If you were in the habit of using the “[Today]” link at Will Johnston’s Puzzle Pointers page to download the .puz file of the New York Times crossword, you’ve surely noticed that the link is gone. The NYT changed its file-naming conventions so the way Will had it configured doesn’t work anymore. He suggests Crossword Fiend’s “Today’s Puzzles” download page as an alternative. Team Fiend’s V.P. of I.T., Evad, just updated the code so that our NYT link will give you tomorrow’s puzzle the night before, when the Times releases the new puzzle online. Evad’s also added a link for the six-weeks-in-arrears Boston Globe puzzle.
Mind you, I still visit Puzzle Pointers nearly every weekend to fetch some Sunday puzzles on Saturday. Such a handy page! He’s got the Post Puzzlers weeks in advance via the calendar page, you know. Good stuff.
Jim Hilger’s New York Times crossword
Look! My latest Macintosh software update brought me a bolder font inside the NYT applet. My eyes thank whatever Java noodlings are responsible for this.
Today’s theme is phrases that follow FOLLOW, but the FOLLOW has been lopped off and appears elsewhere in the grid. The clues for the FOLLOW-less phrases and words give no hint that anything is amiss. THE BOUNCING BALL, ORDERS, THE LEADER, THAT CAR, ONE’S HEART (we would also have accepted ONE’S BLISS), and IN ONE’S FOOTSTEPS are the FOLLOWers. Do you like the faint surrealism of things not following FOLLOW as they should?
- 11d. CHARADES. Not sure why the clue is [Game with many "points"]. Because…people point at…something? Regardless, I like the answer.
- 43a. Nice clue for Scrabbly JAGUAR: [Figure of many a Mayan deity].
- 12a. [Lifeline's location] is in the PALM of your hand, if you give any credence to palm reading. Raise your hand if you thought of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? lifelines first.
- 8d. PRINCE! The musician and [Singer whose "name" was once a symbol] when his record label asserted rights to his name. Not that the fill or clue are so special—I just like Prince’s music, particularly the early ’80s stuff.
- 56d. ZING! That’s to [Throw a barb at] someone verbally.
Not wild about: (1) Plural APRILS. (2) OSSIA. Say what?? This [Direction to an alternative musical passage] has a few priors in the Cruciverb database, all in the LAT, clued as “easier version, in music (scores).” I am more familiar with OSTIA, a Roman port that gets a lot more play in crosswords. Do you musical types all know OSSIA?
Michael Sharp’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Michael’s theme answers change -ALE spellings into sound-alike -AIL spellings:
- 17a. [Bills and catalogues?] clues TYPICAL MAIL. Mine seems to be more solicitations for donations. I don’t feel like I receive any less mail than I used to, but I definitely send less now that none of my regular bills are paid by sending a check in the mail. Post Office, we hardly knew ye. (“Typical male” feels like the least familiar of the base phrases in this theme.)
- 29a. [Monk's unusual appendage?] is the super-creepy answer, THE FRIAR’S TAIL. (“The Friar’s Tale” is from Chaucer, right up Prof. Sharp’s alley.)
- 48a. [Where a kid's shovel may be found?] is right BEYOND THE PAIL.
- 61a. [Traditional December spin around the harbor?] might be a YEAR-END SAIL. This…would be very cold in Chicago.
In addition to the Chaucer riff in the theme, there are other autobiographical references to the constructor. He has a 20a: PH.D. He roots for 53a: the Boston Red SOX, the [Yanks' rival]. He loves The Simpsons, home of 19a: APU, ["The Simpsons" character who graduated first in his class of seven million at the Calcutta Institute of Technology]. And NNE‘s clue, 54a: [Binghamton-to-Utica dir.], includes the town where he teaches English.
I needed lots of crossings for 11d: [1961 Ricky Nelson chart-topper], “TRAVELIN’ MAN.” I could’ve done without the extra MAN in the partial at 56d, MAN A, but I like that the crossings include LOOK AT ME and RYAN’S ["__ Hope": '70s-'80s soap]. Ryan’s Hope! That’s where I learned that the name that sounded like “Shevon” was spelled Siobhan. It’s a shame future generations won’t have the opportunity to learn so much from soap operas when they’re home sick from school.
Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Who’s Your Daddy?” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Tyler Hinman’s back with a real winner. The last word in four of the five theme entries can precede “daddy,” and the fifth one kicks it up a notch, as both of its words can come before “daddy.” And yet, even with 55 squares of thematic material, the fill’s all kinds of fresh and fun.
Let’s start with the theme entries:
- 17-Across: The [Type of football league for girls] is POWDER PUFF, and “Puff Daddy” is one of the many aliases for artist-producer Sean John Combs.
- 27-Across: GRANULATED SUGAR is a [Pastry chef's ingredient, often], and “sugar daddy” is a term for a rich man who offers money or gifts to a younger person in exchange for companionship. There are sugar mommas, too, of course.
- 39-Across: To [Pull out all the stops] is to GO BIG. Happily, Hinman included the hint that [(both parts of this fit the theme)], otherwise I’m sure I would have missed that there’s both “GoDaddy,” the internet domain registrar, and “big daddy,” a name for someone of first importance (like “the bull of the woods,” an expression I’ve never understood much). I love that the central entry has twice the thematic content—that’s an elegant touch.
- 48-Across: To [Be a persistent annoyance] is to STICK IN ONE’S CRAW. I’m familiar with “crawdad” as another name for crayfish, the crustacean with eyeballs most delicious. But “crawdaddy” is so new to me that I’m not certain of its meaning. I found a Rolling Stone-like music magazine called Crawdaddy, but not much else that would seem to have wide appeal. It’s entirely possible that I’m missing something, though, so if I am please help me out in the comments.
- 63-Across: I’m not sure what it says about me that I plunked down ICE ICE BABY as the answer to the [Rap song that samples "Under Pressure"], especially since I’m not very musically-inclined. But there it is. I’m wondering if there’s any connection to the subtitle on Hinman’s blog: “If you got a puzzle, yo I’ll solve it.”
The super-long Downs may lack oomph (REVENUES and PICTURES are solid but pretty monochromatic), but there’s much to admire in the shorter fill, including ON FIRE, AT DAWN, The RIFLEMAN, IN TIME, E.F. HUTTON (Shh!), and IN TIME. I should have figured out ALI G, the [Sasha Baron Cohen character with poor grammar], but I had misspelled WEAN with two Es (my blogging license will be revoked any day now), so it took a while to fall. And the initials RPGS (for role-playing games, I assume) were new to me—though I admit I know LARP from watching the last season of Beauty and the Geek.
There are also a number of terrific clues. Five of my favorites: (1) [Part of the HOMES mnemonic] for Lake ERIE (that was how my mother taught me to remember the names of the Great Lakes); (2) the pair of dairy clues, namely [Move off of milk] for WEAN and [It often has milk poured into it] for BOWL; (3) [Part of a spork] for TINE (why base the clue on an ordinary fork when you can instead reference only the single greatest utensil ever?); (4) [Child's placemat diversion, possibly] for MAZE (talk about an evocative clue for anyone with kids or who used to solve diner placemat puzzles as a kid); and (5) [One who has turned right?] for NEOCON.
Tyler Hinman’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
It’s a Tyler two-fer this week with the Onion and today’s CrosSynergy bylines. His Onion theme riffs on those ridiculous SHAKE WEIGHTs, which are not found in respectable gyms, by scrambling four units of weight and hiding them inside longer phrases:
- 17a. There’s an OUNCE in STONECUTTER, or [Secret society member in an episode of "The Simpsons"]. Not ringing much of a bell. Was there a big initiation dinner Homer and Marge went to?
- 26a. [Modernism's predecessor] ART NOUVEAU hides a TON.
- 35a. [Prepare for an ordeal] plunks an anagrammed POUND inside GIRD UP ONE’S LOINS, but that’s not the phrase. It’s “gird one’s loins.” Are the kids/sportswriters these days (a) using the phrase but (b) inserting that “up” into it?
- 48a. [Charades, e.g.] is a PARLOR GAME, and metric gets its due with a hidden GRAM.
Are you wondering what other units of weight might have made Tyler’s list of candidates? There’s the English stone, but we’ve got STONECUTTER so that’s out. And a kilogram—it’s derived from GRAM, but I’d love to see what phrase might have a scrambled KILOGRAM inside it. There are also grains and carats, but they’re not so commonly used.
- 20a. [Leave in the dust] is a great clue for SMOKE. Slangy, colloquial.
- 47a. [Bradley Cooper title role in a Bullock bomb] is STEVE, in All About Steve. Pretty sure his people wouldn’t let him take a part in such a bad movie now.
- 10d. AIR BUBBLES are [Results of a misapplied screen protector]. Tyler, have you been looking at my Droid?
- 25d. [John who married Shirley Temple] clues AGAR. Who??
- 33d. ["Google" doesn't have one] clues SOFT G. The word Google has two hard G’s.
I love the appearance here of SHAKE WEIGHT, but the theme’s of variable solidity. The fill and clues feel a notch or two below Tyler’s usual level of excellence and entertainment. Three stars.