Happy St. Patrick’s Day! And Happy Looming ACPT Weekend, to those of you who celebrate it. Me, I like to make a four-day holiday out of it now. My Metrocard is ready for reloading, my transit map is packed, and I am ready for an NYC vacation! Wait, what? I have to do some sort of crossword races? My. That’s certainly an odd way to pass the time!
Anna Schechtman’s New York Times crossword
Hello, Greek letter rebus! I like you. The theme is “IT’S ALL GREEK TO ME,” and each corner of the puzzle has its own rebus square containing a Greek letter (or the letters of its English name spelled out). Aptly, the first two are ALPHA (ALPHABET SONGS, ORAL PHASE) and BETA (B.E.T. AWARD, TIBETAN MONK). Man, those BETA crossings are great together! Down below, there’s a mid-alphabet PI in WHOOPI Goldberg and LIGHT PINK and, aptly for the final corner, the last letter in the Greek alphabet. OMEGA hides in a HOME GAME and an INCOME GAP.
Highlights in the fill include MALLOMAR, SPORK, and STREETCAR. Had they been clued as a single unit, TRAMP and STAMP would have brough Onion/BEQ-style zing, but I don’t at all mind that they’re clued separately. For the lowlights, we have NOBIS, SETAE, plural SUSANS, partial AT TEN.
Favorite clue: The wily mislead at 1a: [Kind of column]. Neither IONIC nor DORIC will fit, plus IONIA appears elsewhere. OP-ED won’t work with the S in SETAE, but the O and E are perfect fits for the real answer, the ONES column in arithmetic.
Alan Arbesfeld’s Fireball crossword, “Celebrity Cover-Up”
Oh, yay! I like this Arbesfeld offering so much better than yesterday’s NYT. The theme is great—famous people (not all “celebrities” per se) get single letters added to the front of their first and last names. The funniest-sounding one is GAMY MADAMS for Amy Adams; it makes the theme worthwhile. Al Roker turns into a GAL BROKER. Earl “Fatha” Hines becomes the short sentence PEARL SHINES. SHARPER GLEE has zero connection to the TV musical (yay!). And Eli Roth and Tom Ridge get pronunciation shifts when they become DELI BROTH and ATOM FRIDGE. (Sheesh, can we get some atom fridges at the Fukushima reactors?)
Favorite clue and answer:
- 1a. [One who's slow to pick things up?] is a wonderful clue for SLOB.
- 4d. BUGBEARS is a great word.
Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Neville’s review
Whoa – we’ve got a clue-within-a-puzzle thing going on here. Very meta. Here are our four LIFTs:
- 17a. BRITISH ELEVATOR
- 26a. FOOTWEAR INSERT
- 45a. BOOST IN SPIRITS (The spirits do flow on St. Patrick’s Day!)
- 60a. HITCHHIKER’S RIDE
It’s like the standard “they all have the same clue” theme, but it’s hidden from you at first. I’ll admit it – I skipped to the LIFT at the bottom of the puzzle to help me out.
Three Xs in the puzzle, and IXNAY is my favorite X entry.
- 43a. [Legal-sized fish] is a KEEPER. I was thinking this would be a type of fish.
- 25d. [What might be used when a bomb is hurled on a field?] is a PIGSKIN. Football – should’ve seen that coming.
- 4d. [Nick at ___] – that’s Nick at NITE, the former “Place for TV Hits.” I miss when they ran Laverne & Shirley and Family Ties, but now I have The Hub for that. One TV network goes out the window, but another comes in.
- 47d. [Digital dots] are PIXELS, not anything fingerprint related.
- 24d. [Honeybunch] is SWEETIE. I really wanted this to be SUGAR PIE, which doesn’t fit. You know, like the song by The Four Tops.
Good luck to everyone coming to Brooklyn for the ACPT – say hello if you see me! (I’ll be the one wearing clothes. Can’t be more specific at this point.)
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Hot to Trot”—Janie’s review
“Erin go …” Oh, never mind. CS looks to have done their St. Paddy’s tribute last month (Ray Hamel’s “Luck of the Irish” on 2/21). Still, for the anti-wearing-of-the-green, you couldn’t do better than spending some time with Doug’s puzzle, where the “H” in familiar base-phrases is converted to “TR” and hilarity ensues. Okay. Maybe not “hilarity”—but some seriously smile-worthy items. See for yourself as:
- 20A. talking head → TALKING TREAD [Having a debate about tires?]. A major activity in Akron at one time, I imagine…
- 33A. Capitol Hill → CAPITOL TRILL [Warble heard in the Senate?]. Could be that trill was produced at an arts hearing in chambers when the senators were treated to an ARIA ["Salome" selection]. Or perhaps they heard a bit of OTELLO [Verdi opera based on a Shakespeare play] in which IAGO [Shakespearean manipulator] factors in once again as the heavy.
- 41A. prickly heat → PRICKLY TREAT [Candied cactus, e.g.?]. Ouch! Even more dangerous than yesterday’s [Thorny bouquet] of ROSES, I fear. Still—one funny/visceral concept. And the pièce de résistance—
- 57A. “I’m only human” → “I’M ONLY TRUMAN” ["Don't expect me to be like Roosevelt"?]. Once again, Doug hits the trifecta of the perfect base-phrase/theme-phrase/clue combo. This one’s a real gem and whaddaya think? Maybe the seed-fill for the theme?
There’s strong non-theme fill and cluing GALORE [In abundance] as well, by way of YOGA MAT [Surface for stretchers] (those “stretchers” are people, not people-carriers); KRAMDEN [Ralph or Alice of "The Honeymooners"] (I love how that prickly pair peels off of the “K” in prickly treat); BEAN DIP [Serving with tortilla chips]; and for its four-letter consonant cluster, ELM TREE [Hardwood source]. Those triple 6-columns NW and SE also give us ARCTIC [Bitterly cold], the much warmer ITALIA [Roma's land], the Brooklyn-born MILANO [Actress Alyssa], SIMILE [Literary comparison] and PONDER [Weigh, in a way].
You know, I may have been premature in dismissing this puzzle’s 3/17-ness. After all, there’s JIG clued as [St. Patrick's Day dance]. And RABBLE [Disorderly crowd]—which is the scene at many a parade and bar today. In addition to downing green beer, some folks making the bar scene might use the occasion to knock back a MOJITO [Cocktail often garnished with mint leaves] or two. And (in keeping with the day [sorta]), maybe even a green tea mojito…
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Say What?”—SethG’s review
And so we start ACPT week. Amy’s off in New York, and so is everyone else. Prepare for a hefty dose of SethG this weekend.
BEQ starts it off by letting us know Tyler Hinman’s apparently-not-so-secret master plan to regain his title as our, uh, King? What’s our title for the most crossworthy crossworder again?
Before he does that, he’s got to get past some people. So here’s what he’s gonna do. (Come closer, so I can whisper.) First, Section 180, Bribery–he’s gonna pay off the cops to (18a.) BOOK Dan FEYER, probably while he’s at the book fair. Next, time to get serious, he’s gonna go Section 125 and hire a hitperson to be a (24a.) Trip PAYNE KILLER. Possibly with an overdose of pain killers? (See, he’s committing punny crimes!)
Now, time to call in the big guns. Section 260, he’s gonna nefariously lure some of his competition to an island so he can get away with calling her (34a., 44a.) THE Anne ERDMANN OF ALCATRAZ. Finally, Section 27, he’ll violate some leash laws and send (53a., 64a.) Howard BARKIN UP THE WRONG TREE.
And if he can do all that whilst fending off Al, Amy, Ellen, Francis, Jeffery, Kiran, and Stella, his plan just might work. Good luck young man!
Some other clues:
- Twin long musical stuff with (11d.) [2000 #1 hit by Destiny's Child] for SAY MY NAME and (33d.) [Service run by the band They Might Be Giants that was nothing more than their answering machine], which I maybe called maybe once, DIAL A SONG. Destiny’s Child is also a band, in case you didn’t get that.
- (57d.) THE PO crosses (70a.) E. A. POE. And the police are the po-po, The Police are also a band, and (30d.) [Mr. Orange's confession at the end of "Reservoir Dogs"] was I’M A COP.