Caleb Madison’s New York Times crossword
Hey! Look at that. A Fourth of July puzzle that has no exploding gunpowder, no Revolutionary War, no Founding Fathers, no barbecues. Just PIXAR, which is perfectly American—you read the crew credits in any Pixar movie, and you see a lovely melting pot of names. This theme was a breeze for me before I encountered the revealer in the middle of the puzzle. RATATOUILLE with the year 2007…hmm, is the theme Best Animated Feature winners? Nope, just non-sequel Pixar flicks. Finding the other Pixar titles throughout the puzzle was easy with a crossing or three. TOY STORY, 1995. A BUG’S LIFE, 1998. (Saw both with my husband pre-parenthood.) MONSTERS, INC., 2001; saw it with friends while leaving the baby home, wore out multiple copies of the DVD later. FINDING NEMO, 2003. The INCREDIBLES, 2004. CARS, 2006. WALL-E, 2008. Took the kid to those four. UP (in the circled corner letters), 2009. Watched via on-demand. Haven’t seen BRAVE, 2012, yet. The characters in all these movies are TOONs, for the sake of having CARS symmetry.
Nice theme from movie junkie Caleb. Other good stuff: GAY BAR is great fill and I like the clue, [Place where opposites don’t attract?]. When I see NWA ([“Straight Outta Compton” rap group]) on the side of an airplane or on a Northwest Airlines advertisement, I laugh. I like POP TOP and the retro journalism lingo LEGMEN. (Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass always has a legman gathering info for him, and sometimes his legman is a pregnant woman.) The SIPPY cup and parental ME TIME are nice too.
The advantage of having a dozen theme answers that were gimmes for me is that I didn’t have to look at all of the fill while solving. IRR TYE IGET LOA LEI non-Nofziger LYN ([1970s soul singer Collins], whom I’ve never heard of) UAR STABAT APIE ENROL MIO EXP? Ugh. My sympathies to you if you don’t know your Pixar oeuvre, as you had to muddle through this stuff.
Mike Pelusos Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review
The world turns. Yesterday I was the constructor, today I’m the would-be blogger.
Today’s puzzle is by Mike Peluso, whose name is well-known to regular LA Times solvers. The theme is somewhat different to most, consisting of a number of short answers rather than the typical 4-6 long ones. The theme is revealed in the centre answer: 1967 war film, and an apt description for this puzzle’s starred answers. THEDIRTYDOZEN The starred answers can all fit the pattern “dirty answer “. These are:
- 5a. [*Stand-up's delivery], JOKE. Want to hear a dirty joke? Mud.
- 12a. [**Bygone magazine known for its photography], LOOK. I’m not the only one who wanted Life before knowing what the theme was, right? I’ve actually never heard of this magazine. The internet is whispering in my ear that this was the main rival to Life magazine, and stopped publication in 1972.
- 14a. [*2012 presidential campaign issue], JOBS. Steve Jobs’ legacy will be hotly debated in this year’s Greek election. An example of a dirty job would be slurry diving.
- 17a. [*Office betting group], POOL. I didn’t know what “dirty pool” was, other than, well, a pool that was dirty; but the (M-W) dictionary says it’s an idiomatic phrase meaning “underhanded or unsportsmanlike conduct”.
- 61a. [*Failure], BOMB.. A dirty bomb is an explosive containing nuclear waste or something similar.
- 65a. [*Pay attention to], MIND.
- 67a. [*Function as promised], WORK.
- 69a. [*Give everyone a hand], DEAL. As in shady characters doing dirty deals.
- 1d. [*Hemingway title character], OLDMAN. The only three-word phrase
- 19d. [*Most famous Hogwarts pupil], HARRY.
- 42d. [*Documents often stored in a safe], DEEDS. They’re done “dirt cheap” in the AC/DC song, of course
- 50d. [*Bamboozles], TRICKS.
Whew! That was a lot of theme answers, no!? 52 Squares, plus 12 in the reveal for a grand total of 65. The fact that these are spread among so many answers means that they are spread into every nook and cranny. A trio of squares that don’t increase the word count of the puzzle in the top-right and bottom-left are unusual, and facilitate the particular arrangement of theme squares chosen by Mr. Peluso. There were quite a few colour phrases as well as different shades of meaning of the word “dirty” in the various phrases. Obviously with 12 phrases it was impossible to use each meaning only once.
To accomodate so many answers, there have been compromises made. The only non-theme answers I was particularly fond of were TRANSAM and MAKEBA, though I do have a soft spot for COBOL too. I suspect that was a mystery answer for quite a few of you guys though! If I may, I’d like to point to (I hope I don’t get into trouble for pointing these out) a string of Roman numerals, DCCI; a weird partial, EAS; a use-as-many-letters-as-you-want-then answer in SSSS; and crossing that, two odd partials in AMINOS and PINERS. I guess all considered, everything isn’t too out of hand.
I guess we should end on a happy note, so I’ll leave you with: this. I’m sure you can guess who the singer will be…
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Industries of Today” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Today, of course, is the Fourth of July. So the “Industries of Today” from the puzzle’s title are the names of four American patriots whose names have been borrowed for commercial purposes:
- 17-Across: PAUL REVERE is both the galloping messenger and a [Music industry name, as frontman for the Raiders]. Paul Revere and the Raiders was a famous group in its day.
- 55-Across: ETHAN ALLEN was a patriot known for his role in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga. But its’ also a [Furniture industry name, with a chain of stores across North America]. I’ve purchased furniture at Ethan Allen. Let’s just say I have expensive tastes.
- 10-Down: JOHN HANCOCK was known for his large signature. It’s also an [Insurance industry name, with headquarters in a Boston tower].
- 24-Down: SAMUEL ADAMS is the patriot blessed with a distinguished given name. But you may know it better as a [Brewing industry name, as a craft beer brand since 1984.
This is a neat holiday theme. It’s not necessarily the tightest theme ever (three of the four names are those of retail businesses, one is a performer’s stage name), but you couldn’t make a puzzle out of just the three businesses because the odd one out has an even number of letters. So Donna had a choice: scrap the theme or (Valley) forge ahead with the modest inconsistency. I think she chose well.
I like that the grid has both READ ‘EM, the [Start of a taunt to one with a losing poker hand], and WEPT, the past tense of taunt’s remainder. I wasn’t a fan of -IZE, the [Real ending?], but maybe that’s because I considered a few other answers first (like IST, ISM, and ITY). I didn’t know that [One of two Doberman Pinschers on “Magnum, P.I.”] was named ZEUS, but I liked the clue.
Favorite entry = ONE-LINER, the [Henny Youngman specialty]. Favorite clue = [Rule broken by Heidi?] for the spelling rule, I BEFORE E. I spent time regretting that the only thing I know about Heidi is that it gave its name to a famous professional football game. I’ll let Wikipedia tell the story: “The Heidi Game … was an American football game played on November 17, 1968. The home team, the Oakland Raiders, defeated the New York Jets, 43–32. The game is remembered for its exciting finish, as Oakland scored two touchdowns in the final minute to overcome a 32–29 New York lead. The Heidi Game obtained its name because the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) controversially broke away from the game with the Jets still winning to air the television film Heidi at 7 p.m. in the Eastern Time Zone.”
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
I really enjoyed this theme. Take a phrase that includes two letters that are pronounced individually as letters, and add two more letters to get a legitimate and more entertaining four-letter chunk:
- 18a. [BA in evangelism?] might be a WWJD DEGREE. A J.D. degree is a law doctorate, WWJD = “What would Jesus do?” (Not to be confused with WWXWJD, which is “What would a crossword Jesus do?” Always wise counsel.)
- 23a. [Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo's OS?] turns snoozy Windows NT into WINDOWS TMNT, incorporating the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
- 35a. [Doctor who doesn't provide a keg for Pap smear visits?], BYOB/GYN. Bring your own bottle—of lube for the speculum. Actually, Brendan has hit on a good concept here. Imagine, ladies, if you were served a martini or a glass of wine in the waiting room before an exam and Pap. Wouldn’t it be a more pleasant experience?
- 38a. [Screens that switch rapidly between shows?], ADHD TVS. ADHD meets high-definition television.
- 49a. [Literature about Randall Munroe's stick figure drawings?], BOOKS ON XKCD. If you don’t know of the XKCD webcomic, do not be daunted by the term “webcomic.” It’s just smart one-off cartoons, not a serial about characters you don’t know. Munroe’s tagline is “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” Mostly the cartoons are wry, often they’re geeky, and sometimes they’re moving.
- 54a. [People who do stand-up about an aging Australian rock band?], AC/DC COMICS. Comedy stylings about “Dirty deeds in a dundle jeep.” (That one is my 7th-grade friend’s mom’s mondegreen.)
Heeey, I don’t remember 11d in the PuzzleSocial version of this puzzle. That’s because Brendan and/or editor Ben Tausig tweaked that BIRDSHIT (11d. [White stuff that falls from the sky]) into BIRDSHOT for the family-friendly Facebook version. Along with this 11d, other fresh fill and clues include iCARLY, RIPS clued with reference to intestinal gas release, DAPHNE with a Scooby-Doo clue, and a trivia clue for DR. J (7d. [#16 on Bill Simmons’s greatest NBA players list, for short]). I relished the six-piece theme enough that I wasn’t overly distracted by the more blah filler, like BTEN, DRY AS, and suffix ESE and its directional opposite WNW.
Let’s call it … four stars.