Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword
First things first: I came across 18d: [Midwest air hub] and said “Hey! My husband’s flight just took off from O’HARE!” Then I continued through the puzzle and found 69a: [Closing bell org.]. You know what? The NYSE also has an opening bell, and my husband will be up there for its ringing Wednesday morning. I kid you not. I’m gonna watch him on CNBC.
The theme is semi-concocted phrases that contain two letter+word parts:
- 20a. [Sporty, powerful auto] clues V-EIGHT T-BIRD. The T-Bird part is great, but I am not a fan of the spelled-out-only-in-crosswords numbers. It’s a V-8 engine, not a V-eight.
- 26a. I’m not sure anyone would ever use the phrase R-RATED B-MOVIE, but that would be a [Racy, low-budget film].
- 47a. This clue is ridiculously gendered. V-NECK T-SHIRTS are a staple of my warm-weather wardrobe. The [Undergarments that show a little of the chest]? I’d call those V-neck undershirts, and those are a man thing. Will! Joe! Women wear V-neck T-shirts.
- 58a. [Messages on an Apple device] might plausibly be referred to as IPHONE E-MAIL, except that people don’t generally label their e-mail with the device on which it was sent or received. I don’t have “Droid e-mail,” I have Gmail on my Droid.
There’s a lot of fill that triggered my Spidey sense. What is this word doing in a Wednesday puzzle? This feeling began right at 1-Across, with MARC [___ Cohn, 1991 Grammy winner for Best New Artist]. He was modestly famous in 1991 but has he not been largely forgotten? Seems like a weird MARC to hog up 1-Across. One category of vexing fill is blah multi-word answers:
- 5a: [Rent-___] A CAR.
- 16a: [Slightly ahead], UP ONE. If you shoot hoops with Patti Lupone, is she likely to be up one?
- 17a: DID NO HARM is clued [Followed the Hippocratic oath, in a way]. “First, do no harm” is completely in the language. DID NO HARM clangs in my ear.
- 19a. MT. IDA is [Either of two peaks in Greek myth]. Are both peaks called Mt. Ida?
- 24a. [“It’s ___!” (“I give up!”)] clue NO USE.
- 66a. ALL I is part of [Sheryl Crow’s “___ Wanna Do”].
- 68a. [“With a wink and ___”] clues A NOD. Do you hear the undercurrent of grumbling that the A is repeated in the clue and answer?
- 43d. [“Go ahead” hand gestures] clues OK SIGNS. That term Googles up okay, but it looks awkward to me. I dunno. I think the singular works a lot better than the plural. It’s just one sign, no matter how many people make it, right?
And now, the highlights:
- 5d. I like the clue [Common car door fixtures, once] for ASHTRAYS. Are you old enough to remember when cars had ashtrays at every seat?
- 11d. If you take a VOICE VOTE, that’s a [Yea-or-nay event]. Remember: If you’re taking a voice vote, refuse to count people’s votes unless they say “yea” or “nay.” A simple “yes” or “no” should get them evicted from the premises.
- 33d. [Knucklehead], LAMEBRAIN, dimwit, numskull: pick your poison.
- 55d. Listen, my cousin’s got a brilliant toddler named ELSIE. She’s no [Bovine in ads]. I will do what I can to encourage her to get famous as soon as possible, as we are decades overdue for a fresh ELSIE clue.
And a few lowlights in the single-word department:
- 65a. MENE is a [Word on a biblical wall]. I consider this old-school crosswordese. The lowercase “b” reminds me of something from the funny @FakeAPStylebook Twitter feed: “Always capitalize ‘Bible.’ You don’t want to get letters from those people.”
- 1d. [Early 15th-century year] is MCDVI, or 1406. Achingly pointless.
- 4d. CONGER! Completes [___ eel]. Moderately crosswordesey. Remember Darva Conger from that early reality show, the one about marrying a millionaire, if memory serves?
Pancho Harrison’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 17a. [Songs by German wolves?] are die LIEDER OF THE PACK. I like the cross-language wordplay here, from leader to Lieder. I was wondering if this was supposed to evoke a German “wolf pack” of attack submarines, but when I Googled it…are you sitting down, people? I mistyped it as “wolkpack” and found out plenty of sites have “wolkpack” or “wolk pack.” If you get 2,000 Google hits for something, please consider it likely too horrible to include in a crossword. (Pancho, your entry is fine. I didn’t have enough caffeine today. I’m drifting.)
- 36a. AIR APPARENT is clued [Obvious melody?].
- 58a. [Intonations from the monastery locker room?] are CHANTS OF SHOWERS. The chance/chants and leader/Lieder switches are more interesting, if you ask me, than the monosyllabic homophone game (e.g., air, heir, ere).
- 11d. IN AND OUT is an entertaining movie starring Kevin Kline as well as a solid way to describe someone who’s [Hard to reach at the office, say].
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Shorebird Patrol”—Janie’s review
Oh, man, for a pun lover comme je, I am one happy solver today. Randy has given us four first-class groaners of the avian variety—two at 15 letters, two at 14, for 58 squares of theme fill—and some mighty substantive non-theme fill as well. To begin at the (themed) beginning:
- 17A. GULL FROM IPANEMA [Brazilian shorebird?]. Jobim may be rolling over in his grave crying but I’m rotfl. Please, if you’ve never heard it, check out “The Boy from…,” a brilliant parody of the brilliant original. It was written by Mary Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim for a revue called The Mad Show (1966) and is sung by Linda Lavin doing her best, breathy Astrud Gilberto.
- 25A. VICTORIA’S EGRET [Former queen of England’s shorebird?]. Much less likely to make her blush, I imagine.
- 43A. WHEN IS IT MY TERN? [Question about adopting a shorebird?]. Somehow, as that oil spill encroaches on more and more of the Gulf shoreline, I suspect we’ll be seeing more and more tern adoptions as part of the clean-up and restoration operations. Alas.
- 57A. HERON BROCKOVICH [Environmental activist who protects shorebirds?] Hah! Send ‘er to Louisiana—right now! My first thought here was SERIN B., but HERON is faaaaar better. Not to mention that the serin is a finch and not a shorebird at all.
As for that non-theme fill, I very much like seeing FALLACY [Logician’s pitfall], ENIGMA [Stumper], IN STONE [Permanently] (sometimes this is IN BLOOD…); the muscular, masculine feel of HAYMAKER [Knockout punch] and [Place to play poker] for CARD ROOM; and the twinkly AGLITTER [Sparkling] in the grid.
Randy’s “day-job” is as an educational administrator. Somehow that seems appropriate inspiration for two of the “conversational” clue/fill pairs: [“Look] AT ME [when I’m talking to you”] and [“What did you say?”] “HUH?” Déjà vu all over again, anyone?…
Given all the shorebirds today, it seemed especially appropriate to see the [Moved like a crab] SIDLED combo in the grid. Little fiddler crabs are often seen sidling on the beach. I also like the way this one sits beneath gull from… If that crab doesn’t sidle quickly enough he may become some gull‘s dinner.
OED gets clued as [Ref. work featured in “The Professor and the Madman“]. If you’ve never read the book, I commend it to your attention. Ditto The Meaning of Everything. Both are by Simon Winchester and both have the making of the OED as their subject matter. Great fare for wordies!
Fave clue: [It'll make you red in the face] for ROUGE. D’oh. Cute. And fave factoid: [World's largest fragrance maker] COTY. I’d no idea. A lotta “celebrity” fragrances—but apparently it’s true!
Francis Heaney’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
Remember Francis’s “Flag Day” beaut in the Sunday NYT? Francis relished the blog comments (especially the negative ones) about his puzzle. He’s gathered some of the goofier examples and responded to them here. Funny guy.
His Onion theme is SQUARE / DANCES, and four 8-letter dance names appear in clockwise squares in the corner sections. I read the FLAMENCO one and figured out the theme, but then forgot to pay any attention to the circled squares while solving the rest of the puzzle. The other three dance names are the LINDY HOP, THE ROBOT, and the MACARENA. The “the” feels more essential to THE ROBOT. Just plain “Robot” doesn’t sound like a dance. By the way, I blew the mind of some girls in my son’s class by demonstrating how to spin a floppy lower arm like a mechanical device. They declared it to be The Robot.
Lots of names in this puzzle, and I only hit one I didn’t know: AMANDA [Palmer of the Dresden Dolls]. AKIO Morita, IRA Glass, fictional Lisa CUDDY, WES Anderson, the Queen of SHEBA, MACY Gray, José ITURBI, ARAMIS the Musketeer cologne, TWO-FACE, VITA Sackville-West, POL POT, and MALIA Obama? These people should all be assembled in one room. Imagine the conversations.
- 1a. I like this TRISTE/[Poetically sad] beginning to the puzzle.
- 69a. IDS are clued as [Cards with unflattering pics, often]. Ain’t that the truth?
- 3d. Indeed, [Palau, Nauru, and Manhattan] are all ISLANDS. I look forward to Survivor: Manhattan, with contestants confined to Central Park and catching rats for dinner.
- 8d. Ooh, SKOR BAR. Want. I like crunchy [Toffee candy]. Feel free to bring me some at crossword events. The toffee to beat is Matt Ginsberg’s wife’s almond roca.
- 11d. “MIND YOU,” [“On the other hand”], I love this answer. Not as much as toffee, but quite a lot.
- 19d. ICHORS are [Ethereal fluids], the kind that flow in the veins of Greek gods. Petrichor is that characteristic smell when rain hits dry ground.