People of Earth! Patrick Blindauer posted his website puzzle for October on Monday. Get it here, solve it, and read Matt Gaffney’s review on Wednesday.
Ethan Cooper’s New York Times crossword
Today’s theme is tied together by the rather dry WHEEL COMPONENT, which describes the words that can be found lurking in the starts of RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, SPOKEN WORD ALBUM, and HUBBLE TELESCOPE (rim, spoke, hub—following an inward progression).
The most important thing I have to convey is that if you have a chance to see the Imax movie Hubble, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, you must go. We saw it a couple years ago at the Kennedy Space Center and I was prepared to be bored, but instead it knocked me out. Really incredible images from the Hubble Space Telescope, fascinating facts about our universe.
I love the clue for 1d: a basketball REF is [One who knows what it means to travel]. Not an easy-Tuesday clue, but I got it off the R so I’m not complaining.
I gather that the Will Shortz team does not spend much time in the skin care aisle at the drugstore, or these [Oil of __] clues for OLAY would have vanished years ago. The brand is just Olay now. Yes, “Oil of Olay” is crossword-valid just like ESSO and IPANA are, but if you have the opportunity to not come across as outdated, why not take it? [Skin-care brand], [Regenerist brand], [Maker of Regenerist and Total Effects anti-aging creams], [Neutrogena rival]—those would all work.
There are some oddball 5s in the midsection of this puzzle. Crosswordese TARED (34a: [Taken into account in terms of a container's weight]) crosses a teeny [Pacific island nation], 26d: PALAU. (Every crossword solver should be mildly conversant in the teeny nations of Oceania. Here’s a Sporcle quiz you can use to study up. Palau is just one of the three that end in U.) 28d: ["The __ Home," 1996 Emilio Estevez film] clues WAR AT, and I’ve never heard of this movie so I had to rely on the crossings. (It crosses crosswordese [Crosswise, at sea], ABEAM, too, which might make you cross.) Then we have the rare word UNRIP at 32d ([Tear open] or, you know, rip). Whoever coined unrip was high. For me, the single most unfamiliar word in this grid was 31d: BRODO, clued via [Tortellini in __ (Italian dish]). I think BRODO is “broth” but it sounds rather hobbity too.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Ahoy, Matey!” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Too bad this puzzle didn’t run on September 19, better known as International Talk Like a Pirate Day. No, you won’t see YAR inserted into common terms; instead, we get four regular expressions that have nautical components to them:
- 17-Across: One’s [General demeanor] is THE CUT OF ONE’S JIB. Of course, a “jib” is a “triangular sail stretching from the foretopmast head to the jib boom and in small craft to the bowsprit or the bow.” Thank you, dictionary. Am I the only one who thinks THE CUT OF ONE’S JIF could be the seed for a themed puzzle? Pair it with SKIPPY TO MY LOU and SIMON PETER PAN and voila–the crossword theme that sticks to the roof of your mouth.
- 25-Across: To [Pick up a new skill] is to LEARN THE ROPES. Based on the last paragraph, it appears I still have much to learn by way of developing crossword themes.
- 42-Across: The [Gene Kelly movie musical] is ANCHORS AWEIGH. Most anchors I a-know a-weigh a lot.
- 56-Across: We end with a double feature! To search [Thoroughly] is to look FROM STEM TO STERN.
Aesthetically, I dig these grids where the 13s are placed in the middle with L-shaped black squares to frame them. They also allow for more Downs that intersect more than one theme entry. The fill has its highlights (BIG D, the Battlestar PEGASUS, EGG ON, CHOPS abutting CHUMPS) but for the most part it felt ordinary. Not horrible (TOR and TSP notwithstanding), not amazing–just serviceable and to the point. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Favorite entry = MAOIST, the [Red Guard Member]. There’s a letter addition theme in there somewhere: remember to mist a moist Maoist! Favorite clue = [All purpose?] for LAUNDRY, as one might use the All detergent brand while doing laundry. Dynamite clue. The absence of one little hyphen makes all the difference.
Don Gagliardo & C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Today we’ve got a puzzle that won’t leave you asking, “Well, so?”
- 17a. [Wagon boss's directive] – WESTWARD HO
- 11d. ["War on Drugs" slogan] – JUST SAY NO
- 39a. [Replay type, briefly] – SLO MO
- 28d. [Nickname in Olympics sprinting] – FLO JO
- 34d. ["Hold on!"] – DON’T LET GO
- 61a. ["See?" follower] – I TOLD YOU SO
This puzzle has all of the usual features of a Gagliardo/Burnikel byline: tight theme, plenty of theme entries (6!), and lots of nice fill. I really liked [Talk show caller's opportunity] - OPEN LINE. Of course, as an avid breakfast eater (yes, that’s a thing), I can’t deny OVER EASY some love. SOBERS UP – I’d guess that eggs would be good for this, seeing as how Waffle House seems to do good late night/early morning business. But what do I know; I’m just in it for the bacon.
I was surprised by -ESCE, the [Suffix with opal], since it seemed a little crummy for our constructors. Maybe it was just the only way to go without having SAMANTHA wiggle her nose to disappear. Let me nip this one for you: LUCIE [Arnaz of "Here's Lucy"] is the daughter of Lucy & Desi, not a misspelling. Her brother Desi, Jr. appeared on the show, too. Now if you think that homophones shouldn’t be allowed in the clue, I guess you can get back to writing your angry letter to the LA Times, but I think you’re overreacting.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Come On, Daddy Needs a New Pair of Shows!”
This week’s theme makes mash-ups of new fall TV series and clues them whimsically:
- 20a. [Show about a guy who spins those giant signs on the street?], ARROW REVOLUTION.Arrow is about a badass guy who is … heroic? I forget what that Entertainment Weekly feature told me. Revolution is the one set in a post-electricity America, complete with a Wrigley Field overgrown by more than the ivy, and downtown streets without traffic. Saw that one once.
- 37a. [Show about an engaged couple's Plan Z?], LAST RESORT VEGAS. Last Resort is that awesome rogue submarine show starring Andre Braugher, which I saw last weekend, and Vegas has Dennis Quaid as a several-decades-back Nevada sherriff (saw a clip on Ellen).
- 52a. [Show about helping out with bank heists and kidnappings?], GO ON MAJOR CRIMES. Go On is the Chandler-Bing-in-a-grief-support-group comedy, and … I don’t know what Major Crimes is. Is that the Kerry Washington show? Nope. TNT, Mary McDonnell.
I am surprised to know about five of any six new shows. And to have actually watched an episode of one in each pairing! You’d think I watched a lot of TV or something.
Highlights: “GOT A MINUTE?” “ALL THE BEST,” me. “PSHAW!” I always like that word. And the VON TRAPP family. My favorite clue is 60a: [Revolver's hiding place in "Foxy Brown"], AFRO. Hey! Today I saw this picture of a published crossword constructor sporting a truly phenomenal ‘fro. (He cut his hair before attending the ACPT this past March.) Do you recognize him?