Liz Gorski’s New York Times crossword
Busy day today and busy morning tomorrow, so super-short blogging on this and the next two puzzles (if I can stay awake long enough to get through all three).
Theme is FIVE IRONS, with five theme answers beginning with “__ iron” words: STEAM ROOM, PIG LATIN, SCRAP PAPER, WAFFLE CONE, FLAT SODA. Fair enough.
Don’t like seeing WEEB Ewbank at 1-Across, as I know him only from puzzles—but he coached a New York team so it’s fair game for the NYT.
Dislike the clue for SOMBRERO: [A Mexican might sleep under it]. Too evocative of the pernicious “lazy Mexicans” stereotype and I’m surprised to see it clued this way. Suspect most Mexicans sleep indoors, in beds, not outdoors with a hat over their eyes.
LOVERBOY! “Turn Me Loose”! “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend”! Wait, what? It’s clued as [Beau] rather than the cheeseball ’80s band? Oh.
Don’t think I’ve ever once seen the name BREDA from 60-Across. Wish crosser BURL had been clued as [Small knot of wood] rather than the vaguer [Small knot], given the difficulty of getting BREDA. At least the similarly unknown MINGO (16a: [Iroquoian people]) had more straightforward crossings.
Like MRS. PEEL, BEST OF…, and the admittedly arbitrary THREE P.M.
Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Here’s how the puzzle played out for me: Caught sight of the LARS clue (5a: [Danish director von Trier], filled in crossers LEVIN, ABAB (turned out to be ABAA), and SYL, then boom, the long 7-Down theme revealer RAIN CATS AND DOGS. So the rest of the puzzle went without a hitch since the circled CATs and DOGs had become obvious.
Toughest answer: AZOIC, or 37a: [Geologic age meaning "without life"]. It makes sense but it’s not a word that crops up often.
Best stuff: TO NO AVAIL, NINTENDO GAMEBOY, SNOOP DOGG, lovely OXBOWS, MUZAK, GMAIL, and the Dolly Parton shout-out JOLENE (21a: [1974 Dolly Parton chart-topper]).
Worst stuff: Plural RUDDS; suffix -ORAMA; repeaters AMIN, ENOLA, ALEE, ULEE.
Byron Walden’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
I like this puzzle, but it does serve to remind me that I miss the golden era when we’d get one of Byron’s themelesses each month in the NYT plus assorted NY Sun puzzles. (Sigh.)
The theme includes six phrases that start with synonyms for “brainy” and end with body parts. All are clued as [Brainiac's asset?]: BRIGHT EYES (the Conor Oberst band), LEARNED HAND (noted jurist and bearer of truly phenomenal eyebrows), SMART-ASS (have you looked in the mirror lately? are you or are you not a little bit of a smart-ass?), APT PUPIL (creepy movie), SHARP TONGUE (this guy?), and CLEVER DICK (a dictionary-grade phrase I’ve never encountered; is it mostly British?).
Yes, that’s right. DICK is a body part in this Onion puzzle. See also its crosser, PHALLIC (39d: [Cocky?]), and the STD THE CLAP (1d: [Gonorrhea]). Leaving the reproductive system for the digestive, we get EMETICS (12d: [They make people want to throw up]). Also in the Onion vein, DETRAIN gets a double-entendre clue (3d: [Get oneself off in the subway?]).
Great clue for woeful partial ATE NO: 15a: ["Lisa Bonet ___ basil" (lyric from Weird Al's palindromic "Bob")]. Overlong clue (aptly) for RUNS ON: 34d: [Keeps going longer than is technically really necessary and then begins to start to become awkward, as a sentence]. Like the 44d: [Lipton product] mislead; it’s not TEA BAGS but SOUP MIX.
Four and a third stars.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Suspended Animation” — Sam Donaldson’s review
Crossword veterans are used to seeing CEL clued with reference to animation. Today, Peterson plays with the association, telling us in 61-Down that CEL is a [Piece of animation "suspended" in the four longest answers]. That’s “suspended” as in “bridging the two words in each answer.” So it’s a dressed-up version of the hidden word gimmick:
- 20-Across: The [DC Comics superhero team] is the JUSTICE LEAGUE of America, sometimes referred to simply as the “Justice League.” There was a time in my life when I was into comic book collecting. It always bugged me that the company was “DC Comics,” since loyal fans know that the “DC” stands for “Detective Comics.” So more formally it would be “Detective Comics Comics.” That’s just wrong wrong. But hey, we live in a world of ATM machines and PIN numbers, so I guess I can’t get too riled up.
- 33-Across: A POLICE LINEUP certainly boasts an [Array of potential perps]. I like how the clue is jazzed up instead of something dull like [Array of suspects]. ”Perps” is such great jargon.
- 41-Across: Part of an [Aspiring ballerina's training] would be DANCE LESSONS. Speaking of ballerinas, I finally saw Black Swan the other night. Natalie Portman is just awesome. I don’t care if she did 20%, 50%, 80%, or 100% of the dance moves her character did, she acted the tar out of that role.
- 57-Across: A [Prenup preparer, perhaps] is an alliterative label for a DIVORCE LAWYER. The lawyer in my divorce a few years ago was terrible. (Edited to add: I represented myself.)
I spent probably 10% of my solving time just trying to unravel ONONDAGA, the [Iroquois tribe for which Syracuse's county is named]. Having the ON- in place, I made the (racist?) mistake of seeing the word “Iroquois” in the clue and writing down ONEIDAS without even reading the rest of the clue. But that left me a square short. Too bad, too, because the D nicely fed into DIVORCE LAWYERS, so I was sure I had the right answer but the wrong spelling somehow. Once I found O’TOOLE as the ["Goodbye, Mr. Chips" star Peter], I had ONO- in place and was all kinds of confused. Finally, I just erased the whole column and, hey how about this, read the entire clue. Now I knew it likely wasn’t anything relating to the Oneida Nation, and my willingness to let it go freed me to get the word through crossings. I had to guess with the second “N,” because [Sun Yat-___] could have been anything to me. (It was SEN.)
The only other real trouble spot was in the terrific northwest. That vertical stack of TIP JAR, USA USA, and MENSCH is superb, but to get there I had to know the Italian word for “seven,” SETTE. The clue, however, tricked me. [VII, in modern Rome] had me sure that the answer was just SEVEN, and not the Italian word for “seven.” Mio errore.
I liked [Bashful, e.g.] as the clue for DWARF, because I fell into the trap of thinking of an adjective synonymous with “shy.” I like when I get fooled by the capitalization of the first word in a clue. Good thing, because it happens a lot.