James Tuttle’s New York Times crossword
Cute theme! Just follow THE BOUNCING BALL (which is bouncing across the puzzle’s midsection—just look for the circled letters spelling out THE BOUNCING BALL, one letter per column). Where? On the KARAOKE SCREEN, where the ball bounces along to show you which word to sing when. Or perhaps on the PING-PONG TABLE, which some may prefer to call a “table tennis table.”
The interesting fill deviates from the standard repeaters. SLAVS and VOCAB, a PICNIC AREA and a NEPALI, THE SIMS, HOGTIE, and EMANCIPATE are all quite nice, especially for a Monday.
After 11 hours of family outings (is it still Christmas? Yes. Yes, it is), it’s late and I’m sleepy so I’ll wrap this up right…now.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Opening Day”—Evad’s review
Well, constructor Gail Grabowski made my blogging duties pretty easy today, three songs that all begin with a word that can follow DAY:
- We appropriately start with “daybreak”; Track 1 is The Stylistics’ 1973 BREAK UP TO MAKE UP
- Next up is “daylight”; Track 2 is The Doors’ 1967 LIGHT MY FIRE
- Finally, “daytime”; Track 3 is The Zombies’ 1969 TIME OF THE SEASON
Very tight theme, three songs, three solid “day” phrases. When I first saw the title “Opening Day,” I thought of Fenway Park and that this puzzle was running about three months too early!
Other small bits:
- Another reminder this puzzle skewed to an older crowd was the “Dancing cigarette pack of the 1950s” or OLD GOLD.
Since this was before the days of animated TV, I’m assuming this featured some shapely gams under the box.
- Not a big fan of the “Cockney’s…” anything clues which drop the initial H. Here we have ‘OME. I’d rework that area to get rid of it, but that’s easy for me to say!
- SO KIND is a 6-letter partial; partials greater than 5 letters are generally frowned upon (by all but Merl Reagle who seems to get away with it pretty frequently). Frankly, I’m fine with ‘em. Much better than OME!
- Which is the preferred plural of ROOF? Anyone out there say “rooves”? I might on occasion now that I think about it, but it’s probably incorrect.
- Didn’t realize there were so many 3-letter “Barnyard females” out there–I had EWE and COW before SOW.
Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Theme: “EXTRA, extra! READ (ONE’S FORTUNE) ALL (IN THE FAMILY) ABOUT (THE AUTHOR) IT (TAKES A VILLAGE)!” Can’t read all about it here, but you can read a little about this puzzle. Decent theme.
Good assortment of cool words in the fill: Louis “SATCHMO” Armstrong, the adjective FLORID, Mary Tyler Moore-as-Laura Petrie’s “OH, ROB!” (wait, I thought that was spelled “Oh, Ro-o-o-ob!”), TRASHY, “HIT ME,” CAROM, and a NICETY. Plus, I really enjoyed having ALL IN THE FAMILY and IT TAKES A VILLAGE in the grid.
59d just looked wrong, wrong, wrong. LIDA? [“___ Rose”: “The Music Man” song]? I’d have to know the show to know anything about this song, and musicals are not at all my thing. I had that “Mighty Lak’ a Rose” song running interference.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
BUTT DIAL! Love that answer. (Can you say “seed entry”?) In the Chicago suburbs last week, a school worker was driving home from work and listening to rap. He butt-dialed his wife, who somehow interpreted the lyrics as the speech of scary criminals holding her husband hostage. She called 911 and they sent a SWAT team to the (vacant) school. I don’t think the woman was facing charges for making a false report but JEEZ (23d), wouldja RELAX (49a) already? You just look foolish.
Other high notes to spotlight:
- Clue for 11d: THE ROSE: ‘[Song that begins "Some say love"]. Ha! Instant gimme.
- Clue for 15a: INNER EAR: [Where to find your balance]. No yoga, no chi, just the semicircular canals.
- 9d. MIA FARROW, full name not often (or ever?) encountered in the grid.
- 8d. Interesting trivia clue for ARSENIC: [Napoleon's rumored cause of death]. I confess I have not been keeping up on my Napoleon-related rumors.
- 22a. Tricked me with the pop culture. [Michelangelo, for one] is a NINJA, as in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Put your Renaissance art history aside, people, and say “Cowabunga!”
I’m going 3 stars on this one because POOL AREA (isn’t Marco Polo played IN the pool?), ONE NAME, and HAMMIER kinda bring me down. I do commend the minimal use of 3-letter answers, though, and the always-lively BEQ cluing. Actually, lemme make it 3.5 stars by entering one 3 and one 4. There, that’s better.