Happy 191st birthday to Susan B. Anthony! And happy half birthday to me.
Paula Gamache’s New York Times crossword
This ordinary themed puzzle fell faster than yesterday’s. Was it easier for you, too? It helped having four familiar phrases as theme answers rather than an assortment of unfamiliar song titles. The theme entries are COMMON KNOWLEDGE, AVERAGE HEIGHT, the USUAL SUSPECTS, and REGULAR GASOLINE. All pretty normal stuff there. No outliers.
TOULOUSE! Here you are again, clued as [Artist Henri de ___-Lautrec] instead of as a town with Visigoth history. This clue, I could get.
Most alt-weeklyesque answer: 33a: A-HOLE. Sure, the clue wants you to think it’s a partial—["There's ___ in My Bucket" (children's song)]—but I know what I think of when I see AHOLE in the grid.
I like 10d: ROENTGEN, [Winner of the first Nobel Prize in Physics, 1901]. I’m reading Siddhartha Mukherjee’s “biography of cancer,” The Emperor of All Maladies, and learned about the origins of radiation therapy for cancer.
I also like the clue for TRIOS at 31d: [The Ghostbusters and the Police], one threesome from movies and one from music.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “I Get Around”
In this themeless/freestyle crossword, Matt “gets around” the grid with interlocked 15-letter answers, and for the hell of it he stacks 13s and 11s with the Across 15s.
The long answers range from good to terrific. Well, I’m not sure about HEARS A NOISE; lexical chunk or no? Those CHILEAN MINERS have become a lexical chunk. THE HOUSE OF MIRTH gives literary cred, while The ELECTRIC COMPANY launches the pop culture vibe (see also: REPO MAN; 36d: STEPTOE, [British sitcom character than inspired Fred Sanford]; Star Wars STORMTROOPERS). The midrange highlights include a SNICKERS bar and “in CAHOOTS.”
Lots of partials here to facilitate the low word count (64 words). I actually liked one of the partials because the Stuff ON MY Cat website is funny. A SAIL, A DIM, OFF TO, AID TO? All “meh.” Five partials is too many. What’s a good limit, zero to two? Not crazy about PATENTEE or OCTETTE, either; both are two letters longer than I want them to be.
PROSTATE, hello! Wasn’t expecting to see you here, [Gland about the size of a walnut]. Anyone know what food is the equivalent of an enlarged prostate? Are we talking Key lime, kiwi fruit, nectarine, or what?
40a: ZEV—[Acronym associated with the Nissan Leaf]—presumably means zero-emission vehicle. At the Target store nearest me, the good parking spots just past the disabled parking spots are labeled “LEV” for low-emission vehicles. My Fusion Hybrid belongs there, but I’m pretty sure all those non-hybrid SUVS and cars I see parked there do not. (Grr.)
Jack McInturff’s Los Angeles Times crossword
My goodness, there’s a lot of veiled violence in this puzzle! 1d: HANGS is saved by its clue, [Associates (with), slangily], as is 36a: DROWN, [Drink away, as sorrows]. Then there’s the butcher’s meat CLEAVER (32d). Surely the prosecutor can ACCUSE (31a) someone in this case and put that SCUM (26d, but it’s clued as pond scum) in PRISON (49d).
The theme centers on NEXT TO LAST, which is what [Penultimate] means. (Last is “ultimate,” not “penultimate.”) CALL IT A DAY, the Three Little Pigs’ STRAW HOUSE, STAND ON CEREMONY, and MINUTE RICE all start with words that can follow LAST: last call, the last straw, last stand, and last minute.
You’d better know your Japanese cities of past and present. 60d: EDO was [Tokyo, once]. If you don’t know that, you’ve got to be familiar with 66a: ADELA, [Writer __ Rogers St. Johns], or you’ll never get the D. Likewise, 46a: [Gibson of tennis] crosses 41d: [Okinawa's capital], so if you don’t know who ALTHEA Gibson is, you might have trouble getting NAHA. If you don’t recognize Althea as a name, you could be forgiven for trying ALTREA and NARA.
Other place names outside of Japan in this puzzle include LUZON, PALAU, KENYA, ELLIS Island, ORONO, and UTAH. Tough Tuesday for the non-geography-buff crowd, eh?
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “The Bigger Band Era”—Evad’s review
Cute theme from constructor Donna S. Levin in today’s CrosSynergy puzzle—four bands that include a number in their name are bumped up by one, giving the members even more inflated egos:
- The group Nine Inch Nails gets the “add-one” treatment and becomes TEN INCH NAILS. Can’t say I’ve ever heard their Happiness in Slavery.
- One of my favorite groups, the B-52s becomes the B-FIFTY THREES. I cry foul on this, since the band’s name is NEVER spelled out like that. I met lead vocalist Fred Schneider after a concert here in Boston and he is as wild in person as he is on stage.
- We go back a few years (actually to the early 60s) to the Dave Clark Five, who find a sixth member and become the DAVE CLARK SIX. Great video of their Bits and Pieces here. Man, have music videos changed over the years, huh?
- Finally, the rock band Three Dog Night gets upgraded to FOUR DOG NIGHT. I knew their Joy to the World as Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog. The band name comes from the practice of indigenous Australians who would clutch dingos (native dogs) to themselves as a blanket when sleeping in cold weather. Three dogs I guess were the most that could fit in their sleeping holes!
So I guess Bono and U-THREE were left out? A couple of weeks ago, a themeless NYT referred to a SPOKESDUCK, today we have a “spokesreptile” for GEICO. I’ve heard that almond ROCA is tasty, but I have never had it. Any suggestions where I might pick some up? “Sikorsky spinner” for ROTOR had me scratching my head, but I see here he played a large role in developing helicopters. I also enjoyed the entries STEAMS UP and THE WB.