Scott Atkinson’s New York Times crossword
This puzzle is brought to you by the Better Business Bureau: four long answers (the Down ones being 16 letters long) composed of phrases with B.B.B. initials. BEING BOBBY BROWN, BOUNCING BABY BOY, BONNIE BLUE BUTLER (boy, I sure didn’t know Scarlett and Rhett had a baby), and BOSTON BAKED BEANS? Good stuff.
I like 5a: FASCIA, [Sheath of connective tissue]. My trainer tells me I have fascia issues. Press gently on the outer side of my upper leg and watch me jump. What’s up with that, anyway?
Other likes: The ORBITED/VOYAGER combo. SHERBET (though I prefer ice cream, gelato, or sorbet). Nutty CINDERFELLA. The utterly delicious word FLABBERGAST. “BYE-BYE.” And “OOF!” I love that word, as you have seen.
Don’t like: The blahs of NEE, REA, A TEE, ULNAS, HEE, ENT, VERT, REBID, INTS, RAE, ENE, ENOS, IDEATE, and SOV. The biggest grumble, though, was reserved for 33d: [Daiquiri fruit]. BANANA?? Eww. (That’s a palate thing more than a crossword thing.)
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “B-Sides”
This week’s theme plunks a B at both ends of familiar phrases and turns them into entirely different phrases:
- 17a. [Daring predicament?] is a BOLD PROB. Meh. How can a problem be bold?
- 21a. [“Bring the jackass out for an encore!”] clues BIS THAT S.O.B. Bis is a musical adverb indicating that a passage should be repeated. This musical term is not even in the same county as my wheelhouse.
- 36a. [Cooking a metal point, like you would with short ribs?] clues BRAISING THE BARB. Technically, I suppose you can fry and stew a piece of metal, but you won’t change it the way you’ll change raw food into cooked.
- 47a. [Sheep named after a late AC/DC frontman?] would be BON THE LAMB. That’s Bon Scott, and yes, I had to look that up. Bon Jovi and Bon Iver interfered with my recall.
- 56a. [Where monsters are created?] is the BEAST LAB, flipping the switch in 21a by turning L.A. into LAB (whereas 21a took the one-syllable “so” and made it three syllables).
Eh. This theme didn’t do much for me.
Did you all hear that one of the 2d: ALOU family ([Multigenerational baseball surname]) died the other day? Middle brother Matty, uncle of Moises, has shuffled off this mortal coil. (Which makes me wonder what the hell “mortal coil” means. Phrase Finder to the rescue! In Shakespeare’s day, it meant “bustle” or “fuss.” Is one shuffling off of it, or shuffling it off?)
Fave fill: 44d. OH, BABY, what a [Passionate utterance].
Clue that confused me temporarily: 53d. [Tetra’s house] is a TANK in that a tetra is a small tropical fish. Aquarium tank, not armored vehicle tank.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Do Not Enter!” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Each of the three theme entries begins with a word that describes a door on which a “Do Not Enter!” sign has been posted:
- 17-Across: [They have party restrictions] is a nice clue for CLOSED PRIMARIES, the elections that are open only to the members of a particular party. Some states use closed primaries because they worry about party raiding. I think there’s also a concern that open primaries favor milquetoast candidates and not those who appeal to the more hard-core party constituents. Extremists tend to fare better in caucus states than in primary states, perhaps for similar reasons.
- 36-Across: Okay, maybe it’s time to [Keep quiet], or SHUT ONE’S MOUTH. Not exactly an academic’s forte.
- 54-Across: SEALED WITH A KISS, or just “SWAK,” is an expression often used to describe [Like romantic envelopes]. (Sorry, the Valley Girl speak was just, like, too fun to resist. I was all “I’m so gonna do it,” but my friend goes “Nuh uh!” and I was, like, “Watch me!”)
I like how the grid snakes around like a large “2.” It faciliates a smooth solve from left-to-right in the north, then right-to-left along the equator, then left-to-right in the south. The patch of six- and seven-letter Downs in the middle is very nice, and the sixes in the northwest and southeast corners (and along the top and bottom) really give the grid an open feel.
I lost a full minute to the pileup of TRUES, SLUE, and SEDGE in the southwest, all with clues that really didn’t work for me (obviously). [Puts into alignment] is a fine clue for TRUES–my problem there is just with the word “trues.” A mechanic trues my tires? False. [Pivot around] just begs and pleads to be SPIN, not SLUE, and it’s not like I knew the second letter had to be L, as [Old Bailey events] had me thinking of circuses and not TRIALS. Finally, [It’s a rush] meant nothing to me as the clue for SEDGE. (It appears “sedge” and “rush” both refer to marshy grasses.) So that was just a messy corner, of which I plan never to speak again just so it will be over.
Donna Levin’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
This Election Day, vote Donna S. Levin for early-week constructor extraordinaire! Seriously, I’m a fan of her Monday & Tuesday puzzles.
- 17a. [Cocktail party mouthful] – CHIP AND DIP. Just one chip? Betcha can’t eat just one.
- 25a. [1950s kiddie show hosted by “Miss Frances”] – DING DONG SCHOOL. Have you heard of this? I hadn’t. But is this guessable? Absolutely. I learn things about the rules of fair crossword construction every day.
- 43a. [They frequently shoot par or better] - SCRATCH GOLFERS
- 58a. [Very last moment] – NICK OF TIME
The theme? Each long answer starts with a little imperfection that might affect, say, one’s car. The sort that drives people like me absolutely crazy. Sometimes it feels like something with more marks as a whole makes each one seem less significant.
Love seeing O CANADA in the fill – don’t you, Crosscan? I LAUD the use of HIT A SNAG. EL PASO, NE-YO and FLAT FEE are great, too. I always like how *NSYNC looks in the grid – but we see it so often. Don’t confuse SPANKS with Spanx, though – that’s a mistake you can’t come back from.
I’m not a fan of ITERS – sure, it’s clear from the Latin, but it’s not in my dictionary. (I realize that that’s not enough searching, but c’mon – it’s not an awesome entry.) O SOLE comes up an awful lot, too. But that’s really it for the NAES from me on this puzzle. 4/5 stars.