Barry Franklin and Sara Kaplan’s New York Times crossword
Did it take you a while to suss out the theme here? I had the whole puzzle filled in and stared blankly at the six longest entries. Sounding out the ends and then the beginnings eventually took me to an inquisitive place:
- 18a. [Construction on the Colorado River], HOOVER DAM. Who?
- 23a. [DNA modelers], WATSON AND CRICK. What? (I pronounce that closer to “whut” than “watt,” personally, but the dictionary certainly also includes a “watt” vowel sound for “what.”)
- 29a. [Sainted king who inspired a carol], WENCESLAUS. When? (Yes, we know some of you are “hwen”/”hwat”/”hwere”/”hwy” pronouncers. I know it bothers you. Pretend it doesn’t, just for 10 minutes.)
- 41a. [Lycanthropes], WEREWOLVES. Where?
- 45a. [Publicly funded residential complex], HOUSING PROJECT. How?
- 55a. [Lawman at the O.K. Corral], WYATT EARP. Why?
We seem to have a Hooker here, a puzzle that leaves the solver to figure out the theme with nary a theme-revealing hint to be found. Fancy!
I liked seeing LET IT SNOW in the grid, though I do have a loathing for the song after that one holiday season working in a mall and it did confuse me when WENCESLAUS popped up. Two Christmas carols … in February?
The inclusion of six theme answers and four 9-letter Downs may have constrained the fill a tad more than I like. BAHIA ALTE EELY EERO PAPAW KILOJOULE OWAR FOTO A BEND? I dunno, a lot of those seem like a stretch for a Tuesday grid. Yes, I solved it in a regular Tuesdayish amount of time, but then I learned of BAHIA and EELY and Man O WAR from all those old crosswords over the years, and I don’t know that a newer solver will pounce on those.
Three stars from me. The fill kept striking me as a little off while I was solving.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Ob Course”
The theme isn’t “how you pronounce things when you hab a cold,” nor is it obstetrical in nature. Matt’s added an OB- prefix to change words’ meanings:
- 17a. [Thieves who take X-rated DVDs?], OBSCENE STEALERS.
- 34a. [Fascination with Dre, Eve and Wiz Khalifa?], RAP OBSESSION. I know that “rap session” is a dictionary-grade phrase, but has anyone under the age of 50 ever used it unironically?
- 42a. [Jamaica or Puerto Rico, if you're drawing a map?], OBLONG ISLAND. True geographic story!
- 60a. [Debt to ducts?], TUBAL OBLIGATION. I’m convinced that this TUBAL OBLIGATION is to the oviducts and probably relates to the doctor’s charge for the tubal ligation.
Favorite answers and clues:
- 1d. [Zooming noise], WHOOSH.
- 25d. [Skirmish], TUSSLE.
- 9d. [Spanish actress often seen on "The Love Boat"], CHARO. Charo! Hoochie-coochie!
- 11d. [Pinky's partner], THE BRAIN. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? “We would also have accepted [What Obama's administration plans to map over the next decade].
- 5d. [Add sparkle to], PUNCH UP.
- 31d. [Less like thou?], HOLIER.
- 44d. [Symbols called "snails" in some languages], AT SIGNS. Snails!
New to me: 23a. [Really untrustworthy looking], SKETCH. I know sketchy and I know skeevy, but I didn’t know anyone had lopped the Y off the end of sketchy.
Overall rating, 3.75 stars.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “A Thorny Issue”- Sam Donaldson’s review
As you can see from the screenshot to the right, the very last entry I placed in the grid was the ROSE at 50-Down. It was only then that I realized the theme, as it appears in the clue: [Flower with cultivars sharing their names with 20-, 25-, 42-, and 47-Across]. Even with that clue, I had to look up the definition of “cultivar” and do some Googling to fully grasp the theme: each of the four answers referenced above is the name of a cultivated variety (“cultivar”) of roses. By any other name, they still smell as sweet:
- 20-Across: AMERICAN BEAUTY is the [Spacey/Bening Oscar-winning picture] that features way too many good acting performances to list individually. Thematically, says Wikipedia, it is “a hybrid perpetual rose, bred in France in 1875, and originally named ‘Madame Ferdinand Jamin.’ The cup-shaped flowers, which are deep pink and strongly scented, appear in flushes over a long period.” You’ll sometimes find five spades in flushes, too.
- 25-Across: PRETTY IN PINK is the [Description of Molly Ringwald's character at the prom, in a 1986 movie]. I forget what the movie was called. According to one website, the “flowers [of a Pretty in Pink] have a creamy white base that’s laced with various pink colors of the softest kind. It’s a very lovely rose flower color combination.” That’s what you call an unbiased account.
- 42-Across: YANKEE DOODLE is the [Pony rider in a patriotic song]. He was dandy at it. High Country Roses describes it in various incomplete sentences: “Very large, urn-shaped buds open to flowers shaded from yellow to apricot-pink. Very fragrant and double, with over 70 petals. Vigorous, tall rose, reaching 5 to 6 feet with glossy, disease resistant foliage.” About the best compliment you can pay to a bud is to call it urn-shaped.
- 47-Across: AGATHA CHRISTIE is [Miss Marple's creator], but that’s not exactly a mystery. Yet another site, Heirloom Roses, describes the Agatha Christie rose as having “beautiful rich, pink Hybrid Tea shaped blooms that are lightly fragrant. A strong growing disease-resistant climber with outstanding dark-green, glossy foliage.” Give me a disease-resistant climber any day.
I needed a few crossings before feeling confident about [Chinese statesman] Sun YAT-SEN, and the -ANCE suffix nearby looked too awkward to be correct. The only other spot that had me pondering for a while was figuring out the answer to [Formicary maker]. Unfamiliar with “formicary,” I considered the possibility it was, in turn, a car, a drug, and a building. Alas, it’s an anthill. Had the clue read [Anthill maker], maybe I would have come to ANT a little more quickly. (Given my previously confessed case of myrmecophobia, however, I’m excusing myself from not knowing “formicary” before now.)
The rest of the grid was smoother sailing than 1970s yacht rock. Lastly, I should note that 3:18 is a personal best solving time for me on any 15×15 crossword. If I can keep up that kind of pace, can I finally crack the top 200 at the ACPT in 17 more days? Here’s hoping!
Favorite entry = BARHOPS, or [Tours the taverns]. Favorite clue = [Stay neutral?] for IDLE.
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Whoops! It’s 9 pm and I forgot to blog this puzzle. Was out all morning and early afternoon, and then I worked, and here we are. (Sorry, C.C.!) Quickly, then: Theme is MIDDLE CHILD, and “TOT” appears in the midst of COME TO TERMS, ROTTEN TO THE CORE, HOT TO TROT, and NO NEED TO THANK ME. Solid theme.
The grid looks mighty fancy for a Tuesday with those stacked 7s in the corners. BACARDI, ADMIT IT, AMNESIA, PREMEDS, BOOKEND, and INKLING are quite nice.
I kinda dispute the clue for PREMEDS: [Docs-in-training] should only cover those who get admitted to med school. You know how many people are PREMEDS who eventually change their major and never even apply to medical school?
The tradeoff for the five-part theme and corner 7s is that we have stuff like MOTET, ESSO, LAA, AH ME, IN E, and ISTS. Overall, let’s call this one 3.25 stars.