Peter Wentz’s New York Times crossword
The Monday NYT also had a bunch of short theme answers and a bunch of 7-letter answers. This time, the theme is a little loose—the SEVEN C’S is a pun on “the Seven Seas” but the seven initial/C/word theme answers don’t make up an exhaustive list of the possibilities. We get the European soccer team AC MILAN (rock-solid in my book), awkwardly plural RC COLAS, and the rock-solid DC COMICS, WC FIELDS, JC PENNEY, MC HAMMER, and NC STATE. The letters before the C’s don’t spell out anything, and there are other possible theme answers (e.g., CC Rider, PC World, TC Boyle). But that’s not a theme killer, and the rest of the puzzle has a lot to offer us. To wit:
- 1a. “CUBS WIN!” I bet a lot of you tried HOLY COW first as your [Catchphrase of announcer Harry Caray]. As for the strangeness of this answer, let us speak no more of it. There is, of course, always next year. And I don’t think April is too soon to begin such talk.
- 8a. ACADIAN, [Early French settler]. This is where the word Cajun comes from.
- 65a. First Harry Caray, now a reference to Mrs. O’LEARY’S cow? I don’t know why CAPONE and DALEY aren’t also in this puzzle.
- 5d. WELCOME MAT—a 10-letter answer crossing three theme answers as well as that trio of 7s in the corner. Nice work.
- 9d. COCCYX! That’s an awesomely spelled word and I’m glad I know how to spell it.
- 32d. FACE OF EVIL, another 10 crossings a 7-stack and three themers.
- 45d. Getting fancy with a DACTYL, which is a word or words with the same pattern of stresses as ["Innocent," but not "guilty"]. Single stressed syllable followed by two unstressed syllables. “Syllables” is a dactyl, no?
I liked the solve enough overall to not really hold ARETE EENY EDY ETD ENE ATV ANENT STYES against the puzzle. (And now I want to write a poem or a memo headlined “Anent Styes.”) 3.5 stars.
Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review
- 16A. [Melodies for a soothing atmosphere] – MOOD MUSIC
- 22A. [Positive energy] – GOOD KARMA
- 50A. [Pick up momentum] – GAIN SPEED
- 60A. [2002 Jodie Foster thriller] – PANIC ROOM
- 36A. [With 39-Across, convenience that might include the dish spelled out by the first few letters of the answers to 16-, 22-, 50- and 60-Across] – CHINESE
- 39A. [See 36-Across] – TAKEOUT
Well, isn’t that a candidate for most awkward clue of the year. Quite the exciting theme there. Zzzzzz.
- 17D. ["Don't interfere," briefly] – MYOB. Mind your own business! Stop reading other people’s blogs. Go write your own.
- 20A. [Nothing to suggest, as foul play] – NO SIGN OF. More awkwardness.
- 33A. [Shopping center?] – PEES. The two middle letters in shopping are P. And how would you clue this?
- 52A. [Tour in a double-decker bus, perhaps] – SIGHTSEE. I’m off to ride a double-decker bus right now. I call it “going to work”. Bye.
Tyler Hinman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Covert Operations” – Sam Donaldson’s review
The theme features four expressions ending with words that are also the results of basic mathematical operations. To drive it home, the expressions are then clued as though they were references to those mathematical results. This is what you’d call an “added” element.
Okay, let’s pretend that joke didn’t happen. On with the theme entries:
- 20-Across: COGITO ERGO SUM is [Descartes's statement about pondering an addition problem?].
- 27-Across: To MAKE A DIFFERENCE is to [Subtract?].
- 50-Across: One way to think of a CONSUMER PRODUCT is as the [Result when costs multiply?].
- 57-Across: ANGER QUOTIENT is a [Result of finally finishing a frustrating division problem?]. I confess I’m not very familiar with the term “anger quotient.” Should I be upset about this?
Note the neat arrangement from top to bottom: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Note too how Tyler does his part to stave off the War on Fill. There’s RIP-OFFS, I TRY, NINE A.M., SET FOR, CORN OIL (that looks deceptively like “Cornholio“), and that lovely stack in the northeast: GODSEND, TROUNCE, and ISHMAEL.To give things a tech-y vibe, there’s DEL ([Ctrl+Alt+___ (PC key combo)]), SMS ([Texting (abbr.)]), and GIGO (garbage in, garbage out), clued as ["Computers can't generate good results from bad data," briefly]. But my favorite part is how Tyler managed to get SAM right next to UMA Thurman in the far west. Sure, it may be Sam Malone that’s all SNUGGLY with Uma and not yours truly, but any grid that acts out one of my fantasies is just ducky with me.
Byron Walden’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
This puzzle pushes the bounds of propriety more than the usual Onion puzzle, but without using curse words. The puzzle could be called “WTF?” as the theme answers all replace the final letter with an F, dramatically changing the meaning:
- 18a. DAIRY QUEEF, [Coital outburst caused by lactose intolerance?]. Is that second word new to you? ‘Tis nothing more than trapped air being released by the lady parts. (Original phrase, Dairy Queen.) And so Byron has won the cruciverbal arms race and was the first to launch QUEEF in a widely distributed crossword.
- 20a. DRESS BARF, [Common prom night stain?]. You were as worried as I was about what would follow DRESS, weren’t you? (Dress Barn is a budget apparel store. Sadly, the stores’ esthetic is not “whoa, I’m shopping in a barn!” There are no hay bales to be found.)
- 40a. LOW-INTEREST LOAF, [Bread few people care about?]. Hey, wait a minute. Neither bread nor low-interest loans are offensive. I wonder if Byron originally clued this LOAF as a toilet resident.
- 61a. COKE SPOOF, [Parody used to sell Pepsi?]. (Coke spoon, for cocaine. We now return you to your edgily scheduled programming.)
- 63a. 3-POINT TURF, [Part of a football field that is in field goal range?]. (Three-point turn in driving. Did this theme answer make you think there had to be a TURD involved?)
Unwelcome visitors in the grid include ATRA, OTARU, SERT, OSTE, and ABAA. The fill’s edginess quotient is provided by 42d: TATAS, [Bosom buddies?]. The abundance of cross-referenced two-part answers took extra time to work out—
- 67a. [With 7-Down, some reds] clues PINOT and 7d is NOIRS. (This is really the best way to make an answer like NOIRS pass muster.)
- 68a. [With 55-Down, drag and drop, say] clues USE A and 55d is MOUSE. (USE A is a lame partial but it loses its partial status when it goes with another answer to make a longer phrase. However! USE A MOUSE isn’t great fill because “use a __” is entirely arbitrary. There are thousands of NOUNS (52d. [All things, to an English teacher]) that could fill the blank.
Okay, so maybe four entries don’t constitute “an abundance,” but when you are solving the top of the puzzle and hit [See 67-Across] and you’re a long way away from tackling the bottom, it makes the top more difficult. But then, Byron’s not known for making puzzles easier.
Highlights in the fill: The sneering YOU PEOPLE, the fresh MIRANDIZE, and the creepy BEDBUG and LAD MAG. Plus C3-PO (C-3PO?) with a numeral, a big improvement on the ARTOO and DETOO answers we see more often.
Favorite clues: 1a ([Drag strips?], BOAS), 16a ([Once minus tres], OCHO), 22a ([Romney winning California in November would be one], UPSET), 19d ([One may be popped in class], QUIZ—I was afraid we needed a 4-letter word meaning “pimple”), the aforementioned 52d, and 64d ([Festooned with Northern, say], TP’D).
Adam Cohen’s Celebrity crossword, “Wayback Wednesday”
On the New York Times crossword page, David J. Kahn has long been the king of the tribute puzzle—if a famous person died and a puzzle devoted to him/her showed up in the next week or two, the likeliest byline would be Kahn. In Celebrity crossword land, Adam Cohen is the king of tribute puzzles. The khan of tribute puzzles?
- 15a. DICK CLARK, ["New Year's Rockin' Eve" host and creator of the American Music Awards, who left us last Wednesday: 2 wds.]
- 22a. SEACREST, [Ryan who co-hosted "New Year's Rockin' Eve" with 15-Across since 2006]
- 36a. AMERICAN, [With 44-Across, longtime music and dance show hosted by 15-Across]
- 44a. BANDSTAND, [See 36-Across]
Adam’s also been constructing some holiday-themed puzzles for Celebrity, so he tends to walk the general “commemoration” crossword beat, not just the obituary puzzles.