Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword
So, this puzzle’s “twist” is that the grid isn’t symmetrical—one of the little black-square triangles is flipped, and somehow this represents an OPTICAL ILLUSION (17A: [Thing that may appear to be symmetrical but isn't…like this puzzle's grid]). The asymmetry doesn’t add much oomph to the affair, and it’s surprising to see that even without symmetry, we still have fill like INDORSE (16A: [Support: Var.]) and plural ARLENES (33A: [TV's Francis and others]).
Notes on the puzzle contents:
- 20A. TEMA is a [Melodic subject, in music]. Is the word Italian? It Googles up terribly. Furniture store, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, city in Ghana—these all come up prominently in a Google search for tema. The word’s not in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.
- 26A. DAN [Blocker of 1960s TV] played Hoss on Bonanza, my mother tells me. I wonder if he used to party with the Arlenes of eld, Francis and Golonka. Speaking of people’s names, we have ARLENES, DAN, the FEY ALEXEI MOTT row (Lucretia MOTT, a 30A: [19th-century women's rights advocate], rocks), NOAM Chomsky, POPE LEO (2D: [One of 13 religious leaders]), and NATALIE (23D: [Merchant selling records]—terrific clue for pop singer Natalie Merchant). Place names in this puzzle include the ARNO, which flows through PISA, and Mt. KILAUEA (8D: [World's most active volcano]).
- 37A. EPSILON is a [Symbol of electromotive force]. Yeah, I worked the crossings for that one.
- 44A. INURNED is clued as [Buried]. As you’d expect, the word means to bury something (usually ashes) in an urn.
- 56A. Someone explain to me how the clue [Considered financially] fits the answer, DOLLARS AND CENTS.
- 61A. This is basketball: A SET SHOT is an [Alternative to a jumper].
- 3D. A STUDY IN SCARLET is a great entry. This [Seminal mystery of 1887] features Sherlock Holmes.
- 6D. Usually ERAT is clued as part of quod erat demonstrandum, but here it’s ["Hoc ___ in votis": Horace]. Latin translation, please?
- 12D. FRIED ONION RINGS rings false. I don’t eat ‘em, but does anyone call ‘em “fried”? Aren’t they just billed as onion rings, and you assume they’ve been deep-fried? (Clue is [Burger accompaniment].)
- 30D. The MERL is a [European black thrush]. The royal variant, of course, is the Merl Reagle.
- 41D. [Occasions to close up shop] are SIESTAS. I think it’s time for a blog siesta here.
David Poole’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Made-up phrases beginning with the vowels in order (A, E, I, O, U) are created by omitting the H sound from familiar phrases and changing the spelling of what’s left to create a real word. I can’t say I remember seeing a theme like this before, so points for originality. Here are the theme entries:
- 20a. [Works in Satan's Museum?] are ART OF DARKNESS, playing on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
- 27a. EVAN CAN WAIT is clued with ["Tell Senator Bayh to take a number"?]. Heaven Can Wait is a Warren Beatty movie.
- 38a. [Egotism?] clues “I” ESTEEM, based on high esteem.
- 47a. [Resistance quashers?] might be OHM WRECKERS. “Home wrecker,” of course, is a term applied to married men who opt to cheat on their wives.
- 55a. [Evidence of a love-hate relationship?] is the odd combination of UGHS AND KISSES. Hugs and kisses have no truck with hate.
- 36a. [One objecting to a called strike] is a SCAB if the strike was called by a union leader rather than a baseball umpire.
- 45a. No way! OKRA is a [Cousin of hibiscus]? I had no idea. They’re both in the mallow family, Malvaceae. Good to see a surprising clue for OKRA instead of the same old, same old.
- 3d. Interesting clue for FANATICISM: [Santayana defines it as "redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim"].
- 24d. I prefer the “pooh-bah” spelling, but still like POO-BAH, or [Authority]. I believe it was Mr. Cunningham’s fraternal order on Happy Days that introduced my generation to the term “Grand Pooh-Bah.”
- 49d. One memorable [Carol Burnett persona] is her character EUNICE. I prefer Mrs. Wiggins.
Trip Payne’s “Themeless Challenger #7,” from Triple Play Puzzles
Trip’s latest offering is a 17×17 themeless puzzle of roughly Friday NYT difficulty. There was one answer that felt a leetle bit like an entry from Trip’s wacky ”Something Different” crosswords—19a: SIX-SYLLABLE, clued as [Like existentialism]. Everything else felt solid, ranging from the Saturdayesque REDAN (28a. [V-shaped defense]) to the super-fresh. Here are my favorite answers and clues:
- 17a. [Having no good alternatives] clues OVER A BARREL.
- 46a. [Long curve on a face] is a UNIBROW. Ha!
- 53a. [Toy in a can] is PLAY-DOH. Yes, that’s a can, albeit not a metal one. See also 55a: [Can], for a usually porcelain (and not metal) TOILET.
- 80a. [They can have hundreds of tentacles] refers, luckily, not to any sort of squid or octopus or jellyfish that would then inhabit our nightmares. Nope, just a friendly li’l group of SEA ANEMONES. But now I’m thinking of jellyfish. Dammit!
- 82a. [Ingredient in Chef's Surprise, perhaps] clues MYSTERY MEAT. *shudder*
- 1d. BOSOM is an adjective in “bosom buddies,” so [Intimate] is an apt but tricky clue.
- 27d. ENOS, the Dukes of Hazzard spinoff, is a [Show that aired at the same time as "Eight Is Enough" and "Real People"]. So that explains why I never watched Enos. I was watching the other shows in its time slot.
- 32d. ETON gets a shiny, new clue: [Alma mater of Prime Minister David Cameron]. He’s been PM for what, maybe two weeks?
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Famous Figures”—Evad’s review
- FEDERICO FELLINI – very familiar to me as I recently saw the movie version of the B’way play Nine starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Fergie, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Kate Hudson, Judi Dench and Marion Cotillard. Quite the star-studded cast.
- FRÉDÉRIC FEKKAI – are you feckin’ kidding me? The crosser between the I in FEKKAI and IOWAN (I had B, thinking a BOWMAN could be considered a “Hawkeye,” forgetting the college sports reference) was my downfall in today’s puzzle. We’re supposed to know who cut Hillary’s hair at one time? (Likely now she goes to the salon in Foggy Bottom.) I see here he has his own line of salon products.
- FRANZ FERDINAND – back to familiar territory, though pre-WW I archdukes are hardly my specialty.
- FRANCISCO FRANCO – a name from history again, but this a bit more recent, ruling Spain from 1939 until his death in 1975. I saw Picasso’s Guernica on a recent trip to Spain and it is a very moving reaction to the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War of 1937 that brought Franco to power. (It’s also ginormous at 11×25 ft.)
Other bits ‘n’ pieces:
- Gotta love a “gritty” entry like SPUNK in the middle of your grid; unfortunate that it lies just above AIDS, but happily the latter is clued as “Gives a boost.”
- SIZE NINE (“On the large size, as in women’s shoes”) seems a bit arbitrary to me, what do you think?
- “’30s dance that was all the rage” was the LINDY. I see here that Charles Lindbergy earned the nickname “Lucky Lindy” years before his trans-Atlantic flight, surviving two leaps from his mail delivery plane.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Dead Heads”
The theme is TOP KILL, the timely oil catastrophe phrase we’ve all just learned. The four long theme entries (two 15s, two 16s) run vertically and have a killing method at the top: POISON PEN LETTERS, SHOOT FROM THE HIP, KNIFE IN THE WATER, and DROWN ONE’S SORROWS.
I find myself having nothing much to say about this puzzle. No real complaints, no unusually tough spots, not a ton of glitter in the fill. Favorite clue/answer combo: 1a: [The man's vehicle] is a COP CAR.
Gotta head out soon for the fourth-grade show at school—my son the giraffe will do jazz hands.