Peter Collins’s New York Times crossword
Yay! I ignored the Notepad message and found it easy enough to grasp the theme without paying any attention to the [See blurb] commands. The four answers with that clue spell out ROYAL FLUSH (1a, 71) and SAME SUIT (15a, 67a). The other five theme answers end with the playing cards that constitute a royal flush when they’re all in the same suit: BIG TEN, FLAPJACK, THE AFRICAN QUEEN, ALAN KING, and AIR ACE. (The “Yay!” was for the Notepad not containing instructions for marking up the puzzle in order to find the theme.)
Straightforward enough theme—so I’m not sure why the Notepad was even deemed necessary. How hard is it to eyeball the answers to the starred entries and realize that the theme isn’t “BIG FLAP, THE ALAN AIR”? You know what Henry Hook is doing, right? He’s sighing with dismay. I’m OK with the ROYAL FLUSH/SAME SUIT bits appearing in the grid, as they fancy up the theme rather than dumbing it down. They’re in symmetrical spots too, which is good.
Lots of nice fill in this one: ORGANISMS and SIGOURNEY are long. You’ve got your Semitic double-letter answers, RABBI and HAJJIS. The symmetrical A-I pair ADELPHI and ASHANTI look cute together.
Didn’t know ARMA was the [First word of the "Aeneid"]. That answer is out-crosswordesed by NORIA, though—that’s a [Waterwheel]. Oh! Crazy name combo in the bottom center: ANOUK Aimee beside NGAIO Marsh. Boy, if you don’t know them or ASHANTI, you might have been cussing.
I’m wondering when we’ll ever see DESIS clued as people of Indian, Pakistani, or Bangladeshi descent living abroad. Have you encountered desi used that way? Mr. Arnaz died 25 years ago, so maybe it’s time to branch out a little.
Deb Amlen’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
Easy Onion puzzle this week, no? The theme is puns ending with ethnicities:
- 20a. [Bangkok native into orgies?] might be a THREE-WAY THAI (tie).
- 39a. [Prague native appearing as an extra?] is a BACKGROUND CZECH (check). My friend Robin appeared as an extra in an SUV commercial when she lived in Prague. They wanted all the extras to look plausibly like American auto workers, so they rounded up all the non-white people they could find. You’re Chinese? Or Ghanaian? Excellent! Here’s your oil-stained jumpsuit.
- 58a. [South African native with a lousy driving record?] is a CRASHING BOER. Although technically, the Boers were European settlers rather than natives of South Africa. Alas, “crashing Afrikaner” is a lousy pun.
I like the amalgamation in the seventh row of the grid: ASS NERDS.
Five more clues:
- 14a. [Punk rocker Tessa Pollitt, e.g.] is a member of the Slits, ergo a SLIT. Did you know Deb Amlen has her own punk cred? It’s totally true.
- 68a. [Destination for vacationing whiskey lovers] is ERIN, or Ireland. Don’t go there if you’re an E-less “whisky lover.” Those people have to go to Scotland…or Canada.
- 70a. [Word before ring or swing] clues MOOD.
- 5d. [Kool-Aid instruction] is ADD ****R. ADD WATER, it turns out, though the unsweetened packets demand that you add sugar as well.
- 7d. [Gangsta with game] is a PLAYA.
Other clues and answers of note include the well-clued partial SO ARE, static CLING, Carnegie DELI (not Hall), “We WUZ robbed!,” and the never-in-the-NYT-crossword answer SEMEN.
Scott Atkinson’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Baby DUCKS are called ducklings, baby geese are goslings, and baby employees are hirelings. Plenty of other words ending with LING are not diminutives, but Scott Atkinson pretends they are for his theme:
- 17a. [Very narrow fissure?] might be a CRACKLING.
- 26a. Aww, look at the cite widdle [Landfill in a toy city?], the DUMPLING.
- 38a. Wimps who freak out after the tattoo artist makes the first needle contact end up with a tattoo of a period. INKLING is clued as a [Minuscule tattoo?].
- 40a. [Dollhouse dress adornment?] is a teeny bow, or BOWLING.
- 49a. [Where to wear a training bra?] clues BUSTLING, a junior-sized bust.
- 62a. [Very young hobo?] is a TRAMPLING.
Haven’t seen a theme quite like this one before. Playful, fresh.
Felt like there were a lot of names in this grid—I hope you didn’t get entangled in a tough crossing. There’s the AMATI GAMALIEL ATARI ARON corner. The MIA/GINO crossing. GIAN meets GAGARIN, who abuts DALY. RICHELIEU encounters LEIA. Then there’s the KUNIS/ERICA stack.
Four more clues:
- 42a. [Opposite of perfect pitch] clues NO EAR. Wait, that’s an actual phrase? I’ve never seen it, but I’m pretty sure it describes me.
- 39d. [Unwanted playground game teammate] is the LAST PICK. That definitely describes the fifth-grade version of me.
- 3d. [Twinkie or Ding Dong] is a SNACK CAKE. Have you eaten any Hostess cakes lately? They’re either worse than they used to be, or I’ve lost the NO TASTE I had in childhood to go along with my NO EAR.
- 9d. [The N.Y. Nets were its last champion] clues the ABA, or American Basketball Association. The Nets were originally not a New Jersey team? Who knew?
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Emotional Spectrum” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s puzzle features four colorful ways of portraying emotional states:
- 21-Across: [Colorfully happy?] = TICKLED PINK. I remember this phrase as a theme entry from another great crossword, but this theme’s different.
- 56-Across: [Colorfully sad?] = IN A BLUE FUNK. Hmm. A sad person can be described simply as “blue”–no additional words required. That makes this one a little different from the others (well, that and the fact it has four words, but who’s counting?). Accordingly, it was the hardest for me to figure out.
- 3-Down: [Colorfully envious?] = GREEN-EYED. If green-eyed people are perpetually jealous, then perhaps brown-eyed people are perpetually full of it. (And hazel-eyed people like me are just nutty.)
- 36-Across: [Colorfully angry?] = SEEING RED.
There are 40 squares devoted to the theme, and the pinwheel layout of the theme entries (two Across, two Down) gives Jordan considerable freedom to devise a snazzy grid. I love MUZAK, the [Elevator rider's earful], smack dab in the grid’s center. Other great fill includes BAD EGG, I QUIT, and THE TOY, a [1982 Pryor/Gleason comedy]. I even liked Star-KIST tuna.
The center section alone contains a J, a K, and a Z, so it comes as no surprise that the grid’s a pangram. My favorite clues included [Allstate's hands, for one] for LOGO, [Wrestle or Beatle suffix] for MANIA, and [Adjective for Dolly Parton] for BUXOM.