Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword
D’oh! Typo (HANDSSAND meets SSUN) took me 40 seconds to root out.
The theme is a plain Jane one—rhyming phrases or compound words that start with body parts, all of which feature the various “A” sounds;
- 17a. BRAIN DRAIN. Have you ever seen a brain melt like an ice cube? With this ice tray, you can.
- 25a. BACKPACK.
- 37a. HANDSTAND.
- 53a. HAIR CARE.
- 63a. HEART-SMART.
Is that all there is to it? Rhymes starting with body parts? I can’t help wondering if there’s some other connection I’m missing here.
The 11 7-letter answers jazz up the grid—to wit, SWAHILI, the HEISMAN Trophy, the LONG RUN, the IRON AGE, a TRINKET, and a BANSHEE (crossing Irish singer ENYA!) And despite the inclusion of all those 7s, the word count’s still a standard 78 and the fill is as smooth as we have come to expect in Lynn’s puzzles.
John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword
It’s rhyme time again! This time, it’s two-syllable rhymes. The first three theme entries were great—lively, colorful, fun to say—and then the fourth one appeared. Good gravy, I’ve never heard of that! Is it just me, or is 56a wildly out of place in a Monday crossword? The first and fourth theme answers have an “S” tacked onto the end of the rhyme because presumably those phrases can’t be singular.
- 20a. [Feeling of uneasiness] is the HEEBIE-JEEBIES.
- 27a. The WALKIE-TALKIE is a [Hand-held two-way communications device].
- 47a. BOOGIE-WOOGIE is an [Up-tempo jazz piano style].
- 56a. [Symbolic nosegays] clues TUSSIE-MUSSIES. Dictionary says you can indeed have a single tussie-mussie, that it means “a small bunch of flowers or aromatic herbs,” and that the origin is unknown/late Middle English.
- 1a. Q-TIPS are [Cotton swabs originally called Baby Gays]. Aww, why’d they ever change the name?
- 7d. [Affectionate bop] is a LOVE TAP.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Tooth or Consequences”—Sam Donaldson’s review
For most of us, crosswords offer relaxation but trips to the dentist give us anxiety. Levin finds a happy balance with today’s dental theme. 55-Down, DDS, is clued [Deg. of the professional who may instruct you to do the last words of the four longest puzzle answers]. And sure enough, you’re likely to hear each of these short commands at your next trip to the dentist:
- 20-Across: Something that’s [Apparent] is OUT IN THE OPEN, and “Open,” is a short command that you hear from the dentist.
- 28-Across: The [Natural hair treatment for extra shine] is a VINEGAR RINSE. The ad practically writes itself: “For bouncy, shiny hair that smells like a salad bar, try a vinegar rinse.”
- 43-Across: The [Rod in a barbecue joint] is not Rod Stewart, Rod Sterling, Rod Laver, or Rod Blagojevich. It’s a ROASTING SPIT. I can’t say I remember a dentist ever telling me to “spit.” I think it’s sort of understood when you’re told to rinse and gestured toward a basin. Besides, I don’t think swallowing water mixed with a bunch of grainy plaque dust would ever occur to me as an option.
- 51-Across: To [Conclude] is to COME TO A CLOSE. I find that people of all professions (not just dentists) tell me to close my mouth.
What, no phrase ending in FLOSS? I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, lest I be accused of being an Anti-Dentite. Besides, the puzzle’s got a lovely grid with no partials and just a few non-theme abbreviations like SRTAS, the [Mlles, across the Pyrenees], URI, the [Ocean State sch.], and MISC, the [Category for odds and ends (abbr.)]. Bonus points for giving the VOYEURS, the [Peeping Toms], a little BOOTY, [Spoils], and for placing SOBER, clued as [Unlooped?], directly across from ALES, the [Provisions at The Red Lion]. I also liked the intersecting SIAM, clued as [Mongkut’s kingdom], and SAMOA, clued as the [South Pacific country whose capital is Apia]. Having both ENTER and INTERS struck me as odd, but I can live with it.
I lost a little time with EDWIN, [Dickens’s Drood], and with piecing together ISABEL as [Eva’s successor as Mrs. Peron]. But on the whole this was much quicker and much more enjoyable than a trip to the dentist. Do I get a free toothbrush now?
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
I owe my ability to get 1-Across to my kid, who always asks to listen to top-40 radio in the car. Sirius/XM displays the song artist and title on the screen, and I scowl at “WE R WHO WE R” every time. I can look past Ke$ha not being pronounced as “ke-dollar-sign-ha” or “kee-shuh” (it’s “kesh-uh”), but the title? Slays me. I had not, however, noticed that only the 5 letters of WHORE are used in that title. (If you’re not familiar with “letter bank,” 5a: [Letter bank for 1-Across (!)] refers to the group of letters used to spell out 1a.)
Never encountered WORK MOUTH. What is that, the cleaned-up version of the potty mouth you have outside the office? I work from home so I can swear all I want. Sure, there’s usually no one around to hear it, but that doesn’t mean the potty mouth doesn’t exist. If a tree falls in the forest…
- MIDDLESEX, C.S. LEWIS, THE / SITUATION, CHAT ROOM, and OLD STYLE.
- OLEOS instead of HEROS in the ”CISSY who?”/”MONTY who?” corner.
- 3d. RED SUN…is that a thing? Or just color + orb?
- 8d. ETESIAN—seen it once or twice in crosswords, sure didn’t remember it off the clue. The root is the Latin etesius, meaning “annual,” from a Greek word. So no connection to the French été, meaning “summer.” However! The etesian or meltemi wind occurs in the summer, so I will go ahead and use été as a mnemonic.