Bruce Venzke’s New York Times crossword
Meh. This theme means well, but the phrasing is stilted:
- 18a. [Remembered Mom, in a way], SHIPPED GIFT. Shipped a gift.
- 31a. [Remembered Mom, in a way], MAILED CARD. Mailed a card.
- 48a. [Remembered Mom, in a way], CALLED HOME.
- 63a. [Remembered Mom, in a way], SENT FLOWERS.
I am dispensing with the flowers and gift and call, but spending Mother’s Day with both my mom and my mother-in-law, giving them their cards and hugs in person.
And I’m holding a warm thought for those of you who will be missing your moms terribly this Sunday, and for those of you who wish you were moms but it hasn’t worked out.
This puzzle is chock full of fill that skews old. ADELA, ELIA, Mr. MOTO, ERROL, UAR, ASTA, DOGFACE, ERLE … crosswordese EELER and LOA … even Kelly RIPA clued by way of a sitcom (which ended 7 years ago) that is no longer her most prominent TV job, when she is on TV every weekday morning with big-name stars making regular appearances. And HEP! Clued as if it’s just a word people use to mean [Not square]. Yeah, sure—maybe 50 years ago. Dictionary labels it an “old-fashioned” term for hip. I hereby declare this puzzle unhep. OH, ME. Wait, does anyone say those [Words of woe]? It’s right there with AH ME in the ranks of terrible “spoken language” crossword fill that is fiendishly hard to find people actually using.
I do like ALL RILED UP, and although HAROLD [Lloyd of the silents] is also a name from long-ago pop culture, he’s about as legendary as Buster Keaton so I am keeping him out of the ERLE ASTA class.
2.66 stars. The ungrammaticalness of two theme answers while the other two sound natural doesn’t work for me, and the fill left me lukewarm at best.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Nursery Rhymes” – Dave Sullivan’s review
I’m sure I’m not alone in my admiration for the work of constructor Lynn Lempel, who seems to consistently construct smart grids with very smooth fill.
Today’s theme is no exception–she twists the meaning of the title “Nursery Rhymes” a bit by taking items found in a nursery and then attaching a rhyming word to them. To wit:
- [On the search for baby apparel?] clues BUNTING HUNTING – “bunting” isn’t in my everyday lexicon, except when preceded by indigo
- [Quarrel over a baby toy?] clues RATTLE BATTLE
- [Person peddling a baby accessory?] clues WALKER HAWKER – I bet there are people out there who don’t pronounce these as rhyming words. I think I pronounce the l of walk just a little bit.
- [Nervousness shown by a baby's caretaker?] clues SITTERS JITTERS – I imagine the alternate clue of [Baby's caretaker's toilets?] ended up on the bathroom floor.
Four solid entries (with the minor exception of how closely “walk” rhymes with “hawk”) and a fun theme. My FAVE clue/entry was [Where a kite might alight] was a NEST. (I’m assuming the constructor is referring to the bird and not what Ben Franklin flew.) My UNFAVE is my confusion over the clue [Handmade floor covering] for HOOKE DRUG. Wouldn’t [Theory of springs physicist's opiate?] be a lot more appropriate?
Marti DuGuay-Carpenter’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Simple theme today: PAPERTRAILS, interpreted as “The last word in each theme
- 17a,[*"We've got this one!"],ITSINTHEBAG. Paper bag.
- 24a,[*Mischievous child],PECKSBADBOY. Paperboy. No idea! Apparently from an old newspaper column. Quaint/American, but interesting phrase to learn!
- 24a,[*YouTube piece],ONLINEVIDEOCLIP. Paperclip. Theme phrase feels made up to me.
- 49a,[*India's national animal],BENGALTIGER. Paper tiger: originally this phrase was coined by Mao Tse Tung to describe the United States, if I’m not mistaken.
Our other items of interest:
- 1a, [Fabric named for an Asian capital], DAMASK. Tough clue: Damascas. Wanted Angora (the old name for Ankara) initially.
- 34a, [Some PCs], IBMS. Is this still true?
- 55a, [Soho stroller], PRAM. Also, everywhere else in the Commonwealth…
- 66a, [Render powerless?], UNPLUG Runner-up clue of the day to 25d, [Sporting footwear], SHOD.The old part of speech misdirection, well-executed!
- 4d, [Yard sale caveat], ASIS. The South African English word is voetstoots. From Dutch “push with your foot”. I don’t understand it!
- 8d, [Seafood restaurant freebie], BIB. I probably go to the wrong seafood restaurants. I’m guessing the ones that give you free bibs make up for it elsewhere…
- 13d, [Like marbled meat], FATTY. Marbling is fat tissue deposited between muscle fibres. When I studied abattoirs as part of my degree, we were told that marbling is considered desirable by American consumers but not South African ones. Thus our highest prices are for subjectively 1/2 out of 5 fat, whereas yours are at 5/5. Our beef derives its taste from being slaughtered much younger than yours… Sorry if that rabbit trail bored you, or, if you’re vegan, made you feel nauseous…
That’s all I’ve got! I’d call it a 3 star puzzle: Well-constructed, typical early-week crossword. Difficult to capture its flavour on screen!—Gareth
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Video Circuits”
Nifty theme this week. PAC-MAN is an [Arcade game in which characters can pass through tunnels to get to the other side of the screen], and the circled squares contain the names of three of the game’s characters (PAC-MAN and two ghosts, PINKY and CLYDE), going off the grid at the right and continuing in from the left edge. The right-side-then-left-side theme answers are made-up phrases crafted to accommodate the game characters.
- 18a, continuing in 17a. ["Praise Citizens United! Praise Citizens United!"?], SUPERPAC MANTRA.
- 43a, continuing in 40a. [Personal lubricant for a druglord?], KINGPIN KY JELLY.
- 69a, continuing in 66a. [Music fan concerned with expanding his mind as well as his body?], MUSCLY DEADHEAD.
I will dock the puzzle some points for repeating PAC-MAN in a straightforward grid entry and in the circled squares. But the puzzle picks up points for lively fill like ZOMG, the never-heard-of-it [Fubu alternative, in urban clothing] G-STAR RAW (expensive!), JAILBAIT, SVEDKA vodka ([Liquor with futuristic sexy robot ads]), KRAUT, JIFFY POP, TUSKEGEE University, and SIPPY CUP. Overall, let’s call it 3.8 stars.