Kristian House’s New York Times crossword
First up, kudos for a Tuesday puzzle that plunks down its six theme entries with nary a “Hello, solvers, let me explain this to you” clue. The theme answers all begin with words that are anagrams of the letters OPST. You’ve got your TOPS THE LIST (eh…), POST NO BILLS, 7-letter STOP OFF and OPTS OUT (which I didn’t notice were part of the theme at first), SPOT REMOVER, and POTS OF MONEY. The fill was solid and still in Tuesday range despite having to accommodate six theme entries.
I could’ve done without all the “toper” clues. [Toper's back-pocket item] is a hip FLASK of booze, [Toper's expense] is a BAR TAB, and [Toper, slangily] is a DIPSO. Too many uses of the word “toper”! Now, swap in a “sot” and I’m happy, even though I associate the word “sot” just as strongly with crosswords as I do “toper.” Go figure. I was sort of hoping that other answers would get the same treatment: [Helicopter part that can slice off a careless toper's head], for example. And why is JAG clued as [Drinking binge] rather than [Toper's binge]? C’mon, don’t stop at three!
- 54a. One of my online acquaintances just cleared out her 5-year-old son’s SINUSes with a neti pot rinse. Would you believe the kid was excited about breathing normally through his nose? The neti pot terrifies me, personally, but I always recommend it to people.
- 2d. Last week, I learned what ARLO Guthrie ([Folkie who sang of Alice]) was singing about in that “Alice’s Restaurant” song. He was pissed off about getting busted for illegal dumping! What?!? I thought hippies had respect for Mother Earth.
- 5d. ["Moving on them…"] clues “ANYHOO.” Cute.
- 34d. An S-STAR is an [Astronomical red giant]. Zzzzzzzzz…
- 40d. FREDO is the [Corleone who broke Michael's heart]. I had some leading crossings before I read the clue and wanted FRODO. Anyone up for a mashup between The Lord of the Rings and The Godfather?
- 41d. The constructor’s dilemma: “Hmm, FUM will fit here. How should I clue it?” There’s pretty much only one choice, isn’t there?
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Flat Tops”
- 16a. [Guy who knows his cake pans?] turns unsavory serial killer Ted Bundy into TED BUNDT.
- 19a. ["Cheers" actor George attending a Massachusetts college?], WENDT WILLIAMS, felt a little backwards to me until I analogized it to “Joe Harvard.” The last name thing still throws me, though.
- 35a. Just saw Bill Nighy in the new Harry Potter movie. BILL NIGHT is clued as an [End-of-the-day payment-fest?].
- 53a. The clue, [Richard Pryor title character with a big German dot on him?], had me thinking of umlauts, but ein Punkt is a point or a period or a dot in German and Pryor starred in Brewster’s Millions (shoddy plot summary here). Punky Brewster was an ’80s(ish) TV show I never watched. And your theme answer is PUNKT BREWSTER. This one kinda goes around the bend a few times.
- 58a. The Lindy Hop is a1920s-’30s dance named after Charles Lindbergh, and LINDT HOP could be a [One-legged maneuver for those chocolate balls?]. Mmm, Lindt chocolate truffles…
I give the theme bonus points for basing each theme entry more or less on a famous name, but then I deduct points for one base phrase being a fictional character and one being a dance, when the other three are real people.
I further deduct points for the presence of another Y in the grid, and one that could easily have been change to an unhammerable T: HAT/STD is as workable as HAY/SYD.
Five more clues:
- 7a. When it comes to baking metaphorical buns, [Ovens, so to speak] are actually WOMBS.
- 44a. EPHESUS is the [Turkish city that housed the Temple of Artemis]. Anyone else let Ephesians trick them into trying EPHESIA?
- 61a. [Rembrandt's city of birth] is LEIDEN. I started with the alternative spelling of LEYDEN. Know why? Because that crossing was INSANE. (See 39-Down.)
- 32d. [Nine Inch Nails hit with the freaky video] is CLOSER. When I had EPHESIA before, this looked like CLOA**. I pondered: CLOACA? CLOAKS? Figured a video for a song called “Cloaca” would indeed be disturbing.
- 39d. You might have to confiscate my degree in English because I did not know that the [Word repeated in T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland"] was SHANTIH. Good lord. Eliot couldn’t even spell it right.
- 45d. [Obviously-named American financial giant] isn’t so obvious that I got USBANK right away.
- 47d. [Super-cool computer geek language] clues LEET, which can also be spelled l33t and 1337. Suxxor!
Mark Feldman’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Well, isn’t this timely. Just as my husband’s watching The Walking Dead (zombies! gore! omigod the flies!), I solve this spooky GRAVEYARD SHIFT theme. The three workers on the graveyard shift here are the DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, a WITCH DOCTOR, and a GHOST WRITER, all clued straight up. These are much less scary than zombies on the march. Glad the theme made it out of the Halloween-week ghetto.
Five more clues:
- 23a. [Washing aid for pupils] clues EYECUP. Maybe this is supposed to trick us into thinking pupils = students but…I really don’t think you can wash your pupils. There’s no there there, first of all, and the pupil’s also behind the cornea.
- 39a. [About 1,609 meters] is a MILE. Not sure I’ve seen it put that way before.
- 1d. SPODE is a brand of [Fine porcelain]. I don’t like the clue’s genericness when the answer is not a generic term at all.
- 30d. [Pretty pitcher] clues EWER. Buford Ewer was a pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1909, widely renowned for his pretty face.
- 41d. GRAVELS is clued not as a plural noun but as the markedly less common verb, meaning [Covers, as a driveway]. Meh.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “O Dear”—Evad’s review
Before we delve into today’s CS/WaPo daily offering, a short Public Service Announcement about my posted grids. When I agreed to lend a hand to co-fiend Janie with the seven CS puzzles each week, I decided I had to do something a bit different to distinguish my posts from hers (as well as from others on your Team Fiend). Many of you may not know a regular commenter at our sister site the Forum named Popeye (who, at our loss, doesn’t seem to comment at this blog, but I hope visits). Many years ago, at the old “Cru” NYT forum, I recalled him posting an image of his completed grid that day, which featured, among other things, many cross-outs and rewrites and even the trail of his pen running down below the grid when he fell asleep mid-solve in bed! Anyway, I felt that gave me an insight into him as a person I hadn’t picked up just from his written posts. Not only that, it gave me confidence that I wasn’t the only one who made mistakes and had to correct them when solving these puzzles.
Fast forward to today where I hope my grids demonstrate that I am indeed not perfect and you can see where I had difficulties, warts and all as they say. Those who find them hard to read, I first want to be sure you’re aware of the ability to click on the grid to have it appear on its own in a much larger format. You can also go to the Today’s Puzzles link above and download the AcrossLite version and just “reveal” the answers if that helps. Though we certainly aim to please here at Team Fiend, it’s also important to instruct and to demonstrate that we are people too. (“I am not an animal,” I hear the Elephant Man saying!) I will endeavor to make them darker in the future as well.
OK, back to our regularly scheduled programming! O, boy! Fun theme in today’s CS/WaPo offering–the letter “O” is added to the beginning of the second word in two-word phrases and hilarity ensues…
- A “poison pen” gets the O-treatment and becomes POISON OPEN or “Evidence of a crime?” I think only of a poison pen letter, is there such a thing as a poison pen on its own? Is it erasable? The modified phrase is a bit hard to parse; I’m thinking it refers to an open vial (or other container) of poison that is a clue in solving a crime.
- Hoping to be considered a “modern man” (despite the weekly smackdown I suffer from puzzle-offering venues such as BEQ and The Onion), I like the modified MODERN OMEN or “The writing on the iPad?” If an omen were to appear on an iPad, what would it say? “Beware the iPods of March?”
- Not so sure our blog hostess would be too keen on our next entry in which the base phrase “short range” becomes O-ified to SHORT ORANGE, or a “Tiny citrus fruit.” What Amy may lack in height, she certainly compensates for in some whup-ass solving abilities.
- Finally, the Christmas favorite “goose liver” becomes GOOSE OLIVER or “Prod Twist into action?” (I think of “goosing” as to squeeze someone on the butt cheeks, which though likely practiced in the time of Dickens, was probably referred to by some other term.)
Definitely enjoyed the J action of the lower right quadrant of the grid, the Brazilian novelist JORGE Amado of Dona Flor and her Two Husbands, the “Coup group” JUNTA and the Robin Williams action movie of 1995, JUMANJI add some spice. Also, found it interesting to learn that a “Sofia resident” is called a BULGAR. Have heard of “bulgur wheat,” but didn’t know that people who live in Bulgaria are not called Bulgarians.