Please give a hearty round of applause to Jeffrey, who did a real mitzvah and filled in for me over the last few days. I was in Wisconsin in a house that was nearly in caveman times. No cable TV, no internet, no landline phone. It’s hard to blog crosswords via iPhone, you know.
Julian Lim’s New York Times crossword
Cute theme, making us break words into their component letter chunks to make sense of everything:
- 17a. [SON] is HALF NELSON, as NELSON’s two halves are NEL and SON.
- 26a. PIECE OF WRITING is [TIN].
- 42a. [LIP] is PARTIAL ECLIPSE. Hey, did any of you get to see Jupiter in conjunction with the moon Tuesday around dinner time? It was partly cloudy in Wisconsin and I did not see any warty planet sprouting from the top of the moon as the EarthSky blog had promised, but perhaps that bright starrish item further above the moon was actually Jupiter.
- 55a. [FIN] clues SEMIFINALS.
So two of the three-letter clues are exact halves, the HALF and SEMI ones, and the other two are the looser PIECE OF and PARTIAL three-sevenths.
I wonder if this puzzle was constructed within the last several months, or if PSY, [Rapper behind the 2012 "Gangnam Style" YouTube sensation], was originally clued as, I dunno, part of the Psy.D. degree or something. Every time I pronounce “Gangnam Style” in the way you hear people say it on NPR, my kid corrects me. “Mom, it’s ‘gungum style.’”
Fave fill: PSHAW, AVENUE Q and SPAMALOT (hang on…KISMET is also a musical. Are there other stealth musicals in this puzzle?), SAARINEN instead of EERO, SQUEEGEE, HARDCORE clued as [Dedicated], BOOYA, in-the-language PLAY FOR. Underwhelmed by AMARE clued as a Latin word (because Amar’e Stoudemire right below Junior SEAU would be too much of a sports pile-up for non-sports fans), IVOR, ORLY (which, frankly, I would like better clued as text shorthand for “oh, really?”), EX-ALLY, and OMSK.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Air Intake”- Sam Donaldson’s review
Take four expressions, each starting with a word that rhymes with tar. Change the vowel sound of the first word so that it rhymes with tear simply by adding a silent E, then clue the resulting whimsical phrases accordingly. Poof! You’ve got a puzzle like today’s offering from Tony Orbach. Check out his theme entries:
- 17-Across: A “car dealer” becomes a CARE DEALER, like a [Nurse or doctor?].
- 28-Across: Something that is “far-fetched” becomes FARE-FETCHED, like the [Cabbie's notation after a pick-up?].
- 47-Across: Good old-fashioned “bar-hopping” changes to the more risque BARE HOPPING, perhaps the term for [Three-legged racing at a nudist colony?]. For some reason, Inner Beavis thinks of something else upon seeing “three-legged” and “nudist colony” together.
- 64-Across: A “star gazer” becomes a STARE GAZER, like a [Person trying not to blink in a certain contest?].
Lots of terrific Down entries, like DARTH VADER, TOP SECRET, DAWNS ON, TEE OFF, PENTAX, END UP, UNLV, and the charming ADELE. I managed to solve the puzzle without reading the clue to 26-Down, so I was a little irked with the answer, RE-STING. How arbitrary!, I decried to no one within listening range. Good thing I read the clue before writing this review, because the answer to [Kicking back] is RESTING. Oh. Right. Carry on, then. These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.
Favorite entry = HALF A DOZEN, clued simply as [Six]. Favorite clue = [Knight fight], as it served as the clue for both TILT and JOUST.
Updated Thursday afternoon:
Hmm, it’s afternoon and I have three crosswords to blog? Short shrift for everything!
C.C. Burnikel and Dennis Ryall’s Los Angeles Times crossword
At first I thought the INSIDE JOBS theme was connected to the ORDER and EFFORT at the end of two theme entries. OPERA means “labor, work,” and DETAIL-ORIENTED is also job-oriented. But the theme is much nicer than that muddle—there are professions embedded within four theme answers. COP in COMIC OPERA, ACTOR in the never-saw-that-term-before NO CONTACT ORDER, CHEF in the zippy LAST-DITCH EFFORT, and TAILOR in DETAIL-ORIENTED.
Not much excitement in the fill—ODIE OBES PTERO ELS OTT ESAU SLO EROSE ADELA ESTEE TSAR STN? Meh. But I do like FEED ME (Little Shop of Horrors), the Coneheads from FRANCE, [Two-piece piece] for BRA, and [Type type] for FONT.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Accidents Will Happen”
Congrats to Brendan on his 500th website puzzle and his 200th website themeless on Monday! ‘Tis the season to support your favorite semiweekly puzzle venue—be sure to visit BEQ Headquarters and make a donation if you can spare a few bucks. $10 of support will get you a plus-sized themeless, too. I’m always a sucker for that.
Theme is T-bone collisions. The circled squares have a BUS hitting a UTE (SUV would be better, but that letter sequence is hard to come by in longer words/phrases), a CAB hitting a RIG, and a VAN hitting a CAR. At first I thought the last one was an oddly laid-out CARAVAN, which is a camper/RV in Brit-speak, but BUST UTE wasn’t working that way.
The three long Acrosses are terrific, and DVD BURNER is good too. I wanted TEEN SLANG for YOLO and swag instead of TEENSPEAK, though. Would you believe my 12-year-old learned YOLO from his 6th-grade teacher last year? And that his teachers use “ghetto” as an adjective?
Francis Heaney’s AV Club crossword, “In with the New (Wave)”
The American Values Club puzzle ushers in the New Year with hidden New Wave bands, sneaking WHAM, DEVO, INXS, YAZ, and XTC into various contrived phrases. I like “JA, RUDE VOLE!” because it sounds likes jawohl with RUDE stuck inside. COURT JEW HAMSTER is patently ridiculous, and made me think small rodents would play a role in each theme answer, but no. SUBWAY SEXT CRIES, LATIN MINX SASSES, and Uncle VANYAZILLA … Wait, I just realized rather belatedly that the theme answers are, in fact, made by inserting the band names inside familiar phrases. Just saw the vanilla in VANYAZILLA. I blame jawohl for distracting me from Ja Rule. Court jester, duh. Subway series, Catholic, Latin masses … gotcha. If you were blogging your third crossword in an hour, I guarantee you that you could miss a step too.
Likes: CROSTINI, BEER ME (have a 12-pack of New Glarus Spotted Cow ale in the house now that I have been to Wisconsin again!), BUNKUM, DOUCHE, generic CROAT clued with “her” rather than “his.”
P.S. Francis clued ORLY as [Airport, nail polish brand, or lolcat exclamation]. Now, that is what I’m talking about. The NYT’s [Aéroport d'___] is missing two thirds of the fun.