Michael (“Rex Parker”) Sharp’s New York Times crossword
Another day, another Batman reference in the Times crossword. This time it’s comics-as-literature Professor Sharp at the helm. HARVEY (“Two-Face”) DENT, SAINT NICK, CHICKEN SCRATCH, and RING-A-DING all end with words that connote minor damage sustained in COLLISIONS, which is a fancy word for CAR CRASHes. (And why isn’t CAR CRASH tied to the theme? Why is it just hiding over there like a large man behind a light pole?)
I like the mixed bag of theme entries—comic books, holidays, a colorful idiom, and Rat Pack slang. CHICKEN SCRATCH is juicy enough to warrant pushing the grid to 16 squares wide (to accommodate those 14 letters, centered). Am I the only one who holds off on completing D*N* when the clue is something like [Minor car damage]? I always want it to be DING, I’m always waiting for the DING, and it’s almost always DENT. I appreciate DING making the cut here.
Likes: COMPADRE, VICTROLA, CHURN OUT, VOCAB, and CESAR [___ Millan, TV's "dog whisperer"]. I love that Cesar. Also nice to spice up a boring science suffix with a clue like [Suffix with spermato-]. Dislikes: What is a name like MOYER ([Jamie ___, oldest pitcher in major-league history to win a game]) doing in a Tuesday puzzle? I reckon it hurt Michael to have ELHI in his grid.
I should’ve had a faster solving time but I had a typo. Yes, I know the king was not known as HENRY O, and I know the director is not SPOKE LEE. Scanning for a typo, of course I started at the top of the grid.
53a: [Runner Sebastian] COE should be a little more familiar to people now that he’s addressed the world at the Olympics opening ceremonies. Seb, as they call him, is the chairman of the London games. Coe : London :: Romney : Salt Lake City?
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Opening Act” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s puzzle features three 15-letter entries that begin with AC- and end with -T (thus, we are “opening” the word ACT three times over):
- 20-Across: The [1992 country hit that catapulted line dancing into the mainstream] was Billy Ray Cyrus’s second greatest hit, ACHY-BREAKY HEART. Financially, his greatest hit was his daughter, Miley.
- 41-Across: The [Bank calculation] isn’t TRANSACTION FEE, OVERDRAFT CHARGE, or MORTGAGE POINTS, but ACCRUED INTEREST. Over the years, I have accrued interest in many activities, but it never seems to show in my bank account.
- 56-Across: If it’s [Within a stone's throw], and if the stone is awfully small, then it’s just ACROSS THE STREET.
This grid reaches the conventional maximums for daily puzzles with 78 answers and 38 black squares. That’s usually a sign of constraining theme entries or some really juicy fill, but I don’t see much of either here. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the puzzle (the prefix ISO is as bad as it gets, and that’s hardly awful), but by the same token there’s not much there to make it pop. I did like TEXAS TEA, the [Black gold] I’m sure most people in my age cohort recognize from the theme song to The Beverly Hillbillies.
The real highlight here was the use of duplicate clues, first with [Santa ___, California] for both ANA and ROSA, and then with the consecutive appearances of [The Emerald Isle] for both EIRE and ERIN at 62- and 63-Down, respectively.
Matt Skoczen’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Time to play the name game again. Do you know all four of the gents hinted at by this puzzle’s theme entries?
- 17a. [One may spoil the whole bunch] - ROTTEN APPLE
- 24a. [State capital near the Comstock Lode] – CARSON CITY
- 38a. [Handy guy to have around, or a hint to this puzzle's theme found in 17-. 24-. 50- and 52-Across] - JOHNNY ON THE SPOT
- 50a. [Monetary assets] – CASH IN HAND
- 62a. [Substitute player] – BENCH WARMER
The theme’s perfectly fine for a Tuesday. All well known people and phrases, so no complaints from me.
Did you see the CORGIs (also: corgwn! Welsh!) in the Queen’s sketch in the Olympic opening ceremony? So adorable! Yes, that was my first thought upon approaching that corner of this puzzle.
I just went to Google to determine if DO A CAMEO is a legitimate phrase. I stopped typing after “do a” and I got the barrel roll treatment. It seems to be popular enough in headlines, but there was a big question mark over my head while solving as I tried to figure out the beginning of that answer.
TWO A? Usually we just see ONE A, so I wrote that in instead. It made getting “NO HELP” pretty literal – I had no help. That’s a pretty common phrase on the Wheel; occasionally you hear it on the Clock Game on The Price is Right. Alex Trebek has a habit of saying ["No HARM, no foul"] when all three Jeopardy! players give an incorrect response, but I disagree with him, as it throws off relative scores which are key to wager for Final. But I digress.
AEC stands for the Atomic Energy Commission, which hasn’t been a thing for over 35 years. Not that that makes it less relevant or anything; that’s just to make me feel better for not knowing about it. Don’t worry; I do know what an H-BOMB is.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Mangificent!”
No, that’s not a typo in the puzzle’s title. It’s a hint: Just as switching the N and G will get you “magnificent,” the theme answers need to swap their N and G sounds to reveal the original words and phrases.
- 15a. [Bruce Wayne's status during speed dating sessions?], BAT-SINGLE. Bat signal.
- 22a. [Cowboy philosophers?], RECKON GUYS. Recognize.
- 36a, 39a. [Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater's wife's refusal?], I WON’T BE IN GOURD. “I won’t be ignored,” which I believe is Glenn Close’s menacing line in Fatal Attraction.
- 49a. [Scrub down a Beatle?], LOOFA RINGO. Lou Ferrigno! When do you ever see wordplay based on Lou Ferrigno’s name?
- 60a. [Malady brought on by incorrectly plugging in appliances?], PRONGOSIS. Prognosis.
- 19a. [Marinade alternative], DRY RUB.
- 1d. [Sanford of "The Jeffersons"], ISABEL. Clue written before her costar, Sherman Hemsley, died.
- 6d. [Part of a Mr. Clean costume], BALD CAP. I don’t own one.
- 9d. [Wherever, colloquially], TIMBUKTU. As in “Mapquest had me driving all the way to Timbuktu.”
- 24d. [The last palindromic one was 2002], YEAR. Stay tuned for 2112, folks.
- 38d. ["Seriously?!?"], “OH, COME ON!”
- 50d. [Malt liquor size], FORTY. “Forty” doubles as a noun, as in “I’m drinking a forty.”
Oddest-looking crossing: YOANNA meets partial NBA ON.