Clive Probert’s New York Times crossword
No revealer for this one, but it’s fairly easy to INFER (20a) what connects the relevant fill.
- 18a. [Some cruise ships, informally] LOVE BOATS.
- 23a. [Start of a song with the cry "Yo-ho-ho"] FIFTEEN MEN on a dead man’s chest.
- 34a. [Ken Olin series about baby boomers] THIRTYSOMETHING.
- 50a. [One who hoped things would pan out?] FORTY-NINER. Cute clue.
- 57a. ["You lose!"] GAME’S OVER.
Together, they form the sequence of scoring in tennis. More specifically, a game (rather than a set or match) of tennis. The grid lacks the crossword staples AD IN and AD OUT, nor does DEUCE appear. Those last two are both five letters long and could make a nice bonus pair, perhaps running vertically, but that would uncomfortably leave AD IN out in the cold, not to mention disrupt the sequence. So all in all, it’s better as presented.
Low CAP Quotient™ (though a few too many abbrevs. for my liking) and a well-integrated grid makes for a smooth solve. Here’s a bit more in the way of run-down (in the write-up):
- Trickiest crossing, and the last square I filled in: 30a [Russian city, host of the 2014 –Winter Olympics SO–HI, 31d [Astronomical red giant] –STAR. Missing letter was C.
- Least expected but pleasantly surprising clue (for this correspondent): 1d [Spotted rodent] PACA.
- Very large 3×4 el-blocks are a bit distracting.
- A bit relatedly, I liked the double-eights running vertically in the southwest and northeast (HERITAGE, IRISHMEN, TÉA LEONI, the appropriately archaic (as per the clue) ATTEND ON) but felt a bit unjustifiably disappointed by the black square in each section preventing triple-stacks.
- Spiffy SAHL/DAHL meetup in the southeast, which complements the letter pattern of the less flashy PACA/PACT in the northwest.
- 20a ALLO ALLO is also the name of a vintage Brit-com set in occupied WWII France, though it had leading apostrophes. Does the French phrase have them too?
- Information I never knew: 52d [Belgian city sometimes mispronounced as "wipers"] YPRES. Really? Do people think the Y is a V? Or at least easily replaced by one? Edit (some minutes later): never mind, I was getting a bit German there, I guess.
- 26d [China's __ Xiaoping] DENG.
- Oh! I got caught up—and subsequently entangled—in the Greek and Roman mythologies thinking about 47d [Sister (and occasional rival) of Venus] SERENA, specifically Selene. This I suppose counts as bonus tennis content.
Good puzzle with a few entries that seem beyond a typical Wednesday crossword, specifically PACA, ELENI, SOCHI/C-STAR
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Caginess”
Read that “Caginess” title as “K-G-ness” because each theme entry began life with a K that Ben has changed to a G:
- 17a. [Collaborative website for Lady Gaga and RuPaul?], WIGIPEDIA. You could probably also toss Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj into this clue. (Except, of course, that MINAJ is at 31a.)
- 24a. [Emulate an angry chimp?], SLAM DUNG.
- 35a. [Kid's lunch food tainted by kickbacks and cronyism?], GRAFT MACARONI. I like to pretend I’m on The Sopranos and call macaroni “magarone.” What? If manicotti is “manigot,” I think it works.
- 48a. [Growth on the entrance to an abandoned castle?], GATE MOSS.
- 57a. [Hustler content?], BANG SHOTS.
Did not know 21a. [Leftist writer Ali], TARIQ. Read about Tariq Ali here. Also did not know 46d. [Greek sea goddess], THETIS. Not one of my top 5 Greek goddesses.
- 40a. [Nickname for infielder Ernie Banks, who stayed with one team for eighteen years], MR. CUB. Here’s his statue near the Wrigley Field box office.
- 51a. [Astronomer Brahe who wore a fake nose], TYCHO. Yes! A metal nose. Because he lost his flesh one.
- 3d. ["Let's do it!"], I’M GAME.
- 4d. [Parker, part of the time], SPIDER-MAN. Yes. When I’m having trouble getting into a parking spot, I sling a web to lift my car up and gently put it down between two other cars.
- ICE QUEEN, HOBBY SHOP, RENT-A-COP, KEISTER, SMARM, and ST. JAMES Place are also nice fill.
Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Another anagram-type puzzle today from Ed Sessa. I played a lot of CRAZYEIGHTS as a kid, but never drew the connection to UNO until much later. Anyway, CRAZY = anagram here, but EIGHT doesn’t anagram to anything meaningful I hear you say! Ah, Dr. Sessa has cunningly found a way around this problem by spreading the letters across two words. Here are the theme answers with the part that anagrams to EIGHT in red:
- [Michael Jackson memorabilia], WHITE GLOVES
- [Line-drawing tool], STRAIGHT EDGE. I think that’s American-ese for a ruler.
- [Conversational skill], THE GIFT OF GAB
The best long non-theme answers for me were ["Don't sweat it"] NOBIGDEAL and [Night-night clothes?] JAMMIES. TIMEWARPS is interesting, I think of the singular dance before phenomena that I assume has been mentioned in sci-fi (PlotkinD? Some help?). There’s not a lot of dreck and the clueing was pretty spot-on, although [Cold War concerns] felt a bit, I dunno, awkward?
Solid. Four stars.