Randall Hartman’s New York Times crossword
I can’t give this puzzle an A because it’s got a B theme: Each of the seven longest answers contains two to five B’s, and there are plenty of B’s strewn throughout the shorter fill too. There’s a BUBBLE BATH, BARBARA BUSH, BEING BOBBY BROWN (a summer 2005 reality show), BASEBALL BAT, BABY BOOMER, BEER BARREL, and retro BAN THE BOMB.
I counted 35 B’s in all, which is well shy of the record (48 Bs in Clive Probert’s 8/25/10 puzzle). The Probert puzzle further amped up the B load by including at least one B in each clue.
At the Marbles Chicago Crossword Tournament, the first finisher in Round 2 (Eric Maddy) polished off this puzzle in 3:05.
I dunno, I can’t summon up anything else to say about this puzzle. It’s…B’s. B’s interspersed with some answers that might not be familiar to newer Tuesday solvers. Such as:
- 15a. [Medieval treasure chest] is an ARCA.
- 16a. [Biographer Leon] EDEL is a name I know only from crosswords.
- 66a. [Tree trunk] clues crosswordese BOLE.
- 49d. Sana or SANAA is the [Capital of Yemen].
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Return Trip—that’s gonna hurt”
The punch line in this theme hinges on a pun:
- Parts 1–4 of the definition spell out MEDICAL TERM / FOR SURGERY / DONE TO EXTRACT / A BOOMERANG.
- 54a. [Word defined by the definition] is COMEBECTOMY, which sounds kinda like ”come back to me,” which is what a boomerang does. Now, if it’s sharp enough, you won’t need surgery to remove the boomerang—it’ll slice its way right back out.
I took a wild stab at the last square, the crossing of these two:
- 14a. [“Does __ It” (song by Trey Songz)], H*DO
- 5d. [Punk band (__) p.e.], H*D
The asterisk gets replaced by an E (HED p.e., “Does He Do It”), but I swear when I tried an O first, Puzzle Solver congratulated me on solving the puzzle. Never heard of the band or the song. That, good sir, is an ugly crossing.
- 8a. [Turnout participant] is a tough clue for VOTER—makes sense once you have it filled in, but until then?
- 59a. U OF M is an [Ann Arbor campus, for short]. I’m surprised we don’t see more U OF _ crossword answers. It’d work for C (Chicago), I (Illinois), and presumably other schools.
- 10d. TRES CHIC! [Highly fashionable].
- 36d. [Strange introduction?] clues the prefix for strange things, XENO-.
- 37d. THE MUMMY, great entry. Balances THE GREAT in the other side of the grid.
- 42d. [Tool that’s counter-productive?] is the ABACUS that is productive when you’re counting.
- 29d. UNRIPELY, [In a not-ready-to-pick manner], is godawful. Can you use that in a sentence?
- 20d. [Non-profit type (hidden in FOOLSCAP)] is LSC. It’s gettable with the clue, but I still don’t know what it is. In Chicago, LSC = Local School Council, but I doubt that’s what Matt meant.
Midlights, saved by cluing:
- 54d and 55d are two 3-letter abbreviations, but hey! They’re palindromic! [Palindromic Chinese political party] is CPC (Communist Party of China—no, I don’t care that “Chinese” and “party” are in the clue, and those words didn’t make me think I needed to avoid a C and P), while [Palindromic “War on Poverty” agency] is LBJ’s OEO (Office of Economic Opportunity). I like the palindrome slant.
John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
I thought this was a cute Tuesday theme – and one you could easily pick up on while solving! Each of these five animals contains its habitat in its name – take a look:
- 18a. [Grassland burrower] – PRAIRIE DOG
- 23a. [Mojave lizard] – DESERT IGUANA
- 37a. [Flippered ocean critter] – SEA LION
- 51a. [Sure-footed Rockies denizen] – MOUNTAIN GOAT
- 60a. [Playful swimmer] – RIVER OTTER
Not the most interesting of clues, but what did you expect? I like that the first four clues give direct mention to the ecosystem the animal lives in – could we have seen [Playful creek dweller] instead? That might just be consistency for consistency’s sake, but darn it, that’s what I like.
The nasty section: EVAC, NIMH and ELIS (clued with relation to YALE, natch) shoved right next to one another. For those who didn’t recognize IMOGENE right away, this might not have been terribly fun. I would’ve rather had a Mrs. Frisby reference for NIMH, especially. I’m glad IOLA was a safe distance away.
Some nice stuff:
- 1a. [Chase, as a fly] isn’t SWAT but SHAG. Oh, what a tricky way to start a puzzle. I felt for sure we were talking about an insect fly. Is there a term for a word that’s clearly intended to also fit and be partially right, but isn’t? The phrase I use isn’t appropriate for this venue, I’m afraid – these grind my gears, but in a good way!
- GEEZERS crossing LISZT – that’s the way to use a Z!
- I like OUI, OUI! and SAID, “NO!” running parallel. YES, SIRREE! is a great use of nine squares, too.
- I love that setting of AVE MARIA by Schubert & Gounod – yes, it’s the one you know: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT_b_MWrJQU
And to round out with some names, it’s nice to remember that HOWIE Mandel is Canadian. What is he doing these days with all of those leftover briefcases? Ryan O’Neal was only nominated for an Oscar in Paper Moon - the winner between the two was TATUM. If you forget, just recall that TATUM has five letters; RYAN has only four. And Steve Carell, who starred in EVAN Almighty, is about to leave The Office. Frankly, I’m torn about him leaving – but it’ll be interesting to see what happens next without him.
Change in schedule this week – see you tomorrow!
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Inside Move”—Sam Donaldson’s review
Thank goodness for the reveal at 73-Across, or else I might have needed a serious chunk of time to get the theme. The clue reads “[Corp. transfer found in this puzzle’s four longest answers],” and that would be a RELO (short for “relocation”). As promised, the R-E-L-O sequence appears in the middle of the four theme answers:
- 18-Across: [Poor sports] are SORE LOSERS. So are runners-up with bad shoes.
- 28-Across: The [On-line aid for shoppers’ stops] is a STORE LOCATOR. This one gave me a small amount of trouble, as I solved this quadrant of the grid from east to west. Accordingly, I thought the second word in the phrase was RELOCATOR. Not surprisingly, then, this was my slowest section during the solve.
- 48-Across: The [Fans of woods and wildlife] are NATURE LOVERS. I think this one is the best of the group.
- 64-Across: [Pretty soon] is BEFORE LONG. The only thing I noticed here is that the first three theme entries were at 18-, 28-, and 48-Across. If only this one was at 58- or 68-Across!
New solvers and aspiring constructors take note: each theme entry has two words, and the R-E-L-O sequence always spans the words (the first word ends in R-E and the second word starts with L-O). That kind of consistency is the hallmark of a professional, premium-grade crossword. Had LAUREL OAK been a theme entry, we would have ripped it apart as being the only theme entry where R-E-L-O did not get split in the middle (and also for being a rather lifeless theme entry). THE MATRIX RELOADED also would have been inconsistent with the other theme entries, for two reasons: (1) it’s a three-word phrase, the only one in the puzzle; and (2) R-E-L-O does not span the two words—it’s entirely within the last word, RELOADED.
But this is a puzzle where the real star is not the theme but the terrific and smooooth fill accompanying the theme entries. There’s SO-SO, NO DEAL, RAN DRY, DECANT, PHOTO OPS, and my favorite one from this puzzle, STAR TREK, the [1960s TV series that created a cultural phenomenon]. There’s not a single clunker in this grid. ECO, clued [Start to babble?], is probably tied with the [Radial on a Rolls], TYRE, as the weakest entry, and to me both are solid and gettable.
Let’s finish with a few random observations:
- This northwest boy appreciated the shout-out at 20-Across: the [Washington State airport] is SEA-TAC, short for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
- It’s the return of PASTE! Yesterday it was the [Grammar school goo], and today it is the [Kindergarten goo]. I still contend paste is not a goo, but if the word appears again tomorrow with yet another “goo” clue, I think I will just give up the fight.
- I can’t decide of my favorite clue is [Brown smoke?] for CIGAR or [Stuff in one’s pocket?] for LINT.
- Anyone else notice how the answer to 8-Down (KEEL) is, when spelled backward, the answer to 5-Across (LEEK)? Had they not intersected, I am not sure I would have noticed it.