Mobile app alert!
If you’ve got an iPhone or iPod touch and you’re looking for a crossword app, Rumination Software’s Crux is on sale for 99¢ this week, 80% off the regular price of $4.99. I haven’t tried the iPhone version (don’t have that coveted iPhone 4S yet!) but when I solve puzzles on the iPad, I use Crux. The app purchase includes 15 new crosswords that Rumination commissioned from Andrew Ries (the constructor who’s been publishing a Rows Garden puzzle weekly at Aries Puzzles).
Aimee Lucido’s New York Times crossword
I’ve seen themes that use slang terms for money before, sure, but that doesn’t mean I made any sense out of this theme while I was solving. Super-lively batch of theme answers:
- 17a. SCRATCH AND SNIFF! Who doesn’t love scratch-and-sniff stickers and books? (Well, people with anosmia.) One of my favorite childhood books is The Sweet Smell of Christmas. Hot cocoa? An orange? A candy cane? Yes to all three. (And “scratch” means money to people who use that particular slang. I never have.)
- 23a. Spider-Man’s nemesis, GREEN GOBLIN. I have also never used “green” to refer to money.
- 38a. Hansel und Gretel’s BREAD CRUMB TRAIL starts with “bread” and fits into a 15, and “trail of bread crumbs” fails on both counts but sounds more right to me.
- 50a. BACON NUMBER! You’re only supposed to include feature films, not documentaries, so pretty much nobody in Wordplay besides Jon Stewart has a (Kevin) Bacon number.
- 59a. Of the Abba songs I know, “MONEY MONEY MONEY” is…not on the list. I kinda know it only from crosswords. Although technically, shouldn’t this answer somehow be MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY?
Nice assortment of 9-letter Downs dressing up the grid. I like the ancient history/mythology slant of CUNEIFORM and LABYRINTH on the right side of the grid. STRAGGLER as a late marathon finisher is apt, but I messed myself up by trying to wedge SLOWPOKE in there. I bet PANDA BEAR will rile up some solvers, who will say “The panda is no bear! It’s more closely related to the raccoon, you simpleton. Shortz, I’ve caught you being wrong!” But apparently the panda is a bear. (That link is to the Wikipedia article, which is amply illustrated with photos of pandas, including a teeny baby panda. It just might be the cutest Wikipedia article ever.)
It feels like there may be a tad more “bleh” fill than the standard Tuesday puzzle has—ONEA, UVEA, ST LO, EEN, OREM, DEYS. Those drag the puzzle down from a 4 to a still-respectable 3.75 stars.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Out for the Day”
This is a themeless puzzle spiffed up with a two-piece mini-theme:
- 1a. What is [Late November drowsiness]? Well, if you ate a lot of traditional Thanksgiving food, there’s that TURKEY COMA.
- 60a. [Cause of 1-across, it's said] is TRYPTOPHAN, though I think that’s been more or less debunked.
Outside of those two answers, we’ve got a garden-variety themeless with a rather low word count—just 66 words. My favorite answer is I GOT IT GOIN’ ON, which I somehow surmised despite having no knowledge of this 22a: [Tone Loc single released just after "Funky Cold Medina"].
Clues that made me work:
- 14a. [You, you, you, or me] clues ANY ONE OF US. That doesn’t feel like a super-crosswordy sort of phrase.
- 19a. ["Gone in 60 Seconds" director Dominic] SENA? I’m sure I’ve seen the name but I had zero recollection of it.
- 31a. [Himalayan country: abbr.] is Nepal, abbreviated NEP. “Who uses this?” you may ask. The IOC does indeed use NEP for Nepal. Crosswords like to clue URU as an abbreviation for a South American country and whaddaya know? At the Olympics, Uruguay is indeed URU. Who knew? This is NEP’s second recent appearance in the crosswords I’ve been blogging. Me, I’m still waiting for [Himalayan country: abbr.] to lead me to BHU.
- 43a. [Shiba ___ (cute dog breed)] is the Shiba INU. Looks kinda like an Akita and nothing at all like a Shar Pei.
- 44a. [Duration of amateur boxing matches, often] is THREE ROUNDS. Who knew? Not I. But those MMA/UFC matches, they’re usually three rounds.
- 48a. TABUS looks nonsensical in the grid, doesn’t it? [Forbidden topics: var.] means “taboos, but spelled funny.”
- 9d. ["Axis ___" (1995 album by The Shamen)] clues MUTATIS. I thought I was doing a Brendan Quigley crossword here.
- 24d. [1968 federal law regulating firearms, for short] is GCA. Gun Control Act? Indeed. Doesn’t ring a bell.
- 39d. [It has a descender when written in lower case] could mean G/g, P/p, or Y/y. Turns out it’s the LETTER P here.
My favorite clue/answer combo is ENGAGED, a [Facebook status word for some]. My dear friend Amy (no relation) and her boyfriend of 6 months just got engaged. They were high school classmates three decades ago but just got around to being friends in the Facebook era and then fell in love. Lo, there was much rejoicing and “like”-button-clicking when they changed their relationship status to ENGAGED. Isn’t that a great story?
Three stars for the puzzle.
Kelly Clark’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
A [Postseason gridiron game] is a BOWL – but don’t don’t take this theme hint at face value. There’s no football here – just bowling.
- 17a. [Sign of a typing mistake] - STRIKEOVER, because typewriters are still relevant. At least they don’t have YouTube to distract you.
- 25a. [Indigent's request] - SPARE CHANGE
- 38a. [Wizard's game in the rock opera "Tommy"] - PINBALL – bonus! Both parts of the entry work with bowling!
- 53a. [Street urchin] - GUTTER SNIPE
- 62a. [Chain for plus-sized women's fashion] - LANE BRYANT
I know I’ve seen bowling puzzles before, but not with this variety of bowling references. Thanks for pushing this one further, Kelly! My favorite entry in this puzzle is PINT SIZE, clued as [Peewee]. No question mark clues, which saddens me. I expect a little bit of trickery on a Tuesday, but no luck today. Some abbreviations gave me a hard time and kept me from getting a 300… er, my time down to 3:00.
- [Rehab woes, briefly] - DTS. This is the plural of an abbreviation for delirium tremens, a form of alcohol withdrawal.
- [Entrepreneur-aiding org.] – SBA, or the Small Business Administration. This seems more legit, despite the fact that I can never remember it.
How is TRA-LAS an actual plural? Shenanigans here. Names in the lower right include the tame NEIL Simon and ANNETTE Funicelo as well as the more out-there ENZO Ferrari and MOIRA Shearer. 3.9 for bringing the theme to a nice level.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “After Bed Time” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s puzzle from Bruce Venzke gives us a twist on the ol’ words-that-follow-the-same-common-word gimmick. Here, the first word in each of the four theme entries can follow the word BED to form a noun, but in the theme entries those words are used as verbs:
- 20-Across: COVERS A STORY (“bed covers”) has the clue [Gets the scoop for Hearst]. Are the last two words in that clue really necessary?
- 34-Across: Something SPRINGS A LEAK (“bed springs”) if it [Starts to drop drips]. Or drip drops, I suppose.
- 41-Across: One who [Publishes fair warning] POSTS A NOTICE (“bed posts”).
- 56-Across: And one who [Climbs onto the railroad car] BOARDS A TRAIN (“bed boards”).
There are plenty of theme possibilities here: HEADS A COMMITTEE, CHECKS A COAT, SPREADS A RUMOR, and, I’m sure, many more. But it’s hard to get symmetrically opposite pairs, so some latitude is appropriate.
Did you notice all the rare letters in the fill? Five Zs and three Xs, with a J and a couple Ks tossed in for good measure. That helped add some pizzazz like PLOTZ, to [Collapse from excitement, in slang]. Interesting to see BOZO crossing BOOZE and SNOOZES crossing NO-DOZ in the southwest. I’m not familiar with FRITZI, [Nancy's aunt in the comics], but I largely stopped reading the comics once Calvin and Hobbes stopped.
Other highlights include I MEAN IT and I NEVER, along with MR. BIG and the fun clue for ED ASNER, [Emmy winner for "Roots"]. And look, even good old ANSON Williams, [Potsie's portrayer], is back!