Jay Kaskel’s New York Times crossword
What if dairy products were reflections of the moods and looks of the cow?
- 17a. [Byproduct of a sad dairy cow?], BLUE CHEESE. Some cheeses definitely taste like tragedy. All the cheeses I don’t like, for example.
- 25a. [Byproduct of a homely dairy cow?], PLAIN YOGURT. Man, “plain” and “homely” can be cruel words, can’t they?
- 37a. [Byproduct of an exhausted dairy cow?], WHIPPED BUTTER. We made molten chocolate lava cakes last night from a Stonewall Kitchen mix. The first step was to melt the chocolate pieces with 12 tablespoons of butter. My god, buttery melted chocolate is delicious!
- 52a. [Byproduct of an irate dairy cow?], STEAMED MILK. Cappuccino has an innate rage to it.
- 61a. [Byproduct of a portly dairy cow?], HEAVY CREAM. Not sure what weight distinguishes a cow from a heavy cow. Isn’t heavy the default?
- 16a. ["Is you is or is you ___ ma' baby?"], AIN’T. I don’t know the source of this, but I was just thinking about the line yesterday. I love it so. Don’t recall encountering the “is you is” formation elsewhere.
- 68a. [Does fantastic stand-up], KILLS. Good nonviolent clue, appreciated right after Martin Luther King Day.
- 3d. [Whiskey distillery supply], SOUR MASH. I don’t really know what sour mash is, but it’s a great term all the same.
- 63d. ["What ___, chopped liver?"], AM I. Love that line. My kid once had a nonverbal sign to indicate chopped liver.
A lot of the other fill left me cold. OLIO TAM TRU OUS AGAS ONEA SRTA TAC AROW EXOD LEY TSO NTESTS MST? Meh. Rather more of those than I expect to see in a single puzzle.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Buy One, Get One Free”
The theme answers are phrases that start with two/double words, clued as advertising come-ons:
- 17a. ["Our movies are so riveting they contain ___"] DUAL ACTION. I don’t usually see those dual-action pictures.
- 55a. ["Our pillows are extra full because we ___!"] DOUBLE DOWN. Make mine double Primaloft, please.
- 11d. ["Our meringues stand up so well that you'll see ___"] TWIN PEAKS.
- 33d. ["Our races are scrutinized down to the millisecond because we use ___"] TWO TIMERS.
It’s a stretch, but Matt pulled it off.
Five more clues I want to talk about:
- 24a. [Sugar alternative in chewing gum], XYLITOL? Yes. Spry fresh fruit flavor, my favorite gum. Xylitol is actually good for your teeth.
- 42a. [Strands in the back], RATTAILS. Do little boys wear rattails in your area?
- 61a. [Overly emphatic assent said with a fist pump], “YESS!” Uh, no.
- 26d. [Dealer's packets], DECKS. I thought this was about drug dealers for the longest time. Derrrr…. playing cards.
- 34d. [His nose was tweaked many times], CURLY of the Three Stooges.
Not much else to say, is there? 3.5 stars.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Album Collection”- Sam Donaldson’s review
Each of the six theme entries is a two-word term with the initials L.P., making them an “album collection” of sorts. I didn’t notice the theme at all until I was finished and had to write this post. But I like that we have theme entries in both the Across and Down positions, and intersecting theme entries always have a special place in my heart for some reason. So I give this one higher than average marks.
The theme entries:
- 17-Across: LARGE PRINT is something [Easy to read].
- 28-Across: One who is [Owning property, but in need of money] might be called LAND POOR. Huh. To me, one with illiquid holdings is “land rich” but “cash poor.” Maybe the terms are interchangeable, like “flammable” and “inflammable?”
- 43-Across: A LEGAL PAD is a [Yellow notetaking tablet]. Other yellow notetaking tablets include GRANITE and THE IPAD WITH THE LEMONADE SPILLED ON IT. (You don’t want to see the draft versions of that joke, trust me.)
- 57-Across: LINKIN PARK is the ["Meteora" band]. I know nothing of the band or the album, so let’s just move on.
- 10-Down: LEMON PEPPER is the [Zesty seasoning] that may well be my all-time favorite condiment-slash-spice-add-on. (It’s either lemon pepper or ketchup.) Try some on tomato soup, in mashed potatoes, and on poultry and seafood. Lemon pepper makes most entrees and side-dishes taste better!
- 25-Down: LEON PANETTA is the [Former CIA director] not involved in a sex scandal.
My three favorite non-thematic entries make for an interesting headline: HOT PANTS TERRIFY YOKEL. I’m sure they do. (ZILLION is also cool, but I nixed it in favor of the headline joke.) I didn’t know KALI, the [Four-armed Hindu goddess], and I had ROIL instead of MOIL for [Churn ceaselessly]. But otherwise everything felt pretty smooth and fair.
Favorite entry = Duh, it’s LEMON PEPPER. Favorite clue = [Tower in the bay] for TUG. Sure enough, I fell for it. I read “tower” as rhyming with “flower,” not “lower.” But I also liked [Pointless Olympic competition?] for EPEE.
Jeff Stillman’s Los Angeles Times crossword
HAMLET’s (50d. [Speaker of the first syllables of the answers to starred clues]) famous soliloquy gets the homophone treatment here:
- 18a. [*Coffee drinker's complaint], TOO STRONG.
- 26a. [*Direct path], BEELINE.
- 30a. [*Rowboat attachments], OARLOCKS.
- 49a. [*Flaw in a fence], KNOTHOLE.
- 51a. [*Quarter], TWO BITS.
- 57a. [*"The Golden Girls" co-star], BEA ARTHUR.
Cute. TOO STRONG feels a tad arbitrary as a phrase (couldn’t a dozen other adjectives take STRONG’s place?), and OARLOCKS is one of those boring boaty words crosswords have altogether too many of. But it’s cute to evoke the classic rebus, but branching out to use two different “to” and “be” alternatives.
Seven more clues:
- 22a. [Contest for lumberjacks], ROLEO. I know this word almost exclusively via crosswords.
- 33a. [Key of Mozart's Requiem Mass], D MINOR. Or, as I like to think of such entries, *M**OR-wait-for-the-crossings.
- 42a. [Controversial apple spray], ALAR. See also: 6d. [EPA-banned pesticide], DDT. Did you know?: Alar can still be used in the U.S. on ornamental plants, just not on edibles.
- 47a. [Country with six time zones], CANADA. Doesn’t China just have a single crazy time zone, officially?
- 65a. [Big name in bars], CLARK. As in the Clark Bar candy bar. A much smaller name than, say, Snickers or Kit Kat.
- 31d. [Numbers game with 80 balls], KENO. This is like ROLEO—I almost never encounter it anywhere but crosswords. I wonder which I would find more fun.
- 41d. [Without a partner], MATELESS. Dictionary includes this under mate. Who knew?
Lots of blah short fill in this one, likely because of the seven-part theme locking down much of the grid. DPS SSE ALAR MEA LAA ASI ELL AAA DT ANON KENO ANO SYN ERS SER ENE TEL? None of those would be embraced by a newbie solver as “Oh, yes, of course! Everybody uses that a lot,” would they?