Steve Riley’s New York Times crossword
I’m guessing this constructor is the same as the Steven Riley spotted in previous bylines. Mr. Riley, if you click your name in the post tag at the end of this post, you won’t get anything related to Steven-with-an-N’s puzzles.
Anyhoo: The theme is “words and phrases whose only vowel is O.” The upshot of that is that you get many of the tried-and-true O-dense words from crosswordese. OMOO! OBOL! ORDO! ORLOP! ORONO! OTTOS and OTHO! Yoko ONO! Prefix OPTO! Spanish OSO OTRO ORO OCHOS! General TSO’S chicken! Pontiac GTOS! British military (?) decorations DSOS! And the spelled-out, only-in-crosswords TWO-D! It’s too moch. And on Toosday? While the O’s-only theme will help the attentive solver muddle through tough crossings, I don’t know that the payoff will be deemed worth the 34d: SLOG.
I do like OLD SCHOOL and SNOOP DOGG, KOMODO and SCHMOS, but overall my solving experience entailed groans when I hit another of the words in the previous paragraph. No CROSSWORD, though?
I counted 69 O’s (hey-o!) in this puzzle, which blows the previous O record out of the water and tells me this is the first major-venue crossword that achieved the all-O’s trick.
Didn’t know 4d: [Jesse who pitched a major-league record 1,252 games], OROSCO. I want that S to be a Z. Between his unusual spelling, the double literary hit of OMOO and HOT’L, and the Spanish-meets-French crossing of OTRO and NORD, I could see a ton of newer solvers giving up after getting stuck in the first corner.
Also didn’t know 33a: ["The Pearl of ___ Island" (Harriet Beecher Stowe novel)], ORR’S. Apparently Orr’s Island is in Maine, just like ORONO! Did you know Orono has a population of 10,000? It’s considerably smaller than Natick, MA, and Orono’s townies are outnumbered by the University of Maine students.
Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Vertical theme mode engaged – prepare for crosswording.
- 3d. [Start of a nursery rhyme] - JACK AND JILL
- 5d. [Start of a nursery rhyme] -LONDON BRIDGE
- 22d. [Start of a nursery rhyme] - HUMPTY DUMPTY
- 26d. [End of a nursery rhyme, or the fate of this puzzle's other three long answers] – ALL FALL DOWN
What a great theme idea! It’s nice and tight – these are all first lines that meet the same fate. They’re all well-known lines, too. The visual element of these down entries is just the cherry on top. A-1 work from Ed Sessa right here.
The fill? It’s top notch, too. My favorite line here is the fifth row from the top: X-FACTOR and QUASARS. It’s not just the Scrabbly letters – I like how the clue for the former, [Nebulous quality], makes you think of nebulae, and the leap to the latter entry is a mere hop.
ADJS., (the sort of USUAL crud that can get DUMPed into puzzles) gets a cute clue: [Grumpy and dopey, but not doc: Abbr.]. To me, that’s the sign of a great constructor, editor or (in this case) both.
Let’s chat about 64-Across. SATYR is clued as [Goat-legged deity]. Satyrs are mythical creatures, to be sure, but I’ve not heard them referred to as deities. I found some sources online, though (like M-W) that do refer to them as deities. You make the call – are they truly deities? And what are the consequences of this in your daily life? (Unless you’re a classicist or reading Percy Jackson, they’re probably minimal.)
Some onomatopoetic entries to round out today’s post:
- 4a. [Muddle through mud] – SLOSH
- 28d. [Apply, as a pie to the face] – SMUSH
- 34a. [Softly hit hit] – BLOOP, a word that I’ve said before that I love, and I still do. Say it with me now: BLOOP!
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “O, the Places You’ll Go” – Sam Donaldson’s review
If you ever get the chance to see a Cirque du Soleil show, by all means take advantage. Their productions are equal parts artistry, suspense, comedy, and weirdness. The performers are amazing athletes that make some of the most impossibly conceived feats look exquisitely easy. I have seen four or five different productions in a number of cities, and I always leave feeling in awe.
I’m reminded of Cirque du Soleil because today’s puzzle features “O,” and that’s the name of the permanent Cirque show at The Bellagio in Las Vegas (it’s mainly a water show, so “O” is a play on “eau,” a word that is both French and Crosswordese for “water”). All three of the puzzle’s theme entries are clued simply as [O]:
- 17-Across: [O] describes a PHOTO FINISH because “O” is the finishing letter in “PHOTO.”
- 37-Across: [O] is the sixth letter in “BEETHOVEN,” so it can fairly be called BEETHOVEN’S SIXTH.
- 56-Across: [O] is the third of five letters in “STORM,” so it is a STORM CENTER.
I dig this kind of theme, simple yet INSPIRED ([Like many a masterpiece]). The grid has some nice fill too, like CBS NEWS, LOSE IT, SENT AWAY, and UVULA.
Newer solvers may have struggled with EDDA, the [Old Icelandic literary work], or OKAPI, the [Animal with zebra-striped legs]. I too struggled with ORGANZA, the [Gown material]. Where do you get this stuff, Alderzaan?
I had SC- in place when I got to the clue, ["Amscray!"]. I just knew the answer couldn’t be SCRAM, but that didn’t stop me from trying it anyway. (Yep, the answer was SCOOT.)
Favorite entry = STRATEGO . You know the game, right? [It's played with bombs and a flag.] Favorite clue = ["Belay that deletion!"] for STET. Interesting clues for common crossword terms are always welcome.