Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword
This is another of those “theme answers could all clue the same word” themes, with everything tying to [Tumblers]: LOCK DEVICES, CIRCUS ACROBATS, WHISKEY GLASSES, and JACK AND JILL. Meh. The theme doesn’t do much for me. Yes, it’s interesting that tumblers are gymnasts, lock mechanisms, drinking glasses, and (clumsily) people who take a tumble (but who would rarely be called “tumblers”). It’s just rough to encounter a weird, boring phrase like LOCK DEVICES in a crossword.
The ol’ Scowl-o-Meter coughed into action with 14a: OBEYER and crosswordese 2d: ABOU. I have no idea what a KEY CASE is and would’ve thought that it would keep the keys from being jingly. “Hang on a sec here, I gotta just pull out my KEY CASE so I can work on those LOCK DEVICES.” Three plural sports abbreviations (RBS, DHS, TDS), join other abbrevs (AIG, OED, UCLA, SYS), foreign words (ECCE, ALPE), a Roman numeral (DCC), and a partial (I LIE) to alienate me.
I do like ARCHITECTS, VERSACE, PRUSSIA, and “WHERE TO?” a lot.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Change of Address”
Really neat theme this week. Matt takes a city/state abbreviation combo and inserts a letter to turn the state into a new 3-letter entity. For a nice touch, the added letters are all vowels, always inserted before the state abbrev, and each is used once:
- 18a. [Actress Thurman, after joining the "More Than a Feeling" band?] = BOSTON UMA.
- 20a. [Abe, after being demoted to the dollar bill?] = LINCOLN ONE.
- 34a. [Divine guidance from an "Entourage" agent?] = PROVIDENCE ARI.
- 50a. [Explorer Walter's new company?] = RALEIGH INC.
- 53a. [Bonham Carter's personal ambulance staff?] = HELENA EMT.
Now, five theme entries that are partly stacked together (as in the first 4 letters of 18a parked above the last 4 of 20a) might quash a constructor’s ability to fill the grid with good stuff, but Matt managed to bar the crap and include such goodies as ROAD RAGE, GREW INTO, MR. MIYAGI, BACARDI (which sort of echoes the Spanish of JAVIER Bardem), and “GRAB HIM!” FMS and EES are pretty junky, but nothing was triggering the Scowl-o-Meter while I was solving.
If you were a fan of 51d: AEON ["___ Flux" (MTV cartoon)] and the other MTV “Liquid Television” animated shorts are now online! We’re gonna watch the Celebrity Deathmatch with Beavis and Butthead later.
Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Another Don and C.C. puzzle! I feel like I get more puzzles by them than any other constructor (or constructor pair), and I’m happy to! Let’s take a moment to stop, look and listen to what’s in store today:
- 17a. [Visit the local watering hole] - STOP IN FOR A DRINK
- 38a. ["Let's try a different approach"] - “LOOK AT IT THIS WAY”
- 59a. ["Pay attention"] – “LISTEN CAREFULLY”
And coming down the center:
- 62a. [What one does after observing the reminders that start 17-, 38- and 59-Across] – CROSSES THE TRACK
I like that this unifying entry CROSSES the other theme entries, and I’m also a fan of all three of the horizontal entries. However, I expected STREET or ROAD instead of TRACK. Is this supposed to be a railroad safety bit instead? In general: look both ways! Also, it would be cool if there were a “this is something you say” clue for 17a, just like for 38a and 59a, but that’s not a big issue.
- 41a. [Ship with rich cargo] – ARGOSY. I’ve not heard this word before! I guess a Tuesday crossword can teach you new vocabulary.
- 67a. [It may follow You online] – TUBE. You know, YouTube. It’s kind of cute. And if you’ve not been watching Joon Pahk on Jeopardy!, you can catch up on YouTube. Do it.
- 6d. [Belgium-based imaging company] – AGFA. This was a get-it-across entry for me., and I was not at all sure that this was right.
- 8d. [Parade honorees] – HEROES. I still have Columbus Day on my mind, and though I didn’t go to a Columbus Day parade, I wanted this clue to reference him. US mail service resumes today.
- 11d. [Successfully stage a coup] – SEIZE POWER. By and far my favorite non-theme entry in this puzzle.
- 31d. [Teens conflict: Abbr.] – WWI (that’s World War I). Did you think this was going to be something like teenage girl catfights? I did.
Despite a little trepidation, I like this puzzle. 4/5.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Location, Location, Location” – Sam Donaldson’s review
I’ve seen this theme (or close variations of it, anyway) at least twice before, but I still like it a lot. Ross takes three common three-word expressions that start with a word meaning “midmost” (thank you, Roget) and have OF as the second word, but then clues the expression with reference to the midmost letters in the third word. That’s clear as mud, right? As always, the theme entries will do a better job of explaining the theme:
- 17-Across: [H] is, quite literally the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, as “H” is the central letter in NOWHERE.
- 39-Across: [V] is not just a bad sci-fi TV show that stayed on the air much longer than it ever should have, it’s also the CENTER OF GRAVITY (a “V” appears in the very middle of GRAVITY).
- 62-Across: [KN] is the HEART OF DARKNESS (since DARKNESS has eight letters, the exact middle consists of two letters, not one).
Highlights in the fill include the END CUT of prime rib, The Chicago TRIBUNE, former Solidarity leader Lech WALESA, POSEURS, THE FEDS, and BAC~OS, the [Salad toppings]. A quick Google search on Bac~Os leads to a link that asks the simple question, “Is there bacon in Bac~Os?” Well, the nutrition label for Bac~Os Bits, available here, says the ingredients are defatted soy flour (yum!), partially hydrogenated soybean oil, water, salt, “natural and artificial flavor” (are there other kinds?), sugar, caramel color and Red 40. Oh, and some tocopherol as a preservative. Hmm. Perhaps BAC~OS isn’t such a highlight after all.
I’m on the record as being all for partials, but CAT IN the Hat pushes even my tolerance. It is reminiscent of the great clue for MOOD down at 67-Across: [It may swing from good to bad]. I also liked [It's heard at the conclusion of May] for the LONG A sound.
Anyone else think of FRAN as [Ollie's partner] before getting STAN? I guess that shows what I grew up watching on TV, huh?