Mike Buckley’s New York Times crossword
This skinny 14×15 grid has donated its 15th column to the 16×15 AV Club puzzle below. This is because matter is neither created nor destroyed. Gotta come out even-steven. Here’s the theme:
- 18a. [Beginning of a quote by 3-/31-Down on which Stephen Colbert commented "I hope teenagers aren't watching this right now"], CREATIVITY.
- 33a. [Middle of the quote], IS THE RESIDUE OF.
- 50a. [End of the quote], WASTED TIME.
- 3d, 31d. [See 18-Across], ALBERT / EINSTEIN.
I don’t understand the point of Colbert’s comment (because we … don’t want to encourage teens to pursue creativity?), nor whether there is a compelling reason to include Colbert in the theme clue at all. It’s not as prototypically Colbertian as, say, “truthiness.” What makes this a Thursday theme??
Loveliest spot in the puzzle:
- 33d. [1940s quartet with the #1 hit "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall," with "the"], INK SPOTS. I love this song, with Ella Fitzgerald contributing her vocals. Apparently the kids these days, they know this song from its inclusion in the Fallout 3 video game soundtrack. What, what?
- 29a. [Showy bloom, to flower enthusiasts] and 20d. [Quick to the helm]. Eventually I pieced together RHODO(dendron) and YAR. I find that YAR is helpful in playing Lexulous or Scrabble, but crosswords don’t generally benefit much from its inclusion.
I do like all these 8-letter answers in the puzzle. Rock, paper, SCISSORS is good. The INK SPOTS/SENORITA/TRICOLOR stack is good, and who doesn’t appreciate the juxtaposition of a PRIMROSE with Mr. MEAT LOAF, 11d: [Player of Eddie in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"]?
Raise your hand if you brushed aside your Middle Earth geographical questions and filled in ELROND for 42d: [Wood in Tolkien films]. I totally meant Rivendell, as Elrond is the elf dude played by Hugo Weaving and Rivendell is the place the elves lived. ELIJAH Wood is the actor who played the head hobbit in the Fellowship of the Ring. (Anyone got their hands up? No? Nobody? Figures.)
Could do without ECU, SLOE, ESSO (clued here not as the gas brand but as [It, in Italy]), ASTA, and BARI. But I love supplementing the usual SARI with a DHOTI (30d. [Indian attire]); if you don’t know how to properly wrap/fold a dhoti, watch this guy do it.
I remain perplexed about the apparent Wednesdayness of the quote theme. 3.25 stars.
Caleb Madison’s AV Club crossword, “Link Aggregator”
Just a reminder: If you’re not subscribing to the American Values Club crossword and the fill in Caleb’s grid here doesn’t give you the vapors, I do encourage you to drop the $15 for a year of emailed puzzles. Get sample puzzles and subscribe here.
Caleb’s puzzle provides “links” via DSL in that the letters DSL join two words (or two parts of a compound word) in varying degrees of crossword acceptability. He starts with the strongest “connection” and works his way down to a lousy connection:
- 15a. [Thing hit 23 times by Alex Rodriguez (very strong connection; i.e., a not-at-all contrived phrase)], GRAND SLAM.
- 31a. [Desperate political candidate, at times (strong connection)], MUDSLINGER.
- 38a. [App for lexical searching games (decent connection)], WORD SLEUTH. I don’t know Word Sleuth so indeed, this is not a “very strong connection.”
- 50a. [Motto on a poster at the library (weak connection)], READ SLOGAN. Yes, that’s terribly contrived.
- 69a. [Order at a pizzarrhea? (horrible connection)], TURD SLICE. Gotta love that “pizzarrhea” portmanteau word, though!
- 42a. [Type of "connection" in five of this puzzle's answers], DSL.
- 9a: [Lap, perhaps] crossing 9d: [Stand for W, say] stymied me. There’s another W clue for MBA so I was only thinking of George W. Bush rather than the fashion magazine W. The P in PASS BY, as in running past someone on a race track and being a full lap ahead of them, and POSE was my last letter.
- 19a. [Just two can get you sooo high], STILTS. This is not about drugs. It’s about circus equipment.
- 36a. [Big gay Spanish men, presumably], OSOS. Anyone know if “bear” does, in fact, get translated directly into other languages?
- 37a. [Prefix that sounds like a letter sign-off], EXO. “xoxoxo.”
- 66a. [Hawaiian-born pop star who cameoed in "Honeymoon in Vegas" when he was 7], BRUNO MARS. Trivia!
- 72a. [Carded :(], IDED. Caleb is under 21.
- 6d. [The old in-out in-out on a mountain?], SLALOM. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
- 7d. [Gender-performative illness, in slang], MAN FLU. We need more clues with “gender-performative” in them.
- 43d. [Shots taken in a mirror, often], SELFIES. This is a new term for photographic self-portraits, typically taken with a cellphone camera.
- 47d. [Believers' drink, so to speak], KOOL-AID. I’ve been wondering if the reason so many people leave ACPT feeling so warm and fuzzy about the experience is the sleep deprivation that is a key tool of cult leaders everywhere.
Four stars. Caleb’s clues are great and his fill gleams like a new sex toy: shiny but inappropriate to show in polite company.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 60″
Reminder: This puzzle, too, is available only by subscription. Top-quality puzzles, themeless and themed, by Peter and guest constructors. The top 10 ACPT finishers are all subscribers, as is #11 (that’s me). $18.90 a year, and a terrific bargain for anyone hankering for more tough puzzles to do. Subscribe here.
This week’s highlights:
- 23a. [Pain in the rear?], BACK-SEAT DRIVER. Guilty as charged.
- 48a. [Write correspondance, say], MISSPELL.
- 57a. [Stoppers], REDS. The clue confused me. Red lights that tell you to stop, not corks or things that themselves come to a stop.
- 7d. [Speed], METHAMPHETAMINE. Slow down there, big fella!
- 13d. [Right next to the sought-after object], HOT. As in the guessing game, when you tell the player they’re getting warmer when they get closer to the intended object. I like those Sporcle quizzes where you guess a random country name and use the cold/warm/warmer/hot clues to zero in on the target country. For example, Luxembourg would be hot for France, warmish for Denmark, and cold for far-off Mexico.
- 36d. [Troublemaker], BAD APPLE. Great fill.
- 39d. [Last number of three measurements], HIPS. Below the bust and waist. What’s the male equivalent, again? Is it length, girth, and waist?
- 52d. [Big Dick part], ROB. No idea what this refers to.
- 43a. [Slaughter house?], SPORTSMAN’S PARK. I’m guessing this is Enos Slaughter and the ballpark he played at, but I couldn’t tell you the city or team.
To the answer PDF! Peter correctly guessed that his solvers might need more info. “Hall of Fame outfielder Enos Slaughter played most of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, whose home stadium was SPORTSMAN’S PARK. Dick Van Dyke played ROB Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show.”
Smooth 70-worder. 4.25 stars.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “This Needs an Expert!”- Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s puzzle adds PRO at the start of the last word in four familiar terms, resulting in whimsical new expressions that are appropriately clued:
- 17-Across: “Tunnel vision” becomes TUNNEL PROVISION, or [Largess from the highway department?]. Would we really consider a tunnel to be a gift?
- 26-Across: “Cold fusion” expands to COLD PROFUSION, a [Counter to global warming?]. After this winter, I’m ready for some global warming.
- 47-Across: A “stress test” becomes a STRESS PROTEST, or an [Angry outcry against a work overload?].
- 61-Across: The “laws of motion” get converted to the title of a book you might expect to see in the business section of your local bookstore: LAWS OF PROMOTION, clued here as [Criteria for climbing the corporate ladder?]. Does anyone have a local bookstore anymore?
A simple theme, yes, but it’s consistent (PRO always comes at the start of the last word) and well executed. The fill is ridonkulously smooth (ESE notwithstanding) and interesting. I liked CANARD, the [Malicious fabrication] and TYPE B, the [Blood designation]. (Nice clue, too–we usually hear “type B” in reference to relaxed personalities. I like that this one changed things up a bit.)
I was perplexed by the clue for RESTROOM, [Place to go at the airport]. What does “at the airport” add, exactly? Restrooms aren’t unique to airports (a fact I come to know more and more as I age), and I’m not sure how the reference to airports makes the clue either trickier or easier. Now the clue for TEETHE, on the other hand, [Cut some canines, e.g.], works well because it likely leads a solver to think first of dogs. Alas, it might then make one think of cutting dogs, and that’s not a pretty image. But it’s at that point that most solvers will see the trap and correct themselves.
Favorite entry = LET ME SEE, clued simply as ["Hmm..."]. Favorite clue = [Land for out-of-touch folks] for LALA. Great clue for what could have been unsightly fill!
Brendan Quigley’s website variety puzzle, “From A to Z” — Matt’s review
Brendan unleashes a “From A to Z” variety puzzle on us today, and my review will be close to worthless since I misread the instructions. D’oh!
Specifically I missed the part where those 26 A-to-Z letters beginning the clues can be safely transferred to their correspondingly numbered boxes in the grid. After an hour I had the bottom right corner done but couldn’t continue beating my head against a wall. I e-mailed the author for a couple of answers and from my questions he could tell I’d gotten the instructions wrong and put me out of my misery. Once I had those 26 letters it fell very quickly, so I’m guessing this puzzle wasn’t too tough for those who are able to read, comprehend and implement simple instructions.
Puzzle deserved a better fate than it got with me, so tell us about your experience in comments.
Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Man, Pi Day is going to be wild when we reach 3/14/16, isn’t it? Gotta love a goofball date observance that only works with the American convention of month/day rather than day/month dates. Here’s the theme:
- 18a. [How 58-Across can be written], ENDLESSLY.
- 27a. [34-Across factor], DIAMETER.
- 34a. [58-Across times 27-Across], CIRCUMFERENCE. How come the formula they teach kids is 2πr, when 2r = diameter? Is it so it’s easier to mix up circumference and area (πr2)?
- 47a. [Mathematically, what 58-Across is], CONSTANT.
- 58a. [Subject of an annual March 14 celebration and of this puzzle, celebrated in its circled squares in both a literal and a numerical way], VALUE OF PI. The circled squares contain PI DAY, though their placement could certainly be more esthetically pleasing.
Highlights: PASTRAMI, MOSEYS (and its San Antonio-friendly partner, PASEO, or [Leisurely stroll]), ALL-STAR, and CHASTISE.
Raise your hand if 4d: [Spring sign], 6 letters starting with T, prompted you to fill in TAURUS first. THE RAM, Aries? I don’t much care for the “the” versions of the zodiac signs. Totally legit, in the dictionary, etc.—just not to my liking.
Question: When you see DSM, clued here as 31a: [Mil. honor] (Distinguished Service Medal), do you think of military honors or of the The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders? That DSM is dominant on Google, and it’s more in the language, if you ask me, than the Distinguished Service Medal’s abbreviation. However, you can’t dis a serviceman or -woman who “distinguished himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious service to the Government in a duty of great responsibility.”
C.C. is a Minnesotan, as are constructors Victor Barocas, Andrew Ries, Tom Pepper, George Barany, and (in her youth) Andrea Carla Michaels. 64a: [Minnesota's state bird] is, of course, the LOON, as they well know. Too bad the teeny town of ELY in northern Minnesota isn’t more notable, as it could be as useful as EDINA in crosswords. This concludes the I-went-to-college-in-Minnesota nostalgia portion of this post.
3.14159 stars. (What? How could it get any other number??)