Rolf Hamburger’s New York Times crossword
First off, Rolf Hamburger is an awesome name.
The theme is “add a ONE”:
- 18a. The Mod Squad turns into a MOONED SQUAD. Who doesn’t like buttock humor?
- 23a. “My word!” becomes a MONEY WORD, or “word that appears on U.S. money.” Meh.
- 40a. A humble stagecoach becomes STONE AGE COACH, splitting one word into two. I rather like that, [Athletic trainer for Neanderthals]. The people who follow the “paleo” diet and exercise regimen should absolutely work with Stone Age coaches.
- 54a. The erstwhile L.A. Rams yield to L.A. RAMONES. Would like this better if (1) the Ramones weren’t so tied to NYC and (2) if the Rams hadn’t been a St. Louis team for so long now. St. Louis Ramones!
- 60a. Gin rummy, solid. GONE IN RUMMY, I can’t remember the clue for. [Entered pie-eyed?]?? No, that doesn’t work for me.
Favorite clue: 52a: DYES are [Items in many lists of ingredients]. It’s terrible and true. I’m thinking of dropping Diet Coke entirely for Zevia cola and root beer, sweetened with natural noncaloric stevia and containing none of the artificial crap. The Zevia folks sell black cherry and grape sodapop and it’s clear. If there’s a Whole Foods near you and you want to avoid aspartame and sugar (but are a soda junkie), check it out. Zevia kindly adds caffeine where it belongs.
Byron Walden’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
By the numbers: Six theme answers, some of them stacked together. 16×15 grid, wider than standard. Numbers in all the theme clues. Rating, 3.5 stars.
The theme’s about celebrities whose marriages to other celebs didn’t last long:
- 17a. LISA MARIE PRESLEY was [Mrs. Nicolas Cage, for 108 days]. Wasn’t it just that Nic was a big Elvis fan?
- 20a. DREW BARRYMORE was [Mrs. Tom Green, for 163 days]. I forgot he existed.
- 34a. DENNIS RODMAN was [Mr. Carmen Electra, for 9 days]. Hey, it was more than a week! There may have been people wagering that the marriage wouldn’t even last that long.
- 41a. KENNY CHESNEY was [Mr. Renee Zellweger, for 225 days].
- 52a. KIM KARDASHIAN was [Mrs. Kris Humphries, for 72 days].
- 59a. 1920s screen idol RUDOLPH VALENTINO was [Mr. Jean Acker, for 6 hours]. Six hours! Never heard of Jean Acker, so I looked up the story: “Actress Jean Acker … was involved with actress Grace Darmond and Alla Nazimova. Acker got involved with Valentino in part to remove herself from the lesbian love triangle, quickly regretted the marriage, and locked Valentino out of their room on their wedding night. The couple separated soon after, the marriage never consummated.”
Big ups for the theme execution (including the gender parity) and for the slangy vibe in the fill. 39a: [How Salt-n-Pepa want you to push it] is REAL GOOD. Instead of 45a: STA being clued as an abbreviation for “station,” it’s a [Suffix with gang]. We’ve also got 64a: AIN’T ["___ no thang"].
Frowny faces and brain short-outs for the things I didn’t know or didn’t like:
- 47a. [Novice bookkeeper, typically] clues NON-C.P.A. Um, is that thing? I’m thinking it ain’t no thang at all.
- 49a. [Some notebooks] are I.B.M.’S? Really? Only if they predate 2005, when IBM sold its computer business to Lenovo. IBM is still a company, yes, but it’s hard to make it a plural.
- 63a. [Crosshairs user, e.g.] is an AIMER who aims. When’s the last time you were an “aimer”?
- 11d. [2006 T.I. film] is ATL. Missed hearing about this one completely.
- 34d. DRY SPILLS are things? These [Accidents dealt with by whisk brooms] aren’t just adjective + noun?
- 42d. [Beer, in British slang] is NECK OIL, apparently. Ick. That is one unsavory phrase.
- 60d. [Former Jerusalem mayor ___ Lupolianski] is named URI. I am not up on my mayors outside of Chicago, New York, L.A., and sometimes D.C.
- 9d. EVERYBODY is indeed [Word before "knows," "hurts," and "dance now," in various song titles]. All delightful songs, and an entertaining clue.
- 53d. [Iconic cry for Captain Kirk] is “KHAN!” We would also have accepted KHA-A-A-AN.
David Poole’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Short post—tired tonight, busy day tomorrow.
Hey, if you solve the puzzle on latimes.com and you have constructive criticism about the new applet the L.A. Times is using, leave it in a comment and I’ll pass it along. (I reckon you’re stuck with the ad.)
The theme is MONKEY / IN THE / MIDDLE, and there are four long theme entries with an APE in the middle:
- 18a. [Early Mary Tyler Moore role] = LAURA PETRIE.
- 54a. [She played Carla Tortelli on "Cheers"] = RHEA PERLMAN.
- 3d. [She played Nicole Chapman on "Fame"] = NIA PEEPLES. By far, the least famous woman in this theme.
- 28d. [1996 Madonna role] = EVITA PERON.
One fictional TV character, two actresses, and a real person clued as a movie character? Odd. Presumably the names are ale female because those are the names most likely to end in an A. Big trouble on the science-nerd front: Monkeys are smaller primates and apes are bigger primates, and the two are not, strictly speaking, synonymous. (Perhaps pannonica will fill us in on the taxonomical details.)
- 4d. [Trivia game that involves bluffing] is MALARKY. Never heard of the game but love the word MALARK(e)Y and all its synonyms (scroll down here for a list of delicious synonyms).
- 49d. It is time for CRTS, old [PC monitors], to vanish from crosswords. The Wikipedia entry for the cathode ray tube even has a section labeled “Demise.” Sure, they’re still selling CRT monitors in the developing world, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a TV or monitor for sale in the U.S. that isn’t a flat-screen.
- 44a. ["Les Girls" actress Elg] is named TAINA. I know this only from crosswords, and that only rarely. Not a quality crossword entry.
- 59a. [2009 Ruben Studdard album] is LOVE IS. I tried LOVING and then LOVERS.
- 7d. [Fashion designer Michael] KORS… Is he still famous? Apparently yes. He’s a judge on Project Runway (never watched it) and Michelle Obama has worn his creations.
2.75 stars, downgraded for the APE/MONKEY discrepancy and some blah (ETON! NAES!) or clunky (TAINA!) fill.
Something’s Coming, and it’s not just a Dance at the Gym. It’s an homage to all the songs from the [Musical] WEST SIDE STORY that have one-word titles. (The puzzle’s title is a mash-up of two such songs.) 57-Across tells us that other one-word titles from West Side Story are [found at the start of the the three theme entries]. (Wait, isn’t WEST SIDE STORY a theme entry too? Or are “revealers” not really theme entries? I’m getting confused!) Here are the “the three theme entries:”
- 20-Across: AMERICA ONLINE is the [Internet service provider that started in 1991]. I was a CompuServe guy in the early nineties, myself.
- 37-Across: A COOL BREEZE is [Relief on a hot day]. Boy oh boy!
- 43-Across: MARIA BELLO is the ["Prime Suspect" star]. Ah, Maria. I’ll never stop saying Maria.
Given that I’ve never seen West Side Story (blasphemy?), I Feel Pretty proud of my solving time. Even for someone as musically ignorant as me, there’s lots to like in this puzzle. We have JANITORS in a TETE-A-TETE over in the northeast, and there’s the EARTHWORM down in the southwest. I’m not entirely sure TAE-BO is still a [Popular exercise program]. Hasn’t P90X wrested away whatever hold tae-bo had as the exercise program du jour? My favorite clues were the consecutive clues at 12- and 13-Down: [Paindromic explosive] for T.N.T., and [Palindromic cheer] for YAY–I guess it doesn’t take much to amuse me.