Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword
Instead of a standard ho-hum Tuesday puzzle, Mr. Livengood has crafted one with a delightfully fresh theme: He has TURNED THE TABLES by putting six kinds of tables in the circled squares and having each of the six turn 90°. There’s an Arthurian or Parkerian ROUND table, a COFFEE table to put your feet on, a POOL table to shoot pool on, a PRIZE table full of crossword books and dictionaries at the ACPT, the DINNER table I had Cincinnati chili at tonight, and a GAME table for poker and whatnot. TURNED THE TABLES is clued as [Regained one's winning status…or a hint to this puzzle's circled letters]. Great cruciverbal interpretation of that phrase.
Supplementing the theme are all sorts of unrelated long answers. I didn’t know the football term OPTION PLAY, and I get BEEF STEW and FERTILIZER mixed up. I have never before had a MENTAL IMAGE of an ESTONIAN at the OCEAN BOTTOM.
- 4d. Interesting trivia clue for ESTONIAN: [Native of the land known by natives at Eesti]. Eesti? I had no idea.
- 15a. ["M," "W." or "Z"] is a MOVIE. Terrific clue. Didn’t even see it while I was solving—one thing I like about crossword blogging is that it impels me to take a second look at puzzles and I often find new treats like this. Okay, maybe not so often.
- 27a. The basic card game GO FISH is a great entry.
- 47a. Supreme Court Justice Stephen BREYER? I love his ice cream.
- 48d. I like the clue [Diamond alternative] because it addled me. Rubies and emeralds? Soccer fields and cricket pitches? What are we talking about here? Oh, playing cards. A SPADE is an alternative.
Sure, it’s not a thrill to come across fill like SERE, ADZ, and CLE, but there’s precious little in that vein. Very good Tuesday puzzle overall, with lots of goodwill established by the original theme.
Jennifer Nutt’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 18a. [*Chicken soup dumpling] is a MATZO BALL. Chocolate balls? Are we thinking of those little foil-wrapped chocolate orbs that are sold around certain holidays? I couldn’t help thinking of South Park‘s Chef and his “Chocolate Salty Balls” episode.
- 35a. [*Paleontologist's lucky find] is a DINOSAUR EGG. Chocolate eggs are mainly an Easter thing.
- 43a. An ESPRESSO BAR is a [*Cappuccino seller], and there are so many delightful chocolate bars to choose from.
- 3d. [*Basic computer component] is a SILICON CHIP. Chocolate chips are much tastier, though I have a terrific recipe for oatmeal/silicon chip cookies.
- 27d. [*Parting smooch] is a GOODBYE KISS—that’s a great answer there. The Hershey’s people pretty much own the “chocolate kiss” concept, don’t they?
- 9d. In the famous pangram “The Quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog,” the [Quick brown fox's obstacle?] is a LAZY DOG. It’s not really a lexical chunk in its own right, but I’ll forgive it since it harks back to classic wordplay.
There aren’t a ton of people’s names in this grid, so I wonder why the late Dennis HOPPER didn’t get the clue at 50a instead of [Bunny or kangaroo]. Is it because the star has faded for the person in the crossing 35d, DINAH [Shore of Hollywood]? There aren’t any other plausible last letters for a person named DINA*, but…
Jennifer Nutt’s Los Angeles Times crossword, take 2 (because Amy forgot it was Jeffrey’s turn to blog)—Jeffrey’s review
Theme: MMM, CHOCOLATE!
- 18A. [*Chicken soup dumpling] – MATZO BALL. Yum, kneydlach!
- 35A. [*Paleontologist's lucky find] – DINOSAUR EGG.
- 43A. [*Cappuccino seller] – ESPRESSO BAR
- 3D. [*Basic computer component] – SILICON CHIP
- 27D. [*Parting smooch] – GOODBYE KISS
- 61A. [Confection that can start the ends of the answers to starred clues] – CHOCOLATE. Awkwardly worded, but leading us to CHOCOLATE BALL, CHOCOLATE EGG, CHOCOLATE BAR, CHOCOLATE CHIP and CHOCOLATE KISS.
What is up with CHOCOLATE BALL? Sorry, this one doesn’t do anything for me, despite being a CHOCOLATE LOVER.
- 6A. [Chicken or turkey] – FOWL. Are turkey soup dumplings also MATZO BALLs?
- 16A. [Stratford's river] – AVON. That is in Ontario.
- 34A. [Typical studio apartment room count] – ONE. A long way to go for ONE.
- 7D. [Breakfast for Brutus?] – OVA. Didn’t they have DINOSAUR EGGs back then?
- 9D. [Quick brown fox's obstacle?] – LAZY DOG. Jump!
- 11D. ["The Loco-Motion" singer Little __] – EVA
- 13D. [Tina Fey was its first female head writer, briefly] – SNL. It is awkwardly worded clue day. Trying a little too hard to be cute in some of these.
- 21D. [Singer Horne] – LENA
- 35D. [Shore of Hollywood] – DINAH
- 44D. [Frozen cake maker] – SARA LEE. They have a CHOCOLATE CAKE—or is it a CHOCOLATE BALL?
- 45D. [Recipe direction] – STIR. SARA LEE CHOCOLATE cakes are already stirred.
- 62D. ["I've Grown Accustomed to __ Face"] – HER
The rest is your basic crossword-easy stuff.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “School of Hard Knocks”—Evad’s review
Ah, a quip puzzle! Like a recent commenter on this blog, I do think quips have gotten such a bad rap that the pendulum has swung so far away from them that I miss my odd quip now and again. BEQ, I think, does the best job of keeping the art form alive; constructor Donna S. Levin offers her take on the genre to solvers of today’s CS/WaPo puzzle:
TWO FISH SWIM INTO
A CONCRETE WALL
ONE TURNS TO THE
OTHER AND SAYS “DAM!”
A nice twist on the classic “Two men walk into a bar…” format. This seems geared toward a much younger audience than Brendan’s quips (it’s hard to believe a crowd of younger solvers than Brendan’s target audience, but here I’m thinking elementary school-aged children); unlikely though they would have enough trivia knowledge to solve some of the non-thematic clues:
- I’m thinking the X shared between “Box office purchases, slangily” (TIX) and “Released jailbird” (EX-CON) would be difficult for our young solvers.
- EIEIO (“Old MacDonald nonsense refrain”), on the other hand, would be very familiar!
- Back to unfamiliar territory with the goddess of DISCORD, and now sharing dwarf planet status with Pluto, Eris.
- They probably know of OBI-Wan Kenobi, certainly around Christmas time.
- Finally, one or more of them likely “Ignores one’s bedtime” or STAYS UP. Amy, when is Ben supposed to go to bed during the week?
Bedtime’s at 8:30, Evad.
Matt Jones’s themeless Jonesin’ crossword, “Down the Middle”
Right down the middle, there are three 15-letter answers intersecting another 15-letter crossbar. There are 10 more longish answers (8 to 10 letters long) in the grid, too. I like most of the long ones, but there sure are a lot of ugly short entries here. It amuses me to make stories out of lackluster fill and crosswordese, but I can’t do a thing with PSS OHE CRT SLS QAS DEK ATO LYS. Wait, maybe I can anagram them…
What’s worth the price of admission is ALWAYS BE CLOSING, one of my two favorite lines from Glengarry Glen Ross. (“Coffee is for closers” is the other one, and it’s endlessly adaptable. “Sorry, kid. Cookies are for closers.”)
Here are 10 clues:
- 20a, 4d. [Sometime afterward] means NOT YET. Maybe A LITTLE BIT LATER. But not now. Sheesh, would you back off and give me some space?!
- 23a. Don’t think I’ve ever seen TOP HONORS in a crossword before. [The lion's share of awards, at awards shows] can cover it, but just winning Best Picture without any other Oscars is still TOP HONORS, no?
- 40a. ["Jackass 3D" actor Chris] clues PONTIUS. I’m disappointed that he didn’t become an airline pilot.
- 46a. [Mercedes-Benz ___ AMG] clues SLS. I needed every crossing here, as I have never heard of it. I asked my kid, who’s 10, if he knows what the Mercedes SLS AMG is, and he proclaimed that it’s that really fast car with the doors that open upwards. Indeed, 563 horsepower and gullwing doors. Starts at a reasonable $187K.
- 54a. UNI is, of course, a [Prefix before brow]. Love it!
- 1d. [Large vein] clues POSTCAVA. Apparently it’s the inferior vena cava in vertebrates more advanced than fishes, but this medical editor has never encountered the term.
- 3d. [City close to Mercer Isl.] is SEATTLE, WA. I kinda think the city + state abbrev combo works better for shorter city names. Is that arbitrary? Or is it just that I’ve seen ERIEPA more than the longer ones?
- 26d. I tell you, I don’t like water snakes and I don’t like tree snakes. Pretty sure I would find the [African marsh-dwelling snake] called the SWAMP VIPER to be terrifying.
- 31d. [Group with masks and shields] is a RIOT SQUAD.
- 34d. I love to see YBOR [___ City, Florida (historic district of Tampa)] in the grid because who wouldn’t love a name starting with YB?
What a crazy-looking grid! Unmistakably a Matt Jones creation.