Allan Parrish’s New York Times crossword
This byline always makes me think of Jumanji.
The theme is parades and the notable things that appear in them:
- 20a. BALLOON PAYMENT, [Provision for ending many a mortgage]. The vast majority of parades, of course, feature exactly zero balloons. Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in New York is an exception.
- 35a. FLOAT PLANE, [Aircraft with pontoons]. Has anyone ever devised pontoon pantaloons? Was this the concept underlying Hammer pants?
- 42a. BAND OF GOLD, [1970 Freda Payne hit]. Am I supposed to recognize that song?
- 53a. PARADE MAGAZINE, [Weekend publication since 1941]. Three years ago, Ken Jennings wrote, “‘Personality Parade’ cracks me up. Fifteen years after the invention of the World Wide Web, this is still a forum for confused elderly people to ask, ‘What is Sean Connery’s middle name?’ and ‘My wife says Liza Minnelli was in Arthur 2: On the Rocks, but I think she was only in the first Arthur. A steak dinner is riding on this. Who is right?’ I can just imagine this couple eagerly turning to Parade magazine every Sunday in hopes that this greatest mystery of their lives will be answered…only to be disappointed. ‘If only there were some other resource in our homes that would give us information on celebrities and their work!’ they wail, turning sadly to the super-sized Sunday ‘Jumble.’”
People in the puzzle: Riddick BOWE (who’s the Simpsons boxer I get mixed up with this guy?), BRIAN De Palma (what’s he been up to lately?), OPIE, ESME, ESTES Kefauver, Suze ORMAN, Count OLAF, Lou DOBBS, Chris ISAAK, RALPH Sampson, Cannonball ADDERLEY, Deputy DAWG, ICE-T. Most of these names have a single cluing option. How many other famous DOBBSes or ADDERLEYs do we have?
Crosswordese beasties: ERNS, EFTS. The eland feels left out.
Hey, anyone else ever get this partial error message after clicking “done!” on the NYT’s applet? I’m pretty sure I’m connected to the Internet, since I was able to get the crossword just fine. No idea what to do about this. Has happened tonight and Saturday night, and intermittently over the last year.
Steve Blais’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Hey! The original host of Wheel of Fortune is memorialized in Tuesday’s puzzle.
- 18a. [Show hosted by 23-Across], FAMILY FEUD. Not sure who’s hosting it now. Steve Harvey?
- 23a. [Popular TV personality (11/20/1932-6/2/2012)], RICHARD DAWSON.
- 39a. [18-Across list topper], NUMBER ONE ANSWER.
- 49a. [With "the," 23-Across's nickname on 18-Across], KISSING BANDIT. Really? What was banditlike about that?
- 60a. [23-Across's catchphrase on 18-Across], SURVEY SAID.
Likes: EXORCISMS ([Ritualistic evictions]), tasty GRUBS, [B or C of the Spice Girls] to clue MEL, the quaint clue [Hog the phone] for YAK. In how many households do parents still holler at teenagers to get off the phone? So many teens have their own phones now that they can yak (or text) for hours without preventing their parents from using the phone.
Dislikes: Plural DINAHS (although Richard Dawson appeared on Dinah Shore’s talk show in the ’70s, alongside Oscar the Grouch) and NOS and ALOES, fragments LEB and INE and ISR, Latin ESSE and RARA, dull APSE.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Opposite Day”- Sam Donaldson’s review
In the spirit of this puzzle’s theme, this review is written in the opposite of its original form:
Favorite entry = RSA, [N. Mandela’s nation]. That’s the Republic of South Africa, for those wondering. Favorite clue = [Gumbo veggie] for OKRA.
Every puzzle has to have its boring bits to make everything work. Alas, this one’s encumbered with way too much dull stuff. Here’s just a partial list from this snooze-fest: SCOT FREE, GNAW ON, INROAD, OUTBOUND, ARE TOO, EKCO, TMZ, TATTOO. Can’t we all agree that these entries come up way too often to offer any entertainment? Sure, this puzzle has some small rewards: STA, an abbreviation for “station,” is gold, as is NNE (Compass points! we need more compass points!), AS I, STE, ESO, and TRI. But these juicy abbreviation, partials, and foreign words shine that much more when there’s less surrounding clutter. SCOT FREE <<shudder>>. Let us not speak of it again.
I was greatly offended by the clue for OAHU, [Ho’s home]. Of course the clue putatively refers to Don Ho, but it’s obviously intended for the junior high school set. Only an eleven-year-old possessed by the spirit of Beavis and Butthead would find that amusing.
I would have preferred a theme with a little bit of wordplay. Consider how much wackier the four 15-letter theme entries would have been if, for instance, one word was changed to its opposite:
- 16-Across: The FRONT-SEAT DRIVER could maybe be a BACK-SEAT DRIVER. Imagine–a driver in the back seat! Hilarious. Anyway, not quite sure why the clue, [The person behind the wheel?] gets a question mark, but whatever. I’m more bummed about lost wordplay opportunity.
- 27-Across: FORGET THE TITANS is something we all know, and the clue is needlessly over-helpful (did anyone really need all of [“Don’t ever think about Atlas or Prometheus ever again!”?]?). Now something clever like REMEMBER THE TITANS would have been wacky and fun.
- 47-Across: A [Hostel, e.g.?] is a NIGHT-CARE CENTER. Again with the question mark in the clues? What gives? Building on my thesis, though, imagine something fanciful like a DAY-CARE CENTER. The wacky clues practically write themselves.
- 61-Across: DOWN TO THE MINUTE is [How some very casual races are timed?], since we don’t want anyone’s feelings being hurt by not being labelled a winner. But wouldn’t something like UP TO THE MINUTE be a funny variant? Geez, so many missed opportunities in this puzzle. It’s all so frustrating.
Alas, another boring offering from Patrick Blindauer–just as we have come to expect. I’m not sure why anyone would bother, but if you want to inflict yourself with even more intolerably inept puzzles, you can waste $11.11 on Patrick’s upcoming puzzlefest. The puzzles will be released on December 1, and I’m sure most of us will be round-filing them shortly thereafter. Go ahead and pre-order it–I dare you.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Plant a Tree”
Plant a tree—plunk its roots down right in the middle of the yard, or in a familiar phrase.
- 16a. [Painter best known for being tall and stringy?], BOB ROPINESS. Bob Ross is the classic PBS how-to painter of trees and mountains, + pine.
- 25a. [Surf that's in charge of grilling the turf?], STEAK’S MINNOW. The S.S. Minnow is the Gilligan’s Island boat, + teak.
- 42a. [Really wants to get the stain out of a ticket?], PRESOAKS PASS. Press pass, + oak. Man, I hate it when I have a stained ticket.
- 56a. [Fast food chain run by Germany's Kohl?], PIZZA HELMUT. Pizza Hut, + elm. Pizza Helmut offers bratwurst, spätzle, and sauerkraut pizza toppings.
Are there a lot of names in this puzzle? Let’s see: ARI the fictional agent, KAL Penn, M.I.A., GIADA de Laurentiis, NYX the Greek goddess of night, Cleo LAINE, ABBA, HANA Mandlikova, INGA, NADIA Comaneci, MENA Suvari, HOPE Solo, EZRA Pound, EMIL Zatopek … that’s 14, which does feel like a lot. NADIA, HOPE, and EMIL are all Olympic luminaries.
I like seeing LANAI clued as 44d: [Porch on “The Golden Girls”]. You know what? Florida has 14 times the population of Hawaii, and it may well be that there are more LANAIs (screened porches and/or pool enclosures) in Florida than in Hawaii.