Gary J. Whitehead’s New York Times crossword
How appropriate for the guy whose last name is Whitehead (color + noun) to concoct this theme:
- 34a. REDSTARTS are birds, [Boldly patterned warblers…and a hint to 17-, 24-, 50- and 59-Across].
- 17a. Blood red is a color, and BLOOD MONEY is [Part of a drug lord's income, maybe]. You know those overlong New Yorker articles? They recently had one about the drug lords in Mexico. I skimmed bits of it. Part of me wishes the magazine would select for the long form mainly topics of no interest to me. I’d save so much time.
- 24a. CHERRY CRUSH is a [Fruity soda]. The only Crushes I see are Orange and, less often, Grape. Red pop seems to be more the bailiwick of store brands.
- 50a. RUBY TUESDAY is a [Rolling Stones hit of 1967]. Infinitely better reference than the “casual dining” chain.
- 59a. [Certain mason] with a small M is a BRICKLAYER. My grandpa came from a long line of bricklayers, but none of his five daughters followed him into the trade. He built the house my mom grew up in, I think. (Oh, hi, Mom!)
The 3s, 4s, and 5s don’t do much for me (When do they ever? Well, maybe the clue for 19a: NO-NO, [Burping in public, e.g.]. Too bad COOL PARLOR TRICK won’t fit), but I do like those corners packed with 7s. Among my faves are these:
- 1d. [Insignia] can be either singular or plural. Here it’s a stealthy plural clueing EMBLEMS.
- 11d. OROTUND is a cool word meaning [Like a good speaking voice]. More closely related to “rotund” than to “orate”: it comes from the Latin ore rotundo, “with rounded mouth.”
- 13d. USO SHOW is clued as [Base entertainment], which could also be a clue for BURPING LOUDLY.
- 38d. I love [Author Zora Neale ___ of the Harlem Renaissance]/HURSTON. Their Eyes Were Watching God will break your heart. Did you have a crush on Teacake too?
- 39d. Nice to see all of IN UTERO instead of the [In ___]/UTERO combo we see more often. [Not yet born] works.
- 43d. ZEPHYRS are [Gentle breezes]. Do you like the soughing of the zephyrs?
- 45d. I know enough baseball that if the answer to a clue like [World Series-winning manager of 1981 and 1988] starts with an L, I can fill in LA****A. I needed the crossings to distinguish between LASORDA and LARUSSA.
Caleb Madison’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
The Onion puzzle team’s got a pinch-hitter this week, teen constructing phenom Caleb Madison. I’ve seen Caleb’s puzzles for his school and for DGA Quarterly, and the boy has skillz. The theme’s casing is the final theme answer, SAUSAGE FEST, which is a phrase recently evoked by a photo of San Francisco puzzlers—it was Andrea Carla Michaels and about eight men. Sausage fest! So much of the crossword-constructing community is sausage-festy, alas. Anyway:
- 56a. [Party with too many dudes... or a hint to this puzzle's theme] is SAUSAGE FEST. The other theme entries end with sausages.
- 18a. DOWNWARD DOG is one [Yoga pose].
- 24a, 26a. [With 26-Across, "Mad Men" creator] clues MATTHEW / WEINER. Got this one from the crossings.
- 35a. PAUL FRANK is a [Fashion designer who created Julius the Monkey]. Say what? Never heard of him, and I haven’t been seeing the monkey apparel at my kid’s school. If you like slow-loading Flash sites that play music without asking, click to see Frank’s designs.
- 49a, 51a. [With 51-Across, 1976 Ramones hit] is BEAT ON / THE BRAT. I don’t know the song. With those lyrics, I wonder if they ever play this song as Milwaukee Brewers games. They have sausage mascot races and the bratwurst doesn’t always win.
Five more clues:
- 15a. Retro, sure, but DR. HOOK remains a cool entry. He is or was [Leader of the band the Medicine Show].
- 22a. KOOL is a menthol cigarette and a [Gang leader of the 70s and 80s?]. Here’s the “Celebration” video. I gave a friend a graduation card last weekend that plays a snippet of that song—and loud. Scared the crap out of myself when I opened the card to sign it.
- 38a. Is this about hardware? STDS is clued wordily, with [Problems that may result from screwing studs without using some kind of barrier device: Abbr.].
- 47a. [He played Charles] means Ray Charles and Jamie FOXX. Not to be confused with MR. FOX, the animated [Character voiced by George Clooney in 2009].
- 1d. “MY HUMPS” is the [2005 song with the lyric "I mix your milk with my cocoa puff"].
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “It’s the Pits”—Evad’s review
- COMMODITY TRADER – I bet you didn’t know that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange was first called the Chicago Butter and Egg Board. It sounds much more important now. Pork bellies anyone?
- BLACK JACK DEALER (crossed nicely by an ACE at the first C)- here the “pit” is the casino pit managed by a “pit boss.” I wonder if a pit bull keeps unruly gamers in line?
- ORCHESTRA LEADER – ah, the famous orchestra pit, staple of operas and musicals.
Pretty fun theme here, let’s see what else we can find hiding among the nooks and crannies:
- Enjoyed the ZED shared between UZI (“Israeli-designed weapon”) and OZARK (“Missouri range”)
- We had ASSLIKE earlier in the week, today we just have a little ASS (“Long-eared equine”) on its own
- Two long down entries both entertainment-related: WOODY ALLEN (“Bette Midler’s ‘Scenes from a Mall’ costar”–with all his directorial props, he’s clued here as someone’s costar?) and STAGE ACTOR (“Cast member of a play”)
Todd McClary’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 17a. [Fitness center array] includes STATIONARY BIKES, treadmills, elliptical machines, and stair climbers. I hate them all.
- 26a. [Instruments that often have chord buttons] are ELECTRIC ORGANS. When I was a kid, we had a miniature electric organ. The color: harvest gold, I think. Or was it beige?
- 43a. [Seamstresses' aids] are SEWING MACHINES. I was looking for something more like a pincushion or etui, but sewing machines are surely much more help.
- 56a. [Birdlike crafts for lake rides] can be plain or SWAN PADDLE BOATS. Chicago’s Lincoln Park Lagoon has the swans.
- 65a. [Parts of 17-, 26-, 43- and 56-Across] are PEDALS.
What else of note is in this puzzle?
- 15a. [Seat of Georgia's Floyd County] is ROME. I call a foul. A town of 35,000 is not an enhancement to a crossword, especially when there’s a more famous Rome out there. I made an exception for last Sunday’s Post Puzzler, because Mississippi’s Hernando of De Soto County is a cute pair. If there were a famous person named Floyd Rome, this clue would be good.
- 42a. [Head-turning swimwear] clues THONG. Yes, I often need to turn my head away from a person sporting a thong.
- 47a. [Numbers in photo album captions] mystified me. AGES! Of course. “Grandma’s’ birthday party, 2004. Todd (4), Caleb (6), Patrick (7), Gary (2).”
- 64a. The last name of [Anna of "Fringe"] is TORV. I’m not sure the T crossing is obvious enough for the masses who have never heard of actress Anna Torv. I’ve heard of her, but needed lots of crossings for 41d: GIGA PET, or [Compu Kitty or Digital Doggie].
- 5d. [Hilltop] clues HEIGHTS. The Chicago area has suburbs called Chicago Heights and Arlington Heights, but there are really no discernible HEIGHTS. What passes for Heights here surely look pancake-flat to people from more mountainous regions. This is my excuse for why the clue was little help to me.
- 10d. Not crazy about the WEB PAGE clue, [E-tailer's creation]. I was expecting the answer to be specific to sales websites.
- 42d. [Monopoly token] clues THIMBLE. See? That’s what I was thinking of for a seamstress’s aid.