Blizzaster 2011! It’s coming! Stock up on essential children and hide the women and groceries! I don’t know about your area (Californians, hush, nobody cares about your weather in the winter), but mine’s predicted to get 20+ inches of snow between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon. Lake Michigan may have 14- to 18-foot waves.
Ron and Nancy Byron’s New York Times crossword
All righty, I’m feeling headachy so it’s Quick Blogging Night.
61a is MIXED MEDIA, and the other theme entries contain the letters of MEDIA, only mixed up. I’m much more into anagram themes where the anagrams are actual words, as opposed to a couple word fragments like IDE MA.
I definitely was slowed down by 11d. [French port near Marseille], TOULON? That does not ring a bell at all. It doesn’t even go into the same room as the bell.
Ditto for 53d: ["Arabian Nights" prince], AHMED. (Cute that AHMED is opposite HADJI in the grid, for an Arabian vibe.)
I was a little thrown off by the broad clue for OLD SOD at 32d: [Motherland, affectionately]. I always thought that had specific Ireland overtones, but the dictionary doesn’t suggest that at all. Live and learn.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Yee-Haw!”
This week’s theme is phrases (some contrived) in which the letters YEE are hidden.
- 16a. [Another term for it is "elver"] clues BABY EEL. Elver is one of those words you encounter mainly in crosswords, with a clue like [Baby eel].
- 20a. [Morrissey video compilation that translates to "Listen, Steven"] clues OYE ESTEBAN. What is a “video compilation”? Is this like an album, only with music videos? Yes, indeed.
- 32a. Unlike the other five theme entries, FELLOW EMPLOYEES (your [Nine-to-five friends]) doesn’t split its YEE across two words.
- 42a. [It's heard while leaving a group] clues “GOODBYE, EVERYONE.” Eh.
- 56a. So, RYE EXTRACT is a [Grain byproduct used in alternative medicines]?? You don’t say. I never knew such a thing as rye extract existed. I’m gonna start using it in lieu of vanilla extract in my baking.
- 63a. [It usually involves reading letters] is a tough but accurate clue for an EYE EXAM.
- Six theme entries, including two 15s, is a lot. I just wish I liked them better.
- 33d. EVOO, the [Rachael Ray acronym], is short for extra virgin olive oil.
- 31d. [Arne Duncan's employer, for short] is the U.S. Department of Education, which I have never, ever seen shortened to USDE. USDA, DOJ, DOD, DOT, yes. USDE, no. Have I not been paying attention?
- 9d. The SEPTA that are [Places for some nose piercings, technically] are the middle walls between people’s nostrils. Who doesn’t admire the “Ferdinand the Bull” look?
- SAMMS and RIEU crossing MEARA? The solver had better know at least two of the three names or there could be trouble at a crossing square. The LIEV/DEVOE crossing at the V could also be tough for some. Or the DIMAG/KIPLING/ESTEBAN/TAKEI/PENA zone.
- 28a. [Actress Summer of "The Cape"] is Summer GLAU. I hope at least a couple people mix up Summer and Sommer and jump at filling ELKE into that 4-letter space.
- 5d. I don’t know why [Spread across the Eastern seaboard?] has that geographical specificity for OLEO. Does the East Coast have a special fondness for margarine, or for calling it “oleo”?
Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword
On the plus side, I like 9d: SPOON-FED ([Pampered]) and 42d: ENSHRINE ([Elect to a Hall of Fame, say]), the two 8-letter answers in the fill. And I like the paired clues, 5a: [Ticketless rail rider] and 44a: [Rail rider], for HOBO and TRAIN.
On the minus side, I’m not a fan of the theme, and there’s a lot of fill that veers toward the clunky. The theme takes a POOL PARTY and groups it with four phrases that start with words that go with the billiards type of pool, not a swimming pool:
- 17a. [Coach's pregame lecture] clues CHALK TALK. Seems lively, but it’s not a term I’ve seen before. You chalk the cue before shooting in pool.
- 24a. [Home seller-and-buyer's short-term loan] clues BRIDGE FINANCING. Good gravy, that’s a boring phrase. Have heard “bridge loan” more. In pool, the bridge is…is it that doodad that you use to steady the cue and aim it beter?
- 41a. [1929 women's air race, as dubbed by Will Rogers] is POWDER PUFF DERBY. Have you heard of this? I had not. In pool, powder cocaine is used by top players to maintain peak alertness in competition. What? Is that not correct? Then I have no idea how powder relates to the game of pool.
- 51a. [Production number director's cry] is “CUE THE ORCHESTRA.” The pool cue is the stick you use to propel the balls in interesting geometrical paths; also handy in a barroom brawl.
In the “fill Amy is grumbling about” category, we have YO HO without a second HO syllable; ORONO, Maine, crossing Rice-A-RONI; repeater ST. LO crossing the actress [Nina of "Spartacus"] FOCH; and an OOHER and the O.S.S. in a crosswordese ODA, feasting on OCA and hopping on partial ON POP.
- 38d. [Short relative?] for BRO. You could be excused for thinking the clue was asking you for a relative of the word “short.”
- 40d. You need a colorist, not a locksmith, to [Change, as one's locks?]—or DYE your hair.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Wi-Fi”—Evad’s reviewThis theme can be easily summed up by this acronym (perhaps inspired by Sarah Palin’s recent response to the State of the Union address?): WTF, or Wi-To-Fi:
- A “wire transfer” becomes [Iron-on image of a blaze?] or a FIRE TRANSFER. I wonder if someone was about to be fired, wouldn’t it be cool if they could play some card that would transfer the firing to someone else in the company?
- “Winding down” becomes [Activity at a goose nest?] or FINDING DOWN. Man, down comforters sure come in handy this time of year here in New England. Thanks geese, hope you were able to grow more to replace it!
- Something I always like to be the recipient of “wine and dine” becomes the complex [Emulate a traffic court judge who sups at work?] or FINE AND DINE. Do you eat at your desk? Today I did as I only had a few minutes between a dayful of meetings. *Sighs*
- “Wife swapping” (are only wives swapped or can those of us married to men get in on the fun and change out our husbands?) becomes probably my favorite entry of the four: [Tading session in the windwood section?] or FIFE SWAPPING. Be sure to wipe off that fife before playing it!
Couple of missteps: YEAS before AYES, ALTA before VAIL and NEW TO before NEW AT. Also thought the skater spelled her last name HENNE, perhaps I was thinking of comedian Youngman? (Nope, he’s a HENNY.) Anyway, a quick spin through four other favorite entries:
- Love the clue [Barnyard butter] for GOAT. “Flower” gets a similar treatment in some clues for rivers and “number” for anesthesia.
- Couple of nice phrases—[End of some riddles] for WHAT AM I? (here’s one: I’m harder to catch the faster you run. What am I?; share your answer in the comments) and [Adament rejection] for I REFUSE.
- PIFFLE is a great term for the more prosaic [Trivial talk]. Before I’m accused of piffling, I’m outta here!