was originally short for. I’ve seen people claim “cc:” means “courtesy copy.” I haven’t used carbon paper since I was a kid. Or the mimeograph machine.
11d: LOLITA is clued as [Nabokov nymphet]. Good lord, can’t the poor girl be clued as a character? Rather than as the untrustworthy sexual predator narrator sees her?
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Just for Kicks”
- 17a, 21a. [With 21-across, leggy board game with jumping pieces?] is THIGH-KNEES CHECKERS (Chinese checkers).
- 26a, 47a, 53a. [With 47- and 53-across, active marble game for your legs?] is HUNGRY / HUNGRY / HIPBONES (Hungry Hungry Hippos). This one sounds lewd. The answer violates the prohibition on having the same word in the grid in two places, but it’s OK because both HUNGRYs are part of the same answer split into three pieces.
- 36a. [Leg-based game of questions and answers?] is TIBIAL PURSUIT. Does running count as a tibial pursuit?
- 58a. [Simple leggy game of three-in-a-row?] is TIC-TAC-TOES. It’s really easy to win if you go first, what with having five toes in a row right off the bat.
I know that 8d: [What "I Got," in a 1998 Master P movie title] constitutes a 9-letter partial, but at least I’ve actually seen I Got THE HOOK UP and find the title catchy so I could piece together the answer. The movie was…mildly diverting.
I had never heard of UNCO, or 16a: [Strange, in Scottish slang]. Dictionary tells me the word has Middle English origins and is an alteration of “uncouth.” As an adjective: unusual or remarkable. As an adverb: very, remarkably. As a noun: stranger. As a plural noun, uncos: news. This is all unco surprising!