Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword
Huh. If you asked me the source of “WATER, WATER, EVERY WHERE; nor any drop to drink,” I probably would have said Shakespeare. But it’s Coleridge’s “Rime of the ANCIENT MARINER,” and Jeff combines those theme answers with nine water molecules (two H’s joined by an O) all over the grid, in circled squares.
Until I filled in some of the theme answers, I thought the theme was Santa Claus and “ho, ho, ho.” Uh, no.
Let me get out in front of the outraged geeks and say that there is no such thing as DR. WHO. The [BBC sci-fi show] is Doctor Who, and the character is “the Doctor” and not someone called Dr. Who.
I like those HOMOPHONES and TYCHO BRAHE both partaking in two water molecules. One might say Tycho is taking a 7d: HOT BATH.
Could do without E MAJ, LITH (and I say that despite being an eighth Lithuanian), RETD, AMAH, MECH, ENTR, RATA, USRDA, and AROO. But the rest of the fill is solid.
Interesting theme concept executed fairly well, but not perfectly. Four stars.
Jack McInturff’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Apparently I don’t know enough about electricity because I don’t get this theme.
- 20a. [Defend a position], STAND ONE’S GROUND. (Given the case of Trayvon Martin’s killing, this phrase has picked up unsavory connotations.)
- 33a. [Walk-off home run, often], TIE-BREAKER. (I don’t know what “walk-off home run” means, to be honest.)
- 40a. [Explodes with rage], BLOWS A FUSE.
- 47a. [With "The," PBS show for kids, and a hint to the ends of 20-, 33- and 40-Across], ELECTRIC COMPANY. (Uh, you know the show stopped being made in the 1970s, right? The clue gives no hint that the show was on TV decades ago.)
So I know that a house with electricity might have a fuse box or it might have a box of circuit breakers, but I have no idea how well GROUND fits with BREAKER and FUSE. Are these three an obvious set, or is it just three random words with connections to electricity?
I look to Jack McInturff for old-school fill, and he never lets me down. LAHR, ESSO, GAM, ERROL Flynn, ASTA, ELBA, E-BOND, and IRMA Rombauer are all here. However! So are SPONGEBOB, the ACELA train, and the lively phrase “HUMOR ME.” So there’s a balance.
Three stars. Maybe the theme merits more than that, but I can’t give it credit for what I can’t figure out.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “New Wave”
Well, I couldn’t figure out the theme until I reached the theme revealer at the end of the puzzle, even with the title sitting there being helpful. 65a: SURF is clued [It follows the last word of each starred entry], and sure enough, that works:
- 17a. [*Gossiping sort], BUSYBODY. Body-surf.
- 20a. [*Infamous Hollywood institution], CASTING COUCH. Couch-surf. That’s just lounging about, right?
- 35a. [*Retailing buzzword], OMNI CHANNEL. Channel-surf. I have never heard this retailing buzzword.
- 52a. [*Company follower?], THREE’S A CROWD. Crowd-surf.
- 56a. [*Mr. Hyde, for Dr. Jekyll], ALTER EGO. Ego-surf. I haven’t done that in months … let’s check. Oh! Still running about 14,000 Google results. Will Shortz garners 394,000.
Let’s look at five more things in this puzzle:
- 5a. [Letter sequence in the air], KLM. KLM is three consecutive letters in the alphabet as well as the name of a Dutch airline.
- 19a. [Put in storage, like coal], BINNED. Oh! I binned today. Put some winter stuff in plastic storage bins in the basement. Very soothing. Have you ever binned mellow?
- 5d. [Rap duo Kris ___ (R.I.P. Chris Kelly)], KROSS. He was only 34. Remember the Kris Kross kids and their backwards jeans?
- 8d. [Oprah's longtime personal trainer], BOB GREENE. Not to be confused with the erstwhile Chicago newspaper columnist who was fired.
- 43d. [Slightly], A SHADE. Eh. Looks wrong with that indefinite article tacked on.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Triple Check” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Sheesh, thanks puzzle for putting back in my head the image of Packers QB Aaron Rogers doing the State Farm Discount Double Check. Just had gotten that one out of my head! Back to the puzzle, though. Today, we have 3 alternate definitions of the word CHECK:
- RESTAURANT BILL – noun
- SLOW THE GROWTH OF – verb, did the old-time grammarian in you bristle at that ending preposition or it is something you’ve grown up from?
- ORDER OF PAYMENT – hmmm…is this trying to describe what a bank check is? Unfamiliar phrase to me; those in the financial world, please weigh in!
This is perhaps my least favorite type of theme, and not only because of the connection to the State Farm advertisement. Add to that a questionable third entry and I wasn’t the happiest of campers. I did have a FAVE though: [Bruce Wayne, for Batman] was an ALTER EGO. Unfortunately, I had more than one UNFAVE today. First, the word DEPRIVAL. I’d use DEPRIVATION myself, are both as common? Oh, and I’ve heard of RADIAL tires, but a RADIAL engine? And finally, who out there is still watching movies from a VCR?