David Kahn’s New York Times crossword
The Celebrity crossword (available in the Crosswords by PuzzleSocial app on Facebook) ran a DICK CLARK tribute puzzle back on April 25, a week after his death. Not sure why Steve Jobs merited a “hurry up and run it now” NYT tribute puzzle that ran a mere two (was it two?) days after his death but Dick Clark can wait five weeks here. Who can explain the inscrutable ways of Will Shortz but the man himself?
Kahn’s theme is a bit of a hodgepodge. The two longest answers (with their conjunction) are delightful—IT’S GOT A GOOD BEAT / AND / YOU CAN DANCE TO IT. But then the other four longish thematic elements appear in a topsy-turvy order so that they could fit into the grid when two of them are stacked along the 15s. BANDSTAND leads to World’s Oldest TEENAGER, followed by AMERICAN and finally DICK CLARK. There’s a stray EMCEE tied in at 16a but without a symmetrical partner.
The fill … with 69 theme squares, you know what happens to the fill. Partials IN SO, ADD A, A REST, A NO. Suffix FARER. Extinct TNN. Bible crosswordese EDOM and ENOS. Financial abbrevs CKS and STKS. Popular-in-crosswords O words OBIS, OBIE, OPIE, and OTT, all in one area. Crosswordese SHOAT and AGASP. GET crossing the answer that contains GOT. [Buffalo Mets-affiliated team], the BISONS (minor leaguers apparently are unconcerned that the plural of bison is bison). All of this stuff detracted from my enjoyment of the puzzle and made me scowl my way through the grid. Didn’t take me any longer than the usual Wednesday puzzle, but it made me wish I’d spent even less time on it.
Don Gagliardo & C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Jeffrey’s review
Theme: Its all about EWE
- 17A. ["My bad!"] – I SCREWED UP
- 24A. [Compact disk carrier] – JEWEL BOX
- 37A. [Stairway post] – NEWEL
- 51A. [Like shish kebab] – SKEWERED
- 59A. [Fight insomnia, in a way ... and if you do it in this puzzle, you'll find ten 62-Downs] – COUNT SHEEP
- 3D. [Steered clear of] – ESCHEWED
- 11D. [Dodger great Reese] – PEE WEE
- 26D. [Common time between paychecks] – ONE WEEK. I don’t think that is very common at all anymore. If you are paid weekly, please speak up in the comments. I think bi-weekly and twice monthly is much more common, and much less paperwork.
- 39D. [Fashionable retailer named for an address] – NINE WEST
- 46D. [Gushed] – SPEWED
- 62D. [See 59-Across] – EWE
This puzzle put me to sleep.
- 5A. [Pals, in slang] – PEEPS. I thought PEEPS were some sort of candy.
- 15A. [__ vincit amor] – OMNIA. Random letters pretending to be Latin. Ok, ok. Love conquers all.
- 19A. ["MacArthur Park" songwriter Jimmy] – WEBB. R.I.P. Donna Summer
- 31A. [Composer of "The Wizard of Oz" songs] – ARLEN
- 64A. [TV musical set in Lima, Ohio] – GLEE
- 65A. [Kitchen occupant of song] – DINAH
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Deal ‘Em!” – Sam Donaldson’s review
The central Across entry (39-Across, to be precise) tells us that POKER is the [Game that can follow the first part of this puzzle's four longest answers]:
- 17-Across: A [Beef entree cut from the short loin] is a STRIP STEAK, and “strip poker” is the game I always wanted to play in college but could never find anyone to join me. Looking back, I understand why potential opponents would be afraid to beat me.
- 57-Across: The [Moat structure] is a DRAW BRIDGE. “Draw poker” is the variation where you get a hand (usually 5 cards, but sometimes more) and, after a round of betting based on the preliminary strength of the hand you have received, you get to exchange the unhelpful cards for replacements. There is then a final round of betting, whereupon the losers remove…whoops, now I’m confusing the poker variations. The one with the best five-card poker hand gets the pot.
- 11-Down: VIDEO PIRACY consists of [Stealing movies, e.g.]. Video poker machines can be found in bars across the country (indeed, around the world). Like the old-fashioned pay phones, they’re very good at letting you put coins in and very reticent about giving them back. If you find the right machine and play every hand perfectly according to the odds, however, it is statistically possible to win at video poker over the long term. But that takes training, patience, and the kind of bankroll this recreational gambler just plain lacks.
- 25-Down: A [Function of former racing stallions, often] is STUD SERVICE. I’ve heard of “out to stud,” but the term “stud service” is new to me. I’ve thought about offering a stud service as a second source of income, but I get the feeling I would be just too exhausted by the end of the day. (“Stud poker,” incidentally, is the poker variant where you don’t get to “draw” replacement cards–you have to play the cards you’re dealt, And very often your opponents get to see several of your cards–not to mention the way you twitch in your chair when you have a good hand.
This is a timely theme, as the annual World Series of Poker is now underway in Law Vegas. My bachelor party will be in Las Vegas next month, and the WSOP will still be going on when I’m there. I hope to check out some of the action in person, but strictly as an observer (or “railbird”). The one event going off when I’m in town is this one. (If you don’t want to click the link, it’s a tournament with a $1 million buy-in. That’s right–the entry fee for the tournament is $1 million. At least 11.11% of the entry fees will be going to charity, so that’s a good thing.)
It’s a grid with “pangrammatic” fill (for new readers, that means every letter in the alphabet appears at least once). Though a grid with every letter is an impressive accomplishment, it tends to induce scowls among many of us Fiend-sters because often the Quest for the Pangram forces some ugly compromises elsewhere. As most of us are of the view that the lion’s share of solvers never notice whether a grid’s a pangram in the first place, it feels wrong to sacrifice other entries in the name of something few would appreciate. Fortunately, this grid doesn’t have any glaring compromises. In fact, a number of the entries are quite good, like MAKES PAR, SPOKE OF, PINNED ON, JUMBLE, EVEN SO, and ARE TOO.
Favorite entry = POP TOP, the [Soda can feature]. Favorite clue = [Some kind of jerk?] for SPASM.
Francis Heaney’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
In the season of Game of Thrones, what better than a castle-related pun theme?
- 17a. THAT’S A MOAT POINT, ["Perfect spot for the water that'll surround the castle!"]. That’s a moot point.
- 28a. UNDRAWBRIDGED, [Like dictionaries without a word meaning "raisable castle door"?]. Unabridged.
- 46a. DUNGEON DONUTS, [Breakfast option for prisoners in the depths of the castle?]. Dunkin’ Donuts. (Or, if you move the first D to the end of its word à la Merl Reagle in Wordplay, Unkind Donuts.)
- 60a. TURRETS SYNDROME, [Inability to stop building castle towers at inappropriate moments?]. Tourette’s syndrome.
Cute enough, neither too obvious nor too much of a stretch.
Five clues to talk about:
- 4d. [Peter Pan journeys, e.g.] clues BUS RIDES and I had no idea why. Turns out the Northeast has had a bus company called Peter Pan for 75 years. Who knew? My favorite regional bus company is Lamers, which ferries Wisconsinites to the Windy City. Lamer is in the dictionary as “a stupid, inept, or dull person,” and yet LAMERS isn’t in the Cruciverb database. C’mon, constructors, use this word that looks fake!
- 4a. BANFF, [Canadian town that sounds like a "Batman" sound effect]. “Banff! Kapow!”
- 20a. MOTOR ["___ Inn! What's your price per night?" (misheard "Sister Christian" lyric)]. Best MOTOR clue ever, if you ask me. I reckon anyone listening to Top 40 radio in the early ’80s agrees.
- 68a. TASTY, [Like salty licorice, to me at least]. Raise your hand if you had NASTY.
- 48d. TEAR, [Stoically suppressed moisture, at times]. Raise your hand if you had MILK or SPIT.