Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword
Oh! Here it is. I found it. That Monday puzzle we’ve been looking for all week. I found this puzzle to be markedly easier than both of the two that preceded it.
Will’s theme duplicates a “*O” syllable at the end of a word/phrase, thereby turning it into something entirely different:
- 17a. [Coming on to a patient, perhaps?], DOCTOR NO-NO. There’s a demerit of .1 star for spelling out Dr. No this way. It’s the MISTER ED offense.
- 21a. [Deny membership to skater Starbuck?], BAN JOJO. JoJo Starbuck was mostly before my time. I might’ve opted for the famed Dog-Faced Boy.
- 36a. [Dictator's directive at a dance club?], LET MY PEOPLE GO-GO. Wait. What kind of dictator just wants people to have a good time dancing? This is a tyranny I could get on board with. What will his next demand be—DO THE MAMBO?
- 55a. [Bad-mouth designer Chanel?], DIS COCO. I know Coco is long gone now, but yes. The fit of Julianne Moore’s Chanel gown at the SAG Awards was … saggy.
- 59a. ["Strive for medium quality on this one"?], MAKE IT SO-SO. Patrick Stewart’s Star Trek spinoff character (don’t expect me to know which people were on which latter-day Trek series) was fond of saying “Make it so.”
Rather Scrabbly fill overall, with QUADS and JINX up at the top. Other fill I liked: WON BIG, RATED PG, BLADE II, WHO AM I, HIJAB.
The puzzle contains two towns I’d probably never had heard of were it not for crosswords: 46d. [City of northern Spain], OVIEDO, and 53a. [New York site of Mark Twain's grave], ELMIRA. Would you believe my son has a classmate named Elmira? She is more familiar to me than the New York city of 29,000. (She’s a huge Belieber.)
Let us count the names in this puzzle, shall we? I think there may be a surfeit. EFRON LILA ELLA GOGOL AVA LAHR ELMIRA EMIL EUROPA ABEL COLE MAE OJAI GARR OVIEDO LETHE. Sixteen, and SAL gets a crosswordese/chemistry [__ ammoniac] clue and just barely escapes from this list. NACRE and EMAG are words I pretty much never encounter outside of crosswords. We’ll ding the rating for this paragraph, too.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Change-oops”
How did Ben change it up here? He took phrases with the short U sound of “up” and converted that to a long U sound:
- 17a. [YouTube compilation showing Skywalker's coolest moments?], BEST OF LUKE.
- 25a. [Historically low prices on snout meat, say?], HOT DOG BOON.
- 34a. [1976 Neil Young-Stephen Stills single, and a phonetic hint to this puzzle], LONG MAY YOU RUN. “Long may the ‘U’ sound run,” in other words.
- 49a. [Server in the cafeteria of Mordor?], DOOM WAITER.
- 57a. [Civil liberties movement for mafia thugs?] GOON RIGHTS.
Highlights include the tawdry GOT OFF; W00T clued as [Word often spelled with two numbers in the middle] plus SEVEN clued as [Movie title often spelled with a number in the middle] (Se7en); [Bald, all-American sort] cluing EAGLE (and echoing Homer Simpson in the next clue); pannonica’s beloved TKS, or ["To come" marks, in editing]; EGOSURF.
Four stars. Nothing scowly here.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Filling the BL”- Sam Donaldson’s review
It’s a vowel progression theme featuring five 15-letter theme entries (and 40 black squares to make it work). Each theme entry begins with letter sequence B?L, with a different vowel in place of the question mark each time. Necessarily, the vowels appears in alphabetical order from top to bottom :
- 17-Across: The [Camden Yards sight] is a BALTIMORE ORIOLE. This 15 may be second only to A LOT ON ONE’S PLATE in terms of recent (over-) use.
- 22-Across: A [Statistician's presentation] nearly always features a BELL-SHAPED CURVE.
- 37-Across: The [Chart from a music newsweekly] is the BILLBOARD TOP TEN. Great entry, though I believe it’s now the “Hot 100.”
- 47-Across: One who [Suddenly dashes to an exit] is one who BOLTS FOR THE DOOR. Another solid entry.
- 56-Across: I don’t think I’ve ever heard this, but supposedly the [Earliest runs of newspapers] are called BULLDOG EDITIONS. One would think they would be roosters or other “early birds.” Every bulldog I know is not exactly a morning dog.
Any grid with 75 theme squares will have some sub-par fill. This one, though, is ably constructed. The only eyesores are ACR, ELIEL, SSA, and, I think for most American solvers, OBOTE. You can’t expect so few compromises in a grid so thematically DENSE (clued in the puzzle as [Thick in a couple of ways] but meant here only as a compliment). There are even some treats in the grid, like AB FAB, KAL-EL, LA-Z-Boy recliners, and a splash of PERRIER down the middle. I may not be the biggest fan of vowel progression themes, but I very much admire this grid.
Favorite entry = KOKO, the [Gorilla who learned sign language]. Favorite clue = ["___?" (Miss Piggy's question)] for MOI.
Kurt Mengel and Jan-Michel Gianette’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Kurt Mengel and Jan-Michel Gianette mine from a rich vein of crossword themes: US sports team names. They offer us a whimsical twist though: each team is followed by a past tense verb that is apt/ironic to the meaning of the team’s name. Ok, wait, I see now, it’s a bit tighter than that, each verb could be used when the team loses / plays badly, although that isn’t emphasized in the clues. Also, all the teams are American Football teams (I had to check.)
- The New Orleans SAINTS could be BEDEVILED
- The New York JETS may be GROUNDED
- The Indiana COLTS might be LASSOED
- And the San Diego CHARGERS may find themselves SHOCKED
- The two long downs: ONIONSKIN and QUIETTIME are nice
- 14a IMUS [Longtime Stern rival] refers to Howard
- 38a CAV [Old West mil. force]. Talk about going to extremes to avoid possible theme confusion. This could simply have been clued as [Cleveland NBAer]. After consulting many, many dictionaries on- and offline I have concluded it must be referring to an abbreviation for cavalry. Either that or Chicken Anaemia Virus! If you have a better suggestion though please pipe up!
- 62a [Hardly friendly] COLD. Musical interlude #1
- 2d [Indian nursemaid] AMAH. She doesn’t show up so much these days!
- 6d [Vagabond] HOBO. Musical interlude #2
- 8d [X-ray units] RADS. Or, more in use, to me at least, [X-rays, casually.]
- 24d [Bone: Pref.] OSTE. It has dictionary support, but ick! OSTEO is the prefix, the O is merely dropped in some cases!
- 46d [Casual wine choices] CHARDS. I get the feeling like American winos have their own lingo. I don’t see words like this and ZINS and CABS bandied about over here!
- 57d [Sheep together] HERD. All the cool kids call them flocks.
3.25 stars. I’m guessing American sports nuts will enjoy the theme more than myself though!