Happy Election Day, everyone!
Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword
I like MAGAZINES themes. In this one, a whopping eight answers begin with one-word magazine titles: ELLE WOODS, STAR WARS, JETSKI, TIMESHARE, SPIN OUT, SELF-WORTH, MAD MEN, and MONEY PIT. All eight would make great fill outside of any theme, so I’ll give this theme two Ebertian thumbs up.
Some of the longer non-theme fill is juicy, too. HOGWASH, ULYSSES, and SIBERIA are my favorites.
As for the shorter fill…eh. The DIEU/ADIEU duplication is glaring, as are the repeaters EDO crossing ODIE, ETO cross-referenced to DDE, and the word ENATE. Tough to get nine theme entries in without making trade-offs in the fill’s quality, alas.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “That Certain Chemistry”
Ah, tricky 1-Across. [Some gas stations] are BP’S, and there’s a BP hiding inside each of five theme entries. But that’s not the whole story. It’s actually BPA that’s hiding in them, and 59a: BPA-FREE is clued [What this grid is decidedly not (but baby-safe plastics are)]. Many canned foods can pick up BPA from the can lining. Dang, my organic tomato paste hasn’t been in a BPA-free can?
Matt’s shelf of BPA-lined cans is as follows:
- 16a. [It was big for everyone to have one in the 1990s] clues a WEB PAGE. Those ’90s personal home pages? Canned cheese.
- 22a. LAB PARTNERS, [They're paired up in science classes]. This can’s Alpo.
- 28a. [Tropical 1980s Robin Williams comedy] is CLUB PARADISE, a bit of ’80s pop culture I have zero recollection of. More canned cheese, with ganja on the side.
- 39a. DEB PATTERSON is [Kansas State's all-time winningest women's basketball coach]. Never heard of her. Cans of beer (which are also lined with BPA).
- 48a. [Oregon senator who resigned in 1995 over sexual harassment charges] is BOB PACKWOOD. Canned hypocrisy = BPA-free.
- 13a. [MTV's VMA statuette] is a MOON MAN.
- 63a. [Where mad villains get locked away] is ASYLUMS. Today’s mad villains seem more likely to be destined for the International Criminal Court.
- 3d. [Recovers from a night on the town] clues SOBERS UP. Did you know SLEEPS IN also has 8 letters?
- 36d. [Question about a rumor] is “IS IT TRUE?” I never have forgiven that junior-high cheerleader who asked if the rumor about me was true. Really, Wendi? The only time you’ll speak to me from 7th to 12th grade is to ask for confirmation of a lie? Pfft.
Most obscure answer:
- 44d. [Franco-Italian cheese] clues FONTAL. So, “fontal” doesn’t mean “relating to typefaces,” huh?
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Happy Birthday, General”—Evad’s review
I forgot that Washington’s Birthday is actually today, February 22nd, now that we lump him and Lincoln together (whose birthday is February 12th) to a Monday in between the two dates. Constructor Randolph Ross toasts our first president with eight (!) theme entries that begin with the letters G and W:
- GAME WARDEN
- GHOST WRITER
- GENE WILDER
- GET WELL
- GIFT WRAPPED
- GUESS WHO
- GRAY WOLF
- GEE WHIZ
This theme had me thinking of when I lived in Washington, DC, an entire city devoted to this general—from the name of the city itself, to the GW Parkway, to George Washington University. You would think with having to hold up so many theme entries, the fill would show the strain, but it’s largely devoid of clunkers. We have chemistry with FERMI and OSMIUM (the latter [Element that is twice as dense as lead]—take that Superman!), BLITZ and BOYISH ([Like some grins], are there also girlish grins?). And like Amy, I like to have my puzzles engage me in conversation—this one waffles between the cheery HI YA! and the dolorous WOE IS ME. We head to Costa Rica in a couple of days, I wonder if we’ll see any SARONGS on the beaches there, or is that strictly a Polynesian phenomenon? ( A friend likes to call them “so wrong” if worn by a man.)
John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I gotta vote and I gotta get my tax papers in order for a noon appointment with my accountant, so this’ll be brief.
Theme: Phrases that look like they begin with -ED verbs that are about produce. Except that the prune isn’t a vegetable like the other three—well, unless you group beans as legumes rather than veggies and call it a 1-1-2 theme—and it’s not something that grows, it’s made by drying plums.
- 20a. [Arborist's handiwork] is a PRUNED TREE. This isn’t a stand-alone phrase, it’s just adjective + noun.
- 26a. SQUASHED BUGS are a [Windshield nuisance]. Again: not a stand-alone phrase, just adjective + noun.
- 44a. [Result of an errant brushback pitch] is a BEANED BATTER. Do people talk about “beaned batters” in baseball? Or is more a matter of “so-and-so got beaned”?
- 55a. [Deli sandwich filler] clues CORNED BEEF. Okay, that works; corned beef has nothing to do with corn but those letters appear at the beginning just the same. I’m not sure the other three entries are consonant with this one.
Love seeing HIFALUTIN, though the dictionary I checked insists on spelling it with “high” at the beginning. I’m fine with the “hi.” BOY TOY and RAT’S NEST are also fun. Entries like ILWU EDOM APSE OTOE REDI SYNE OF ID don’t enhance the puzzle, though.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Drinking on a Starry Night”
I’ll be honest with you: This theme pained me. I like the basic conceit of the BEST PITCHER pun, and pitchers of libations are far more entertaining to me than your typical baseball pitcher. But the puns on current Oscar nominees for Best Picture, involving drinks that can apparently be served in a pitcher, were stretching it:
- 17a. [61-Across nominee about familial vengeance in a Spanish wine mulling community?] combines True Grit plot points with sangria in TRUE SANGRIA. The mere presence of the letters GR doesn’t give a strong basis for the Grit/sangria pun exchange.
- 27a. [61-Across nominee about the early years of a website that helps people connect to Korean potato liquor?] clues THE SOJU NETWORK. Soju? Korean potato liquor? Not in my ken.
- 45a. [61-Across nominee about how the president of a British liquor company became eloquent?] clues THE PIMM’S SPEECH. I like a good Pimm’s cup—an unforgettable part of my friend Robin’s wedding in an English castle—but the King’s/Pimm’s similarity just isn’t there.
- 61a. [Award for which 17-, 27-, and 45-Across are among the hopefuls?] is BEST PITCHER. I’ll give the award for Best Pitcher to the Pimm’s, but in the category of Best Pun, soju wins.
Elsewhere in the puzzle:
- 40a. [Recent Bar Mitzvah, e.g.] is a MAN. But you know what? Still really a boy.
- 50a. PDS, meaning public display of affection, is [Making out in public, e.g.: Abbr.].
- 60a. [2011 mo. when Harold Camping predicts the world will end] is this OCT. I had no idea. If he’s right, won’t those Mayan calendar obsessives be surprised.
- 2d. [Ever ___ Morissette-Treadway (Alanis's new baby)] clues IMRE. I wouldn’t expect to see this clue in one of the daily newspaper puzzles, but don’t you like it in an alt-weekly crossword? Certainly has more pop-culture currency this winter than Imre Kertesz or Imre Nagy.
- 6d. ["Oliver!" choreographer White] is named ONNA. Sadly, there is no celebrity baby named Onna who can carry the clue weight here.
- 12d. [French musician Manu] CHAO—hey, that doesn’t sound French. He’s of Spanish descent (Basque and Galician).
- 39d. [Frequent collaborator with Burton] is Elizabeth Taylor, right? Wrong Burton. Johnny DEPP, Tim Burton.
- 51d. [Bit of online laughter] clues LOLZ. I believe the “lulz” spelling is also considered correct.