Tom Baring’s New York Times crossword
Were you paying attention in your high school and college science classes? Because every so often, there will be a quiz. The Tuesday crossword is that quiz:
- 17a. 3.14159 is your friendly neighborhood PI APPROXIMATION. I got the PI part right off, but the second word took a lot of crossings to piece together.
- 26a. –273.15°C is ABSOLUTE ZERO. Is that 0° Kelvin?
- 42a. The SPEED OF LIGHT is apparently 299,792,458 meters/second.
- 55a. 6.022 x 10^23 is AVOGADRO’S NUMBER. Without looking this up, I’m gonna say it’s the number of atoms contained in one mole of a given element. Yes! Dictionary says it’s that, or the number of molecules of a compound in one mole. Same dictionary also says the number is 6.023. Eh, close enough.
Would you believe that crosswords have ruined my mind? It’s true. I read the clue for 11d, [Manicurist's supply], and tried to figure out how to fit EMERY into 10 squares. NAIL POLISH! Yes, that is generally a key component of a manicure, more so than an emery board.
I wanted 18a: [King's domain] to be HORROR, but the answer has only five letters. REALM, having nothing to do with Stephen King? Well, all right.
Vic Fleming and Nancy Salomon’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Neville’s review
A puzzle from Vic “The Gavel” Fleming and frequent mentor Nancy Salomon? Exciting! The theme is words that I cannot spell because they are French:
- 17a. [Delight in living] - JOIE DE VIVRE (literally, joy of living). I can’t think of this phrase without getting the theme song from The Nanny stuck in my head. Never learn French from Fran Drescher.
- 24a. [Paris site of objets d'art] - MUSÉE DU LOUVRE (Louvre Museum). Did I mention – for the full effect, pretend that I’m also butchering the pronunciations of these words. French in the clue, even!
- 48a. [Peppercorn-coated beef entrée] - STEAK AU POIVRE (steak with a creamy pepper sauce om nom nom). Apparently steak is a word that transcends language – I’d believe that.
- 56a. [Shrimp cocktail, e.g.] - HORS D’OEUVRE (apart from the main work). I couldn’t find a capitalized version of œ – sorry. An anagram of HORE DEVOURS, of course. Glad there’s no W.
Now if I were an expert in French, I could tell you that each of these, with its DE, DU, AU and D’ has a different preposition in it, but this may not really be a thing. Someone who knows French – am I missing something extra? Because that’s what it feels like to me.
I really like this puzzle – it has a tame spelling challenge with things I’ve actually heard of. Plus, this is the kind of fill you expect from a Fleming/Salomon effort:
- HAIL MARY, full of grace, we need a touchdown. (I’m Catholic, so I can get away with that joke.)
- APE SUIT
- THE BOSS
- MAKE HAY
- TOLD ON, though [Snitched about] has me thinking about the upcoming Harry Potter finale.
- EN ROUTE
- TAKE OVER
Now, you expect the Downs to be the fun ones, because the across entries have the theme answers, right? Think again!
- HAS BEEN was a great album by William Shatner – you need to pick it up right now.
- AIR BALL
- THINK UP, like when you’re trying to pick out a Pixar film to watch.
- The symmetrically placed BRETT/FAVRE
Usually I’d complain about U.A.R., OBEAH or SSS, but this puzzle is really cool, especially for a Tuesday puzzle. If this had a later-week theme, I’d be inclined to put it in the tippy-top, but as such, I can only give it a 4.5. Great work here.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Set Us Free” (themeless)
I enjoyed this puzzle but dang, the clues were too easy! This puzzle will probably take Dan Feyer no more than 90 seconds to polish off.
Diary of a Crossword Fiend’s resident Disneyologist, Jeffrey, has alerted the world that the clue for 27a is incorrect. [Amphibian who used to have a "Wild Ride" at Disneyland] clues MR. TOAD, but it is Florida’s Walt Disney World that lost Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. California’s Disneyland still has that phantasmagoric experience.
This 68-word puzzle has a classic Matt Jones grid—unlike those you see anywhere else, and with room for lots of crazy long answers. Highlights:
- 1a. ASS-BACKWARDS means [Convoluted beyond common sense]. And what does back-asswards mean? Is that even more convoluted?
- 13a. [Former member of Congress] clues ANTHONY WEINER. Heh, he said “member.”
- 56a. “RAISE YOUR HAND” is the [Teacher's request to prevent blurting out].
- 2d. ST. THOMAS is [One of the U.S. Virgin Islands]. The others are St. Croix and St. John.
- 6d. ["Later," in some text messages] clues CYA, as in “see ya.” Haven’t seen that one (though my son says “BRB” in speech), but long ago I learned that CYA was short for “cover your ass.” So it’s apt that this crosses ASS-BACKWARDS.
- 7d. [Place to get Squishees] is Apu’s KWIK-E-MART on The Simpsons.
- 28d. DANNY KAYE gets his full name in the grid. [He played Hans Christian Andersen] in…something. I don’t know what. The Kaye/H.C.A. connection is one I learned from crosswords.
- 34d. We see ILIAD plenty in crosswords, but rarely THE ILIAD.
The puzzle’s got 30 3-letter words, which is a lot, but I found the long crossings to be clued easily enough that I never even looked at some of the clues for those 3s.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sob Story” – Sam Donaldson’s review
I don’t mean to come across as an S.O.B., but this puzzle’s got a sad little theme. It features three three-word phrases with the initials S.O.B.:
- 20-Across: There are lots of options for the [Breakfast decision], like “wheat or white toast,” “scrambled or sunny-side up,” and “cream or sugar.” But the only one that fits this theme is SAUSAGE OR BACON.
- 41-Across: The [Wise men's guide] is the STAR OF BETHLEHEM. Today, the magi would be more inclined to use the Onstar of Bethlehem. Hmm, have I discovered a goods theme entry for an “ADD-ON” puzzle?
- 56-Across: For this one I had no idea at all. The [Walter Carlos album that popularized synthesizers] is SWITCHED ON BACH. “Ah…Bach.” (You’re welcome, M*A*S*H fans.)
There are pros and cons to the theme and its execution. On the pro side, I like that each of the “O.” words is different, and I like that there’s a little naughtiness to an S.O.B. theme. On the con side, “sausage or bacon” feels a little forced (“bacon or sausage” sounds more common to my ear), and Switched on Bach seems a little too “you-know-it-or-you-don’t” to be much fun to those of who don’t know it. Maybe SHADE OF BLUE could be paired with SIDE OF BACON–those seem a little more “in the language” to me.
Oenophiles may have plunked down BEAUJOLAIS as the [Region of France], but I needed all of the crossings to figure it out. On the other hand, ETHAN HAWKE as the ["Training Day" actor] came fairly quickly (though my first inclination was try Denzel WASHINGTON). My favorite entries were SUN-UP (clued [Dawn]) and MAKE IT (clued [Succeed]).
My favorite clue came twice: professional quarterback [Mark Sanchez, for one] clues both JET and PASSER. I tend to like it when clues do double- or triple-duty.