Fred Piscop’s New York Times crossword
Today’s theme is a sound-based one: Various “X or Y” phrases turn into “Xer Y.” ”Make or break” becomes a MAKER BREAK. “Hit or miss” is a baseball HITTER MISS. “Boom or bust” is a hypothetical statue that’s a BOOMER BUST. And “(for) love or money” gets you LOVER MONEY.
Crosswordese of the day: 19a: ATTU, the [Westernmost Aleutian]. If you have been doing crosswords for too long, you paused here because you weren’t sure if the island in question was ATKA. Did you know that Attu was Japanese-occupied during WWII? Staten Island and Mackinac Island were, to my knowledge, not occupied by war enemies.
Backup crosswordese: A DIRK is a [Dagger]. Dirks Benedict, Bogarde, and Diggler: call your publicists.
Also perhaps unfamiliar vocab for a newer Tuesday solver: A TOBY is a [Man-shaped mug]. Read about Toby jugs here, and then scroll down to read about puzzle jugs.
Discussion topic: Is three obscure-unless-you’ve-done-a-zillion-crosswords answers too many for a Tuesday puzzle?
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Solve for X”
This theme confused me, but not through any fault of its own. I was just slow to pick up on the spelled-out numbers aspect, and trying to get Daniel Radcliffe to somehow match up with DANIEL BOX. What’s going on here is that the clue tells you what X stands for, and you swap out the number’s name for an X. Like so:
- 17a. [Crate for actor Radcliffe (if X=1)?] clues DANIEL BOX. That’s Daniel Bo(one), with X taking the place of 1/ONE.
- 24a. [Marks certain bovine parents (if X=4)?] clues FLAGS OX FATHERS. Flags o(f Our) Fathers.
- 40a. This one further confused me because the Roman number for 10 is X, and then I was thinking that the 4 in 24a would be IV, and that dog was barking up entirely the wrong tree. [Old record label's boat to reach isolated areas (if X=10)?] clues STAX ISLAND FERRY, or Sta(ten) Island Ferry. Wasn’t there a record label in the ’70s disco era that had “Island” in its name?
- 52a. [Lugs two giant neighboring letters without any help (if X=8)?] clues PULLS ONE’S WX, or “pulls one’s w(eight).” Hmm, “WX” is a rather lame chunk of theme answer.
- 65a. [Spatula hung from the Jaguars' scoreboard (if X=9)?] clues JAX TURNER, or Ja(nine) Turner of Northern Exposure.
Anna Gundlach’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The first and last answers spell out BOARD GAMES—[where you might find the starts of 20-, 33-, 43- and 59-Across]. The words at the beginnings of those answers can also mean the doohickeys you move around a game board:
- 20a. [Guy in a spotlight] is MAN OF THE HOUR.
- 33a. [Feature of much of Bach's music] is COUNTERPOINT. No idea what that means, musically speaking. I never call little game pieces “counters,” personally.
- 43a. [Coin for Long John Silver] is a PIECE OF EIGHT. I’m thinking he was never content with just one.
- 59a. [Symbolic but inconsequential act] is a TOKEN GESTURE.
- 6a. DAPS means “bumps fists” as well as [Skips, as stones].
- 29a. [Portfolio asset: Abbr.] is STK., short for “stock” and kinda ugly.
- 31a. [Antacid named for its elements] is MAALOX. Holy cats! Really? Magnesium, aluminum, oxygen?
- 21d. NATE [__ Dogg, Snoop's cousin], no relation to Deputy Dawg.
- 40d. [Fruit that isn't pretti?] is a total goofball clue for the UGLI fruit. It’s just crazy enough that it works.
Favorite fill: The DADAIST VIKING ruined the SASHIMI by plunking it in the HOT OIL he was supposed to pour on his enemies, but it was artful.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Soft-Headed”—Evad’s review
- A “landscaping arrangement” is a ROCK GARDEN. Soft rock sounds so 80s to me, I think of the various “Magic” FM radio stations scattered across the country and played continuously in a dentist’s office near you. Where else you can listen to Michael Bolton and Michael McDonald over to the sound of a drill and the smell of eugenol?
- “Tub floater” isn’t a RUBBER DUCKY, but instead a SOAP BUBBLE. Softsoap is a brand-name from Colgate-Palmolive.
- TOUCHSCREEN is an “iPad feature”; I haven’t succumbed to the iPad mania myself, but I do have an iMac and MacBook at home and love them both to pieces.
- Finally, we have “Handy cleaning solution” for SPOT REMOVER. Is Softsoap a spot remover? I don’t have a big “soft spot” for these kind of themes, but they are the bread-and-butter of the daily early week solve.
I had some trouble running through 9-Down, 34-Across and 37-Down. It started with MANCAVES for MANSIONS, the former being a much more fun answer to “Supersized quarters” methinks. This led to the more crosswordese AONE before MAIN for “Most important.” My final problem was trying to come up with what kind of sky would be the “Feature of a perfect picnic day.” (I had CLEAR before SUNNY. I’d argue the first the more idiomatic.)
So how did this one treat you?