Sam Donaldson and Doug Peterson’s New York Times crossword
- 17a. ["Wow, he survived!"], MAN ALIVE.
- 26a. ["Wow, you're a regular expert at turning left!"], GEE WHIZ. In horse-riding lingo, at least in old-timey crossword days, “gee” means turn left and “haw” is turn right. (“Yee-haw!” probably confuses the horse terribly.)
- 38a. ["Wow, those reptiles have mad hops!"], LEAPIN’ LIZARDS. Mad as in “awesome,” hops as in “not the bitter leaves used to flavor beer.” One of my Facebook friends just got an iguana of some sort for her kid, and indeed, that thing can jump surprisingly high. She was astonished, but where do you suppose “Leapin’ lizards!” came from, if not from lizards that can leap?
- 52a. ["Wow, look at that bovine idol!"], HOLY COW. My favorite of the theme clues. I hear Elsie the Borden spokescow is going to be one of the judges on the next season of Bovine Idol.
- 64a.["Wow, I'm standing next to Mr. Clooney himself!"], BY GEORGE. I would exclaim about that, too. Do you think he likes crosswords?
Tons of terrific fill here: THE LORAX, Walter “Sweetness” PAYTON (my kid has a Payton jersey), ROADKILL, LEMON LAW, EAGLE EYE, CAVING IN, I READ YOU, and IRON HAND.
Smooth fill, though the 3s are mostly undistinguished (as 3-letter fill often is). 4.25 stars.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Classical Remix”
Matt saved the best theme entry for last (64a), but it happened to be the first theme answer I solved. Each theme answer’s clue mentions a classical composer whose name is anagrammed, or “remixed,” to form a straightforward phrase:
- 17a. [Photography size, based on Elgar?], LARGE FORMAT.
- 64a. [2013 dance all over YouTube, based on Mahler?], HARLEM SHAKE. Au courant entry, that. Two things you should know about this viral craze: There are a zillion videos of masked/costumed people dancing to the “Harlem Shake” song, and none of those people are doing the actual “Harlem Shake” dance.
- 11d. [Seriously irritate, based on Verdi?], DRIVE CRAZY.
- 28d. [Useful, based on Haydn?], HANDY-DANDY.
Now, “large format” might be part of a cryptic crossword clue (although I don’t know that “format” is used much as an anagram signal) for ELGAR, “drive crazy” gets you straight to VERDI, and “Harlem Shake” yields MAHLER. I’m less certain that “dandy” can be used in cryptics to suggest anagramming. But the cryptic angle lends extra oomph to the anagrams-of-composers set.
Highlights in the fill: PLINKO, THE BARD, YOLO, CHARADES, “OH, YES,” and AL ROKER.
Favorite clues: 9d: [Loose-leaf selections] for TEAS. Not ruled notebook filler paper. 60d: [It'll grow on you] for HAIR.
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The theme is NRA-friendly:
- 17a. [Sleight-of-hand scam], SHELL GAME.
- 30a. [Agenda item], BULLET POINT.
- 49a. [Filmed like most of today's films], SHOT IN COLOR. Oof! That doesn’t strike me as a crossword-worthy answer. SHOTINTHEARM, SHOTINTHEDARK, SHOTBETWEENTHEEYES, those all work.
- 65a. [Fight fiercely to the end], SLUG IT OUT.
- 70a. [Armory supply, and a hint to the stars of ...] the theme entries, AMMO.
If your grid has ILIE in it, you have two basic options: Clue it as a proper noun, the first name of a Romanian like Ilie Nastase, or clue it as a partial, as in ["Why would ___?"]. Unfortunately, Gail and Bruce have taken a third route: ["On second thought, that's not true"]. Would you ever say “I lie” as a stand-alone declarative sentence? I sure wouldn’t. This reminds me of the time the NYT puzzle clued IGO as a stand-alone declaration a few years ago; oh, the fun Rex Parker and I had with that! I still, in fact, use “I go” as a jocular leave-taking when talking to my husband. (“I go” could also come in handy for potty time, although I think the puzzle had clued it as what a board game player says when it’s her turn. Uh, no.) So when I get into bed tonight, I shall exclaim, “I lie.” [Reply when asked, "How do you get out of trouble?"] makes more sense to me than the clue we had.
Highlights in the fill: MIXED BAG, SIN TAXES, TIE-DYED, the quasi-thematic symmetrical pair of SALVO and hot METAL.
Three stars. It would be higher save for that I LIE throwing the whole caboodle off kilter.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Stream Lines”- Sam Donaldson’s review
A RIVER runs through it. “It” being the center of today’s puzzle, of course, and that’s important because it’s the [Item with features that begin this puzzle's four longest answers]. Let’s sail through the theme entries:
- 17-Across: EDDY ARNOLD is the ["Make the World Go Away" singer]. I’ve never heard of the song before. If that’s the same for you, here‘s a link to give it a listen. Just be sure to come back here! Warning: there are happier songs to which one can listen.
- 55-Across: A MOUTH ORGAN is another, Inner-Beavis-appealing name for a harmonica, and [It's played by inhaling and exhaling]. (Every river has a mouth–it’s the point where the river pours into another body of water.)
- 11-Down: A BED JACKET is a [Waist-length robe], or, as we country kids call it, “a top.”
- 33-Down: A BANK HEIST is a [Frequent crime for Bonnie and Clyde]. That’s a terrific entry, probably my favorite of the bunch.
There’s an echo to the theme in the lower left corner with WETS, but it’s clued simply as [Dampens]. I suppose one could also consider DELTA, the [Airline with a triangular logo], as another river-related echo, but the clue makes that a reach.
Patrick likes pangrams, and yes, this grid has all the letters of the alphabet at least once. But little in the grid appears compromised to achieve this feat. RANCHMAN looks a little awkward to me (I know of a RANCH HAND, but not a RANCHMAN), but otherwise there’s some nice stuff in here like RED CEDAR, QUIXOTE, CON JOB, HOISTED, and SLAKE, to [Quench].
Favorite entry = INKLINGS, or some [Vague notions]. Favorite clue = [Exhibit an eye for figures?] for OGLE. OGLE is nearly in the OREO league of crossword familiarity, so it’s difficult to come up with a fun take on it.