Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword
Fresh theme angle: NO TWO SOUND ALIKE is clued as 40a: [What's odd about the ends of the answers to the four starred clues], and those ends are all words with the letters OSE, pronounced differently each time.
- 17a. [*Triumphs, but barely], WINS BY A NOSE.
- 21a. [*First capital of California], SAN JOSE.
- 54a. [*Nonfatal amount of radiation, say], LOW DOSE.
- 64a. [*Huckster's pitch], YOU CAN’T LOSE.
Ohs, oh-zay, ose, ooze.
Highlights in the fill include NATURE WALK, BABY DOC Duvalier, TEQUILA, PEJORATIVE, DENNY’S, THE MET, SEA SALT, and LOUSE UP. Good stuff, and it’s only Tuesday. We usually think of Lynn Lempel as the queen of Monday puzzles, but when she takes the theme a notch harder, she can reign over Tuesday too. Nothing too fancy, but nobody is looking for fancy in Monday and Tuesday puzzles. The worst of the fill may be STENO, TSAR, and a few abbrevs, but mostly the fill is straightforward and familiar material. Four stars.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Gonna Crack”
This week’s theme is cracked codes—various phrases’ opening and closing letters spell out kinds of codes, and they’re “cracked” by the intervening letters:
- 20a. [Awaiting a court date], PENDING TRIAL. Penal code.
- 33a. [It may have a five-point harness], CHILD SAFETY SEAT. Cheat code (in a video game).
- 42a. [Going way back?], MOVING IN REVERSE. Morse code (-.-. .-. — … … .– — .-. -.. / .–. ..- –.. –.. .-.. .).
- 55a. [Big trouble], DREADFUL MESS. Dress code. A rather contrived phrase, this DREADFUL MESS.
And now, five more things:
- Really? No kidding? The [Old pantyhose brand with a famous Joe Namath ad] is BEAUTYMIST? That doesn’t ring a bell at all. I would have guessed L’eggs or Hanes. Here’s the commercial. Apparently it was indeed a Hanes brand.
- 44d. [Immature, like some meat], VEALY? Gross. (n.b.: I have not knowingly eaten red meat since the ’70s.)
- Never heard of: 36d. [California-based semiconductor company founded in 1981 (hidden in FALSIFY)], LSI. At least the clue gives you the letters, in order.
- 32d. [Suffix after Rock or Raisin], ETTE. Uh, isn’t the candy spelled Raisinets?
- 59d. [___ Berry (Jones Soda flavor)], FUFU. Not ringing a bell. But then, I really never buy Jones Soda.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Gridiron Downs” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Well, no late night emails to Sam on this one; a pretty straightforward theme today. Four phrases start with the ordinals first through fourth.
So I’m wondering what makes these specifically football downs instead of say gears of a car, space-time dimensions or the grades I successfully completed? A fifth entry beginning with TURNOVER, for instance, would give it a decidedly footballish slant. Without something special like that, the theme left me a bit flat.
OK, time to pick my favorite and unfavorite clue and entry. FAVE: [Super gung-ho types] was ZEALOTS. A stellar entry for the central squares. (Paul Lynde would be pleased.) UNFAVE: I have to actually choose a theme entry: [Period of senility] was SECOND CHILDHOOD. I’m all for multiple childhoods, or even never outgrowing your first. Nothing senile about that.
Amy Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword
It took me a while to figure out what the theme was, and I was looking at TOMAHAWKS and TRIMESTER too before I noticed that there were just two Across and two Down clues marked with asterisks.
- 17a. [*Protective fuse container], BREAKER BOX.
- 61a. [*Tailgater's brew chiller], BEER BUCKET.
- 11d. [*Flood control concern], STORM WATER.
- 29d. [*Era of mass production], MACHINE AGE.
- 39a. [With 40-Across and "Baby," a 1990's hip-hop hit that answers the question, "What can precede both parts of the answers to starred clues?"], ICE, ICE.
Ergo: icebreaker, icebox, ice beer, ice bucket, ice storm, ice water, ice machine, ice age. Brr! The theme’s as solid as the iceberg that brought down the Titanic. Plus: Vanilla ice dance break!
Elsewhere in the puzzle, here’s what I liked best:
- 28d. [Enjoy crayons], COLOR. Who doesn’t have a fondness for crayons?
- 51d. [Jewelry resin, AMBER. Amber is so cool.
- 5d. [Marshmallowy Easter treats], PEEPS. Fun entry, good in dioramas, disastrous as an edible.
I didn’t love the rest of the fill. Things like TEHEE, ABLARE, ERI TU, and all sorts of other entries that show up far more often in crosswords than in everything else we read.
Four stars for the theme, 2.5 for the fill.