Allan Parrish’s New York Times crossword
Interesting theme: What can you do with a DECK OF CARDS?
- 20a. [1977 Boz Scaggs hit], LIDO SHUFFLE. This is the “one more for the road” song.
- 27a. [Source of ground chuck], SHOULDER CUT. That’s a thing? I’ll take a meat-eater’s word for it.
- 45a. [All-in-one offer], PACKAGE DEAL. V. good.
- 54a. [Something with which you might do the actions at the ends of 20-, 27- and 45-Across], DECK OF CARDS.
Solid theme, but the puzzle’s got some decidedly non-Tuesday-friendly fill. Italian AMARE, old jazz CLEO, EDMOND (“I used the crossings”) Hoyle, VIREO, SAAR, intersecting Spanish ANO and POR, TATAR, old RKO? Those seem more Wednesday-and-beyond to me.
Fill I liked: HANG OUT AT, ARGENTINA, INSPECTOR, I’LL BET, CHUG.
Troublesome clue: 48a: [Woman with an Afro, maybe], SISTA. Ouch. [Brutha's sib], a pop culture clue like ["Nature of a ___" (Queen Latifah album)], sure. [African-American woman, slangily], that’s basic enough. If you have to target a SISTA’s hair … well, it’s not going to go well. Remember Don Imus and the “nappy-headed hos” outrage? How about Chris Rock’s documentary, Good Hair? It’s about the social hegemony of weaves and chemical relaxers, vs. naturals (curly and short), dreads, and, a teeny fraction of the time, Afros. Black women with bushier hair are often faced with non-black folks who will reach right out and touch their hair without asking (how often does a stranger or mere acquaintance try to touch your hair? pretty much never, unless you’re black), so hair is a deeply freighted issue. And the term SISTA is also one that is perhaps best wielded by its in-group. It’s not as loaded as the N-word, but the clue’s sort of saying, “Hey, you! Sista with the ‘fro!” and who does that really apply to?
And furthermore! Although two regular nouns generally win out over two proper nouns, actor Jeremy SISTO crossing one of the ORSONs available to crosswords would have skirted the entire issue.
Mystery usage of the day: 1d: [Big New Year's Day events], BOWLS. Who says that? “Gonna watch the bowls all day today!” Bowl games, that’s the usage that sounds natural and familiar to me. Any of you folks refer to the Doritos Extra Hot Like Fire Sugar Bowl and the Meineke Muffler Orange Bowl (I may have these sponsors a little wrong) as “bowls” rather than “bowl games”?
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Team Play”- Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s puzzle re-imagines three 15-letter terms as relating to professional sports teams. It’s easy to do, since each starts with a word that happens to be a name of a professional sports franchise:
- 17-Across: CELTIC MYTHOLOGY is clued as a [Boston team's tall stories of greatness?]. The achievements of the Boston Celtics are hardly mythical–I wonder if Tony is taking a playful swipe at Boston fans.
- 41-Across: The [Washington, D.C. team's payroll allotment?] refers to CAPITAL SPENDING by the Washington Capitals, an NHL team that might actually start playing soon.
- 65-Across: A [New York team's knack for scoring runs?] might be YANKEE INGENUITY, a further tease at the expense of Boston fans.
I like how we get entries featuring three of the four major professional sports in the United States. The sports theme is echoed in some of the fill. We have ALLEY-OOPS and GIMME FIVE, the [Request for a hand?]. RAMS could have been clued with reference to the St. Louis football team (thus introducing our fourth major sport), but instead we got [Butts into].
Good thing I didn’t need to figure out 52-Down on my own. Since I had all the crossings in place, I never saw DRYAD, the [Wood nymph]. Better to be lucky than good, I suppose. I’m on first-name basis with neither nymphs nor nymphos; I guess I’ve had a somewhat sheltered life. If I’m going to take the Jeopardy! online test tomorrow, maybe I better brush up on them. The nymphs, I mean.
I kinda liked my answer for [One of 24]. With -OUR in place, I went with FOUR. Hey, it’s the second digit in 24, right? I was bummed that the answer proved to be HOUR.
Favorite entry = OUT WEST, the apparent [Opposite of "back east"]. I had FAR WEST at first, but I like this answer much better. Favorite clue = the aforementioned [Request for a hand?] for GIMME FIVE.
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword
A solo puzzle from Zhouqin this time. The theme is dried fruit:
- 17a. [Traditional Christmas dessert], PLUM PUDDING.
- 30a. [Sweet spread], GRAPE JELLY. The intervening CORN NUT is not part of the theme. Nor is 29d: PEAS IN A POD. Though you can get dried peas and corn comes in both fresh and dried (Corn Nuts!) versions, the dried ones aren’t chewy like dried fruit. Are there any chewy dried veggies, or do we only have crunchy dried veggies?
- 47a. [Fiber-rich cereal], RAISIN BRAN.
- 60a. [Coffee break treat], PRUNE DANISH.
- 69a. [Helped with dinner cleanup--or, a hint to the relationship between the starts of 60-/17-Across and 47-/30-Across], DRIED.
Might’ve been cute to have FRESH at 1-Across, opposite DRIED. Perhaps the constructor tried it and didn’t like the fill she got with FRESH there? 2d: DELS
I like the crossing of 50d: [Swedish currency]/KRONOR with the latter part of PRUNE DANISH. There’s a Chicago café called Tre Kronor (“three crowns”) and though it’s Swedish, they have Danishes on the menu. A Swedish Danish? Yes. Delicious!
Other likes: NBA STAR, Roger FEDERER, INFERNO. Cute to have E. COLI crossing E-CARD—the two E-C*** options, together again.
Not fond of ENGR, SLUES, TSAR, SROS, HOD.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Mixology”
You blend two things together and what do you get?
- 20a. [Chess computer + thick directory?] combines Deep Blue and the Yellow Pages to get DEEP GREEN PAGES.
- 35a. [Source of wealth + source of mozzarella?] mixes pay dirt and water buffalo for PAY MUD BUFFALO.
- 51a. [Colorful bubbly + Dallas Mavericks shooting guard?] blends pink champagne and O.J. Mayo for PINK MIMOSA MAYO, which sounds like a really bad idea for a condiment.
I like that Matt found three entirely different sorts of mixes, rather than going with three color blends. This way, he keeps us guessing for longer and there are three mini-puzzles to figure out. The last one was the toughest for me because I’ve only faintly heard of the implausibly named O.J. Mayo.
- 21d. [One of 26 for Stevie Wonder], GRAMMY.
- 22d. [They can crash], PCS. Yes, indeed.
- 35d. [Genre for Talking Heads and Killing Joke], POST-PUNK.
- 46d. [Website to see if your favorite urban legend is really true] SNOPES. The Back to the Future date? It wasn’t last week. It’s in October 2015. You may well see doctored photos purporting to show different dates as the future date the Delorean traveled to, but it’s a sham! Snopes.com said so.
Not running into a ton of zippy clues here, though. In fill, I like DRY RUB, SNOPES, AMPHIBIA, POST-PUNK … that’s about it. 3.5 stars, owing to the theme’s innate puzzliness.