Jim Hilger’s New York Times crossword
I really was not tuning into this puzzle’s wavelength. A Thursday puzzle that takes a Saturdayish amount of time? Yow. That’s not typical. I didn’t see the theme until after I finished filling in the puzzle, and even now I’m not sure I really grasp the point. Here’s what we’re working with:
- 20a. [With 40-Across, coloring advice…and literally so] is STAY (between the lines).
- 58a. [With 40-Across, infer something…and literally so] clues READ (between the lines).
- 40a. This is BETWEEN THE LINES. Oh, OK, I get it now. The words STAY and READ appear in the grid “between the lines” in that they appear between two 9- or 10-letter answers that are commonly followed by the word “line”—but are not themselves lines unless you think SEA is a [Kind of anemone].
- 17a. [Border names] are MASON-DIXON. The Mason-Dixon Line famously divides north from south in the U.S. The word STAY is below this answer, sandwiched above this next entry:
- 24a. [Owner of the Titanic] clues WHITE STAR, and of course, the White Star Line group remains world-famous—a household name!—as the owner of the Titanic. Uh, what? Not really. I was tempted to put JOHN ASTOR there because it fit the ST*R part.
- 52a. I’m pretty sure FREE THROWs get talked about way more often than the free throw line does. In basketball, an FT is an [Unblockable shot]. Below is READ, and then:
- 61a. PRODUCTION is [Factory output], and many a factory has a production line.
Ehhh…this was so irksome during the solving process, I find myself loath to be impressed with the theme. The fill was bugging me at every turn. When [Prefix with meter] is used to clue two different answers (!), you know you’re in trouble. TAK (Scottish “take”—and we also have NAE), OEO (Office for Economic Opportunity), E-ZINE, ALFAS, LII, TEC, SCOTTS and ANDYS? Lots of clues just weren’t resonating with anything inside my brain. The clues for FEDS, OAKEN, MTA, SLEEVE, ESO, HOTEL, TENN, ANOTHER, and REED were all tough or (to me) obscure.
The clue for 7d: FOX is [Sexy babe]. Do yourself a favor: Don’t Google “sexy babe” unless you’re looking for lots of internet porn. I did a Google image search for sexy male babe and bring you Justin Timberlake from the search results. Man, what a horrible clue for FOX.
Matt Matera’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jeffrey’s review
- 66A. [Parliamentary votes, or what appears at the starts of the answers to starred clues] – YEAS
- 1A. [*Hip-hopper who married Beyoncé (German)] – JAY-Z. Ja is yes in German.
- 20A. [*Old stories (English)] – YESTERDAY’S NEWS. Yes is yes in English.
- 28A. [*Inferred cosmic substance (Russian)] – DARK MATTER. Da is…you get it.
- 44A. [*Séance device (French)] – OUIJA BOARD. Oui.
- 51A. [*Fatal problem in Genesis (Spanish)] – SIBLING RIVALRY. Si.
A very clever theme that I can’t recall seeing before.
- 15A. [Like sandalwood leaves] – OVATE. Sandalwood made me think of Carolwood.
- 23A. ["Paris, je t'__": 2006 film] – AIME. A movie about Ms. Hilton’s suitors. Perhaps. Never saw it.
- 25A. [Nashville awards gp.] – CMA. Country Music Awards.
- 33A. [Mythological ride] – CARPET. Aladdin!
- 35A. [Derisive cry] – YAH. Almost a theme answer.
- 39A. [Hottie] – FOX. See also 47 across and 31 down.
- 43A. [High-speed raptor] – FALCON.
- 47A. [Former World No. 1 tennis player Ivanovic] – ANA. I wonder if ANA Alicia of FALCON Crest was considered for tie-in clues.
- 48A. [With 6-Down, one in fear of an audit] – TAX EVADER. You better fear one if you are a TAX EVADER. We’ll get you, buddy!
- 1D. [Kids' author Blume] – JUDY. Never having been a kid, I haven’t read her books.
- 5D. [Pushover] – DOORMAT. This I’ve been.
- 9D. [Handel bars?] – MESSIAH
- 10D. ['20s White House nickname] – SILENT CAL Coolidge. A possibly apocryphal story has it that Dorothy Parker, seated next to him at a dinner, said to him, “Mr. Coolidge, I’ve made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you.” His famous reply: “You lose.” [Wikipedia]
- 11D. [... ducks in __] – A ROW
- 31D. [Actress Durance who plays Lois on "Smallville"] – ERICA. Lois Lane. Former Lois Lane and frequent crossword answer TERI Hatcher will appear as her mother this year. Who feels old?
- 32D. [Bad sentence] – RUN ON. I hate sentences that run on and on and on and on and on…
- 34D. [Former Kremlin policymaker] – POLITBURO. and on and on and on and on…
- 40D. [Former sketch comedy that used Don Martin cartoons] – MAD TV
- 43D. ["I wish 'twere otherwise"] – ‘FRAID SO. That’s the anwer? ‘FRAID SO.
- 50D. [Like a biting remark, in British slang] – SARKY. Almost real name of Beatle Ringo, singer of the No-No song. No-no backwards is, of course, on-on. Is that it? ‘FRAID SO.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Stuck on the Ending”—Jeffrey’s review
- 18A. [Effete goodbye from a true thug?] – GANGSTA TA-TA
- 63A. [Middling review of a great painter?] – PICASSO SO-SO
- 10D. ["Bad Romance" singer's recipe for a root vegetable?] – RUTABAGA GAGA
- 19D. [Wasting time by writing in longhand?] – STENO NO-NO. Cue Ringo again!
- 21D. [Super-weird art coming out of suburban Maryland?] – BETHESDA DADA
- 26D. [Toy from the biggest city in the world?] – TOKYO YO-YO
- 74D. [Canadian blogger’s dance?] – CROSSCAN CAN-CAN
Six long theme answers, two across each crossing two down answers is cool. The price is 23 three-letter answers:
- ATM/ BOA/ ORY/ ATL/ AYE/ OAR/ NPS/ EYE/ BEA/ ANN/ ETA/ AVE/ MSN/ WOO/ ARM/ CID/ GUM/ ORE/ NAN/ GOD/ SIL/ ORG/ SOG
- 4A. [Gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's former company] – EBAY. Gubernatorial is a great word. Constructors, please use.
- 8A. [Was persistent, as a door-to-door salesman] – RERANG. Very persistent: RE-RE-RE-RANG.
- 20A. [One may stand next to the cantor] – RABBI crossing 2D. [Source of some scriptures] – TORAH, (although crossing seems like the wrong word to use).
- 27A. [Makes possible, as someone else's addiction] – ENABLES. Crossword editors are my ENABLERS.
- 29A. [One might be filled with carnitas] – TACO. Like in “Hotel California”? Warm smell of carnitas… no that’s colitas. Much different.
- 30A. [Siege of Leningrad river] – NEVA. I NEVA knew this.
- 31A. ["Love ya!"] – MWAH. I do not MWAH this answer.
- 44A. [Menu claim] – NO MSG. This has appeared in a few puzzles as of late. The new ERIE.
- 46A. [What may emerge when the can is open?] – ODOR. Why, Ben, why?
- 50A. [Deep-voiced Simone] – NINA
- 52A. [Communication device on "The Dukes of Hazzard"] – CB RADIO. Convoy!
- 55A. ["I just realized something important"] – OMIGOSH
- 62A. [Buzzy instrument] – KAZOO. More Ringo!
- 68A. [Tour crew member, often] – ROADIE. Wonderful Jackson Browne. I had this on an eight-track.
- 69A. [Elvis's middle name, on his birth certificate] – ARON
- 1D. [Simple multiple choice options] – A B OR C/ 8D. [Letters given in the bonus round of "Wheel of Fortune"] – RSTLNE. Well on our way to a pangram without using any real words.
- 11D. ["... to fetch ___ of water"] – A PAIL. Ray Parker Jr.
- 13D. [Dope] – GRASS. We’re back in the Hotel California.
- 25D. [___ out (having lots of diamonds)] – ICED. Never said at the bridge table: “I was ICED out so I bid seven diamonds”
- 53D. [Experimental artist Gysin] – BRION. Experimented with the spelling of his first name, it seems.
- 54D. [Puerto ___ (like Rosario Dawson and Ricky Martin)] – RICAN.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “The Quad Squad”
Peter squeezes the grid into a 14×17 rectangle and puts black squares wherever the heck he wants to (asymmetrically) in order to accommodate the theme entries of varying lengths, each with a single letter repeated four times in a row:
- I love I’M HENRY VIII, I AM, with its four-in-a-row I’s that I never thought about. Granted, only one is pronounced as an I.
- “K-K-K-KATY” is an old song.
- Ogden Nash’s THREE-L LLLAMA does not exist.
- DR. SEUSS’S SLEEP BOOK…I don’t think I’ve ever seen this one before. The cover doesn’t look at all familiar. I suspect Peter’s kids have a lot of Dr. Seuss books (did this theme arise over a bedtime story?), or that Peter loved them as a kid—Fireball puzzles (and before them the New York Sun crosswords) have contained more Dr. Seuss words and characters than most other crossword venues. Does everyone else always get those right away? Because I sure don’t.
- The Campbell’s Soup’s slogan “MM, MM, GOOD” is a classic.
HERB CAEN looks great in the grid, doesn’t he? I also like seeing Jerry ORBACH here, and a HAIL MARY pass in football.
Anyone else think of the documentary Wordplay when they see the [Nuclear missile acronym] MIRV? When Bill Clinton’s filling in a crossword and reads a clue about nuclear missiles, he says something like “Gotta be MIRV or ICBM,” and it’s a strange moment because so few solvers have had his access to nuclear missile launch codes.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “On the Up and Up”—Janie’s review
Three of this puzzle’s four longest clues are identical: [See 54-Across]. And what do we encounter there? A clue reading [Type of TV, or a description of 20-, 35-, or 41-Across]—which turns out to be HIGH DEFINITION. Nice. And so is the fill that high defines:
17A. WEATHER MAP AREA. Such as this one, which (in this election season) gives new meaning to the idea of red states v. blue states. (Have you thought about who you’re gonna VOTE FOR [Support at the polls]?)
35A. SKYSCRAPING. Here are some skyscrapers doing just that at night—most scenically, too.
41A. EXTRAVAGANT. Kinda like the cost of just about anything from the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book.
There’s something effortless, almost lighter than air in the way the rest of the grid plays out. For starters, there’s the longer non-theme fill that’s lively and lovely—like MILESTONES [Significant achievements], SODA POPS [Carbonated quenchers], FRESHMAN [College newbie] and NOTIONS [Sundries]. (A SNAP is something you might find in the Notions Department, but today we’re reminded that Snap is also [One of Crackle's colleagues]). Yesterday we had [Fessed up] cluing came clean. Continuing (sorta) in that vein today we have TAKES A BATH, clued as [Gets all washed up?].
There are two symmetrically placed exclamations that damsels have been heard to utter: “MY HERO!” and “O, ROMEO!” clued respectively as [Melodramatic post-rescue cry] and [Start of a line for Juliet]. Then, we visit the midway with SKEE[-Ball (carnival game)] but don’t quite get to play Whac(k)-a-MOLE, which gives players the chance to drive back that [Tunneling lawn pest]. A SNEAK is a [Stealthy sort]—one who might try to evade an ID CHECK [Security procedure, briefly]. DENS are [Hibernation locations] and also homes to lions, like ELSA, that [Literary lioness]. And where tie-ins are concerned, we also get RESTS [Knocks off for a while] and LOAF [Shirk work] (or knock off for far more than a while..).
Finally, thank you, Patrick, for the reminder of the Carl Sandburg-inspired line that was reinvented in the Vietnam era: ["Suppose they gave] A WAR [and nobody came?"]. Writer Charlotte Keyes is attributed with making this a “high profile” slogan after she used it as the title of an article of hers published in McCall’s (October 1966, 44 years ago).
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Tea Party Hardy (Har Har)”
Where do you come down on the “party hardy” vs. “party hearty” issue? I lean towards “hearty,” but applaud the last commenter here for recommending “heartily” or “hardily.” (Don’t try the -ly adverbs at a party. You might get slapped.)
The theme is puns on familiar (?) phrases with tea party notables worked in. “Pale in comparison” yields PALIN COMPARISON. THIS MAN’S ARMEY (Dick Armey) must come from “this man’s army,” but that phrase is only faintly familiar to me. “Ankle bracelet” gives us Sharron ANGLE BRACELET. Glenn “WE’LL BE RIGHT, BECK” plays on “we’ll be right back” and adds a comma. Christine O’Donnell’s name is too long, plus it’s hard to find a masturbation or witchcraft phrase that lends itself to an “O’Donnell” pun.
Highlights: HELMUT LANG, MOE’S TAVERN, AFC WEST, and the fresh clue for JAI ALAI.
And now for something completely different. I came across a link to this moving speech on Twitter last night and considered posting it here. Commenter Kratsman mentioned seeing the video at Rex Parker’s blog, where I suspect many of you have also seen it. In case you missed it, here it is. The It Gets Better Project is compiling these videos on YouTube. If you know a teen or tween who is getting bullied—gay/lesbian or straight—please point them towards It Gets Better. The message is that while middle/high school bullying is terrible, life gets so much better after adolescence. Too many kids commit suicide because they can’t see that there’s light at the end of the tunnel and the peer abuse will stop.