Chris Handman’s New York Times crossword
Hey! Talk about your topical crosswords. The October 30 events at the center of this theme were only announced on September 16, so the puzzle was made, accepted, edited, and published quite a bit faster than the typical NYT crossword. The theme entries are Jon STEWART‘s RALLY / TO RESTORE SANITY and Stephen COLBERT‘s MARCH / TO KEEP FEAR ALIVE. Two 7-letter surnames and two 5+15-letter events? Perfect!
If you haven’t heard of these upcoming Washington, D.C., events, I hope you still enjoyed the theme because of the inherent humor of the rally and march’s names.
There’s some allied material that goes with the theme but doesn’t fit symmetrically—apparently Colbert calls Bill O’Reilly PAPA / BEAR, and both Stewart and Colbert’s shows have won the EMMY award.
Bits o’ freshness in the fill, plus things that resonated for me:
- 28a. [Gambler's best friend?] is LADY LUCK.
- 45a. A [Tempest] is a STORM. There’s a storm a-brewin’. Are you in one of the 37 states with wind and storm warnings? Don’t blow away, folks. I’d miss you terribly.
- 48a. ANATHEMA is a cool word for an [Object of loathing]. The USA Today crossword is kinda anathema to me.
- 71a. BENT is clued as [Not straight]. I’m pretty sure it just means “sharply curved or having an angle” here and not “gay,” but the clue works both ways. I really don’t think the NYT crossword would intentionally include British slang for “gay” that has had negative connotations, but apparently the English gay crowd has reclaimed the word “bent.”
- 5d. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate a YDS clue that isn’t about football gains. [They are 3 ft. long]? Yes. Yes, they are.
- 7d. Coolest answer outside of the theme: AIR BALL, or a [Complete miss in basketball].
- 56d. To HOVER is to [Act like an overly protective parent]. I try not to do this too much.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “If Deer Took Over the U.S.”
Don’t stare at the four longest Across answers—they’re just part of the fill. The theme entries are five Down entries, all with puns involving deer. I liked Merl Reagle’s dramatic puns on Sunday, and Cox & Rathvon’s Latin puns were cool. Aside from those two, most of the recent pun themes have left me cold, and that includes this week’s Jonesin’ puzzle. Bonus points for the tightness of having all the answers play on U.S. place names; demerits for the inconsistent punning. Here are the cervine puns:
- 4d. [California bodybuilding area, after the deer took over?] is VENISON BEACH. This one’s kinda funny, but the rest of the theme didn’t quite reach 4d’s level. (It bears noting that if the deer take over the U.S., one of the first things they’re going to do is outlaw the eating of venison. Perhaps Venison Beach would be a grim memorial site for their lost brethren.)
- 10d. [Delaware's capital, after the deer take over?] turns Dover into DOEVER.
- 18d. Atlanta is mangled into ANTLERLANTA, a [Georgia metropolis, after the deer took over?]. Ow.
- 22d. [Utah metropolis, after the deer take over?] is SALT LICK CITY. I can see how the deer would like to set up a giant salt lick.
- 45d. [Arizona's capital, after being taken over by deer?] is FAUNIX, playing on Phoenix.
A few more clues:
- 1a. [Henri Matisse's art movement] is FAUVISM. I’m a fan.
- 17a. PEANUT SAUCE is a yummy [Thai cuisine feature]. I don’t think it’s used in tom yum, though.
- 35a. [Damfool] is perhaps the most unusual clue I’ve ever seen for NINNY.
- 39a, 39d. I like the paired clues for these intersecting 3-letter anagrams. [Word after sports or training] is BRA, while [Word after sports or wet] is BAR.
- 43a. [Deaf "Sesame Street" character] clues LINDA. She was on the show after my viewing era and before my kid’s. Glad to see in Wikipedia that she communicated only in sign language.
- 44a. [Unit of electrical capacity] clues MEGAFARAD. Physicist Joon, does anyone use the megafarad?
- 52a. [Old school "Rubbish!"] clues BUSHWA. Please join me in vowing to work this into your conversation at least once before the end of the year. (Etymology: based on the French word bourgeois. Now used as a repalcement for bullshit.)
- 1d. ["Very sexy!" (hidden in HALF A POUND)] clues FAP. I’m betting that fewer than half of you knew this one. I sure didn’t. Just looked it up at Urban Dictionary and…eww! Matt, no! Please don’t put this monstrosity in another puzzle ever again!
- 6d. I didn’t know that they called The Situation “SITCH,” but guessed it off the S. The ["Jersey Shore" guy, slangily] clue could have nudged solvers towards GUIDO, no?
- 9d. DUCT FAN is clued with [Mover in some central air conditioning]. Snore.
Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jeffrey’s review
Theme: 54A. [Attendance check, and a hint to the puzzle theme in the first words of the starred answers] – ROLL CALL
- 17A. [*"That's a certainty!"] – BANK ON IT. Bankroll – Money, Money, Money!
- 22A. [*Say "Well done," say] – PAY A COMPLIMENT – Payroll – More Money!
- 34A. [*Cover the night's check] – SPRING FOR DINNER – Spring roll. Ford is hidden in this phrase. There’s another theme right there.
- 46A. [*Generate sales leads] – and the final answer is…drum roll…DRUM UP BUSINESS.
Two single words, two double words. Works for me. Simple, comfy (1A. [Homey] – COZY) puzzle. What Tuesday should be.
- 5A. [Boeing product] – JET. First of 3 J’s to spice things up. J’s always spice up a puzzle.
- 27A. [Rock examiner?] – JEWELER. J2.
- 30A. [Bozo] – JERK. J3. Are you talking to me?
- 31A. [Remark from Rex] – ARF. Insert your own blogger joke here.
- 52A. [To excess] – OVERLY. This could also be clued [too, excess].
- 64A. [Coquette] – MINX. A q-word cluing an x-word. Scrabble-icious.
- 4D. [Himalayan beast] – YAK/24D. [Rumored Himalayan beast] – YETI. YAK and YETI restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom gets good reviews. I have to try it next trip.
- 5D. [Chandler's "Friends" ex-girlfriend with an annoying laugh] – JANICE
- 6D. [Magazine VIP] – EDITOR. It is straightforward day. No “Elle” VIP or “Time” guy or such.
- 10D. ["Mysterious and spooky" TV family name] – ADDAMS. I want ooky in a puzzle.
- 25D. [Word with group or pressure] – PEER/26D. [British nobleman] – LORD. Do British noblemen feel LORD pressure?
- 35D. [Sign at a cul-de-sac] – NO OUTLET. How many ways can you say this? Dead End, no through road, go away stupid…
- 36D. [Hobbling gait] – GIMP. Did you put limp? That caused problems in the ACPT finals this year. Not for Joon, though.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “What’s the Hurry?”—Evad’s review
- The only hit by Sir Paul McCartney’s post-Beatle band “Wings” that I can seem to remember is BAND ON THE RUN. Oh, just got Jet and Live and Let Die now that I put my mind to it.
- SHUTTER SPEED is “Exposure-determining measurment.” Yep, ’tis true.
- What is “Likely in peril in science fiction flicks” isn’t our credulity but instead THE HUMAN RACE.
- And tying the the other three entries together is Morse code for the letter “O”, or DASH-DASH-DASH. One of only two Morse codes I can remember, since it’s part of S-O-S. (“S” is dot-dot-dot, or dit-dit-dit if you’re solving a puzzle where the constructor couldn’t use an “o” in the middle.)
A rather uneven theme for me, though I did like the Morse code entry at the end tying the other three theme entries together. I guess I was bothered that the usages of RUN and SPEED directly relate to their senses of hurrying, whereas RACE in its theme entry does not. It was also a bit distracting to have two 10-letter non-theme entries lying above and below two theme entries (unless ROCKER and SENSE have a notion of running I’m not familiar with), though it is impressive from a construction perspective.
Good thing I’m old enough to remember references to Clara Bow as the IT-GIRL of the 20′s. Bet that one stumped the younger set. A more recent icon is BARBRA Streisand, who is here clued a bit more easily as “Yentl’s portrayer” than last week’s Fireball which grooved on her Meet the Fockers role as “Mother Focker.”