Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword
The name of the game is DEAD ENDS, and each word in the theme entries can follow the word DEAD in a familiar phrase. LAST STOP on a train yields “dead last” and “(come to a) dead stop.” SPOT ON gives us “dead spot” and “dead on.” Similarly, AIR SPACE, EYE LIFT, SET SHOT, HEAD LOCK, and SEA MAN play the same game. What the heck is “dead shot”? I’m drawing a blank on that one.
Eight theme answers is a lot, but they’re on the short side and the fill doesn’t suffer. There’s even some colorful stuff, such as MEAT LOAF, SKID ROW, and NINJA MOJO (the name of my next band).
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Corner Squares”
The 3×3 chunks in the corners happen to spell out simple phrases consisting of 3-letter words–and those words appear within longer entries. Each corner phrase is clued by a long answer within the crossword. “HOW ARE YOU?” is a GREETING STARTER. ODD MAN OUT is a MATCHLESS LAD (though “matchless” usually means “exceptional” rather than “unpaired”–and “man” is older than a “lad” for sure). The “IT’S TOO FAR” clue is worded awkwardly; PLEA FOR MILES meaning “a plea uttered for many miles”? DAD’S TYPE OF STORE is a MOM AND POP store. Unusual theme, sort of strange theme answers.
My favorite clue/answer combo is 35d: SAF [__-T-Pops ("the lollipop with the loop")]. You want to buy 60 cherry ones right now? I do. Childhood nostalgia. Apparently the traditional cherry, orange, and grape flavors are now joined by green apple (feh). And yes, I realize SAF isn’t even a word, and yet I’ve singled it out for praise. So sue me. (But you won’t be suing me for injuries sustained from dangerous sucker sticks!)
I didn’t know the abbreviation in 66d: MDP. [Bipolar disorder, for short] clues the abbrev for “manic depressive psychosis”; so that’s what the P stands for. If you’re interested in the topic of bipolar disorder, keep your eyes out for the upcoming documentary, Of Two Minds, entering the film festival circuit this month. It’s co-directed by Doug Blush, who edited the crossword doc Wordplay.
Not much else of note in the puzzle, as the four “clue” theme answers and the corners lock down a lot of the grid and provide more “meh” fill than usual in a Jonesin’ puzzle. 3.25 stars.
Updated Tuesday morning:
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Mating Game” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s puzzle features the results of seven notable courtships, each featuring a prime rhyme from the lady’s point of view:
- 18-Across: Wanna know [What Bess did?], as in Bess Truman? Turns out she was the one to MARRY HARRY.
- 20-Across: Although I’ve neither seen nor read Gone With The Wind, I know [What Scarlett did?]. She was the one to GET RHETT Butler.
- 28-Across: I suppose one could say the answer to [What Marilyn (Monroe) did?] was to SNOW JOE DiMaggio, but I’d like to think he went into that relationship with his eyes wide open.
- 37-Across: I doubt if you asked Mrs. Bumstead herself [What Blondie did?], she would tell you she was the one to SNAG DAG, as in “Dagwood.” I don’t remember her (or anyone else) ever using this nickname for her husband.
- 46-Across: Now Mrs. Flintstone, on the other hand, would readily admit that WED FRED is [What Wilma did?]
- 55-Across: Inner Beavis knows there’s something funny about PICK DICK, but he can’t quite figure out what it is. In the meantime, it will have to be the answer to [What Pat did?] (as in Pat Nixon choosing the future President Richard M. Nixon as her beau).
- 59-Across: I can’t be the only one who thought of KILL BILL after seeing [What Hillary did?], right? Of course, then I realized the clue asks for what Hillary Clinton actually did and not what she likely wanted to do many times over the years. So the answer’s THRILL BILL.
Seven theme entries is quite a bit. Yes, three of them are only seven letters long, but there’s still 57 total theme squares, nearly the equivalent of four 15-letter entries. So I felt the theme density here was high. In typical Lynn Lempel fashion, though, you wouldn’t know it from the smooth Downs and the rest of the Across fill. This is why I love Lynn Lempel puzzles so much–you can always count on a grid free of blemishes. You’d be picking nits to single out either ILO or BMOC as bad fill, and when that’s as questionable as it gets, you know you’ve got it good.
The theme leaves me less impressed. Sometimes we’re marching to the altar (MARRY, WED), sometimes we’re just asserting property rights in the men (SNAG, GET), sometimes we’re just being a plaything (THRILL) and on one occasion we’re committing fraud (SNOW). That feels a little too uneven to me. And I’m still troubled by DAG–I still can’t find confirmation that Dagwood ever went by that name, and I’m not sure we should start now. I think Dagwood should hold on to his wood for as long as he can. (Aha! Inner Beavis found a joke!)
Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
I’ve jumped up onto the couch because I’ve seen something run across the floor.
- 17a. [Old-style bottle opener] – CHURCH KEY
- 24a. [Yankee with a record 18 World Series home runs] – MICKEY MANTLE
- 41a. [1995 Woody Allen film with a Greek chorus] – MIGHTY APHRODITE
- 52a. [Highest British military rank] - FIELD MARSHAL
- 65a. [Cry evoked by the first parts of the answers to] - EEK! A MOUSE!
This is a cute theme. I’ve seen an unexpected mouse run across the floor before, but I can’t imagine saying, “eek.” I can imagine stunned silence, a shrill shriek, or even profanity, but not “eek.” Who eeks? I don’t eek.
Pulling into ACPT week, I’ve been solving a lot of puzzles for speed in the hopes of finishing puzzle five in time this year. That’s where I can make up the most points against my various nemeses. Even so, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the fill of this puzzle as I solved it. CALM down and LET IT SLIDE, BIG SPENDER. Enjoy a LEMON SODA with ICE like Lindsay LOHAN when she CHILLS OUT. (Okay, she might prefer something a bit harder.) There are matching deck chair clues in the the lower right for TEAK and SLAT to round the puzzle out. I’m surprised that SEAT didn’t get this treatment too.
Out of my ken was the duo of FLATT and Scruggs, the Foggy Mountain Boys. Just because I live in Kentucky I’m not automatically an expert on bluegrass music. (HA HA.) We’ll see what happens NEXT puzzle – it’s the last one I’ll blog before the contest. See you then!
Bob Klahn’s Celebrity crossword, “TV Tuesday”
I haven’t seen the show that’s the subject of today’s puzzle theme and I haven’t heard anyone talking about it on Facebook, so it’s off my radar. It’s a cop drama:
- 18a. BLUE BLOODS, [CBS police drama]
- 31a/33a. REAGAN / FAMILY, [Irish-American focus of 18-Across].
- 43a. TOM SELLECK, ["Magnum, P.I." star who plays the police commissioner on 18-Across]
I’m not generally a mustache fan, but Tom Selleck wears the hell out of his mustache, doesn’t he?
One mystery item for me in this puzzle:
- 22d. FLIX, ["Cool Classics" movie channel]. Google tells me it’s part of the Showtime family of channels, which explains why I don’t know it–my cable package includes the HBO and Starz families.
How’d this one treat you?