Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword
Solid tribute theme: Tuesday would have been JIMI HENDRIX’s 70th birthday. He’d be older than my mom except that drugs killed him when he was 27 (the same age that Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and others were when they died).
Okay! Are you depressed now? JIMI’s Scrabbly name is joined by song titles that also tend to be a bit Scrabbly: FOXY /LADY, HEY / JOE, ALL ALONG THE / WATCHTOWER, PURPLE HAZE, FIRE, and FIRE’s incomplete partner in the grid, “The Wind Cries MARY.” I think the theme would be cleaner without MARY and FIRE, and 56 theme squares is plenty without them. Peter Collins! I suggest you experiment with the Coco Chanel method, as your themes often do pack a lot into a grid. She said she’d get all dressed up and then take off one piece of jewelry before leaving the house, to avoid looking overdone. MARY and FIRE are an unnecessary pair of earrings.
TRUTH OR DARE is a terrific entry and much of the fill is ordinary Tuesday fare. 1-Across launches us with ARAL, meh; and that crosses ROLLE and AN OLD. ODIE, A-TAT, EBAN, ILIA, SEM, ENOL, INEZ, and FAS don’t bring much to the table, either. Perhaps without MARY and FIRE, Peter could have dispensed with the cheater squares; SHAFT/SELECT fill the top one without further changes, though NYSES would be terrible and the EBAN MARY corner would need some reshuffling.
3.66 stars. My kid is asleep, so I’m not going to venture to YouTube to fetch you some Hendrix tunes; I encourage you to do so yourself, though.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Pitching Machines”- Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s puzzle features some [Advice attributed to Steve Wozniak]: NEVER TRUST / A COMPUTER / YOU / CAN’T THROW / OUT A WINDOW. Anyone else read “window” as a subtle reference to Microsoft and its “Windows”-based system? Maybe I’m just stirring the pot.
Let’s get right to things I liked and the things I didn’t know. We’ll start with the things I liked:
- Seeing both R AND R, the [Abbreviated time off], and Q AND A, the [Briefing follow-up, briefly], in the same grid.
- The screaming all-caps for the clue to NUKE, [WWIII WMD]. ZOMG.
- VAQUERO, the [Southwestern cowboy], is just too cool for school. Some other long entries of note included SAYS AH, IT ISN’T SO, and PIN-UP.
- At first I was miffed that the answer to [Capt. Kirk’s helmsman] was LT. SULU instead of MR. SULU, but now I like it.
Now for the things I didn’t know:
- The [Crecy crower] is a COQ. I’m too chicken to make a joke here.
- The [Longtime maestro with a “noted” name] is SOLTI and not DOFA or REMI.
- The [First name in elevators] is ELISHA Otis. Knew the last name, not the first.
- Just about anything could have filled in the blank for [“Hard Hearted Hannah (The ___ of Savannah)”] and I would have believed it. Turns out to be VAMP.
- No surprise, then, that I also didn’t know [“Hard Hearted Hannah” composer Milton] AGER.
Favorite entry = WENT OFF, or [Exploded]. Favorite clue = [Team up early on Christmas?] for Santa’s REINDEER. The lack of hyphenation makes all the difference! (Honorable mention to the fiendish [Was revolting] for ROSE UP.)
Peter Collins’ Los Angeles Times crossword
Hello again, Peter! This puzzle’s theme provides alternative clues for each GREAT LAKE:
- 1a. [Pennsylvania city of about 100,000], ERIE
- 9a. [Tribe also called the Wyandot], HURON
- 20a. [Motor City's state], MICHIGAN
- 37a. [London's province], ONTARIO
- 54a. [A cut above, with "to"], SUPERIOR
- 64a, 66a. [One of five found in this puzzle], GREAT LAKE
I wish that SUPERIOR had been clued as port city in northern Wisconsin, because the other lake clues all have a geographical connection.
Love BRIDEZILLA, like HACK INTO and GET REAL. Could do without ARRS, ANEMO, NEOS, BRAE, ISR, METZ, ADLAI, CVII, EL-HI, OPER, ESSE, REMI (which Sam was just mentioning in his CrosSynergy review), ESS, EDER, and UIES.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Cross Purposes”
Each theme answer is made by tacking on an X at the beginning of familiar phrases:
- 17a. [Advice like "Don't fly so low you crash into the Death Star"?], X-WING TIPS. From shoes to Star Wars.
- 29a. [Do a medical scan on a British royal?], X-RAY CHARLES. From jazzy singer to royal examination.
- 35a. [Elected official straight from a Fox singing competition?], X FACTOR IN. You know what? I don’t see “in” as a noun meaning “elected official” anywhere but crosswords.
- 48a. [Resort town for video game enthusiasts?], XBOX SPRINGS. Reminds me of Pixar’s Radiator Springs in Cars.
- 57a. [Oinker who designed a commercial space shuttle?], X PRIZE PIG. Who doesn’t appreciate a phrase like “prize pig” being riffed on for a crossword theme?
Love this theme. Fresh idea, and Matt nails the execution.
The fill has some flavor as well: What are MALWARE, H-WOOD, RAZZIE, and DEGRASSI but perfect examples of the sort of pop-culture flair Matt brings to his puzzles? Of course, answers like ONE OR and ODA lack zip, but I think the theme’s strength and the zingy bits carry the puzzle. 4.25 stars.