Karen Tracey’s New York Times crossword
(That’s a joke. I generally love her work.)
Scrabbly? Check. (A couple Zs and Qs, four Ks, a J and an X.) Fun fill? Check. Friday puzzle verging on Saturday difficulty? Check. What I liked best:
- 1a. The ZEPPELIN was an [Early 20th-century mode of transportation]. Not as popular as the bus eventually became.
- 9a. Love the word BAOBAB, the African [Tree that's home to Rafiki in "The Lion King"].
- 16a. [Less steep] is a great clue for ON SALE.
- 20a. The mind can go all sorts of untoward places with a clue like [You may try to stop them from coming out in public]. The answer is SNEEZES. Raise your hand if you tried PENISES.
- 33a. The first name of [French caricaturist Daumier] is HONORE. Check out a sampling of his work here—in particular, the trippy “Gargantua.”
- 34a. QUICK DRAW MCGRAW is such an awesome name, it can be applied to almost anyone at the slightest provocation. [Baba Looey was his deputy] is the clue, and boy, that meant nothing to me.
- 38a. Ah, the UNCOLA, 7-Up. [Longtime drink nickname, with "the"]. I have some in my fridge to mix with Pimm’s Cup No. 1.
- 47a. Mike ROYKO! The first newspaper columnist I read religiously, and the late [Author of the best seller "Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago"]. Current mayor is Richard M. Daley.
- 54a. Don’t I always tell you I dig the NYT analogy clues? [Cubs : bears :: crias : ___] LLAMAS.
- 1d. ZAFTIG is another terrific word. The clue is [Well-proportioned].
- 2d, 34d. Horse racing x 2 (and luckily, not with obscure names of race horses of yore). [Like some track stars] means EQUINE, and QUINELLA is a [Track betting option].
- 3d. Forget Tito—PUENTE is a generic [Spanish bridge]. French pont, Italian ponte.
- 8d. NAKED AS A JAYBIRD is clued [Like all new deliveries?]. It’s true. Not a single baby is born with clothes on.
- 13d. We see ALOE VERA in the grid plenty, but I like the [Healing helper] clue. Wanted it to be some sort of health care worker.
- 21d. ZOT! That’s the [Sound from the anteater in "B.C."], the comic strip.
The ones I wasn’t figuring out without the crossings doing the heavy lifting:
- 5d. [Bog youngsters] clues EFTS, or young salamanders.
- 6d. [Bushrope] clues the vine LIANA.
- 9d. A BORER is an [Unwanted cornfield guest].
- 32d. EDA moves far afield from LeShan: [Soprano Christiane ___-Pierre].
- 48d. The OLETA is a [River that drains the Everglades into Biscayne Bay].
Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword
It’s a gutsy grid that tosses in a couple 10-letter answers that aren’t tied into the theme. You know what is tied in? TIE-IN. That’s 69a: [Marketing ploy, and a hint to this puzzle's theme]. Each theme answer has an extra TIE in it:
- 20a. [Ones wearing designer hospital gowns?] are FANCY PATIENTS. You can’t get a better base phrase than “fancy pants.”
- 32a. [Massive marina protectors?] are JUMBO JETTIES.
- 42a. TIERED SQUARE is a [Plaza with many levels?]. Red Square makes for another great base phrase, better than the with-TIE result.
- 55a. [More passionate language?] is SWEATIER WORDS.
Those bonus non-theme 10s are PETER LORRE (17a. ["M" star]) and DREAM TEAMS (61a. [Heavily favored squads]). Other good fill and clues:
- 14a. MONDO means [Extremely, in slang].
- 16a. [Like zero] means OVAL, if you’re thinking more geometry than mathematics.
- 37a. Danny OCEAN is a [Three-time Clooney title role]. Mmm, Clooney.
- 3d. ANT FARMS are [Colonies with tunnels].
- 5d. [Supercell product] is a TORNADO, forming from a supercell thunderstorm.
- 30d. [Underwater directors] are the FINS fish use to move about.
- 39d. [Popular fund raiser] clues BAKE SALE. Mmm, cookies.
- 46d. ED WOOD was the ["Plan 9 From Outer Space" director]. If you haven’t seen the movie Ed Wood, starring Johnny Depp, I highly recommend it.
- 9d. [Uh-uh, in Ufa] clues NYET, so Ufa must be a Russian place name, though I’ve never heard of it before. Turns out it’s the capital of Bashkiria in southwestern Russia.
- 52d. [Khuzdul speaker, in Tolkien] is a member of the DWARF race.
Patrick Berry’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Country Club”
Which countries are in the club? Which have won the World Cup in past years? Just seven different countries: BRAZIL, ITALY, GERMANY, URUGUAY, and ARGENTINA have won more than once, while FRANCE and ENGLAND have but a single WORLD / CUP WINNER title to their names. All the rest of the contenders have been skunked. Sure, USA is in this puzzle, but it’s clued as a [Ryder Cup competitor] (that’s golf, versus Europe).
Liz Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Pop Secret”
Yes, it’s true: Jeffrey is on the road, and I have been roped into subbing for him on the WSJ crossword. It’s late, I’m tired, I’m linking to nothing, and I’ll be brief: I noticed pretty quickly that the words in each theme answer all started with P, but it wasn’t until I found PAPA (130a: [Person honored in this puzzle]) that I realized the words all started with PA. With two PA words per theme entry, there’s your PAPA. Happy Father’s Day this Sunday to all the dads out there!
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “A Dynamite Idea”—Janie’s review
Like Deadeye Dick (Cheney’s) Gun Club, what can I say about this puzzle’s theme except that “It’s a blast!” The first part of each of the three themed-phrases are all synonymous with the “dynamite” part of that “dynamite idea.” This paean to Wile E. Coyote and the Acme Corporation is made up of:
- 20A. EXPLOSION SHOT [Bunker clearer, in golf]. It’s not all that dramatic, but here’s how one looks. Another golf term, EAGLE shows up today, but it’s been clued instead as [Philadelphia football player].
- 37A. DEMOLITION DERBY [Contest for junker cars]. Yikes. Hadn’t realized this is a team sport… and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or just another really odd thing about this kinda gathering.
- 49A. BIG BANG THEORY [CBS sitcom about physicists, with "The"]. Oh, those wacky guys. Tagline: “Smart Is The New Sexy.” Okay. But the show really sounds dumb. Is this one of those guilty pleasure shows or has it earned its popularity ratings on the basis of decent writing and terrific performances? We won’t even discuss the double entendre of the show’s title and its premise.
The puzzle has ZEST [Energy] and is bursting with other bright spots that help it shine—like NOVA, that [Intensely bright star]. Yes, I was being jocular there. But there’s also strong, longer fill, too—like REACHES IN [Commits a basketball foul], STILETTOS [Sexy footwear] (the podiatrists’ and orthopedists’ godsend…), TIMETABLES [Train station schedules], FIESTA [Big party], ONE MAN [Kind of band] (comme ça), HOT TEA [Throat soother] and a fave, CACHET [Seal of approval].
A [Concert memento] is a STUB. Your “memento” at a rock concert is more likely to be a stubbed toe, since you might also have the opportunity to MOSH [Engage in frenzied dancing] in the mosh pit. If electronic music is more your thing, you could be a RAVER (though today this is clued as [Wild talker]…).
Always have to check the crosses where the [Title role for Leslie Caron] is concerned. Today she’s LILI—but remember that she was also GIGI.
There are two nice pairs, too—one from the Old Testament: ADAM [First family member?] and NOAH [Genesis boat captain]; and one that takes us from bad to worse: “UH-OH” ["This is not good"] and “OH, NO!” ["That's terrible!"]. Nah—it’s not so bad at all!