Paula Gamache’s New York Times crossword
It would be nice if my browser or internet connection would alert me when it’s going to be slow as molasses instead of letting me discover it for myself once the NYT applet clock starts rolling. “Click arrow key a few times, wait and watch the cursor move through the grid at a deliberate pace.” “Enter letters, wait for them to appear.” “Look for error, click on answer to view clue and confirm answer, wait for clue to appear on the screen.” (Eventually I figured out that 28a wasn’t SET UP at all, but DEBUT. I’d discarded my preference for DUROC over SUROC and overlooked the way 24d and 29d made no sense.) Really annoying, and I’ll tell you straight up that it colored my solving experience. I had no fun, though I think Paula’s puzzle is objectively pretty good.
There are eight 15-letter answers, and isn’t it refreshing that they’re latticed together rather than wedged into triple- or quad-stacks with ferociously ugly crossings? AUDITOR’S REPORTS is dry as dust, but most of the other 15s are terrific. We will not speak of the EDIBLE UNDERWEAR, except to say that the inclusion of a flavor in the adjoining CHERRY CHAPSTICK has an unfortunate echo. TOULOUSE-LAUTREC hardly ever gets that whole name into a grid, TAILGATE PARTIES and TRICK OR TREATING are fun, and BY POPULAR DEMAND is another juicy phrase.
The 3- to 5-letter fill ranges from perfectly fine to rather blechy (TARES, OONA, DUROC, plural RKOS, CCL). The 7s have some good stuff (OPEN-TOE) and some not so good (OIL SEAL).
Chris McGlothlin’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Thumbs down on the three-part cross-referencing theme revealer splayed all over the grid. If you can’t fit the 13-letter “LONG TIME, NO SEE” into the middle of the grid, you should strongly reconsider using that as your revealer for a drop-a-C theme—especially with the ugliness of the NO SEE partial piece. Having to turn to three different sections of the grid to get a single phrase turned me off of the otherwise ordinary theme:
- 18a. [Sailing attire for 1-Across?] is ARGO PANTS (cargo pants). Oh, good lord, more cross-referencing?
- 23a. [Dearth of frost?] clues LOW RIME RATE (low crime rate). “Rime rate” feels awkward.
- 50a. [Do some tweezing?] clues PULL UP A HAIR (pull up a chair). I like the base phrase and the clue/answer combo are kinda funny.
- 61a. ["I've completed the flag"?] might be Betsy ROSS WORDS (crosswords). Wait, we don’t say “Shakespeare words” or “Yogi Berra words,” so this just sounds off.
- The revealer’s got this mangled clue: 10a, [With 42- and 66-Across, words to an old friend, whose end is a hint this puzzle's grid and theme]. I hope the print version has added the word “to” after “hint.”
- Wait! Blog reader reminds me there are two 7-lettter themers too. 38a: [Celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day?] clues USED ARS, and 40a: [Regional poem?] clues AREA ODE.
- 48a. [Sole man] is a HERMIT, man of solitude. Nothing to do with feet or shoes, nope.
- 26a. [Rowan Atkinson character] is MR. BEAN. A friend of mine’s toddler niece is named Rowan, and luckily she looks nothing like Mr. Bean.
- 4d. [It's often traded in] clues the OLDER MODEL, as in cars.
- 21d. [Some ales] are AMBERS. Sure, it may seem like a semi-awkward plural, but I do like amber ales.
- 15a. [Offenbach's okays] are OUIS. Yes, Offenbach and okays both start with an O, but that name doesn’t sound remotely French! With MONDE, FOIE, Ballets RUSSES, RENES, and MELODIE, good gravy, there’s too much French here.
- 44d. [French art song] is a MELODIE.
- 41d. [Ranch addition?] clues -ERIA. Eriugh.
- 62d. [Colorado sports nickname, with "the"] clues ROX, apparently short for the Rockies. Never seen this one before.
- 55d. [Queue before U] clues QRST. The only thing worse than a 3-letter alphabet run is a 4-letter one.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Egg Heads” – Sam Donaldson’s review
The first word in each of the four theme entries describes a type of egg:
- 20-Across: Here’s something you may not have known about EASTER ISLAND: [It's at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle]. SOUTHEASTERNMOST might be useful as fill in T Campbell’s (hopefully) forthcoming Crossword Extravaganza. Maybe it will include some Easter eggs.
- 36-Across: If you guessed that [Horripilation] is a box set of gore films, you scored a big goose egg. It’s GOOSE FLESH. To me, it’s better known as “goose bumps.”
- 42-Across: The [Player's plague] is ROTTEN LUCK. So named, perhaps, because the loser is often a rotten egg.
- 56-Across: The [Cry of relief] is GOOD RIDDANCE. Just ask most of the women I have dated. Yet I always thought of myself as a good egg.
The two long Downs are interesting both for their inherent liveliness and for their trivia-based clues. A [Quarter of an 1862 homesteader's homestead] is the NORTH FORTY, and [Africa's longest venomous snake] is a BLACK MAMBA. NBA star Kobe Bryant refers to himself as “The Black Mamba“–does that mean he’s long, venomous, and/or a snake? All three?
Other highlights in the fill include BEER MUG (clued as [Toby, for one], which meant absolutely nothing to me), MOB HIT (with the equally fun clue, [Whack job]), and TURNS OFF (I first had SHUTS OFF because of the clue, [Powers down]). My favorite clues were [Key words in a pregame ceremony] (which works because the National ANTHEM was written by Key), [Hose hassle] for SNAG (because it fooled me into trying KINK first), and [Prepare to "fire" a Canon] for FOCUS.
I like the double duty pulled by [Gridlock] as a clue for both SNARL and JAM. Likewise, it was kind of fun to see [Canadian sentence-enders, stereotypically] (EHS) right before [Word that rarely ends a sentence] (THE). At first it made me think, “What the?!?“
Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Movie Remakes” (pen name Judith Seretto)
What a lovely crossword. The theme is simple yet clever: Add a RE- prefix to a word in a movie title to alter the meaning, often significantly. A REMARK, for example, isn’t just making another MARK, and a REQUEST doesn’t involve making another QUEST. The whole puzzle was light and entertaining—I give it an enthusiastic four STARS (120a: [Rating units]).
- 23a. [Tyrone Power film remake with the line "This mask is really itchy"?] = THE REMARK OF ZORRO.
- 33a. [John Wayne film remake set in a library?] = THE RESEARCHERS.
- 48a. [Robert De Niro film remake shown on late TV?] = MIDNIGHT RERUN. Would prefer if this clue described the re-movie’s plot rather than when it generically airs.
- 64a. [David Carradine film remake featuring a winning basketball play?] = REBOUND FOR GLORY.
- 82a. [Tim Allen film remake dealing with ordering a Ford with extras?] = GALAXY REQUEST.
- 94a. [Zero Mostel film remake featuring randy rabbits?] = THE REPRODUCERS.
- 109a. [Helena Bonham Carter film remake based on an Expedia listing?] = A ROOM WITH A REVIEW.
I sure never heard of 78d: OXTER, or [Armpit, to Scots].
- “YOU RANG?,” SVENGALI, NO MERCY, LEW ARCHER, and FREE FALLS free-falling down the middle of the grid.
- 79a. I got all tangled up here. [River to Cairo]? Well, that’s gotta be the NILE, but I want an O at the end because of NOTED. What the what? It’s the OHIO River, which meets the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois. I like getting entangled and finding my way out of the mess, so this became my favorite clue in the puzzle.