Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword
All right, I’ll give this puzzle credit for finding a way to break the rules but still follow them. Normally, unchecked squares like the fifth square in 1-Across are verboten, and this crossword’s got 12 answers with unchecked letters. But those unches are aligned in two columns, and their letters spell out two 6-letter words that go together. I’m not sure that BETWEEN THE LINES (6D: [Where to look for hidden words in this puzzle's fifth and eleventh columns?]) accurately describes where those unches are, though. What lines are we supposed to be looking between, exactly? The hidden words are DOUBLE and SPACED, but again, I’m not sure that double-spaced accurately describes either the hidden words or the Across answers that contain the unches. Is it that the letters in DOUBLE and SPACED are sort of double-spaced, since there are blanks between the letters?
The 10 long answers (8 to 10 letters each) are a great batch. To wit:
- 17A. [Japanimation character with a line of school supplies] is HELLO KITTY. Did you see the recent NYT article explaining that Hello Kitty is on the wane? This would have been a hipper crossword answer a few years ago.
- 25A. EATS DIRT, ouch, is clued as [Takes a spill]. I think tripping and falling face first is eating dust, though, and eating dirt is nonphysical humiliation.
- 47A. [Total witch] clues a SHE-DEVIL. Not crazy about that clue.
- 56A. Brilliant clue—the WINE CELLAR is [Where cabs wait?]. Cabs = cabernets.
- 11D. LICORICE is a [Food that usually comes in red or black]. The real stuff? In black? I do not want.
- 33D. A [Sellout] in a good way is a SMASH HIT.
- 34D. A HOTHOUSE is a [Breeding ground].
Other highlights, comments, etc.:
- 9A. [Look like a creep] is a terrific clue for OGLE. If you are among the many who rhyme this word with “boggle,” would you do me a favor and rhyme it with “Vogel” instead? Thanks so much.
- 59A. ["Ahhh, O.K."] is what you probably say to yourself while working a crossword. “I SEE.”
- 8D. [Remains here?] Where? Down there, in that CRYPT.
- 12D. Thank you, crossings, for showing me the way to EPISTLES. [The New Testament has 21] of them.
- 15D. The Upper Peninsula is such a cheat. [Mich. neighbor] is WIS., but Wisconsin abuts the U.P. and not any part of mainland (“mitten”) Michigan.
- 49D. [There's one at the end of this clue] references that letter E at the end of “clue”: a VOWEL.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 17″
I could do without the APSE, UNLET, ESSES, and TSETSES, sure, but there remains much to admire here. The FIVE-SECOND RULE! Now, that is a great crossword entry. And with the World Cup just around the corner, French soccer legend ZINEDINE ZIDANE is timely—plus, how awesome is that name? Fun to say, Z.Z. initials.
Favorite clues and answers:
- 38A. If you gotta have TSETSES, a clue like [Flies over the equator?] very nearly makes up for it.
- 62a. I love this animal’s name: [Pangolin, e.g.]. It’s also called the scaly ANTEATER. How many mammals have “horny scales”? Armadillos have their “bony plates.” They didn’t get the memo about mammals having furry exteriors.
- 3d. I saw [Dizzying designs] and my longtime-solver reflex was to drop OP ART in there. But lo! There’s room for 10 letters, and it’s the full name OPTICAL ART for a change.
- 20d. [Low-quality] clues ONE STAR. How timely! I just read Roger Ebert’s one-star review of the new Sex and the City movie. I saw the previews and cringed in revulsion. And I watched the TV series! But this…I don’t know what this is.
- 28d. [Stickie] clues my second-favorite answer in this puzzle, POST-IT NOTE.
I was perplexed by 45d: [Like] clues PLEASE. It took a trip to the thesaurus to see how those relate to each other. “Do as you please” = “do as you like.” I never really thought of that “please” as being a verb that the “you” is doing.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “It’s Not Hard (Ask Your Doctor)
I helped Ben come up with the title for this puzzle, and I couldn’t be more proud. The theme involves E.D. (that’s erectile dysfunction, as any viewer of televised sports is well aware): each theme entry is afflicted with E.D. by having those letters inserted into them. (And the title’s accurate, because the puzzle really is not all that hard.) Here’s how it plays out:
- 18a. [Assessment on Almodóvar films?] is PEDRO TAX.
- 23a. To [Write off adhesive as a business expense?] is to DEDUCT TAPE.
- 38a. [The blogosphere, under royal power?] is the UNEDITED KINGDOM.
- 53a. [Nobleman who never has enough?] is EARL GREEDY.
- 11d. [Two-wheelers in the rain?] are WET MOPEDS.
- 33d, 66a. [With 62-Across, possible slogan for Burlington, Vermont (where Phish formed)?] clues WEED BUILT THIS CITY. I firmly believe that the Starship song “We Built This City” is among the very worst rock/pop songs of all time. It’s right up there with Wang Chung’s “Dance Hall Days,” which, if you haven’t listened to it lately, you may not think of it as truly abysmal. But it really is.
Favorite clues and entries:
- 12d. [Frequent Hollywood villains, unfortunately] is a great clue for ARABS.
- 6d. [Poles at the North Pole, say] would be EXPATS.
- 14a. [Oaf] is a LUMMOX. LUMMOX is a great word, and I encourage you to all use it more often.
- 36d. A COP is a [Five-O member]. Anyone else looking forward to seeing Lost‘s Daniel Dae Kim on the new Hawaii Five-O series? I am. Do you think the role calls for much shirtlessness? And how often do you suppose casting directors get Daniel Dae Kim and Daniel Day-Lewis mixed up?
Nathan Miller’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 17a. [Price decrease for a stout-bodied fish?] is a GROUPER DISCOUNT.
- 25a. [Habitat for orange fish?] clues ROUGHY HOUSING. Did you know that the orange roughy has brick red scales when alive, yellow-orange when deceased? And that it’s a member of the appetizing slimehead family, with “mucus-filled canals”? True story!
- 45a. [Road for Minnesota's state fish?] is WALLEYE STREET.
- 57a. [Verdict for a tropical fish?] is a SNAPPER JUDGMENT.
There’s nothing in particular unifying these four entries other than the piscine puns.
- 1a. [Cooling units, briefly] usually clues ACS (air conditioners). This time, it’s BTUS, the British thermal units used to measure AC output.
- 15a. [Pat's partner] means Pat Sajak’s Wheel of Fortune partner, VANNA White.
- 32a. [Text receivers] are CELLS, the cell phones that get text messages.
- 35a. MIB means Men in Black, the [1997 Smith/Jones film, briefly]. More recently, people have been calling Jacob’s brother on Lost “MIB” because Jacob wears off-white while his brother is always a Man in Black. Which is also what they call Johnny Cash, but without the abbreviation.
- Greek mythology! The ARGO is 44a: [Ship of Greek myth]. POSEIDON is 38d: [Greek sea god]. And ARTEMIS is 44d: [Huntress daughter of Zeus and Leto].
- 24d. [Jumper cable?] that holds someone jumping from a great height is a BUNGEE cord.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Ready … Aim …”—Evad’s review
- FIRE IN THE BELLY – there’s a warning phrase when a torpedo or bomb is armed and ready to be released that is similar to this, isn’t there?
- DISCHARGE PAPERS – gah, discharge. Move along folks, nothing to see here.
- SHOOT FOR THE MOON – this has a sense of firing closer to the original than the other two entries.
What no TASE or ZAP? Odd choice of a theme idea, imho. Who wants to be reminded of words that are synonyms of shooting something? I like my puzzles to divert me from thinking about words like “discharge” and “fire.” (You can tell I’m not a video game fan, unless it’s non-violent ones like Myst, Bejeweled or Ms. Pacman.)
Anyway, let’s see if there’s some fun to be had lurking in the non-thematic entries:
- “Steve’s co-host at the 82nd Academy awards” was ALEC Baldwin. (The Steve was Steve Martin.) I didn’t find them nearly as funny as I had hoped they would be, nor in the same league last year’s host, Hugh Jackman. Who’s ready to start a “Bring Hugh Back!” letter-writing campaign to the Academy?
- So who remembers Chuck BARRIS in the “Gong Show”? My favorite bits were the Unknown Comic, Jaye P. Morgan’s lewd comments and the zany Rip Taylor. Aah, the golden days of daytime TV.
- Another throwback to 70s TV with MESSY describing “Oscar Madison’s room.”
- Enjoyed the double-V (is that then a W?) of VERVE (“Energetic quality”).
See you tomorrow!