Bill Thompson’s New York Times crossword
Interesting two-way theme that’s about 90% effective—DAY can squeeze between the two words of each theme answer to make two new phrases:
- 22a. CLEAR OFF generates a clear day and a day off. Who doesn’t love both of those?
- 28a. GREEN LIGHT gets the band Green Day and daylight. Vampires are 50% pleased with these, at best.
- 46a. EASTER LILY suggests Easter Day, which I think is far, far more likely to be called Eater Sunday, and a daylily. Was just explaining the difference between lilies and daylilies to my husband. Wait, the dictionary definition tells me each daylily bloom lasts only a single day. Can that be true? Because a stand of daylilies is in full blossom for days on end.
- 55a. D STUDENT is an answer I don’t recall seeing in a crossword before, and I like it. D-DAY, day student.
- 68a. DAY in the bottom center, tying it all together.
- DAILY/ DOUBLE, MOOCHED, GREAT LAWN, AFTER DARK, TROUNCE, TIKI, FRISK, and TATTLE are all crisp and interesting.
- 44a. MESNE, for the second time in the past week or two. MESNE! It means [Intermediate, in law] and no, I most certainly cannot use it in a sentence. It is time for this word to retire from crosswords for the next couple years.
- 4d. LIENEES is only a hair more interesting than MESNE, and it too can take a break from crossword appearances.
Matt Jones’ Jonesin’ crossword, “Nose Job”
Breezy Monday/Tuesday-grade puzzle this week. The theme is four rhyming phrases that sound a wee bit like sneezes at the end:
- 17a. ["Black Swan" footwear] clues BALLET SHOE. I dunno about that. I feel like toe shoeand ballet slipper are both more “in the language.”
- 24a. A HOT-BUTTON ISSUE is an [Emotional debate topic].
- 36a. BIG LEAGUE CHEW is the name of a shredded [Bubble gum sold in pouches]. Because what children need is to learn the routines of chewing tobacco before they’re old enough to buy tobacco products, right?
- 48a. [It may be answered with "Who, me?"] clues “I’M LOOKING AT YOU.” Hmm, I can’t think of the circumstances of this dialogue. But thumbs up for the “achoo” sound at the end of this phrase.
- 59a. [What you might say after hearing 17-, 24-, 36- or 48-across?] is GESUNDHEIT. That means “health” in German, and isn’t that a lovely thing to wish someone? Even if their sneezes are just from a little dust or whatnot.
- 30a. “L’CHAIM!” is a [Toast at a bar mitzvah].
- 9d. To complete the line about The Who’s “Pinball Wizard,” you need to add the words A MEAN to ["...sure plays ___ pinball"]. No, partial answers like this aren’t desirable, but as in many Merl Reagle puzzles, they can evoke good feelings in the solver anyway. Partials need to be fresh and interesting; yet another ONE I or IN ON adds nothing to a puzzle (except an easy way in for a solver who’s having trouble figuring out the answers).
- 11d. [Question asked many times in "Marathon Man"] is “IS IT SAFE?” I’ve never seen this movie, but my husband quoted that line enough that it amuses me. Probably not the reaction the filmmakers were going for, huh?
- 12d. ["Reversal of Fortune" family name] is VON BULOW. Claus, Sunny, and their Count Olaf.
- 36d. To BAD-MOUTH is to [Talk smack about].
- 40d. If you LAID LOW, you [Didn't attract attention].
- 49d. A KEGEL is a [Pelvic floor exercise]. Leave it to Jonesin’ to bust out the pubococcygeal muscle action!
Bill Thompson’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Chug! Chug! Chug! Double-fisting puzzles from Bill Thompson today!
- 17a. [Type of government spending typified by the Bridge to Nowehere] is PORK BARREL – though there have been a few bridges that have gone by this name, I can’t help but feel like Bill Thompson is calling out the late Sen. Ted Stevens.
- 25a. ["Two Tickets to Paradise" singer] is EDDIE MONEY
- 37a. [(At) maximum capacity] is FULL BLAST – not sure why we needed the (at) in the clue – I think [Maximum strength] might’ve done better overall.
- 51a. [Classic candy bean] - JELLY BELLY
- 62a. [Brew after a shot (and, in a way, what the end of [the above] can be)] – BEER CHASER – Beer barrel, beer money, etc. It’s weird, as the the beer follows the shot, but each of the four words follows the beer. Just a little mindfreaky for me
No issues with the theme – a nice Tuesday puzzle with a tie-in answer that pulls them together nicely. And look at some of these seven letter entries: T-SHIRTS, I LOVE IT, SHUT-EYE – some nice, solid work in there. Shorter fun entries like SAY ‘AH’ and LETS GO help sell this puzzle for me, too. BREASTS got a tame clue with [Chicken choices], and that’s fine by me.
I wrote in BLURRY for BLEARY, which had me confused at MESR (acutally MESA) for a while. GNARLS for SNARLS wasn’t helpful either. Nothing tricky about them – just similar looking words.
15a. [Place for doves, not hawks] is COTE. I understand that it is a place for doves and not a place for hawks. That makes sense. But why is the clarification about hawks necessary? Someone please explain this one to me – I’m at sea.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Seven and Seven” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Appropriately, here are seven items of note about today’s puzzle:
- The theme. The puzzle features four nouns consisting of two seven-letter words (thus, each entry is a “seven and seven”): SPECIAL EFFECTS, AVIATOR GLASSES (though I first tried GOGGLES), RUBBING ALCOHOL, and MEDICAL STUDENT. A black square comes between the two words, so each theme entry spans the entire 15-square length of the grid.
- Seven is the max. Did you notice that no entry in the grid is longer than seven letters? That’s a nice touch.
- That’s a lot of sevens. There are 24(!) seven-letter entries in this grid. I’m guessing that at least ties a record for a single 15×15 grid.
- 16-Across. UNPOSED is a pretty awkward entry, but I love the clue, [Like candid photos]. That’s the perfect way to describe a blah word in an interesting and accessible way.
- Highlights in the fill. My favorite entries in this grid were PIEROGI, LET’S SEE, SELL FOR, WE DID IT, and my favorite iced-tea go-with, SPLENDA.
- Comics row. I like how the 12th row of the grid contains two staples from the funny pages, HAGAR the Horrible and DENNIS the Menace. And both were clued in fill-in-the-blank form so even solvers like me could see and appreciate the wonderful coincidence.
- Not exactly conversational. I’m not sure that anyone has ever said, “Where’s the treed cat?” But it’s a good way to elicit “UP THERE!” as the response from a distressed pet owner.
I dig unusual themes like this. While some would think it fitting to give this puzzle seven stars, we max out at five. But this one merits a solid four stars in my book.