Richard Chisholm’s New York Times crossword
“Shh! Shh! Not so loud!” Each of the six theme entries in today’s puzzle is a compound word or two-word term in which both parts start with SH. SHIPSHAPE is an adjective, SHORT-SHEET is a prankster’s verb, and the other four are nouns. SHARPSHOOTER, SHELL SHOCK, and SHOESHINE are all common enough, but SHEEP SHEARER? I guess that’s a thing, but it’s nowhere near in the same familiarity stratum as the other five theme answers.
The fill is fairly standard Monday-caliber stuff, though the inclusion of SMART MONEY, PART III, a HARD HAT, and “TELL ME MORE” elevates the game. Right there at 1-Across is a lively answer that doesn’t get much play in crosswords: CAJUN. Nobody’s thrilled to see fill like HRH, CIR, ASCH, ESE, or AN ERA, but the crossings were reasonable and the clues pegged to Monday level so it shouldn’t be too hard for the solver to work around those.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Hag Gag”—Evad’s review
Ah, I quipped recently that we hadn’t had many quips of late, and here is another right on its heels! Let’s see if this one justifies the form as competently as the one from a couple of weeks ago.
This one seems to have missed its publication date by a couple of months:
IF HER BROOM STOPS
A WITCH MIGHT
FLY OFF THE HANDLE
Not sure I find this as funny as the “dam” joke from the prior quip; but at least it does obey Newton’s first law of motion which states that “an object in motion will remain in motion as long as there is no force acting against it.”
(Now, the friction of the witch’s dress against the presumably wooden pole of the broom is a force that opposes her motion “off the handle,” but I assume the inertia of the speed necessary to remain aloft would easily counteract this.)
Certainly a sure-fire way to kill a gag is analyze the physics of it, so let’s quickly move on to the surrounding fill:
- I’ve heard of CHIA Pets, but never knew that chia was a plant. (Actually, I thought the “plant” was alfalfa or bean sprouts.)
- The Czech composer SMETANA is a bit of a challenge; is his The Bartered Bride opera one of his more famous pieces? I read here that it’s also the name of a crème fraîche-like dairy product, which can be up to 30% milkfat. Ouch!
- I think the constructor missed some more amusing ways to clue SHOESTRING (“It’s fit to be tied”). “Like some budgets” or “Type of fries” takes the entry less literally.
Donna “Lucky Number Slevin” S. Levin’s Los Angeles Times crossword
This theme’s on solid footing: The theme entries all end with synonyms with that connotation. We’ve got four nouns, so kudos for the consistency. There’s a NEWSPAPER STAND (rather than, say, a verb phrase like TAKING A STAND), AIR FORCE BASE, CHILD SUPPORT, and the FORD FOUNDATION.
Five more clues:
- 1a. [Try to obtain sensitive info using an Internet scam] clues PHISH. Remember when the band Phish was famous? Are they still around?
- 56a. [Liberate from the hitching post] is a lively clue for UNTIE.
- 4d. [Braggarts] are SHOW-OFFS. Great entry.
- 29d. [Like some seals] clues EARED. Meh. You know what else is EARED? Nearly all humans, dogs, cats, etc. What I don’t know is if the EARED seal looks markedly different from an uneared seal. Big floppy ears would be awesome.
- 38d. LIPLINER is [Pencil for one's kisser].
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
1-Across made me grumpy. METRO PCS has, I think, zero presence in the Chicago area. Never heard of it. I figured the Cockney at 5-down, “fart,” was “ARSE and cart” (crossing METRA PCS), but of course that makes much less sense than ‘ORSE and cart.
- X-RAY SPEX, “…aaaaAND SCENE,” MIX TAPE, KOOL-AID, WE’LL SEE, and SEXPOTS.
- EAR PICK.
- 6d. [Like some soon-to-be monarchs] clues PUPAL. Were you thinking about Prince William and getting confused when P*PAL looked like PAPAL? I sure was.
Really? That’s a word? So it is:
- 3d. TOADISH, clued with reference to Dolores Umbridge, a villain in J.K. Rowling’s fictional universe. Toadyish is obsequious, whereas toadish means contemptible.
Fill in the “blech” category:
- IROC and ESTO (clued as a word in Missouri’s motto) cut the puzzle into two halves that have nothing as “blech” as the short middle row.