Robert Doll’s New York Times crossword
First things first: Our first meal in Key West was dinner al fresco at Blue Heaven, facilitated by outdoor heaters and fleece blankets. (It was about 52°F.) The food was scrumptious. Yellowtail snapper with citrus beurre sauce, grouper with fingerling and baby purple potatoes and a yellow tomato sauce? Oh, yes. And the Key lime pie, which Kenny Chesney had raved about on Oprah? Oh, yes. Indeed. Butter-soaked graham cracker crust, tangy lime, sweet meringue towering above. And also? There was a cat wandering around the outdoor dining area. Cozy.
I’m sorry, what? You’re here for crossword reviews, not restaurant reviews. Doll’s theme flips the halves of a few phrases. A long-distance running skirt might be a MARATHON MINI, flipping “mini-marathon,” which, I want to know, does it have an actual definition? I know the half marathon’s half as long as a marathon. A submarine flips to be a MARINE SUB, sandwich-wise. Extra-fine, which modifies…maybe sugar? Or olives? I dunno. That flips to a FINE EXTRA on a Hollywood set; yawn. My favorite is the last of the theme entries: “semiprecious,” as in gemstones, becomes a PRECIOUS SEMI, or [Valuable truck?].
Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review
Theme: 62A. [Trademark Sinatra lyric heard at the ends of the answers to starred clues] – DO-BE-DO-BE-DO
- 17A. [*Amount of money to pay] – BALANCE DUE
- 24A. [*Beach Boys hit with the line "the first mate, he got drunk"] – SLOOP JOHN B
- 30A. [*Shaggy's dog] – SCOOBY DOO
- 44A. [*Aggressive African swarmer] – KILLER BEE
- 50A. [*Drops on the grass] – MORNING DEW
One-line review for those in a hurry: Start spreading the news, this puzzle’s a yay.
Bonus accounting subtheme:
- 17A. [*Amount of money to pay] – BALANCE DUE
- 21A. [Amount of money that should have been paid] – ARREARS
- 52D. [Credit counterpart] – DEBIT
- 15A. [Cap'n Crunch, e.g.] – CEREAL. Sure looks like the answer will be abbreviated.
- 23A. ["Divine Secrets of the __ Sisterhood"] – YAYA. She Loves You!
- 27A. [Chinese chairman] – MAO
- 29A. ["__ to the flu": vaccination slogan] – SAY BOO. Does that work better than a shot?
- 59A. ["Stifle yourself!"] – CAN IT!
- 66A. [Always, rarely or never: Abbr.] – ADVerb, abbreviated.
- 5D. [New Year's Eve mo.] – DEC. It always sneaks up on me. Three 9D. [Goes to the land of Nod] – SLEEPS to go!
- 6D. ["It's been __ pleasure"] – A REAL. Yes, it’s been a real pleasure to blog for you this year.
- 11D. [Outmoded camera accessory] – FLASH BULB. Please explain to the kids and to joon.
- 18D. [Texas mission] – ALAMO. Nearly forgot this one.
- 22D. [1977 Steely Dan album] – AJA
- 28D. [NYC dance company] – ABT. American Ballet Theatre, abbreviated./67A [Theater section] – TIER. Theatre/er wars.
- 32D. [Perfectly timed] – OPPORTUNE. God answer, rarely seen.
- 33D. [Terr. now divided into two states] – DAKota. East and West.
- 34D. ["... __ quit!"] – OR I. so there!
- 43D. [Batter's grip aid] – PINE TAR. Does that really help?
- 55D. [Ryan of "Love Story"] – O’NEAL. Where do I begin?
- 56D. [Lightheaded] – GIDDY. Too much sniffing the PINE TAR?
- 59D. ["Hot Diggity" singer Perry] – COMO
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Cheers!”—Evad’s review
I think a recent NYT puzzle had the clue “Word repeated 12 times in Lady Gaga‘s Bad Romance.” And no, it wasn’t love, but the word that also takes center stage in today’s CrosSynergy puzzle: RAH.
- I’m not familiar with BARBARA HALE, star of Lorna Doone and “noted Street performer.” Is the “Street” Sesame Street? [Edited to add: guess that's Della Street from the Perry Mason show.]
- “Really, really spicy” is EXTRA HOT. Has anyone had the new Taco Bell offering? It’s a Frito Burrito, made with “flamin’ hot” Frito chips. I’ll pass.
- “Air attack vehicle used in the Vietnam war” was a COBRA HELICOPTER
- “Collapsible silk topper” is an OPERA HAT. Can’t say I’ve been to the opera lately though I’m surprised to hear there are hats specifically designed to be worn when attending one. Opera glasses to be sure, but hats? Live and learn.
- The final entry is a bit unusual–HYDRA HEADED or “Having many facets or complications.” The Hydra was a monstrous sea serpent with 9 heads. Imagine getting them all to agree on what to have for dinner!
I wish Lynn hadn’t added the helper entry in the last across position—I think the title alone was enough to suss out the common thread among the theme entries. Also, the RAH was split the same way (RA/H) in all of the two-word phrases, making it easier to pick up. Had some trouble in the South-Central portion of the grid with PEEP before PEEK as “Through-the-keyhole glimpse” (it’s a peephole, not a peekhole!), and then GRADED for the egg clue (instead of GRADE A), so I was left with PENYD for “One of three countries on Lake Victoria.” For some reason, I read that as “counties” not “countries” and gave what I had an initial pass, as I would fail miserably on a Sporcle quiz on African counties! Some less common fill entries show off Lynn’s talents—the consonant-rich (and timely!) MYRRH, PAIR UP, TOYS ‘R’ US, PAEAN and RUBRIC are all fresh and lively.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Key Words”
The letter bank for the theme entries includes the letters that can be musical notes, or keys. (Don’t ask me the difference between those two classes.) A, B, C, D, E, F, G: no more. The foursome are all made-up phrases: There’s BAGGED A BAD EGG, FADED CABBAGE FED GAGA BEEF, and BEE GEE FAD DEAD.
Another of the Team Fiend bloggers commented the other day about a woeful last-ditch, nothing-else-fits entry, and here she is again: ["The Mirror Has Two Faces" actress Taina] ELG. As my kid once said: Holy lord of gravy! That is not good fill.
Much better is GLYPH, clued with [Prince's unpronounceable symbol, for one].
Whoops, I’ve got 10 minutes to get continental breakfast. Gotta run!