Jules Markey’s New York Times crossword
I give the theme concept an A but the unfamiliarity of 17a had me saying “No, no, no!” and wanting to give the whole thing the boot. You know what dictionary at OneLook.com has 17a in it? Just Wordnik and Urban Dictionary (both of which include user-submitted content rather than lexicographer-vetted definitions). See? It’s not a word we all know, and yet there it is, anchoring the theme as the first theme entry most solvers will encounter.
So: The theme concept hinges on 69a: JUMP, and the circled letters form words that follow “jump.” You can leave those circles blank and the Down crossings work fine; you have to JUMP over the “jump ___” words/phrases. Jumpsuit, jump seat, jump rope, jump ball, jump bail, jump ship. Those all work great. It’s that SUITEMATE at 17a, clued as [One sharing an apartment], that grates. I gather that SUITEMATE generally means “roommate in suite-format student housing, sharing common areas but not bedrooms,” and I don’t know that the “apartment” in the clue is truly equivalent. So even though I understood the theme perfectly fine, it took me two and a half extra minutes to grapple with the SUIT letters. I first searched for synonyms of “roommate” and found nothing but housemate that fit the ****EMATE pattern. Then I used OneLook to search for “jump ????” and that’s where the suit finally jumped out at me. Awkward, man. Awkward.
Favorite clues: 27a, SAWMILLS, [Facilities housing large planes?], and 12d, SIRI, [Phone voice?]. I never use Siri on my iPhone. Surely I’m not alone?
Best fill: KABUKI, QUISP [Breakfast cereal with a propeller-headed alien on the front of the box], REPO MAN, and STAR DATE. I’m also partial to the ESKIPMOS, MOOTORLIST, Pete SBAMPRAS, and all those mangled 3/4-letter answers crossing the circled squares.
Pancho Harrison’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
There’s a beastly theme in today’s puzzle, and it tells a little story:
I HOUNDED him about never playing Ping-Pong with me. I CROWED over my string of victories at the rec center. I always thought he’d WEASELED out on me in fear. So I BADGERED him into a game. What a mistake! I DUCKED to avoid his smashes, and I couldn’t touch his serve. In the end, the score was 21-0. I got SKUNKED!
This smells like a rejected NYT puzzle to me, what with the Ping-Pong theme. It might also have been sitting around for a while, as the change was made from 21 to 11 point games about a decade ago. There’s nothing wrong with either of those things, in and of themselves.
HOOP SKIRT gets a cute clue: [Dress that makes a slow dance difficult]. [One trying to keep her seat, maybe] sounds like someone who’s being shoved aside at the lunch table, but it’s cluing INCUMBENT.
["Heavens to Murgatroyd!"] livens up OH DEAR! a little more, and DADDY-O is nice.
I’ll be honest with you – the remainder of this puzzle just wasn’t that fun for me. There were a lot of “crossword names” like FREEH, AOKI and ROEG. Look at the abbreviations, too: LSTS atop LSATS, ICU, PSS, ILA, URL; SCUBA I like. The rest isn’t grand either. It pains me to not be able to be more positive about this puzzle, so I’ll just cut things short here to avoid any more negativity.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Pearls of Wisdom” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Did today’s puzzle leave you feeling clammy? Each of the four theme entries begins with a word that can follow “pearl:”
- 18-Across: The [Impromptu concert] is a JAM SESSION. And I’m willing to bet a nickel that Pearl Jam has engaged in at least a couple of jam sessions over the years.
- 28-Across: An ONION BLOSSOM is a [Deep-fried vegetable treat at many state fairs]. If you’re dieting, have your onion blossom made with a pearl onion.
- 49-Across: HARBOR LIGHTS is the [Song covered by Elvis Presley, Guy Lombardo, Bing Crosby, Sammy Kaye, and others]. Heck, you could list all the others and I still wouldn’t know the song. Pearl Harbor, on the other hand, is very familiar.
- 63-Across: The [Sci-fi role for Buster Crabbe] is BUCK ROGERS, a character created by the author Pearl Buck. Or not.
I like to think that MINI, the [Leg-fancier's preferred skirt style], is a continuation of the theme, as Minnie Pearl was one of my favorite television performers growing up. Yes, I’m the one nine year-old boy who liked Hee Haw.
Lots of fun entries and clues in this puzzle. I liked TEXACO, WITHDRAWN, and RC COLA. On the clue front, I liked [Moral person?] for AESOP and [One who pontiff-icates?] for the POPE. The best clue-entry combination, however, goes to [What one's got to do on the disco 'round, oh yea] and BOOGIE. Trust me on this one: you absolutely have to watch this video of I Love the Nightlife, the song inspiring the clue. It’s a Perfect Ten on the unintentional comedy scale. And since I can’t top this video, I’ll just stop here.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Two States”
Did you solve Caleb Rasmussen’s Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle last week (or read pannonica’s review of it)? When that appeared, I had already test-solved this puzzle, which makes its own play on the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment:
- 38a. SCHRODINGER’S CAT, [Famous thought experiment with an animal said to be simultaneously 6-Across and 68-Across]
- 6a. LIVE, [What the circled letters spell]
- 68a. DEAD, [What the circled letters can also spell]
There are four circled letters. When you fill them in with L, I, V, E, your online solving program will tell you your solution is correct–but the letters D, E, A, D will also make for entirely valid Across and Down answers intersecting at those letters:
- 17a. OLDER or ODDER, [More removed from what the kids are doing, say]
- 2d. RILE or RIDE, [Get on someone's back]
- 19a. HEIL or HEEL, [Dictatorial shout]
- 12d. CHI or CHE, [Figure on many a college shirt]
- 58a. MVPS or MAPS, [It may be hard to get them to fold]
- 9d. VIM or AIM, [What a driven person may have]
- 63a. BONES or BONDS, [Certain connectors]
- 56d. PEAS or PDAS, [They might be compared to small brains]
If you’re solving on paper, of course, you could have a mix of LIVE and DEAD letters in the circled squares and it will take reading the LIVE and DEAD clues to get the full effect of the theme’s duality.
I imagine it was not easy for Ben to come up with those four sets of words that would work with dual clues for those very specific letter changes. The closed-off 3×4 corners are more pliable than the 4×5 ones that bleed into more answers. LIVE and DEAD are also in small, closed-off sections, which helps, and then there’s only the 15 in the middle to contend with. However! The corners with the circled square action also give us M.C. ESCHER and IPHONE APPS, and CINNABON lends an alluring aroma to the fill.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Cosplay” – Neville’s review
Urban Dictionary explains cosplay better than I can: Literally “Costume Play.” Dressing up and pretending to be a fictional character (usually a sci-fi, comic book, or anime character). Six entries in this this puzzle are dressed up for Comic-Con:
- 17a. [Play maker?] - THEATER DIRECTOR
- 23a. [Light tone tinged with lavender] – LILAC PINK. Link is the main character from the Legend of Zelda games, for those not recognizing the name.
- 31a. [Drink served by nurses?] - HUMAN MILK
- 39a. [2002 Ryan Reynolds/Tara Reid comedy] – National Lampoon’s VAN WILDER. I don’t think I’ve seen any movie with either of these two people
- 48a. [Random sampling] - SPOT CHECK
- 57a. [It's full of assets] - MARKET PORTFOLIO
There’s a bonus entry with Slave LEIA at 22a, as well. It’s another great puzzle from BEQ, clue and entry-wise. Five quick thoughts
- Monday we had INSTAGRAM; today we have WENT VIRAL [Made it to the first page of reddit, probably]. Reddit is the website I think I understand the least, but this clue still made sense to me.
- Great clue alert: [Where you'll find yourself after cashing in your chips, with "the"] – AFTERLIFE.
- How many ‘A’s are too many in AAAH? AAAAH? AAAAAH?
- [Relentless attack] – SIEGE gave me trouble, as I thought it was SURGE. Tricky business!
- Neil Patrick Harris hosted the TONYS last year, and he’ll be back to do it again in a month.