Caleb Madison’s New York Times crossword
Moving on to the Wednesday NYT: Caleb is a big-time film buff and has made movie-themed crosswords for the Directors Guild publication, DGA Quarterly. And while he’s still in his salad days, he’s got some major construction chops. So it’s no surprise that Caleb’s packed in, what, 80 theme squares relating to WOODY ALLEN and his movies on the event of Woody’s 75th birthday. No, Hannah and Her Sisters and The Purple Rose of Cairo don’t fit here, but MATCH / POINT, RADIO DAYS, ALICE (??), MANHATTAN, BANANAS, SLEEPER, ANNIE HALL, ZELIG, and INTERIORS do. Nine movies plus the filmmaker’s first and last names? That’s a whole lotta theme going on.
Numerical answer of note:
- 27d. B-TWELVE, a.k.a. vitamin B12, is clued as a [Vitamin involved in cell metabolism].
Highlights in the fill:
- 14a: AS I RECALL, 7d: ELYSIAN, 25d: COHABIT
Lowlights, which abound owing to the theme’s constraints:
- Crosswordese sort of words: STOLA, AMAH, ELOI, [Celtic sea god] LER, ANEAR
- Foreign vocabulary: Spanish OSA, AÑO, MAS; French AVION, AOUT…Scottish NAE?
- Abbrevs: CST, KAN, ANC, MSRP, RTE, SYN, and plural TDS and OTBS
- Fragments OID, DRI, A TO
- 63a. [Feverishness] is FEBRILITY, and both words derive from the Latin febris. Which is not to be confused with Febreze spray.
Tyler Hinman’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
If I were going to give this puzzle a title, it would be “It Is What It Is.” The theme entries are three similarly asinine and meaningless tautologies:
- 17a. “HATERS GONNA HATE” is a [Tautology meaning "I don't care what they say"].
- 35a. “RULES ARE RULES” is a “duh” [Tautology meaning "that would be wrong"].
- 56a. “SEE YA WHEN I SEE YA” is a [Tautology meaning "later"]
I’m fairly certain that this puzzle was put to bed days or weeks before Leslie NIELSEN died. Nice, respectful psychic shout-out to him at 48a: [Ebert called him "the Olivier of spoofs"]. Cute to have it crossing the [First name on "60 Minutes"], LESLEY Stahl. On Twitter, it vexed Tyler that so many people posting “R.I.P.” messages about Leslie Nielsen misspelled the last name that the misspelling was a trending topic. Paging Lesley Nielson…
- 50a. [The bird, for one] is a GESTURE, that of “flipping the bird” with one’s middle finger.
- 49d. [Fuck-all, to Flavius] clues the Latin NIHIL, meaning “nothing.” Most alliterative crossword clues eschew the F-bomb.
Shout-out to Tyler’s job:
- 44a. Google created the Android phone operating system. [Android Market purchases] are APPS.
Note on the construction: Aided by the inclusion of just three theme entries, Tyler was able to keep the word count down to a themeless-grade 72. The six-pack of 8-letter answers and those 6×4 corners are the result, and lend the grid a wide-open feeling.
Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword
You know William Steig’s childhood wordplay classic, C D B!? One of the sound-out-the-letters pages reads “P-T S N N-M-E.” I think that means “Petey is an enemy.” That’s sort of lurking beneath the theme in this crossword: The ENEMY at 56d is hiding in the four long theme answers in the form of the letter string NME:
- 20a. GERMAN MEASLES is a [Viral illness associated with a rash].
- 35a. [List that comes from the top] is a DROP-DOWN MENU.
- 43a. [Possible response to "Gotcha!"] clues “THAT’S ONE ON ME.” That’s…one I would never say. “You got me,” sure. “You got one over on me,” yes. Not sure I’ve heard “That’s one on me” before.
- 57a. LEMON MERINGUE is a [Pie with a fluffy topping].
I’m mostly sour on themes that have letters hidden in them like this. For now, anyway. Maybe I will be enchanted by them again someday.
Five more clues:
- 2d. [Shining brightly] clues AGLEAM. Sometimes it’s AGLARE. ABLAZE tends to mention fire or burning in the clue. Six letters and [Shining brightly], I plunk an A in the first square, suspect a GL thereafer, and wait for the crossings for the rest.
- 10d. [Place with bars] is a CAGE. Not so much where the 20-somethings head on Saturday night.
- 34d. [Dijon honey] isn’t, thank heavens, about mustard. It’s a French sweetie, or AMIE.
- 37d. [Red, white or Blue Nun] clues WINE. I’ll take a white or a Blue, please. Hey! I passed three nuns on Wabash Street yesterday in the Loop. Two were surprisingly young. None was blue…though I haven’t heard them do comedy. For all I know, they work blue.
- 40d. [Gambler's favorite woman?] is the hypothetical LADY LUCK. Terrific answer!
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Inside Dope”—Janie’s review
Well, glory be—a(nother) themed Klahn that was also a reasonably smooth, easy solve. That “inside dope” of the title refers literally to the appearance of the word “dope” inside each theme phrase, straddling the two words. And here’s the inside dope (or “the 411″) on how Bob does it:
- 17A. [Guacamole source to some] AVOCADO PEAR.
- 28A. [Occasion for a ribbon-cutting ceremony] GRAND OPENING.
- 45A. [Far from automatic] HAND-OPERATED.
- 60A. [Role for Robert Redford as a stunt pilot after World War I] WALDO PEPPER. Not to be confused with Waldo Salt (or even daughter Jennifer)…
As a theme set, I find the fill a tad dry; not bad, mind you—it definitely holds together—but in accommodating that embedded word, not especially sparkly. By means of the intricate cluing, however, the non-theme portion of the puzzle has a great deal of life. For example, we get a range of housing options. There’s IOLANI, a [Palace used as a police headquarters on the original "Hawaii Five-O"] (and to complement that, a [Palace topper] or TIARA. Then, at the other end of the spectrum, there’s [Hardly a palace] for HOVEL, and its relative, the [Jungle bungalow] or HUT. Interesting to see that in the 19th century King Kamehameha slept in a grass hut before Iolani Palace had sleeping quarters…
That [Garden spot of Greater London] is KEW; YEWS are [Topiary trees]. Behold these teddy-bear-shaped yews of Kew Gardens.
While the fill ain’t all kids stuff, the language of the clues suggests otherwise. How else to explain [Gloppy stuff], [Hoppy stuff] and [It's black and blobby]? That gives us GOOP, ALE and TAR (sloppy stuff…).
We get a pair of “two-’e'” ways of keeping people/events at bay: one may [Give pause to] DETER or even [Hold off] REPEL an enemy.
And we get several pairs of sequential clues with repeater words:
- [Modern money] and [Hardly modern] for EURO and RETRO;
- [Ready for action] and [Auction action] for ON ALERT and BID;
- [Political battlefield] and [Political group] for ARENA and PARTY; and
- ["Take a Chance on Me" quartet] and [Chances of success] for ABBA and ODDS.
While ABBA is a [Group with many hits?], that question mark in the clue is telling us to think outside the box, which is why THE MOB fills the bill this time, and [Proceed naturally?] is GO NAKED. Same with [Per bottle of soda?]. Adding “of soda?” underscores the wordplay since the correct fill is A POP (and pop is another word for soda…).
And that, so to speak, is all the “news on the RIALTO” [Venetian marketplace].