Sharon Delorme’s New York Times crossword
This is pretty close to a perfect Monday/Tuesday crossword. The theme is fresh and lively, with an inherent surprise factor, and there’s a ton of sparkling fill. 59a: COCKTAILS, or [What 17-, 24-, 34- and 51-Across are], tie everything together:
- 17a. RUSTY NAIL is not just inapt hardware—it’s also a cocktail with, I think, Drambuie.
- 24a. Then SCREWDRIVER comes along and might trick the solver into thinking the whole theme would relate to the toolbox, but it’s also an OJ/vodka drink.
- 34a. SHIRLEY TEMPLE is on TV commercials these days—you can buy DVD sets of her old movies. So my kid recognizes her! This answer is also the name of a kiddie cocktail with, I dunno, clear sodapop, a maraschino cherry, and who knows what else.
- 51a. A GRASSHOPPER has creme de menthe but is clued as a [Term of endearment for the Karate Kid]. Really? I don’t remember that. I thought it was just a David Carradine/Kung Fu reference.
Just for the heck of it, COCKTAILS crosses 38d: LIBATIONS. The northwest and southeast corners have stacks of great 7s and 8s—MISHMASH, CRUSADES, and IMPASSE are particularly nice—while the other two corners have some 5×6 action with terrific 8-letter answers passing through. MAJOR TOM and a RAP SHEET? Good stuff. Also catching my eye: GEEZER, MENSCH, AGHAST, CUATRO, and POOCH.
I could do without IRANI, NOL, ESSO, and the AAR, but hey, none of those will slow down the seasoned solver. The newbie solver will need to learn these repeaters because they will certainly crop up again in other crosswords.
Don Gagliardo’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jeffrey’s review
Theme: Quadruplllle Tripllle Llletter Score.
Um, so you take a two-word phrase with 2 L’s at the end of the first word and a second word starting with L so you have three consecutive L’s, and then you put another L beside one end of the three L’s so that you have an L-shaped group of L’s. Then you put four L-shaped groups of black squares in the middle of the grid. Throw in two describing entries and you have a cool, if difficult to explain, theme.
Theme answers (sort of):
- 18A. [Passé keyboard key] – SCROLL LOCK/21A. [Extremely, in Essex] – BEASTLY/9D. [Cowardly] – YELLOW
- 3D. [Video game difficulty setting] – SKILL LEVEL/23A. [Follower of Mary] – LAMB/27A. [Was beaten by] – FELL TO
- 39A. [Angle irons graphically represented by four sets of black squares in this grid, and by letter formations starting in the four longest answers] – L-BARS
- 64D. [Ernie of the PGA, to whom this puzzle could be dedicated] – ELS
- 62A. [“I’m afraid this will sound funny”] – YOU’LL LAUGH/47D. [Have as a customer] – SELL TO/55A. [Crete-born “View of Toledo” painter] – EL GRECO
- 31D. [Names on it are off-limits to telemarketers] – NO CALL LIST/48A. [Like some quaint lamps] – OIL LIT/51A. [German GM subsidiary] – OPEL
One-line review for those in a hurry: One “L” of a puzzle.
- 1A. [17-Across in the neck] – PEST/17A. – PAIN. It was a PAIN in the neck describing the theme.
- 5A. [Adventurous] – RISKY/10A. [Domesticated] – TAME – Whoa. Quick reversal there.
- 29A. [Midday energizer] – POWER NAP. I need one after describing the theme. I’llll meet you back here at the downs.
- 1D. [Lounging jacket wearer’s smoke, maybe] – PIPE. Did anyone other than Hugh Hefner dress like that?
- 21D. [NYC subway line named for two boroughs] – BMT. Queens and Yonkers.
- 52D. [Makeup accentuates them] – EYES
- 53D. [Recline lazily] – LOLLLLLLLLLLLLater!
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “The Worst of 2010”
You know what sucked about last year? No, I mean besides the unemployment figures, the Haiti earthquake, and all sorts of other badness? These things:
- 17a. A MILEY CYRUS video. I haven’t seen it, but can I pass judgment on it anyway?
- 21a. [One way to constantly check one of the worst news stories of 2010] was via the SPILLCAM in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s not that the reporting was bad (…though it could have been more skeptical of ridiculously downplayed numbers given early on) or that the word SPILLCAM was a bad coinage, but the spill itself really blew.
- 27a. Did anyone watch even a half an episode of BLEEP MY DAD SAYS? I sure didn’t.
- 33a. FURRY VENGEANCE! My son insisted on watching this movie on TV, despite my warnings that the critics said it was awful. It was indeed pretty terrible, but it had several humorous spots. I would describe them but I have utterly forgotten what they might have been.
- 45a. JEGGINGS are the bastard love-child of jeans and stretchy leggings. The trompe l’oeil look of jeans mated with the ridiculousness of leggings worn as pants. Out of the house. As if they’re a respectable sartorial choice for grown-ups. Jeggings are also called “pajama jeans” on late-night TV commercials.
- 52a. The KFC DOUBLE DOWN sandwich, no bread, just fried chicken breasts in place of a bun. You can buy a bucket of KFC original recipe, rip off the skin, stick a pile of it between two buns, and have yourself a marginally better excuse for a sandwich.
Thanks for the memories, Matt.
I had no idea there was an [Afternoon children’s programming block that moved to The CW] called KIDS WB. Nor do I ever recall the upside-down-M-is-W Nintendo character WARIO, whom I am guessing is Mario’s nemesis. I had an M instead of W despite Mario not being a villain.
- Fill like ON ALL FOURS, SIAMESE CAT, OUR LADY, and OEDIPAL. Oh, and DROID clued as the [iPhone competitor] I use.
- 34d. Yay, URUGUAY! You’re the [First Latin American country to nationally legalize same-sex civil unions].
Learning experiences for me:
- 45d. J-ROCK is a [Slangy subgenre for bands like X Japan, Dragon Ash and Luna Sea].
- 19d. [“Blee ___ Blues” (Count Basie song)] is missing its BLOP, which is a word I have never encountered inside a crossword or outside of it.
- 2d. [Calgary neighborhood that’s not quite where the Fresh Prince moved] is BEL AIRE, which is not the same as Bel Air. Hey, Jeffrey, is Bel Aire famous in Canada?
- 32a. ATENO is lackluster fill. You could go with “A TEN O’clock scholar,” cluing it with a fill-in-the-blank with an awkward apostrophe. Or go all out with the palindrome approach: [“Lisa Bonet ___ basil” (palindrome)], needing ATE NO. If you like crosswords, you might also enjoy palindrome wordplay, eh? Gutsy clue for a lame answer.
- 29d. More Canada? Where can I report the hoser who made this crossword? YTV is a [Canadian children’s network] that’s the Bel Aire equivalent of Kids WB.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Geology 101”—Evad’s review
Very smooth Tuesday offering from constructor Doug Peterson in today’s CrosSynergy/WaPo puzzle. Three theme phrases end with something you might study in a “Geology 101” class:
- “Aids to advancment” are STEPPING STONES. Here, the “stones” are pretty close to their original meaning, I think of a stone path leading upward. In fact, below is a picture from our trip to New Zealand last year where we hiked the Milford Track.
- Next up is “Breakfast brand since 1971” FRUITY PEBBLES. I wanted COCOA PEBBLES first. (I guess there are a lot of versions of the Post cereal.) Here, the “pebbles” are more removed from their original meaning–they are little packets of sugar in the shape of pebbles.
- Finally, we have “The Jazz Singer soundtrack hit for Neil Diamond,” LOVE ON THE ROCKS. The “rocks” here could mean the metaphorical rocks that a ship might crash against or the ice in that drink you’re holding right now as you read this commentary.
I smiled to see Chuck NORRIS in my puzzle today–was it BEQ who recently ran a puzzle with feats Chuck could accomplish that boggle the mind? Leave your favorite in the comment section below. [Edited to add: the top-rated joke here is: Chuck Norris does not wear a condom. Because there is no such thing as protection from Chuck Norris.] Also liked the informal OH DEAR ME and I’M COOL, but could do without seeing FROGLEGS by RATHOLES.