Hey! I am writing this on May 1 and you know what that means—another monthly crossword from Patrick Blindauer’s website. Matt Gaffney usually blogs the puzzle within the first couple days of the month, so you’ll want to fetch the puzzle before Matt spoils the solve for you. (Puzzle available in PDF and .puz forms.)
Josh Knapp’s New York Times crossword
Interesting theme: Josh interprets the phrase “neither here nor there” as a command to include neither HERE nor THERE in his theme entries:
- 19a. [*2007 Best Picture nominee], There WILL BE BLOOD.
- 25a. [*"Hope this works!"], Here GOES NOTHING.
- 35a. [*Irrelevant ... or what the answers to the five starred clues have?], NEITHER _ NOR _. Self-referential revealer, so meta.
- 51a. [*"Abbey Road" track], Here COMES THE SUN. I can’t be the only one who tried to fit AND EVERYWHERE into 11 squares.
- 56a. [*Start of many limericks], There WAS AN OLD MAN…
This 16×15 puzzle’s got Thursday-hard clues and corners stuffed with 7-letter answers.
Likes and challenges:
- 5a. [Weak part of a hull], SEAM. Makes sense, but I was presuming the answer would be some specifically nautical term.
- 32a. ["It's a kick in a glass" sloganeer, once], TANG. Oh, how I loved Tang as a kid. That and Space Food Sticks.
- 38a. [Broadcast online in real time], STREAM. As in streaming video. Modern clue.
- 48a. [New Mexico's ___ Canyon], CHACO. I am not up on my New Mexico geography.
- 10d. [Wandering soul], HOBO. Anyone else work off the H and try HAJI?
- 12d. [Island off the Gabonese coast], SAO TOME. It is part of the nation São Tomé and Príncipe, as all Sporcle geography quiz junkies know.
- 13d. [Ticket agent?], TROOPER. As in the state trooper issuing speeding tickets on the highway.
- 26d. [Baked], HIGH. Between this clue, the [World of Warcraft event] clue for RAID, and SCREW IT/["Forget that!"], this puzzle is skewing in the AV Club/BEQ direction.
- 43d. [It's crossed by a center line], ECUADOR. That center line, of course, is the equator.
- 54d. [Linked], KNIT. As in things being linked or knit together.
- Also liked GROUCHO, COOL CAT, MASCARA, WONTONS, RED SCARE, ALL/THE RAGE, and I GOT IT.
Clumsy parts of the puzzle: ERN kind of stinks, but that’s the only entry I shrank from.
4.5 stars. Fresh theme with fun base phrases, lively fill, crisp cluing.
Jim Hilger’s Fireball crossword, “Care to Race?”
It’s a contest puzzle this week, so no spoilers, no solution grid, and no hints. I will say this, though: The theme is delightfully inventive and beautifully executed. And I cracked the meta all by myself! (It took maybe 10-15 minutes of pondering, so perhaps on a part with a week 1-2 MGWCC.) Five stars from me.
Matt Skoczen’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I usually don’t care for puzzles whose theme entries are phrases that would work better as clues, and the clues are single words that would work well as grid entries. I did like this puzzle, though, with the additive twist to the theme:
- 17a. [NUTS], ARDENT FANS.
- 24a. [BOLTS], FABRIC ROLLS.
- 33a. [NUTS], OFF ONE’S ROCKER.
- 48a. [BOLTS], HIGH-TAILS IT. 33a and 48a take the slangy route.
- 57a. NUTS AND BOLTS], ESSENTIALS. This is the bit that raises the theme.
The fill includes some wide-open corners, which is nice to see provided that the crossings aren’t terrible. These are solid Thursday fare for the most part. Toughest bits (and there were quite a few):
- 1a. [Turn near home], AT BAT. As in taking your turn by home plate.
- 19a. [End of an old boast], VICI. Caesar’s “Veni, vidi, vici.”
- 20a. [It's après après-midi], SOIR. Evening is after afternoon.
- 21a. [Part of the inn crowd?], MAID. She works there.
- 29a. [Take into custody?], ADOPT. I reckon this works better if you think about pet adoptions, not adopted kids.
- 30a. [County bordering Galway], MAYO.
- 42a. [Red choice], CLARET. The first 6-letter red wine ending in T that I think of is MERLOT.
- 56a. [Dutch burg], STAD.
- 61a. [Name on a bottle of Pleasures], ESTEE Lauder. Pleasures is the name of a perfume but until that dawned on me, my mind went to the gutter.
- 63a. ['80s-'90s tennis star Korda], PETR.
- 1d. [To the stars, in mottos], AD ASTRA. It’s part of the Kansas state motto, isn’t it?
- 2d. [Olds luxury model], TORONADO. Don’t remember this one.
- 3d. [Owing to], BY DINT OF. Don’t think I’ve ever seen that one in a grid before.
- 30d. [The Beatles and the Stones, e.g.], MEN. Yes, I suppose they are/were.
- 50d. [Composer who wrote piano transcriptions of Beethoven's nine symphonies], LISZT.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “May 2nd” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Another date-related theme today (one wonders how long the CrosSynergy team can keep this up, would a May 3rd theme have no vowels in it other than Y?). Anyway, back to May 2nd, each of the five theme entries has MAY in the middle:
- ELLY MAY CLAMPETT
- THIS MAY STING (My doctor says “this may hurt a little,” while snapping the latex gloves on, but stinging is probably appropriate for shots as well)
- IT MAY BE (Why am I hearing Doris Day singing Que sera, sera right now?)
- DEVIL-MAY-CARE (Let me know in the comments if hyphens are appropriate here.)
- LOUISA MAY ALCOTT (“Mr. Meta” Matt Gaffney recently had her as a meta answer to a puzzle where the names AMY, JO, MEG and BETH began common phrases.)
I really enjoyed this theme and thought it was very creative. In fact, IT MAY BE my favorite CS theme so far since I’ve resumed my blogging duties. Speaking of favorites, my FAVE entry today was [M.C. Escher specialties] or ILLUSIONS. As a college student, I had a poster on my wall of one of his etchings with people impossibly going up and down stairs in contradictory directions (referred to here as the “Penrose stairs”). And again, I have to choose an odd first name as my UNFAVE: OMRI KATZ. I see here that he was born in 1976 and is on the Dallas remake, so it’s not surprising I don’t know him.
Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “Flight Connection”–Matt’s review
Members of the so-called “Mile High Club” are those who have made sweet, cabin-pressurized love in an airplane. In today’s puzzle Brendan requires solvers to enter those twelve letters above the grid to make the downs work; so [“___ Mystery Tour”] at 1-down appears not to fit into the allotted six squares, but put the M of MILE HIGH CLUB in over AGICAL and you complete the Beatles album.
Brendan also works three theme entries in which wittily tie into the idea:
19-a [Come-ons used prior to making a secret “flight connection”?] = CABIN PRESSURE. Phrase is good, though slightly awkward tastewise since pressure + sex = not good, but we can just assume “pressure” here means “cajoling.” If you’re reduced to cajoling, though…
37-a [About to lose your shirt in a secret “flight connection”?] = READY FOR TAKEOFF. Cute.
56-a [Sights seen during some secret “flight connections”?] = LANDING STRIPS. Another good double-entendre.
So that’s a very good theme. Putting letters outside the grid has been done before of course, but I can’t recall anyone putting them meaningfully on the top of the grid like here. The bonus theme entries are strong and mesh well with the MILE HIGH CLUB revealer. The grid is of standard Quigleyan quality.
Zoe Wheeler’s AV Club crossword, “Male Parts”
Given the title and the inclusion of three actor/animated movie combos, I thought the theme was going to feature top-billed voice actors. But no. The central Down, SPLITS THE BILL, is clued with [Goes fifty-fifty, or what this puzzle does in several places]—and the circled letters are the surnames of famous Bills, split by the midsection of the puzzle. GATES, MURRAY, PULLMAN, CLINTON, and NYE occupy five rows, and Zoe opted against requiring her Bills to appear in symmetrical spots and have matched letter counts. The fill is pretty smooth, and that might not be the case if the circled squares were deposited in rigorously symmetrical fashion.
Now, the title would work better if the circled names were CAVETT, VAN DYKE, et al. But then the 15-Down theme entry wouldn’t be descriptive at all.
As with today’s NYT and LAT puzzles, the corners feature a bunch of 7s. Highlights in the fill include FOR SALE, COMPTON, ANASTASIA, FALLING/SKIES, PUNCH IN, THE WIRE, and MONTAGE.
- 29a. [How a villain might want a superhero brought to him], ALIVE.
- 34a. [PRAY [___ to the porcelain god].
- 45a. [Food's opponent, on a Travel Channel eating show], MAN. (Man vs. Food.)
- 66a. [Heather Locklear and Richie Sambora's acting daughter], AVA. With all the little girls named Ava these days, it was only a matter of time before we cultivated a freshly famous AVA to take the place of Gardner in contemporary crosswords. (One supporting movie role so far.)
- 67a. I GO ["___ shooting all the time" (disingenuous-seeming Obama quote)].
- 8d. [One is generally long and hard], SLOG.
- 42d. [Number one field in medicine?], UROLOGY.
Four stars. Smooth and fresh.