Mike Torch’s New York Times crossword
Idiom wins the day for the NYT crossword. Solvers need to come up with five ways to finish the phrase [The whole ___], which means “everything”: There’s an ENCHILADA at 17a, SHEBANG as 25a, SHOOTING MATCH at 38a, SCHMEAR at 51a, and NINE YARDS at 63a. Definitely a zippy theme, though the “whole SHOOTING MATCH” one is not in my parlance.
Ten more clues:
- 23a. The freshest entry is VEE-DUB, short for VW. [Autodom’s Beetle is one, slangily] is an odd clue because “autodom” is such a strange word. Auto(mobile) + (king)dom = weirdness.
- 9a. [This puzzle has 78] CLUES, yes.
- 37a. To RISE from bed is to [React to a crowing rooster, say]. There are no chickens in my neighborhood.
- 55a. For [Expels forcefully], I was envisioning rough shoving or throwing. But eww! SPEWS is an entirely different sort of forceful expulsion.
- 2d. [Track bettors play them] clues PONIES. “In fact, I hated anyone who had a pony growing up.”—Jerry Seinfeld.
- 5d. I don’t get this one. Why is a [Salad bar bowlful] OIL? Isn’t oil usually in a cruet or other dispenser and not a bowl?
- 18d. “I DUNNO!” [“Beats me!”]
- 22d. [Even if, briefly] clues THO. This one is stupid because only the uneducated use “tho.” (That’s a joke. Will Shortz uses “tho” and he’s pretty darned bright and well-educated.)
- 49d. Ooh, I don’t care for this RED DOT, the [Mark of a rifle’s laser sight]. Feels arbitrary.
- 62d. An ALP is a [Tour de France peak]. Have you been watching the Tour this month? Do you think the two leaders are doping somehow?
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “That Won’t Cut It”
- 19a. [They’re not very useful for cutting steak] clues BUTTER KNIVES.
- 31a. [They’re not that good for cutting cloth] refers to kindergarten-style SAFETY SCISSORS.
- 39a. [They won’t cut through your opponent, like in the movie] clues TOY LIGHT SABERS. Mm-hmm, whereas the real light sabers are deadly.
- 52a. [They’re good for their own job, but lousy for cutting thicker stuff] clues NAIL CLIPPERS.
Coolest answer, cleverest clue:
- 4d. The SERENGETI is the [Ecosystem with world’s largest land migration].
- 17d. [A couple of dates, say], 5 letters, starts with F…it’s got to be a FLING, right? Yeah, that I works with the Greek consonants, which could be PIS or XIS. Wrong! It’s the dates you eat, which are FRUIT.
Harvey Estes’s Los Angeles Times crossword
We don’t often see circled squares in the L.A. Times puzzle, do we? Tuesday’s theme involves OUTER / CLOTHES (38a: [With 24-Down, category of garments fittingly found in the circled letters]), though that sounds like an ad hoc term to describe the four circled words rather than an actual phrase used to refer to loose, drapy garments. I Googled “outer clothes” and one of the top few hits was this handy (but very basic) advice on bra removal.
The other four theme entries have a bit of surprise to them when the circled words emerge:
- 17a. [Emergency exit with a ladder] is a FIRE ESCAPE.
- 60a. [Robotic solar system explorer] clues SPACE PROBE.
- 10d. A CONESTOGA is a [Pioneer’s wagon].
- 32d. The [Gibbon] is one kind of LESSER APE.
- 53a. [“Don’t even go __!”] THERE!
- 55a. [Arachnoid zodiac sign] is SCORPIO. Scorpions are arachnoids, after all. Is there a spider constellation up there?
- 1d. A gala AFFAIR is a [Festive gathering]. A non-gala affair may be a torrid gathering of two.
- 12d. [Not exactly exciting] clues TAME.
- 37d. Oops, [“Sorry about that”], PARDON ME, my bad.
- 49d, 50d. Harvey pairs the [Oil-rich peninsula] of ARABIA and the DESERT that constitutes [Most of 49-Down].
Unfavorite things that bear noting:
- 61d. The [Wall St. group] ASE is the American Stock Exchange. Better than [Enzyme ending] or ["__'s Death"], or no?
- 46d. [Spread publicly, with “about”] clues NOISED. This verb use sure is in the dictionary but I’m not sure I’ve encountered it in the wild.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Out on a Limp”—Janie’s review
The English language is very tricky. Especially when it comes to words with letters that we don’t pronounce—like the silent “b” in “comb” or “numb.” Or “limb”… Today, Bob takes base phrases that end with three of those words and (as he does in the title) changes that final silent “b” to a plosive and pronounced “p”—with very amusing results.
- 17A. [Guideline for the Three Stooges?] RULE OF THUMP. Because they’re always hitting each other over the head. Then again, with all the poking at each other that these guys do, rule of thumb might be apt as well.
- 39A. [Object thrown at a cheating husband?] SACRIFICIAL LAMP. Duck and cover, guys! Here’s a link to the lighter side of the concept of the sacrificial lamb.
- 62A. [Trash pile to have fun in?] PLAYING DUMP. I really like this one and probably because of the change in the meaning of the first word. In the phrase playing dumb, playing is a gerund (or part of a progressive verb) and relates to how someone is behaving. “He knows exactly what’s going on. He’s just playing dumb.” In the theme phrase, the word becomes an adjective describing the dump. Points for the extra word play!
Points, too, for the symmetrically-placed grand personages: Ben FRANKLIN [Oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence] and Barry Humphries’s alter ego, DAME EDNA [Purple-haired star of “The Royal Tour” on Broadway]. While I feel certain than Dame Edna would like to lay claim to the boast that [She gets whatever she wants], that distinction, in fact, belongs to LOLA of Broadway’s Damn Yankees. Oh wait, we also get DAMN [Epithet for the Yankees] (just in case you weren’t sure how I really felt about ‘em).
The puzzle is teeming with witty clues, so I’m going to list a lot of ‘em, including alliteratives (I especially like the ones followed by alliterative fill):
- [Sweating setting] STEAM ROOM.
- [Botswana beast] BABOON.
- [Nice name] NOM. (Nice rhythm in that clue/fill combo, too.)
- [Praying preyer] for MANTIS.
- [Highland headland] for NESS.
- [Strummer’s strings] for BANJO and [Fiddle with a fiddle] for TUNE.
- [One with a Bunker mentality] for BIGOT as in Archie Bunker…. Here are some of Archie’s (cringe-worthy) gems.
- [Molded mousse that sounds like it might explode] for BOMBE. Prepare and consume this recipe and you might explode…
- [Cold blast that’s often blessed?] for “ACHOO!” (“Gesundheit! Is that an allergy or are you catching a cold?”)
- In the self-referential department, there’s [Shirley Temple, to Shirley Temples, for one] for EPONYM; and resonating with the puzzle’s title, we have [“Limp Preludes for a Dog” composer Satie] for ERIK. Dang, wouldn’t ya know this is one piece of music YouTube doesn’t have…