Daniel Raymon’s New York Times crossword
I would like this theme a lot better if its payoff weren’t utterly ordinary words that are overused in crosswords. Four 15-letter made-up phrases consist of THREE WORDS that contain only THREE different LETTERS. ASSES ASSESS SEAS, LESSEE SELLS EELS, SESTET SETS TESTS, and REDDER DEER ERRED? These are only faintly plausible combinations of words. If you’re a LESSEE, you’re hardly going to be described as such if you’re busy SELLing EELS, and if it were actually possible for DEER to feel embarrassed, they wouldn’t blush REDDER, that’s for sure. Can TESTS even be “SET”?
So I didn’t care for the theme. The other problem is that the theme takes up 77 squares, consigning the rest of the grid to fill like HESA, ALTA, URI, SYSTS, AHERO, SAN, III, ERL, SARARUE, and ORT. Not to mention CURST! 54d: [Subjected to a hex], with nary a hint of “archaic spelling ahead”?
On the plus side, if you don’t have any JULES Feiffer books on hand, you can do a Google image search of “jules feiffer” and see a slew of his wry cartoons. I’m glad JULES was clued as [Cartoonist Feiffer] rather than Jules Verne or Jules (“I Don’t Know If She’s Related to Ed”) Asner.
Anyone else take three names to get to 36d: ELSIE? [Girl's name that sounds like two letters of the alphabet], gotta be ELLEN. No, wait, the third letter is an S. ESSIE? That’s the sort of name that would be clued like this, since it’s not a famous person’s name (it is, however, a salon brand of nail polish). ELSIE? When your theme is about LETTERS of the alphabet, you’d think ELSIE would be clued as the commercial spokescow instead.
Quibble: 5d: [Bowlful at a Japanese restaurant] clues MISO. Maybe there’s a bowl of miso (the paste) back in the kitchen, but the bowlful on the table is miso soup, no?
Least familiar name: 15d: ESHKOL, [Ben-Gurion successor]. It crosses two theme answers, two proper nouns, a foreign word, and some medieval crosswordese.
Matt Jones’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
This puzzle’s theme tells a story of an inveterate speeder as observed by a traffic cop:
- 16a. [You started out going "50 FIRST DATES" in a "40-Year-Old Virgin" zone, past the old video store...]
- 23a. [Nearing the TV station billboard, you did "77 SUNSET STRIP" where the sign said "60 Minutes"...]
- 35a. [Flying by the bookstore, you were caught doing "One Hundred YEARS OF SOLITUDE" in a "Fifty Shades of Grey" zone...]
- 47a. [And you even managed to do 24 HOUR FITNESS in the strip mall parking lot, when the sign clearly said Five Guys Burgers and Fries...]
- 56a. [I'm fining you 2000 Flushes after passing the supermarket; in the future, please follow the SPEED LIMIT.]
Two movies in 16a, two TV shows in 23a, two books in 35a, two businesses in 47a … and then I’m not sure what 2000 Flushes has to do with anything. Do people ever say “flushes” instead of “dollars”? I … don’t get it.
Five things (not Guys):
- 14a. [Let the gas out after filling up?], BURP. *braaaaaapp!*
- 2d. ["There's ___ in team!"], NO I. Uh, actually, that’s not true. The I in “team” was recently discovered.
- 37d. [Tex-Mex casserole of sorts], FRITO PIE. I love Fritos but am less fond of, shall we say, the Frito 14-Across.
- 38d. [Redundant referral in first person], I MYSELF. As in “As for I myself, we would disagree.”
- 48d. [Tall, slim, and hairy gay man], OTTER. I did not know this! I know the big, chunky hairy gay dude is a bear, but knew nothing of the otters.
Christopher Marston’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review
As far as I can see this is Christopher Marston’s puzzle debut – well done Chris! The puzzle definitely has a fresh theme idea: the presidents whose faces are carved into 42/48a SOUTH/DAKOTA‘s 1/6/10a MOUNT/RUSH/MORE are found at the start of 17a [Furry carnival prizes], TEDDYBEARS, 30a [Firearm also called a "Chicago typewriter"], TOMMYGUN, 43a ["Hair" song containing Gettysburg Address phrases], ABIEBABY and 57a [1966 Lynn Redgrave title role], GEORGYGIRL. Perhaps it’s an oversight on my part, but I’ve only heard of one of those presidents being called by that name: Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. However, I’ll accept they’re all plausible nicknames of those first names, so call it a whimsical touch on Mr. Marston’s part.
Which brings me to another thing, TEDDYBEARS are named for Pres. Roosevelt. I hate to have to point out the issues with this theme, which I actually still enjoyed quite a lot! It has a nice selection of theme answers and hiding the second part of the reveal on the top row of the grid is elegant. The revealing SOUTH/DAKOTA was also unusually placed, but considering the havoc that a central 11 can wreak in your grid, I consider it as a positive as it allowed for more entertaining answers… The theme ain’t everything you know!
Staying with the theme, this time the individual answers, I enjoyed learning that a TOMMYGUN was a “Chicago Typewriter”. I flat out didn’t know it, but could connect the dots with a few crosses! Amy did you know this? Animalheart I’m sure you did! Here’s some classic Clash for a musical interlude, but if that’s not your speed there’s always GEORGYGIRL by The Seekers. I know the latter song well, but had no idea it came from the movie referenced in the clues!
The four long downs are an interesting set: 4d ["Air Music" composer], NEDROREM I know only from crosswords… Though usually as only a first/last name. 38d [Father at Boys Town], FLANAGAN was a name I didn’t know. He seems legitimately deserving of being in puzzles though, being famous for his pioneering orphanage. I also hadn’t heard of 9d [Howard of "Head of the Class"], HESSEMAN. Nor had I heard of that sitcom. His other major sitcom, per Wikipedia, was WKRP in Cincinnati, wherein he was Johnny Fever. I have watched reruns of that one, though I couldn’t name you the cast, except for Lori Anderson (thank you again, crosswords!). The last down, thank goodness was well in my wheelhouse – PORTUGAL clued with reference to Vasco Da Gama, (probably) the first person to sail from Europe to India via The Cape. He was introduced to me back in Primary School history!
I’ve been a bit verbose today, I’d just like to comment on two more, small things, I thought the clue for 49d, [Finished parasailing] ALIT was particularly evocative. I know, it does seem pretty straightforward clueing… Finally, the picture above is not a 45a, DORSET Horn, but the relate dorper breed.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Spell Bound” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Doug puts a spell on us, for 62-Down says that a HEX is the [Spell "bound" by this puzzle's four longest answers]. That is, the H-E-X letter sequence can be found in each of those answers:
- 17-Across: THE X FACTOR is the ["American Idol" rival]. Though they appear on the same network and at different times during the year, they’re said to be rivals because The X Factor stars Simon and Paula from American Idol. Having never seen even a minute of The X Factor nor an entire episode of American Idol, that pretty much exhausts my knowledge of the shows.
- 27-Across: [Nitroglycerin, for example] is a HIGH EXPLOSIVE. For digging tunnels and such, low explosives are thought to work better.
- 45-Across: The answer to [Algebra teachers assign them] is MATH EXERCISES. We liked it when our math teacher assigned the odd-numbered problems for homework, because usually the answers to the odd-numbered problems could be found in the back of the book. No muss, no fuss (and no learning).
- 60-Across: A more formal name for a [Checkup] is a HEALTH EXAM.
There’s a whole lot of terrific fill in this puzzle. HISSY FIT, MIXING IN, PHASER, FAVES, CARPOOL, PASADENA, and PET SHOP, boys (and girls)! The theme required five Xs in the grid, but Doug effortlessly squeezed in two more with XOXOXO and XANAX. The two answers I struggled with most were SPODE, the [Big name in fine china] (I know Chinet and that’s it), and SLAVER, which can be either a noun or a verb meaning [Drool].
TACO is clued as a [Snack that can be soft or crunchy]. I’ve seen tacos clued as “snacks” before, but in my mind they’ve always been meals and not snacks. Just because I might eat three (or more) in one setting for lunch or dinner doesn’t mean that a single taco is just a snack, right? Does anyone wanting a snack think, “I’ll have a taco?”
Favorite entry = CHAT SHOW, the [BBC offering]. I get the BBC America channel, and I never miss The Graham Norton Show. It’s simultaneously more sophisticated and more trashy than any American talk show. See for yourself with this clip from a recent episode (it starts to get really good at the 4:00 mark). Favorite clue = ["Jaws" sighting] for FIN.