Julian Lim’s New York Times crossword
Hot on the heels of his Tuesday LAT puzzle, here’s Julian with the NYT. Surprisingly easy for a Wednesday, no? I paid no mind to the theme while solving, because the “(whose symbols are found at the ends of the answers to the five asterisked clues)” explanation was rather after the fact. In a tougher puzzle, I’d have given some thought to what unites BRAIN WAVES, FULL CIRCLE, RISING STAR, DOUBLE CROSS, and TIMES SQUARE but those shapes wouldn’t have shouted ZENER CARDS to me the way [Tools for ESP researchers] did.
Skepdic.com looks to have the lowdown.
Solid theme in a grid with a dozen 6- and 7-letter answers that livened up the solve. Do you say (or at least write) WHILST for effect? I sure do. Sometimes I even do it whilst blogging. I also like A FAR CRY, NITPICK, BBQ PIT, LET’S ROLL, and PARLAY.
Deb Amlen’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
I broke my brain while working on this puzzle. I somehow convinced myself that this was an add-a-K theme, and then PARKING FINK wasn’t making any sense at all. “Parking fin? Paring fin?” Of course, it’s actually change-INE-to-INK, complete with a vowel shift from long I to long E sounds:
- 17a. [Guns N' Roses song about a baby swathed in fur?] is SWEET CHILD O’ MINK. This is not about kittens and puppies, sadly, or baby pandas.
- 25a. [Person who steals your spot?] is a PARKING FINK. I pay my parking fines grudgingly: I’m mad at myself for parking unwisely, but realize that the city really needs the cash. I should know better than to leave the car on the street on street-sweeping day.
- 43a. [Come-on over cake and coffee?] is a DESSERT WINK. My last cake consumption was a slice of amaretto cake that was scrumptious. As for dessert wine, I need to tap into that bottle of cabernet franc icewine with some chocolate—the two flavors will combine in the mouth into a virtual chocolate-covered strawberry.
- 55a. [Documentary about an online connection to a dieting website?] is THE THIN BLUE LINK. My visited-hyperlinks color is purple, but the links I haven’t clicked are blue.
I’m mildly surprised to see 36a: TWATS clued inoffensively as [Jerks]. There’s a vulgar definition, too. The vulgarity is not absent, however! Oh, no. Not in the A.V. Club puzzle. 16a: ORAL is clued as [Eating out, so to speak]. If you don’t understand the connection, you probably don’t want to Google it. There’s also 60a: T AND A, [Appealing element in plotless movies, for some: Abbr.].
Three more clues:
- 47a. VERS [___ libre (poetry style)] is new to me. How else are you going to clue VERS?
- 41a. [Where Pago Pago and Fagatogo are] clues SAMOA. I just learned the other day from the Rex Parker blog that there’s a big difference between Samoa and American Samoa. The clue’s towns are actually in American Samoa, which is culturally quite distinct from the independent nation of Samoa (capital, Apia). People in American Samoa tend to emigrate to the U.S., while Samoans head to New Zealand. Samoa is also going to jump to the other side of the date line to be better aligned with Australia, New Zealand, and China—3 hours ahead instead of 21 hours behind.
- 6d. [Smoker's activity] clues ASHING. People use that as a verb?
Ned White’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The seven theme answers come out balanced:
- 14a, 16a, 17a. ["Affirmative!"] clues NO ARGUMENT, AMEN, and I’M SURE OF IT. All three of these “yeses” would be replies to different questions or remarks, wouldn’t they?
- 38a. ["It could go either way"] clues I JUST CAN’T DECIDE.
- 63a, 65a, 66a. ["Negative!"] clues NOT A PRAYER, UH-UH, and IN A PIG’S EYE. Like the affirmative trio, these “noes” all have different uses too.
I like the 10-letter stacked theme entries, but not their environments. 47d: ASH PIT / [Fireplace receptacle] and 1a: ALE TAP / [Bar fixture] both feel ungainly. [Down Under st.] TASM., British spelling TYRES, plural EASTS and ETES…eh.
I had trouble tapping into the cluing vibe. 40d: COP is clued with [Swipe], for example. 20a: [Hiker's map, casually] is a TOPO. 43a: [Snarl noises] are the HONKS of horns in snarled traffic. A [Second, e.g.] is a UNIT of measure, in this case time. As for 45a: [1975 seminal green movement novel by Ernest Callenbach]—ECOTOPIA?? That doesn’t ring a bell at all.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Spread Eagle” – Sam Donaldson’s review
67-Across tells us that one of the Most Favored Birds of Crosswords, the ERN, is the [Eagle that's "spread" in the four longest puzzle answers]. Bonus points for making a theme out of some tired Crosswordese (as opposed to “fresh Crosswordese?”). All of the theme answers are nouns, two are proper nouns:
- 17-Across: ERIC CLAPTON is a [Three-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee], once as part of Cream, once as part of The Yardbirds, and once as a solo artist. Is there any other widely-known hall of fame in which an individual can be enshrined more than once? Athletes that played for more than one team have to choose one team’s uniform for the Hall of Fame–should rock musicians have to follow suit?
- 62-Across: The ENGLISH HORN is the [Oboe's longer cousin]. It gives the oboe an inferiority complex. But hey, it’s not the size of the instrument but how you play it. (Gives a whole new meaning to “toot your own horn,” doesn’t it?)
- 11-Down: ERIN MORAN is the ["Joanie Loves Chachi" co-star]. I’m not sure which one she played. (Before you scroll down to the comment box, that’s a joke.)
- 35-Down: EARLY MORN is [When dew appears, poetically]. In college, The Dew appears late on the night before a term paper is due.
Notice that two theme entries break the ERN between the E and the R, while the other two break between the R and the N–that’s some good crossword construction right there, I tell ya. The 5×3 block in the center, flanked by 6s and 7s, gives the middle a nice, open feel, but it also serves to cut the puzzle into three distinct sections: the upper-right, the lower-left, and the swath running from northwest to southeast. It thus felt like I solved three mini-puzzles, as I started with the swath, came to the upper-right, and finished in the lower-left.
Waiting for me in the lower left was PG UP, short for “page up,” the [Keyboard key used for scrolling]. That tripped me up, maybe because my keyboard says “Page Up,” albeit in tiny letters. I seem to recall that earlier keyboards had “Pg Up” but maybe I’m making my memory serve current purposes.
The smooth fill yielded only a few other out-of-the-ordinary entries, namely the S.S. MINNOW from Gilligan’s Island and NAME TAPE, the [Undies identifier at camp]. Is that clue referencing summer camp or military base camp? My limited summer camp experience had me writing my name on clothes with a Sharpie, not with name tape. But then again, as the only 200+-pound kid in my sixth grade class, my clothes were readily identifiable by the “XL” tag already stitched inside of each item.