C.W. Stewart’s New York Times crossword
I THOUght C.W. was hiding a THOU, as in a thousand bucks, in each of the theme entries. So it was a pleasant surprise to wind up at the theme revealer , “O Brother, WHERE ART THOU?” Thou art hiding inside “The MIDNIGHT HOUR,” MATT HOUSTON (I never watched that show), APARTMENT HOUSES, and a BASSET HOUND. Nice mix of pop culture and ordinary things in the theme.
Call me crazy, but my favorite zone in this puzzle is the lower right corner, the puzzle’s Florida peninsula. The vowel sound in THOU is echoed by OUTDO, ROUT, and OUSTS. Usually crosswords have so dang many E’s in them, but this one has more O’s than E’s. Not only that, but C.W. managed not to slip OLEO or OMOO in here.
Highlights in the fill include HOO-HAH-meets-HUSH and a spelled-out TEE-SHIRT. The toughest entry is IN FUTURO ([Yet to happen, at law]); never encountered that term before.
Smooth fill overall. Four stars.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Free To Be”
Yay, a themeless/freestyle puzzle! This 68-worder has two itty-bitty corners and a center section with mostly short answers, but the other two corners have ridiculous swaths of white space, with triple-stacked 10s intersecting 10s and 11s. It’s an impressive and unusual layout.
Favorite answers, chock-full o’ freshness:
- 16a. STICK IT OUT, or [Hang in there till the end].
- 28a. Yes, WWF RAW is an outdated name—[1990s wrestling show on USA (until the league changed its name)]—but how often do we see 6-letter answers with 3 Ws?
- 60a. Gotta love a PINKY SWEAR, clued as a [Digit-al agreement?].
- 3d. Everybody’s favorite [Disco fixture] is the GLITTER BALL, aka mirrored ball or disco ball.
- 15d. We just had EPIC FAIL in another puzzle, didn’t we? By Joel Fagliano or Brendan Emmett Quigley, maybe? It’s a [Huge blunder] in the contemporary vernacular. Did I tell you about the time the border-crossing agent between Ontario and Michigan accused me of an EPIC FAIL?
- 24d. If you [Suddenly surge forward], you may TAKE THE LEAD. Ordinary words, but like any 11-letter phrase, not too commonly spotted in crosswords.
- 48d. ["Am I right?" at the end of UK sentences] clues “INNIT?” (An elided “isn’t it.”)
Not sure how many people actually shout the words “SHOO, CAT!” (22a: [Words yelled on the porch]). CCCI, ETAPE, LETT (just added the last two to my Scowl-o-Meter trigger list!), and CAIRNED in verb form (6d. [Like a stone mound set up as a memorial]) also left me cold. 47a: SLIM TIP, clued as [Feature at the end of some wire cutters or French nails], sounds like a random adjective + noun; no idea if the term has some “lexical chunk” legitimacy.
What, what? Yes, yes! We have a little duplication action this week. Right next to 22d: SMOKE UP ([Instruction for Johnny, in a "Breakfast Club" monologue]), “smoker” appears in the clue for 33d: RASP. Meh. And we also have both the ANT COW and ANTSY, but both words are fun and so I forgive the second duplication.
David Poole’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Comedian jokes! Of course, what else would you expect from comedians?
- We have a Billy CRYSTAL PALACE. [Posh digs for comic Billy?]
- Some Eric IDLE GOSSIP – did you hear who just said “Ni!”? [Rumors about comic Eric?]
- Plus, there’s a Chris ROCK ANTHEM. [Theme song for comic Chris?]
- And finally, Martin SHORT SUBJECTS – took me a moment to realize that this one’s playing off of a genre of film. [Topics for comic Martin?]
Long entries galore in this puzzle!
- 4d. [Scene from the past, in films] - FLASHBACK. I love well-used flashbacks, like the ones showing young Shawn on Psych. I don’t love how this clue contains SCENE, the entry at 40a.
- 5d. [Game called zesta-punta in Basque] – the perennial partial entry provider JAI ALAI
- 11d. [Feature of some pens] – INK ERASER. I feel compelled to share this tale from Wikipedia: “In one instance in 1909, a 15-year-old boy working in an insurance office in New York City died when, while evading women stenographers trying to give him a kiss on his birthday, he fell and his (metal) ink eraser, supplied to office employees, stabbed his chest.” And that’s why you don’t use a metal ink eraser.
- 38d. [Like a well-fitting suit] – TAILORED. I learned the word bespoke recently, and I wanted this to be right. David Poole, please write us another puzzle with bespoke in it. No? Well, this will do.
Briefly, I’ll mention that I still don’t like NLER, and PHILA just doesn’t ring right. But the upper-right with GUCCI, U-TURN and LIBYA right next to each other is nice. 4.1 from me.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Whale Sightings” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Aye, matey, thar be whales in me grid! 60-Down tells us that the ORCA is the [Killer whale found in this puzzle's four longest answers]. Let’s see where they surface:
- 17-Across: One is hidden in an [Alfresco eatery], and that’s an OUTDOOR CAFE. The orca is the customer begging for more water, preferably with salt.
- 28-Across: You’ll find another in WINDSOR CASTLE, the [Stronghold near the Thames]. The orca is the one having problems bowing when the Queen passes by.
- 48-Across: There’s a stewed orca in the LIQUOR CABINET, [Where the sauce is stored].
- 62-Across: And while it’s most certainly a tight fit, you’ll find one in an ELEVATOR CAR, the [Conveyance controlled by buttons].
If you’re going to hide the same four-letter word four times over, the theme entries had better be interesting (or else the result is a sham-u). I think this one works well on that front, so the puzzle easily holds water.
The star of the fill, of course is [Game show host Chuck] WOOLERY, formerly of Wheel of Fortune, Love Connection, and Lingo. But there’s also COFFEE BEAN, BEDSIDE, OBADIAH and HOWIE Mandel. My two favorite clues were [Conservative front?] for ULTRA and [Promise before a kiss] for I DO.
There wasn’t anything especially tricky (hence my sub-5:00 solving time). Newer solvers might have struggled with LBOS (short for “leveraged buy-outs”), the [Corp. takeovers], OMANI (the [Certain Arabian Peninsula resident]), and OLLA, the [Earthenware jar]. Holla for the olla!