Daniel Finan’s New York Times crossword
Well, if you simply must have a quote theme, this is the way to do it—have the entire grid fillable from Across and Down clues that aren’t part of the quote! In Daniel’s puzzle, the quote meanders through a winding path amid the unrelated fill in the middle of the grid. The quote’s accompanied by its author and source: J.R.R. TOLKIEN’S “THE / LORD OF THE RINGS.” The brief excerpt reads “Not all those who wander are lost.”
The fill’s a little weird and some of the clues are tough, so we’re seeing a lot of Wednesdayish solving times rather than patently Tuesdayish ones. Trouble spots for me:
- 14a. ["Hollyoaks" actress ___ Atkinson] is named GEMMA. Who? Googling…good gravy, she’s also a “glamour and lingerie model,” and Hollyoaks was/is a British teen soap opera. The other GEMMA of note is Gemma Arterton, who has actually appeared in movies Americans know, such as Quantum of Solace.
- 16a. DIESEL OIL? Is that a thing? Apparently yes, it is, and my first try of DIESEL GAS is not a thing.
- 40a. I was torn between EJECT and EVICT, but today’s [Cast out] is EGEST. Mind you, EGEST evokes very specific ways of “casting out,” namely excreting waste material from the body. Help! Breakfast test violation!
- 63a. Did you know there was a bug called the AMAZON ANT? This is not one of the ant names I recall from those dramatic nature shows on TV. The ones that bite like hell or can eat people—those are the ones I remember. The amazon ant makes a habit of yoinking pupae from other ant colonies and raising them as slaves.
- 1d. I always want to spell it HAJJ, which is a valid spelling, but what are the odds of a constructor managing to work with a double-J? It’s HADJ today and most of the other days.
- 32d. I always want to spell it DITZY, not DITSY. You see my affinity for the Scrabbly spellings?
Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jeffrey’s review
Theme: 60A. [World Series of Poker Main Event no-limit game whose 2010 winner will be revealed tonight—the last words of 17-, 27- and 45-Across refer to the cards dealt between rounds of betting] – TEXAS HOLD ‘EM. A 32-word clue. A shorter version that still works is: [Poker game].
Here are the standings going into tonight’s show:
- Jonathan Duhamel 65,975,000 (Canadian)
- John Dolan 46,250,000
- Joseph Cheong 23,525,000
- John Racener 19,050,000
- Matthew Jarvis 16,700,000 (Canadian)
- Filippo Candio 16,400,000
- Michael Mizrachi 14,450,000
- Soi Nguyen 9,650,000
- Jason Senti 7,625,000
I think this is the oddest tie-in puzzle I’ve ever seen. I like the new trend of ultra-topical puzzles.
Other theme answers:
- 17A. [High jump technique created by 1968 Olympic gold medalist Dick] – FOSBURY FLOP. FLOP is the first three cards revealed.
- 27A. [K-shaped reversal on the road] – THREE POINT TURN. TURN is the fourth up card revealed.
- 45A. [Longest Canadian waterway] – MACKENZIE RIVER. RIVER is the final card shown. The MACKENZIE is 1,738 km (1,080 mi) long. Named after the famous explorer Alexander River.
- 1A. [One who's all skin and bones] – SCRAG. I like that word. Why is that?
- 6A. [Talmudic scholar] – RABBI.
- 14A. [__ donna] – PRIMA
- 20A. [String ensemble instrument] – CELLO
- 21A. [French greeting] – ‘ALLO. Cockney greeting – ‘ELLO. Hawaiian greeting – ‘ILLO. String instrument greeting – CELLO.
- 36A. ["My Dinner With Andre" director Louis] – MALLE. He was married to Candice Bergen.
- 40A. [Victoria's lasted longer than that of any other British monarch] – REIGN. Here’s her statue a few blocks from where I am typing this.
- 41A. [Dahl's "Fantastic" title character] – MR FOX
- 51A. [Caribbean music] – SKA
- 65A. [Popeye's creator] – E.C. SEGAR
- 11D. [Prepare, as a bottle launcher] – PRESSURIZE
- 24D. [Perfume squirt] – SPRITZ. Another fun word.
- 28D. [Somewhat unhinged] – HALF CRAZED. I half like this.
- 33D. ["That tastes great!"] – MMMM. Sound of a snake that just ate: MMMMM SSSSS.
- 46D. [Nine-day devotion] – NOVENA. New word to me. I knew RABBI.
- 47D. [Levy, as a tariff] – IMPOSE. Love those tax answers.
- 52D. [Skin lotion brand] – KERI. I bet it has aloe in it.
New category – Plural crosswordese:
- 11A. [Attire in which to retire, briefly] – PJS
- 23A. [Street shaders] – ELMS
- 25A. [Some nest eggs, for short] – IRAS
- 34A. [Leftover scraps] – ORTS
- 39A. ["__ a done deal"] – ITS (I know, ITS not a plural; just seeing if you are paying attention)
- 67A. [Ppd. enclosures] – SASES
- 68A. [Utopias] – EDENS
- 54D. [Spouses no more] – EXES
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “There’s an App for That”—Evad’s review
- “Consider one’s stake in a poker hand?” is APPRAISE THE ANTE. Poker’s a popular app on the iPad.
- The Mars Rover (originally designed at my alma mater, RPI) gets a new app in the form of a NASA MARS APPROVER
- Can bad endings be improved by an app? Sure enough, Lynn offers us BAD APPENDING, or a “Lousy job by an indexer?” Do indexers append? Do appenders index? And how about that appendix?
- Drew Brees and company wouldn’t be happy about Lynn’s APPALL SAINTS DAY. The Superbowl champs from last year just came off a big win over Carolina and are now 6-3 on the season. I’d catch a pass from Drew any day.
Lynn’s hallmark of lively theme entries and smooth fill hold true today. Lots to like with BIG DIPPER, TO NO AVAIL, and ASIAGO cheese, which tops my favorite bagel at the local Au Bon Pain I stop at before work. I also like how SPEW and LAVA top the puzzle, very volcanic! Small hiccup with MEAGER for MEASLY (“Pitifully small”), but easily fixed with the crossing SIDLE, or “Edge along” (walk like a crab).
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “5 CC Injection, Stat!”
The theme involves adding CC to familiar phrases:
- 17a. My “main man” becomes MCCAIN MAN, or [Guy who voted Republican in 2008?].
- 26a. This one’s tricky because of where the CC gets inserted. “Street lamp” becomes STREET C-CLAMP, or [Gripper used only on roads?]
- 36a. ["Convoy" singer C.W. representing the U.S.?] clues MCCALL OF AMERICA, building on the Mall of America. If you have never heard of this song, do yourself a favor and don’t look for it on YouTube. This ’70s hit was sort of a country music paean to C.B. radio–usin’ truckers. Speaking of Mall of America, did you know there’s a Marbles: The Brain Store location there? Marbles stores are busting out all over the Chicago and Minneapolis areas. Check ‘em out.
- 44a. [Clip from a 1983 Mr. T. comedy?] clues A LITTLE D.C. CAB. Not sure “a little dab” is properly “in the language” outside the “a little dab’ll do you” context.
- 59a. OCCUR TOWN, based on Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, is a [Place where everything just...happens?].
- 9d. SAY UNCLE. But not as a result of this crossword. Don’t let this puzzle beat you!
- 27d. EFFED [___ up (screwy, slangily)]. Now, EFFED UP would be even better.
- 37d. [Words that follow "Hmmm..."] are “LET ME SEE…”
- 46d. [Public Enemy #1?] is CHUCK D of Public Enemy.