Yaakov Bendavid’s New York Times crossword, “Flip-Flops”
- 23A. [Where ETs do knitting and art?] is ALIEN CRAFT SPACE.
- 34A. [Thug living next to humorist Will?] swaps in Will Rogers for Fred Rogers in MR. ROGERS’ HOOD NEIGHBOR.
- 46A. [“Get that first down…and don’t fumble”?] could be a HAND-OFF REMARK on the football field.
- 67A. [Watching over Warsaw’s national emblem?] is POLE FLAG-SITTING. Gee, I wonder why flagpole sitting petered out as a pastime.
- 88A. [Waiting in line for hooch?] is AT A STILL STAND.
- 97A. [Competition among shrinks?] might be a PSYCHOLOGICAL FARE WAR. This one’s especially good, isn’t it? Airlines have “fare wars,” so the reversed part is still “in the language.”
- 119A. This one’s my favorite. [Visitors’ fair warning?] is WE SHALL COME OVER.
The non-theme fill tends to be on the short side—just two 8s, and none of the longer Down answers that some constructors like to work into the picture. Overall, though, the fill’s pretty smooth.
Ten more clues:
- 57A. TARAWA was a [Pacific atoll in 1943 fighting]. Tarawa boom-de-ay.
- 61A. [Shortish piano piece] clues SONATINA. Deb Amlen (buy her funny book, It’s Not PMS, It’s You!) and I were just discussing the best way to prepare a sonatini, which is half sonatina, half martini.
- 79A. [“Parade de Cirque” artist] is Georges SEURAT. Not familiar with that painting.
- 4D. [Husband of Pompeia] is CAESAR. Which one? I don’t know.
- 10D. [Plato’s “tenth Muse”] is SAPPHO. Wow, I didn’t know that.
- 13D. [Chateau ___ Michelle winery] is missing its STE. Tasty wine! Speaking of wine, 56A: OPORTO is a [Wine city north of Lisbon], where port comes from.
- 47D. [Clothier, in Cambridge] is a DRAPER. I wonder if clueing this as Mad Men‘s Don Draper would have been harder or easier for most solvers.
- 63D. [Place to stick a comb] clues an AFRO. Technically, what gets stuck in a ‘fro is a pick, not a comb.
- 70D. [Pedestal topper] clues the IDOL you put on a pedestal.
Merl Reagle’s syndicated/Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, “The Can(i)nes Film Festival, Part 2”
- 23a. [Blue-eyed dog star?] is PAW NEWMAN (Paul Newman).
- 25a. [1957 Tyrone Power film about a dog that’s left behind?] clues ABANDON SHEP (Abandon Ship). Shep = German shepherd. Never heard of the movie.
- 34a. [Film about the happiest dog in the West?] is WAGGIN’ MASTER (Wagon Master). Never heard of the movie.
- 38a. [Popular canine character that sheds a lot?] clues HAIRY POTTER, which just sounds gross (Harry Potter).
- 52a. [War film starring Snoopy as a flying ace?] is WHERE BEAGLES DARE (Where Eagles Dare).
- 63a. [Dogs’ favorite actress?] clues DROOLIA ROBERTS (Julia Roberts).
- 75a. [Film whose poster slogan is “Scratch me if you can”?] clues LORD OF THE FLEAS (Lord of the Flies).
- 86a. [Dogs’ second favorite actress?] is MARY LOUISE BARKER (Mary Louise Parker).
- 101a, 104s. [“Scariest movie ever,” according to dogs?] is ATTACK OF THE / GIANT LEASHES (Attack of the Giant Leeches). Not a familiar movie title for me.
- 118a. [“Scariest actor ever,” according to dogs?] clues DAVID SPAYED (David Spade). Okay, that clue/answer combo is funny.
- 122a. [Where the festival is held?] is COLLARADO (Colorado).
Some of the fill felt awkward, too. Like these things:
- 15a. [Michael Ondaatje novel, “___’s Ghost”] clues ANIL. A valiant effort to avoid a crosswordese clue referencing the blue/indigo dye. Anil Dash isn’t famous enough for crosswords, is he?
- Hail, hail, the gang’s all here! UNA Merkel, UTA Hagen, OONA Chaplin, Pola NEGRI. They kicked INA Claire and NITA Naldi out of the Crosswordese Club this week. Actually, it’s rumored that INA and NITA caught sleeping sickness after being bitten by TSETSE flies.
- 24d. [Playthings bought online] clues ETOYS. Ick. No. Bad clue. The website eToys sells toys. Not “e-toys.”
- Partials include NO BIG, OF ALL, ON IN, A JOY, and TOLD A [___ fib].
Trip Payne’s Washington Post “Post Puzzler No. 7”
- 1a. THIS INSTANT means [Right now].
- 12a. I knew [Follow a losing plan] was about dieting, but it took plenty of crossings for COUNT CALORIES to emerge.
- 26a. DISNEY is the [Recipient of the most Oscars in history].
- 39a. [Experts in noncurrent events?] are SEERS, who foretell future events.
- 53a. [Cause of a fan dance?] means “reason a group of fans might dance,” and that’s a WIN.
- 60a. [Reaction to an understatement] is “AND THEN SOME.”
- 1d. I used the crossings far more than the clue, as the only info I picked up from the clue was “uh, a football player.” [He replaced Drew Bledsoe] clues the full name TONY ROMO.
- 10d. [Sudoku sections, e.g.] are NINTHS. You got a better way to clue NINTHS?
- 26d. [Aptly named mistress in “Sunday in the Park With George”] is DOT. I didn’t know this, but it makes sense with pointillist Seurat.
- 53d. I am inordinately fond of the word WONT, meaning one’s [Custom].
I encountered some mystery clues in this puzzle:
- 23a. [Cumbernauld resident] is a SCOT.
- 37a. [“Magister Ludi” author] is Hermann HESSE.
- 6d. [Basque Country neighbor] NAVARRE
- 12d. [Hair shirts] are CILICES, which is the plural of cilice. The word traces its roots to the Asia Minor region of Cilicia (which I’ve never heard of), because the hair shirt cloth was originally made from Cilician goat hair. Yes, that’s right: I said “Cilician goat hair.”
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Sunday Challenge”—Evad’s review
Man, did I struggle with this one. Things I just did not know:
- “Egyptian fertility god” is AMON. Easier for me would be the partial “Hey, look at me! I __ TV!”
- POWER GRAB looks all kinds of wrong to me. POWER STRUGGLE, yes, but this phrase clued as “Attempt to gain control, say” is unfamiliar. Perhaps this is what Al Haig did when Reagan was shot.
- “New Kids on the Block” songs are pretty far from my wheelhouse. Let’s listen to HANGIN’ TOUGH to see if it rings a bell:
- Kept thinking of BEETLE BAILEY for “Bailey personality,” which was instead RUMPOLE. “Old Bailey” is the nickname for the London court where Rumpole defends his clients.
- MATZO, MATZA or MATZOH, Oy vey!
- My one error was the F shared between “Beyonce’s Alter Ego, in a 2008 album” SASHA FIERCE and “Harry Potter pooch” FANG. I tried P and B first (I know, PANG and BANG seem unusual names for a “pooch,” but I rationalized it as from a children’s fantasy novel). I offer this diagram to illustrate the “Bermuda Triangle,” which is the intersection of these two areas of utter bewilderment for me:
Pamela Amick Klawitter’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “They’re Beside Themselves”
- 22a. [Introductory assortment of wreckage?] is a FLOTSAM SAMPLER.
- 40a. [One-of-a-kind book?] is a CUSTOM TOME. A tom-tom is a drum, but sam-sam isn’t a word.
- 65a. [Place to leave the flock during vacation?] is a CHICKEN KENNEL. Ken-ken is that arithmetic logic puzzle.
- 92a. [Try to get tallow?] clues PURSUE SUET.
- 114a. [Music for painters?] clues ENAMEL MELODIES. I would’ve gone with dentists rather than painters; I think of artists rather than house painters when I see the word “painters,” and artists don’t do too much with enamel paint.
- 15d. [Scallions for an anniversary party?] are JUBILEE LEEKS. Vague shout-out to actress Lee Lee Sobieski.
- 59d. [Short treatise on junk e-mail?] is SPAM PAMPHLET.
The theme works, yes, but it doesn’t do too much for me. The phrases and clues aren’t really very funny.
I had a weird thing happen when solving this puzzle in Black Ink (which is akin to Across Lite). I filled in the last square but didn’t get the congratulatory message one gets when the solution is correct. So I had the program check my work, and it highlighted 35a: [Be of service to] as PUZZLE. Which is odd, because I swear I had entered ASSIST there, and ASSIST is the answer. Maybe my husband is gaslighting me.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s 6-week-old Boston Globe crossword, “By the Numbers”
I had a flashback to last year, when I worked on a bunch of Brendan Emmett Quigley’s sports puzzle books for Cider Mill Press (crosswords and word searches devoted to various MLB, NFL, and college football teams). So I spent hours with the Red Sox and the Yankees, with the MVPs and All-Stars and record holders and World Series teams. But I really don’t care about any of that, so this theme—TED WILLIAMS and JOE DIMAGGIO by the numbers—was not up my alley. I didn’t really even let the clues into my head. I filled in the other eight theme answers by working the crossings, not by considering what sort of stat paired up with the numbers. Big ol’ yawn for me. I didn’t grow up with my parents enthusing about the baseball legends from their childhoods—they weren’t into baseball at all.