Last week’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword has been posted now. Head over there to get David Steinberg’s puzzle.
Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword
What unfortunate timing! I was just reading my husband (a lifelong Packers fan) some of today’s hooha about the gnarled officiating at last night’s Packers/Seahawks game, and so I wasn’t apt to be kindly disposed towards a football theme. It doesn’t help, either, that I’m not an attentive enough football fan to have found the core theme entries to be anything but gibberish. Really? “THE KICK IS UP / AND IT IS GOOD” is a thing? They say that? Now, where else would be ball go after the kicker kicks it but UP? Sports color commentary is just silly.
The ANNOUNCER is the one saying the color commentary about those FIELD / GOALS (or attempts thereto), and HASH MARKS are those marks on the football field (not that they really have anything to do with field goals, do they?). And then “this puzzles outer circled letters” spell FOOTBALL, but I don’t understand what the word “outer” is doing in that clue. The middle of this football has three X’s (XXX, [Pigskin stitching]). I did a Google image search for “football” and I see stitching that’s a straight line with 8 crossbars. I see no X’s. Is there an XXX-rated football stitch that has eluded my notice? Because XXX seems more about 51-Across than footballs. We have GLADIATORS in the grid, and don’t some people liken NFL players to gladiators? I don’t think it’s a theme entry, though, because its opposite answer is OIL PAINTER. Is that a thing? I thought they were just painters/artists. Manet and Monet would be fabulous even if they used finger paint, am I right?
Furthermore, the Packers wuz robbed and everyone knows it.
I paid little attention to the theme while solving. It was a bunch of cross-referenced clues and I just went on solving via all the crossings. It worked. Not the fastest, but I got there.
Not sure about 12d: SYSOP. [Online honcho] bespeaks WEBMASTER more than SYSOP. Your sysop is the person handling your in-house network more than the website that faces the world, no? Evad is my webmaster, but my sysop is my husband. Both are important, but they manage entirely different computery things for me.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review
Oh, wait, I’m supposed to blog Wednesday LATs, aren’t I? It’s been a while! Thanks Matt and T for subbing in tricky circumstances.
Once I fully grokked the theme, I was really impressed by it. It’s super-tight. Before, when I was just noticing the “ending in a letter” part, I was feeling a little underwhelmed. Nice when you get that delayed “a-ha!” So the phrases, 5 of them, all include parts with plural letters. None of those work with singular letters. As I said, that’s super tight. The two pairs both have their thematic parts at the end, but the middle one breaks the mold by having two parts, PS AND QS, which is elegant.
I can’t be the only one who had the first few letters and proudly dropped MINDYOURmanNerS in! MINDYOURPSANDQS is a great phrase, with that crazy mish-mash of consonants at its end. In fact, barring one theme answer, they were all great. That answer was INEEDSOMEZS, which was jarring to me. Do Americans say that? CATCHSOMEZS is the same number of letters, so the phrase wasn’t used solely for reasons of symmetry.
The theme occupies quite a large chunk of real estate (57 squares), so you’d think Jeffrey would be compromised in his ballast fill—but it doesn’t seem to be the case. I see only the odd bit of STD crossword-ese, and a few “1-point-letter-heavy” answers like ASSESSES, but I also see a pretty nice array of medium to long stuff. I’d say the grid looks to be ably and meticulously filled, even if the theme density doesn’t make that stand out.
What else is there?
- [Bindle carrier], HOBO. Bindle??? Apparently that’s a posh word for blanket-roll.
- [Cookies with a bite], GINGERSNAPS. Was there ever an episode of Gilligan’s Island with that title?
- [Quark's locale], ATOM. Not Deep Space Nine.
- [Reader with a sensitive screen], KINDLETOUCH. I have an old, inherited generic e-Book reader. It reads ebooks. No matter what format you throw at it. That is all.
Three options for closing music related to today’s puzzle:
Gareth, over and out!
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword – Sam Donaldson’s review
The last few days of Name That Puzzle Month have been relatively easy. Not so today. The title for this puzzle is a lot harder for me to guess, in part because I only think I know the theme. If I’m right, there are only three theme entries (that already has me queasy):
- 24-Across: If you’re wondering [Where to keep those rags and machines hummin', according to a Rose Royce song], it’s AT THE CAR WASH.
- 38-Across: The [Reuters rival] is the ASSOCIATED PRESS.
- 50-Across: Speaking of the press, the [Place for an important newspaper story] is ABOVE THE FOLD.
There are some 8-letter answers in the grid too, but only one of them (MAMA CASS) has more than one word, so I’m assuming they’re not part of the theme. There are also two 9-letter Down answers (BELOW ZERO and BOOK VALUE), but if I’m right about the theme, these entries are unrelated too.
So what’s the theme? Well, the three highlighted answers end with (in order) WASH, PRESS, and FOLD–words that describe basic laundry operations. My guess, therefore, is that the title has something to do with laundry. (Of course, if I’m wrong about this, then I’m all washed up, so to speak. But hey, I’ve made a bigger fool of myself here.)
Let’s see, how about Doing the Laundry or Laundry Day? I thought about Dirty Laundry, but there’s nothing especially “dirty” going on here. Laundry Room seemed too dull, and Loads of Laundry felt off to me. Without a whole lot of confidence, then, I’ll make Laundry Day my final guess. It’s a little tighter than Doing the Laundry.
Hey, whaddya know–it’s “Laundry Day” after all! I guess I got scared by all the 8- and 9-letter entries. I think if I saw the title first I would have appreciated the longer non-theme entries a lot more. They wouldn’t have made me think I was missing something. There were other good entries, like ISOTOPES, TRASHY, ADELE, G-FORCE, and GOT ON. But there seemed to be an abundance of subpar entries too, like RONI, AUST (eww!), SRA, DORADO, ENCL, NONCE (really?), ESSE, SANAA, AT A, TBSP, and SSTS. Alas, to my eye the ugly entries here significantly detract from the good ones.
Some of my errors were so bad they’re funny. I especially like the one where I had NEO as the answer to [Prefix for political or thermal]. “Neo-thermal?” Up top, I had T-BOLTS as the [Letter-shapped fasteners] and was so convinced of it I figured the error was elsewhere when I had SITTATED for [Placed] instead of SITUATED. Oh, and I still like FLOOR as the [Two-dimensional surface] over PLANE. Mathematicians might blanch, but it makes more sense to this liberal arts major.
Tyler Hinman’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
This political wordplay theme feels a tad dry to me:
- 17a. [The candidate from the Bachelor Party said that under him the country would ___] BE A GLOBAL PLAYER.
- 29a. [The candidate from the Pajama Party promised that her plan would ___] COVER RETIREES. As in covering the naked bodies of people retiring for the night.
- 47a. [The candidate from the Dinner Party pledged to ___] FEED THE HUNGRY.
- 60a. [The candidate from the Beach Party swore to ___] DEFEND OUR SHORES.
The best part of this theme is the repurposing of familiar “__ party” phrases that are actual festive events into political parties.
- 5a. [Cheese served at crossword conventions], EDAM. I’m not sure if the ACPT wine and cheese reception has, in fact, offered Edam.
- 32a. [Chipper Jones's son, named after a stadium his dad played well in], SHEA. Wouldn’t have identified Chipper Jones as a Mets player (sounds more like a golfer), but it’s cute trivia. Pretty sure no Cubs player has named his child Wrigley.
- 51a. [1980s hip-hop hairstyle], FADE. Think Kid ‘n Play.
- 67a. [Matchmaking service available in Hebrew], JDATE.
- 8d. [Mars's symbol represents it], MALE SEX.
- 26d. [Term in police brutality cases], DEADLY FORCE. Grim phrase, lively fill.
- 40d. [Mike Tyson's in-fight snack], EAR. Poor Vnde Holyfield.