Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword
Whoa, I have gone half-blind tonight. I finished the puzzle on the applet and clicked “done”—but the machine informed me that I had not filled in every square. So I went back, found that square, clicked “done”—what? I left two squares blank? Totally didn’t see those.
I see our good friend “jgsr” an the applet leaderboard. Man, “jgsr” is ripe for some blackballing. Months! Months of unrealistic times, day after day. I don’t get the appeal of seeing your name on top…when it’s patently clear that the times aren’t legit.
Anyway, the puzzle! Yes. The theme confused me, which is unusual for a Monday. But then, I’m hlaf-blind tonight so I shouldn’t be surprised to be missing a step here. The unifying answer is IT’S OK WITH ME, and the other four theme entries contain both an OK and a ME. These include COOKING TIME, BROKEN HOME, POKER GAME, and SMOKED MEAT. Lynn, if you’re reading this: How’d you think of this theme? It works, but it’s not at all an obvious choice.
Excellent corners with all those 7s—IRONMAN, a LOST ART, and ENZYMES are particularly nice.
I feel like TEASETS shows up in that spot an awful lot. I checked Jim Horne’s Xword Info, and in the NYT, at least, TEASET(S) is more common as the last Across answer. The word shows up everywhere in the grid, though. I’m surprised it’s not in the Top 10 for 6- and 7-letter fill.
Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword
How do you roll when you take the train or the bus? Do you have a monthly pass, a transit card, a paper ticket, a token? The card is missing from this theme (it’s basically a pass), but those other three prepaid fare options are represented at the end of these theme entries:
- 20a. “THAT’S THE TICKET!” is clued with [“Just what we need!“]. See also: Jon Lovitz as Tommy Flanagan, the Pathological Liar.
- 38a. [“Thanks, but none for me“] gives you “I’LL HAVE TO PASS.”
- 57a. [“Furthermore…“] clues “BY THE SAME TOKEN…“
I like (1) that the theme doesn’t try to do too much, leaving room for good fill, (2) that the theme isn’t one I’ve seen before (though the “phrases containing related words” shtick is well trod, if indeed a shtick can be trod), and (3) that the fill is good. Highlights:
- 33a. [Extra NHL periods] clues OTS, or overtimes. Go, Blackhawks! One more win and I can go back to paying hockey no mind.
- 1d. SLOTHS are [Slow-moving leaf eaters]. I don’t suppose SNAILS eat leaves? That’s what mucked me up in that corner. The N gave me NINA Simone instead of LENA Horne.
- 11d. “HERE GOES…” is clued as [Words before an attempt]. Good colloquial entry.
- 13d, 2d. You might be crying foul that the [Pheasant female] is a PEAHEN while a POD is a [Pea’s place], but these peas are unrelated etymologically. The peacock, peahen, and peafowl relate to the Latin pavo, meaning “peacock” (yes, the word peacock means peacock+cock, etymologically) while pea is a back-formation from pease.
- 21d. I love SLUSH. Not so much walking in it, but the concept. Plus Slurpees. Clued as [Partly melted snow].
- 47d. The HUMVEE is a [Square-bodied military vehicle].
- 49d. I like LIKE SO, meaning [In this way].
Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Bright Side”—Evad’s review
Based on a sample size of two (along with Tyler’s CS I blogged 3 weeks ago), I can see that he has a penchant for words hidden within other words. To wit, today’s entries begin with synonyms of “catching rays”:
- TANDEM BICYCLE – you don’t see many of these around, makes me think of the classic “Daisy Bell” song.
- BASKET CASE – did the Memorial Day festivities turn you into one of these?
- SUNKEN SHIP – I tried CHEST first, how about you?
- And what they all have in common, LIE ON THE BEACH.
I had some trouble getting traction on this puzzle. I usually scan for fill-ins first, and finding ones like “___ go!” and “This ___ fun!” did little to help me get started. I did like the long phrases AGREE WITH, STAGE LEFT (makes me think of Snagglepuss, “Exit, stage left!“…he also said “Heavens to Murgatroyd!”), STOOD BY, EASY ONE and KNEE BEND. But this also left for some undesirable smaller fill, like LUNDI (luckily I’m up on my French days-of-the-week) and the I-believe-the-first-time-I’ve-seen-in-a-puzzle-and-hope-to-never-again UNHAT (“Take ones cap off”). I wonder if the makers of DUFF beer considered this brand name first? I know that’s DOFF, I’m just seeing if anyone is awake! ;)
Brendan Quigley and Mike Nothnagel’s BEQ blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
- 1a. [Schoolhouse Rock cartoon that begins "You sure gotta climb a lot of steps to get to this Capitol Building here in Washington"] is “I’M JUST A BILL.” “And I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill…”
- 17a. I like POSTAGE PAID. [Released without charges?] + POST = ill-fated attempt to squeeze something like POSTED BAIL in there, though you don’t need to be bailed out if you haven’t been charged with anything.
- 26a. [Bismarck's rival] requires no European history knowledge. It’s a GLAZED DONUT. Bismarcks are filled donuts.
- 31a. [No nonsense businessmen] is a terrific clue for a weird word, HOSIERS. I Googled and discovered that yes indeed, the pantyhose brand is “No nonsense,” so the upper and lower case and the non-hyphenation in the clue are all completely right for the clue. Except that, well, I’ll bet some of the execs are businesswomen, not men.
- 34a. [Like a better piece of cake, say] clues MOISTER. Had a perfectly moist chocolate cake at a party yesterday, and there was too much cake so the hosts sent us home with a slab of it. I was gonna have it for breakfast but my son was in the house so I didn’t want to set a bad example. I plan to have cake for lunch instead.
- 50a. [Belief that rulers should be chosen based on skills rather than wealth] is MERITOCRACY, though “belief” seems off-key here. It’s a system in which that’s how rulers are chosen. I was so stuck—wanted a two-word “MERIT something.” Can anyone tell me why MERIT PARADE came to mind before MERITOCRACY?
- 55a. [Small snapper] is a CAMERA PHONE. When people see me taking pictures with my Droid, they exclaim about how cute my camera is. They marvel when I tell them it’s my phone. Or boyfriend, really. I’m quite fond of my Droid.
- 8d. [Use a font?] clues BAPTIZE. Baptismal font, not typefaces.
- 12d. ["Ain't happenin'"] clues ‘FRAID NOT. Love that entry, though I’ve seen it in crosswords once or twice before.
- 14d. [One busy with paper work] did not fool me. It’s a newspaper REPORTER.
- 34d. Hall & Oates’ “MANEATER” is the [Song that knocked “Mickey” out of the #1 spot]. God, I love early-’80s pop music.
- 41d. [Stylish metrosexual, say] is a GQ TYPE. Took forever to piece together the answer. Byron Walden had that answer in the opposite spot in the grid in a 2005 NYT puzzle, and Mike N. used it in a 2008 NYT too.