Gareth Bain’s New York Times crossword
Gareth’s theme is FISHERMEN, and each of the four full names in the grid ends with a fish. You’ve got ZEBULON PIKE of Pike’s Peak fame. Actor ALDO RAY of crossword fame. Singer LANCE BASS of I-want-to-be-an-astronaut fame. And JULIAN BREAM of, apparently, [Classical guitarist with four Grammys] fame. My guitar-playing husband has not heard of Mr. Bream. (He also doesn’t know Aldo Ray, but that just means he hasn’t done enough crossword puzzles.) I guess Bream is more famous than Walter Trout, Shusha Guppy, Furuichi Koi, and soap actress Lynn Herring (whom I have heard of).
Anyway, pike, ray, bass, and bream are all kinds of fish. I know bream mostly from crosswords, believe it or not.
I burned my eyeballs this afternoon solving 16 crosswords (for work! I swear!) on a monitor that’s not my beloved iMac. It may also have left me a tad uninterested in thinking about crosswords tonight. Let’s see…what have we got here? Nobody much fishes from PT BOATS. Rather more crosswordese bits than I’d have liked to see—you’ve got your OGEE and AGUE, TET and LOA, SSS and TASS. Two of those would’ve been plenty. Don’t much like KART without a GO- before it (and I’ll bet Gareth clued this with reference to Mario Kart, a Nintendo racing spinoff of the Super Mario franchise). Although some would call it a blight, I kind of like the three guys with the same basic name in the southeast corner of the puzzle. JUAN, Lil JON, and YANNI are all essentially named “John.” The contrast between Yanni and Lil Jon is pretty sweet, too.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “There Goes the Bride”
“Here comes the bride, all dressed in white…—hey, where’d she go? She was just here a minute ago.” Matt’s inspiration for this puzzle is, of course, news last week(ish) that Kim Kardashian is divorcing Kris Humphries after just 72 days. The media rights to televise the wedding sold for so many millions of bucks that she raked in about $10,000 per hour of marriage. If you’re married, find out how many Kardashians (a unit of time equal to 72 days) your union has lasted with the Kardashian Calculator. My sweetie and are have passed the 100-Kardashian mark already.
Besides KIM KARDASHIAN, the theme also includes BRITNEY SPEARS, whose shortest marriage endured for over two (but less than three) days, and CARMEN ELECTRA, whose state of matrimony with Dennis Rodman lasted 9 days. All three relationships were 3d: DOOMED.
The sparse theme content leaves wiggle room for those two 5×6 corner sections and a bunch of 7- to 9-letter answers. Well, ten of them. I’m partial to the ZIT CREAM (19d: [Spot-removing agent]) and RIDICULE.
Pam Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
- 20a. [On-the-go morning snack] – BREAKFAST BAR
- 37a. [Cash for a sandwich] – LUNCH MONEY
- 43a. [Waiter's handout] – DINNER MENU
- 57a. [Familiarly, nutritious trio found twice in this puzzle] -THREE SQUARES
And in three of the corners, we see square MEALs. That’s a cute way to bring some life into a basic theme. Since the three standard meals are clued obviously, the theme itself wasn’t much of a surprise.
I understand the need to have short entries in the corners of this puzzle to facilitate easy of construction around the MEALs – particularly the ‘meh’ SAM’L. But some of the entries in this puzzle seem uninspired. We have both ARS and ARTES – how is this not a repeater? I thought we’d have CAPE instead of the Spanish CAPA, but I guess matador is both English and Spanish. RENTE, a French finance term, isn’t stunning, either. ALAR - ick.
Now let’s see about the stunning non-theme entries. ONE CLAM, though somewhat arbitrary, is pretty neat. I hate to say it, but no fill entry in this puzzle really jumps out at me as astounding. It is just a Tuesday… but I’d like to have some more fun outside of the theme. There was a cute mini-theme with both Frances GUMM [Judy Garland's birth name] and TOTO.
How about the clues? [Story spanning decades] – SAGA. I was thinking more along the lines of a soap opera at first. Fans and detractors alike might not have wanted ALASKAN immediately for [Sarah Palin, notably]. (Is she still in the news? Why?) And that’s about it for me. It’s a Tuesday puzzle – nothing too special, but the visual element still perks it up for me. 3.8 scoops of ice cream for dessert.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “The Ending Will Bug You” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Here’s a theme that will make you all bug-eyed. Each of the four theme entries is a phrase ending with a word that can precede “bug:”
- 17-Across: The [First choice] is the PICK OF THE LITTER, and a litter bug is a polluter. If you had the pick of the litterbugs, you’d almost have to choose the one who tosses the least amount of garbage, right?
- 27-Across: The [Mother's Day presentation] is BREAKFAST IN BED, and a bed bug is a Dracula-like parasite that wants to suck your blood. In fact, “blood” would be the most likely breakfast in a bed bug. (Sorry, but the gag requires that we wander into the Land of Repulsion.)
- 45-Across: CHARIOTS OF FIRE is the [1981 film that won four Oscars], including Best Picture, and a fire bug is an arsonist. The chariots of fire bugs are probably Pontiac Firebirds painted fire engine red. Fire! Fire! Fire!
- 56-Across: You’re once, twice, THREE TIMES A LADY. So says the [Chart-topper by The Commodores]. I think we all know a ladybug, but what would be three times a ladybug? A horsefly?
Nice patch of white squares in the grid’s midsection, and I’m really digging both the FAT LIP and IN THE BAG over there on the right. The entire fill is super-smooth, and we even get a MILANO, the [Pepperidge Farm sandwich cookie], for a treat. That’s the second best Milano you could ask for!