Eshan Mitra’s New York Times crossword
We’ve got another debut from another Brown student. I can be lukewarm about circled-letter themes that feel haphazard or pointless, but this theme is cohesive. Four BREAKABLES (59a: [Fragile articles…]) are indeed “broken,” with other letters butting into the broken words’ midst and forming longer words. Now, the longer words are entirely unrelated to one another, and one of them feels contrived to me. Here’s the rest of the theme:
- 17a. SEQUENTIAL means [In consecutive order], and the circled letters are a broken SEAL on an envelope. (Not a broken baby harp seal, I hope.)
- 25a. [Just barely legit] clues BORDERLINE, with a broken BONE.
- 36a. [What a slow person may need] is a HEAD START (broken HEART, aww).
- 50a. [Slip-up] clues MINOR ERROR, which is pretty much just adjective-modifying-noun rather than a solidly in-the-language term. (Broken MIRROR around the outside.)
Highlights in the fill include nervy CHUTZPAH, TAMPA BAY, “I INSIST,” full-name IDI AMIN, and a ZAMBONI on the ice rink.
Clues of note:
- 14a. [Rolls for dinner] are SUSHI.
- 55a. [It’s flashed by an officer] is neither obscene nor anything having to do with Mars lights—just a BADGE.
- 23d. [Response to “Who wants ice cream?!”] is an excited “I DO!” As for me, I’d just say “Me!”
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Over the Hill”
- 17a. [Tell-all book where Popeye’s girl admits she loved Bluto?] clues OLIVE GOT A SECRET, playing on I’ve Got a Secret. That was a game show of yore, right? This is the best of the theme entries (poor grammar be damned).
- 37a. [Review of a long-ago hit as “really bothersome”?], in headline shorthand, is OLDIE TRYING. That’s trying the adjective, meaning “difficult or annoying,” not the gerund. To “die trying” is to give it one’s all. There’s also the 50 Cent movie, Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Speaking of Fiddy, the @English50Cent Twitter feed retweets 50 Cent’s actual Twitter posts and then mistranslates them into standard English. Now, the AAVE translators the DEA is looking to hire would come up with entirely different translations, but the tweets can be funny.
- 58a. [Perfume maker, really?] is an OLFACTORY WORKER and not just a factory worker.
Diamonds in the fill: GUITAR SOLOS from Santana! One TOUGH COOKIE. LADY GAGA. And EASY TEN—50a: [A roll of 4 and 6, in craps]— is fresh, but not familiar to me because I have never shot craps. How many of you ever have?
Dan Naddor’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The latest Naddor theme is medication forms that PHARMACISTS dispense—capsules, liquids, and tablets:
- 18a. [Historic cache for future millennia] is a TIME CAPSULE.
- 25a. [Investing largely in money markets, say] is STAYING LIQUID. Not at all a familiar phrase to me.
- 42a. A WRITING TABLET is an [Item for doodling or note-taking].
Top five answers in the grid: the spoken “NAME IT” and “NOT ON A BET“; Maria MONTESSORI; full-name AL UNSER; and fresh-feeling UPSET ABOUT. I could do without fill like AGAR, ESTER, NEET, ALETA, and ETONS, but it is a treat to have a relatively open 74-worder this early in the week.
People populating the puzzle:
- 36a. [Jordanian queen dowager] is Queen NOOR, who moved up to dowager status when her husband, King Hussein, died and her son inherited the throne.
- 62a. [Mary Hartman portrayer Louise] LASSER is a classic for those who remember the show, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.
- 6d. [John’s partner in “The Avengers”] is the fictional EMMA Peel.
- 30d. [Composer Stravinsky], IGOR.
- 38d. [Prince Valiant’s wife] is the fictional ALETA. Their son is ARN. I’d love to see PRINCE VALIANT in the grid sometime—clued, of course, as [Aleta's husband] or [Arn's father].
- 41d. AL UNSER is the [Oldest driver to win the Indy 500]. He was 82 at the time. (Can you double-check that number? I have no idea how old he really was.)
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “5H Club”—Janie’s review
Because each of today’s five theme phrases begins with the letter “H,” “5H Club” might seem like a nice take-off on “4H Club.” Unfortunately, I don’t think the title is this puzzle’s friend. The very first theme entry, for example, is a phrase in which both words begin with “H”—so then shouldn’t the title be “6H Club”? There are several non-thematic “H” words that don’t cross theme entries (HOLA, HMOS, HASP, HORSE) which brings us up to the “10H Club”… Nope. Just AS BAD. So the title seems less-than-well thought out. That said—the theme fill is terrific and there’s lots to like in the non-theme fill as well. Looking at the former, we get:
- 17A. HAPPY HOURS [Cocktail times]. Here’s one (a freebie) that’s just for teachers! This was last year’s event, but I’m gonna guess it’s part of a tradition.
- 28A. HEPTATHLON [Olympics track-and-field event]. Or events. Seven of ‘em in fact. For the women (outdoors) it’s 100 meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, a 200 meter foot race, long jump, javelin throw and an 800 meter race; for the men (indoors) it’s a 60 meter race, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60 meter hurdles, pole vault and a 1000 meter race. Whew! That’s a lotta MEETS [Track-and-field events]!
- 35A. HIPPOCRATIC OATH [Doctors swear by it]. A pretty stringent code to swear to in today’s world. Sadly, not much room for those who support euthanasia or a woman’s right to choose.
- 43A. HOPPED TO IT [Got a move on]. Or, [How Peter Rabbit got to Farmer MacGregor's lettuce]…
- 60A. HUPMOBILE [Detroit cars of the 1930s]. Production began in 1909 and ended in 1940, so I’m not entirely sure why the ’30s are singled out here. Cole Porter (presciently?) immortalized the vehicle in the year of its demise in “Well, Did You Evah?” (from DuBarry was a Lady):
She: Missus Smith, in her new Hupp,
Crossed the bridge when the bridge was up.
He: Well, did you evah!
What a swell party this is!
The NE and SW feature quadruple 6-columns where we meet such fill as AMORAL HIT MEN and a PHASER ON-SALE—all of which PERKED me up. I also like the tip o’ the hat to technology with FAXES [Many document transmissions] and TREO, the [Palm smartphone…]. I own a most basic Nokia. Is it possible to receive faxes on one’s Treo?
Some, no doubt, call it KITSCH [Tasteless stuff] but the movement did give us [Dada artist Jean] ARP. And it was his colleague Marcel Duchamp who made Mona Lisa’s UPPER LIP a [Mustache site]. How nice, too, that these entries run side-by-side in the grid.
If you were [“Waiting for the Robert] E. LEE[“], you were ready to set eyes on or maybe board the “Monarch of the Mississippi,” a steamboat that launched in 1866. Here’s Jolson singing the song, and here’s a link to some info about this historic vessel. As a riverboat, it would not have been found ASEA [Cruising the Caribbean].
The only other negative thing I’ll do is SAY “NO” [Be uncooperative in a way]. Do I mean it? “NAH” [Slangy dissent].