Andrew Marc Greene’s New York Times crossword
There are surely many other phrases that would fit this vowel progression theme, but the quintet Andrew has chosen are zippy enough. Had he used BOOGIE BOARD instead of BOOM BOXES, the BEER BELLY would have needed to be pluralized to balance the letter count, and isn’t one BEER BELLY enough for anyone?
- 18a. BANK BALANCE, bA— bA—.
- 32a. BEER BELLY, bE— bE—.
- 41a. BIG BIRD, bI— bI.
- 48a. BOOM BOXES, bO— bO—.
- 63a. BURNING BUSH, bU— bU—.
- The NABOB/BAOBAB multi-B action that isn’t mandated by any crossings with theme answers. (Diplomat Philip HABIB‘s two B’s are both in theme answers, on the other hand.)
- The Middle Eastern U-less Q country crossing of IRAQ and QATAR.
- 70a. [Peach State capital: Abbr.], ATL. I was just there last weekend, and wow, a Georgia peach really, truly is worlds better than a peach from other regions.
- 52d. [Item fit for "Ripley's Believe It or Not!"], ODDITY. How many of you devoured Ripley’s books and the feature in the Sunday comics? I sure did.
This simple and smooth puzzle closes out the grid with the word BYE, which is my cue. Four stars.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Sixteen Handles”
I don’t know what the title means, but the triple-stacked answers in the middle of this grid have 16 letters. Just as the speakers in This Is Spinal Tap went to 11, Matt goes to 16:
- 36a. ["The Sabre Dance" composer], ARAM KHACHATURIAN. That’s a name I learned from crosswords, generally with the last name consigned to the clue list.
- 40a. [Societal breakdown, as it were], ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. Clearly the seed entry, right? That gruesome attack on the bridge in Miami helped popularize the phrase some more.
- 41a. [Scientists collect it], EXPERIMENTAL DATA. *stifled yawn*
And then there are the two 15s that form an H with the stack: BE INCUMBENT UPON is fine, and I’d never heard of AUDITORY DISPLAY but its clue, [Computer aid for the blind], is self-explanatory.
Other bright lights include QUAALUDES riding atop that DROMEDARY; the DIAPER clue, [Subject of the "cloth or plastic" debate]; two-X XEROXED; a middle pocket filled with BIC PENS and IPHONES; and a HEIST FILM such as ["Reservoir Dogs" or "Ocean's Eleven"]. And of course, there’s cheesy KAZAAM, the [Shaq-as-genie movie]. Plus, from my childhood, I like UBBI, [First half of a secret language on "Zoom"]. Whubat dubo yubou mubean, yubou dubon’t rubemubembuber Ubbi Dubbi?
The things I had no idea about:
- 7d. [Maritime abbr. that predated SOS], CQD. I assume that means “come quickly, dear.” (Do not correct me if I’m wrong.)
- 37d. [___ Nerys ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" character)], KIRA. Who?
- 55d. [When repeated, derisive term for dubstep's repetitive bass line], WUB. Sounds like half of a word in Ubbi Dubbi.
- 31a. [___-Ur (Egyptian sky god; hidden in CHERUBIC)], HERU. Thank the Matts for that “hidden in” helper.
In closing, do prepare for the zubombubie ubapubocubalubypse. Thrubee puboint subevuben-fubive stubars fubor Mubatt Jubones.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Definite Article” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Fun idea for a theme! Randy takes four words that start with THE- and re-imagines them as two words starting with the definite article “the.” The problem here is in the lack of consistency in the execution. Let’s recap the theme entries to illustrate the inconsistencies:
- 17-Across: An ordinary “theme song” becomes THE ME SONG (three words), a [Tune for a diva?]. Great start. And the theme is apparent–”two-word terms that become three-word terms if you break the first word into two after THE.”
- 26-Across: Same thing here, as “thesis papers” become THE SIS PAPERS, [A sib's published diaries?]. The only problem so far, from my perspective at least, is that I’m not sure “thesis papers” is an in-the-language term, and I’m reasonably sure I’ve written more than 95 theses over the years.
- 45-Across: Now here’s where the wheels come off, for now we take the terrific phrase from Field of Dreams, “they will come” and change it to THE Y WILL COME, or [What happens when you offer to build a new community rec center?]. The problem, you see, is that now we’re making three words into four, not two into three. Unless we get another theme entry that does the same thing, we have a nagging little inconsistency, which is too bad since both “they will come” and “the Y will come” are gold.
- 59-Across: Alas, we don’t. In fact, we get yet another new variation, as a “thesaurus” becomes THE SAURUS, [Roget's reference to a T. Rex?]. Oops, there’s not one but two inconsistencies here. First, this is the only case where we’re making one word into two words (not two into three or even three into four). Second, this is the only theme entry with a clue that overtly references the unbroken original term (here through the mention of Roget). Yeah, you can argue that the diva’s “tune” is the diva’s “theme song,” but I can’t get over the feeling that something like [T. Rex's nickname, to lesser dinos?] would have been more consistent with the other clues.
So the theme concept gets a solid five stars but I can’t give the collection of theme entries more than three stars. The fill is a solid four stars, though. It gets a little creepy-crawly with the WHITE ANT, the COWHIDES, and the BED BUGS, but you gotta love SIM CITY, MY TREAT, COOKOUT, and RED TAPE. What could have been a rather inelegant entry, IN AREA, is salvaged with a very elegant clue, [How California ranks #3]. There’s a small toll for all this juiciness, and it comes in the form of the suffix ISTIC, the prefix MATRI, the Crosswordese of ANNO, AAS, and EWER, plus the awkward POLED. But I’m willing to pay that price.
Favorite entry = BED BUGS, even though [They might bite at night] (the rhyme time is sublime!). Favorite clue = ["Mad Men" subject, in slang] for the AD BIZ. Between Mad Men and Breaking Bad, I’m not sure which is the best show on television these days. I’m glad I don’t have to decide and can enjoy them both!
Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
PSU at 1a? Awkward… let’s see if the puzzle is a winner or if it’s going to be vacated.
- 17a. [Casual dining chain] - APPLEBEE’S
- 21a. [Annual Florida football game] – ORANGE BOWL
- 26a. [Nice work if you can get it] – PLUM POSITION
- 48a. [Truck with a bucket] – CHERRY PICKER
- 54a. [Elongated bike saddle] – BANANA SEAT
- 63a. [Celeb's domain] – LIMELIGHT
So it ends up that we’ve got a real “Fruit of the LOOM” going on in the beginning of the theme entries… all six of them! All are well-known fruits and phrases; not a bad one in the bunch.
I like some long down entries: PRO BONO, WEEKNIGHT, MCMAHON and SHA NA NA. No need to get in a flame war over ACER vs. DELL products.
Look at this – crossing entries AMOR/AROMA make a palindrome! THere’s YOUR wordplay for this puzzle. I want to do something with [Small songbirds] – TITS, but I have a hunch that I’d be getting a handful of angry emails about it. I’ll leave it there.