Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword
Trying to blog this puzzle in 15 minutes so I can hit the sack, having been up since 3 a.m.
The theme is BRAD / PITT, who was in A River Runs Through It, and the first letters of all the Across clues spells out something about that. So then there’s THE BRIDGE / OVER THE / RIVER KWAI split into three chunks and four other river things, sorely lacking in consistency and with the arguable inelegance of so many repetitions of the word RIVER. I put in RIO BRAVO at 3d, not knowing the years of my John Wayne westerns’ 3d is RED RIVER and 39d is RIO BRAVO. There’s also another old movie, WILD RIVER, which I’ve never heard of, and then MOON RIVER, which isn’t a movie! If everything else is a movie, why isn’t this? And it’s a cheap dodge to clue KWAI as a “best seller” book when nearly all of us are more familiar with the movie than the book. Is that just to excuse MOON RIVER not being clued as a movie? Pfft. Have the rest of you heard of this WILD RIVER movie of 1960? And then! Two long Acrosses, DON CORLEONE and ANNIVERSARY, are longer than every last piece of the theme, but are not thematic? Vexing.
If the theme is tied together by A River Runs Through It, where is this river that is running through “it”? Is “it” the puzzle? Because we have a good four or five rivers running through that, but not so much running as occupying short segments.
The Scowl-o-Meter was mostly perplexed by this theme, but also rattled into action for some of the fill. Lots of names, no? DAVE ROE AGEE DONCORLEONE NOEL (Rex Harrison’s son Noel is famous??) RONA HERRERA AHAB ARON STYNE ALAN. And the other fill I groused at included KNAR DAR REAVE RES INA AIRACE RELET EEC ENE TESTEE BENE ITA VENETO NOVO ENDWAR -INE THERMO- STE. Some of that can deter the newer Tuesday solver, no? The ones scratching their heads asking, “RELET, REAVE, and KNAR—are those words? What’s the capital of Benin? Where is Benin?”
I am disappointed, I am. 2.5 stars.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Games People Play” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Doug finds four common two-word terms where the last word is also the name of a game, then clues the terms as though they are references to the games:
- 20-Across: Twister is the party game where you have to put your hands and feet on colored dots strategically placed on a floormat. So the [Party game for linguists?], then, is TONGUE TWISTER.
- 34-Across: The [Card game for artists?] is not just bridge but DRAW BRIDGE. Here in Seattle, I cross over two drawbridges on the way to work. When ships pass through it can sure gum up your commute.
- 41-Across: The [Kids' game for telemarketers?] is PHONE JACKS. I was never really into jacks. Do kids today play it at all?
- 55-Across: The [Board game for witches?] is SPELL CHECKERS. Once they get bored with that, most witches turn to hex chess. (This is the second CS crossword in a row with some variation of “spell-checking” as a theme entry. How will it be used tomorrow?)
I like that each theme entry contains a different kind of game (party, card, kids, and board). But my favorite part was how Doug was able to connect clues between two pairs of entries. First was [Hungarian's neighbor] pulling double duty as the clue for both CROAT and SERB. Then there was the double Star Wars reference with Jabba the HUTT and EWOKS (much as one tries, one just can’t dismiss Ewoks from the Star Wars universe).
REGGAETON, the [Urban music genre with Jamaican and Latin roots], was entirely new to me. Indeed, it’s a subject about which I am not IN THE KNOW (the wonderful entry symmetrically opposite). I’m embarrassed to admit I also didn’t know JILL as the name for [Joe Biden's wife].
Favorite entry = SHOEBOX, the [Place for sling-backs]. Favorite clue = [Person who might watch your mouth] for LIP-READER. It’s reminiscent of a great line from Star Wars (Episode IV), when Han Solo tells Luke Skywalker,”Watch your mouth, kid, or you’re gonna find yourself floating home.”
Mark Vago’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Let’s cart out the golf clubs for today’s puzzle.
- 17a. [Born February 4, he had 52 official wins on the 40-Across] - BYRON NELSON
- 25a. [Born May 27, he had 82 official wins on the 40-Across] – SAM SNEAD
- 40a. [FedEx Cup sponsoring org.] - PGA TOUR
- 50a. [Born August 13, he had 64 official wins on the 40-Across] – BEN HOGAN
- 64a. [Milestone 17-, 25- and 50-Across would have all reached this year had they lived until their birthdays] – CENTURY MARK
To quote the second line of Wikipedia’s page on Byron Nelson, “Nelson and two other well-known golfers of the time, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, were born within seven months of each other in 1912.” It almost feels like Wikipedia wrote the theme itself. I’m in favor of this puzzle over a 100-year celebration for each golfer, mostly because I hadn’t heard of two of them. Convenient that it worked out so nicely, yes? Well, in the future, I think we’ll start to have more convergences of birthyears for sports – I hope this doesn’t become old hat.
But this puzzle does bring it in the fill. We have good long fill with I THINK NOT, SAPPORO, SWORN IN and WHITE WINE. The clues aren’t that exciting… it’s Tuesday. I did appreciate the reference to the kiss between Kirk and UHURA in the clue at 14a.
The only entry that seems out of place is the [Japanese mushroom] ENOKI – that seems like it’s a little too tricky for a Tuesday. I guess one answer like this is okay, though.