Special secret birthday greetings to Crossword Fiend webmaster extraordinaire Evad, occasional guest blogger PuzzleGirl, and constructor Byron Walden. [edited to add: and perhaps most importantly, our to-be-53rd POTUS, Amy's son Ben.]
Adam Perl’s New York Times crossword
You know what the hardest part of this theme was? Not 1a and 10a, not the snaking letters across the middle of the grid, not 17a, not 62a. It was piecing together the name in 54a. MIKAEL BLOMKVIST? Why isn’t it Blomquist, anyway? Never read any of the books, haven’t seen the Swedish movie(s?), haven’t seen the American movie. No particular interest in any of it, but at least it’s been such an inescapable pop culture phenomenon that most of the theme was easy for me anyway. STIEG Larsson, The GIRL / WITH / THE DRAGON TATTOO, LISBETH SALANDER–those bits were gimmes. It was just the dude’s name I was blanking on and the Swedish spelling I wasn’t 100% on.
The hardest part of the non-theme puzzle? 42a and some of its crossings. I had the [Silicon Valley city] as LOS GATOS instead of LOS ALTOS (does California also have a city named “The Cats”?), which meant the [1906 Massenet opera based on Greek myth] looked like GR*ANE and [Dance movement] was GAIDE. Wha…? ALTOS takes us to ARIANE the opera and GLIDE the movement.
Favorite clue, 22a: [One taking a gander?] for GOOSE.
Michael Dewey’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Let’s see what the DEAL is in today’s LA Times puzzle.
- 3d. [Injury-prone area for pitchers] – ROTATOR CUFF
- 18a. [Florida Keys, e.g.] – ISLAND CHAIN
- 28a. [Meat ingredient in many stuffing recipes] – PORK SAUSAGE… and now I want sausage.
- 61a. [Elusive evolutionary connection, or the elusive feature of the ends of 18-Across and 3- and 28-Down] – MISSING LINK
I kind of wish there were actual missing links from this puzzle, but this puzzle works great as it as. As someone who’s lost cuff links, this puzzle speaks to me on a deep level any way. I just noticed that the Florida Keys make up a chain… a key chain. Did someone name it this way on purpose? And how did I not notice it earlier?
[Bandleader Kay] KYSER is a new name for me – it’s exciting to learn a new name from an early-week puzzle. Of course, I do know [“24″ superagent Jack] BAUER. A bit of a generation gap there. Remember when YAHOO was a [Popular email provider]? It’s all about Gmail these days, it seems. (Don’t tell my mom – she’s still on AOL.)
I don’t recognize Michael Dewey’s name, but he’s sure got a knack for putting in some cute fill all over the puzzle. LET IT BE, BLOOPER, OOZING, IPHONE, I’M FREE, LEFT JAB, CHINTZY, CYCLOPS, TREKKIE. Usually, when I do a one-line rundown, it’s because there’s a lot of trash in a grid. This time, though, it’s because there’s just not enough time to look at each cool entry one at a time. My favorite clue in the bunch was [One who can do a perfect Vulcan salute].
My final answer in this puzzle was the [Tyrolean refrain], YODEL. Tyrol is a state in western Austria; had I known this, the puzzle might’ve gone a bit quicker. BE ALL also got an uncharacteristically tricky [What really matters] – not the kind of hard clue I expect at one down on a Tuesday. I love a surprise like that! More from you, please, Mr. Dewey!
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “It’s Elementary” – Sam Donaldson’s review
You can’t ask for a theme that’s more basic, easy, or simple than this one. That’s because the four theme entries begin with a word that’s synonymous with “elementary:”
- 20-Across: BASIC TRAINING is the [Boot camp regimen].
- 31-Across: EASY STREET is the [Address where you can live the life of Riley]. Growing up, a local radio station aired replays of the old “Life of Riley” show (with the friendly undertaker, “Digger” O’Dell) on Saturday nights, followed by re-broadcasts of “The Shadow.” Yep, there was a time when Saturday nights were fun.
- 41-Across: SIMPLE FOLK are [Rubes].
- 53-Across: PRIMARY COLORS is the [Roman à clef about Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign]. Wait, John Travolta’s character was based on Bill Clinton? Really? (Bazinga.)
There wasn’t much to slow me down. I had BARGE IN ON then BARGE ON IN before getting BARGE INTO as the answer to [Enter without invitation]. And after seeing the clue [Paris subway system] I did spend a few seconds wondering, “What’s French for ‘metro?’” before finally seeing that it was, well, METRO.
I didn’t know that SINGAPORE is the [Country that forbids the importation of nontherapeutic chewing gum]. That’s the kind of clue that so wacky it’s adorable. LAB COAT, the [Stereotypical apparel for a medical researcher], was also cool.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Let’s Go Sigh-Seeing”
Enjoy the natural scenery, and don’t forget to leave those extra letters at home. They just get in the way of the scenic view at these tourist attractions:
- 20a. DESIGNATED RIVER, ["Come run the rapids at this specially assigned locale!"]
- 31a. CURIOUS GORGE, ["Come see the view, for all you nosy types!"]
- 38a. FROSTED LAKES, ["Come see how everything crystallizes during the winter!"]
- 48a. HASTA LA VISTA BAY, ["Come to the sheltered spot you can't wait to get away from!"]
I don’t love the theme, as it doesn’t quite hang together for me. Feels a little forced. But I do like the extreme liveliness of the original phrases–designated driver, Curious George, Frosted Flakes, and “Hasta la vista, baby.”
Five more clues:
- 34a. MAACO, “Uh-oh, better get…” company]. For scratched cars in need of paint?
- 60a. DOLAN, [HBO founder Charles]. Is he really the most famous Dolan we’ve got? I can’t say anybody’s coming to mind.
- 4d. RAVIOLI, [Pillows on a plate]. Delicious pillows.
- 38d. FORTEAN, [___ Times (UK mag taglined "The World of Strange Phenomena")]. Not on my reading list.
- 39d. RUTA, [Frequent early "Hollywood Squares" panelist Lee]. Ruta Lee, not Lee Ruta. Nowhere near as famous as Rula Lenska in my book. Or Ruta Baga.
I don’t know that anyone has ever actually used 43d: FEARER as a word. “Don’t be a fearer of the Reaper!” Love OH HELL, YES’M, and I CAN Has Cheezburger.