Derek Bowman’s New York Times crossword
I felt like this puzzle had a baseball theme, with the triple stack of 16s in the middle all having to do with baseball. LITTLE LEAGUE TEAM, check. BASEBALL DIAMONDS, check. “IS THAT ALL THERE IS?,” check. What? The rest of you don’t say that every time you go to a baseball game?
- 4d. [Much-filmed swinger], TARZAN THE APE MAN. I nailed this one off the clue and the letter A from 24a. Booya!
- 14a. [Stars are recognized with them], OSCAR NODS. Nods are noms. Eighty percent of nods are followed by a shake of the head indicating “no.”
- 44a. [Satyajit Ray's "The ___ Trilogy"], APU. Yes, I liked this. I think I have even seen one of the movies in the trilogy. I remember nothing of it, sure, but: culture.
- 46a. [Tarantula hawk, e.g.], WASP. Yes! You thought tarantulas were creepy? Imagine a wasp that is big enough to hunt tarantulas. You gonna be able to sleep tonight?
- 15d. ["Shh! It's a secret!"], DON’T TELL. This means that if someone asks you not to repeat it, you don’t repeat it to anyone else. This is surprisingly unintuitive for many.
- 16d. [Hershey bar], SKOR. WANT ONE RIGHT NOW.
- 39d. [Congress person], AIDE. As opposed to a one-word Congressperson, who is an elected representative and not merely an aide.
- 50d. [Head makeup], FOAM. This one confused me. I was picturing Styrofoam heads that are used to display wigs and thought it a rather arbitrary clue. Then I realized that it’s the head on a glass of beer, made of foamy beer suds.
Could do without: IN B, ESTO, AS NO. Really not much in the way of awkward fill to complain about.
Four stars. There’s a triple stack in the middle, and half of its crossings are 7+ letters long? And the short crossings aren’t terrible? This is solid work.
Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Admit it: “OUT, DAMNED SPOT!” was one of your favorite Shakespeare lines when you were a callow youth who got a transgressive thrill out of the “D” word. Here, Gareth riffs on the line by removing a damned S, P, O, and T from the beginning of four phrases, altering their meaning:
- 17a. [One assaulting a sorceress?], WITCH HITTER. Hitting isn’t nice, kids. Switch-hitting is all right, if you swing that way.
- 25a. [Great price for a meadow?], LEA BARGAIN. I lost my mind here and assumed the base phrase was “flea bargain,” conflating flea market and bargain basement. It’s plea bargain, of course.
- 48a. [Start of a cowboy romance?], RANGE CRUSH. Who here liked Brokeback Mountain? So full of yearning.
- 56a. [Yarn donations?], HANKS GIVING. Hmm, I might’ve gone with a Tom Hanks clue, as “hanks of yarn” is sort of an arbitrary thing. (Hanks of hair also exist. [Locks of Love donations?], perhaps?)
Favorite clues and answers:
- 64a. [Hallmark Channel talk show], MARIE. I think this must be Marie Osmond’s show, but I swear to you that I had no idea the Hallmark Channel aired anything but schmaltzy made-for-TV movies. I edit pop-culture crosswords so I appreciate picking up factoids like this.
- 4d. [Casino game], BACCARAT. It’s a cool-looking word, oozing sophistication in a way that slots and blackjack just don’t. And I swear to you that I never knew the T was silent. French, man.
- 8d. [In normal seasons, only month when the NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL all have scheduled games], OCT. American sports trivia, from our resident South African constructor? July is better. There’s just forgettable baseball and the other sports are all on hiatus, right?
- 28d. [Place with an important part in the Bible?], RED SEA. Parted importantly by Moses, it’s said.
- 37d. [Like the forest in Longfellow's "Evangeline"], PRIMEVAL. Anyone else have that schmaltzy Dan Fogelberg love song from the ’70s in their head now? “Longer” has a line with “forest primeval” in it. Earworm time! Complete with flügelhorn solo. What’s crazy is that this song hit #2 on the Billboard charts. A song like this would not hit the top 40 these days. The ’70s were weird, man.
Is 23 3-letter words kind of a lot for a 15×15? I guess the 14 answers clocking in at 6+ letters take up more space than the 3s do.
Least familiar clue: 6d. [What Clementine fell into], BRINE. Clearly I did not know more than 10% of the lyrics to “Oh My Darling, Clementine.” Is it more or less familiar to the rest of you?
3.5 stars. It would be higher if the S-, P-, O-, and T-less phrases struck me as funnier.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Shall We?” – Dave Sullivan’s review
A musical tribute in today’s CrosSynergy/WaPo puzzle; four song titles that begin with the invitation “Let’s ___”:
- The first musical invitation is a [Romantic suggestion from Eddie Duchin and others] or [LET'S] FALL IN LOVE. The name doesn’t ring any bells, but the song sure does. (Those are figurative bells, of course.) Odd that I don’t recognize him–even though he died in ’51, I see here that a motion picture was made of his life. See below for one of “the others” (50d. [Jazz great Fitzgerald]) who have remade this classic tune.
- We get a bit more contemporary with [Grammy-winning suggestion from the Black Eyed Peas] next with [LET'S] GET IT STARTED. Gots to love me some Fergie and will.i.am. <3
- Next on our musical tour is ["Billboard Hot 100" suggestion from Al Green] or [LET'S] STAY TOGETHER. I actually saw him perform in Washington, DC in one of the tents celebrating Bill Clinton’s first inaugural. “Times are good or bad, happy or sad…”
- Our final stop is [Choreographic suggestion from Chubby Checker] or [LET'S] TWIST AGAIN.
I’m wondering if there are hundreds of songs that begin with “Let’s…” and if these are the most popular 4 of the bunch, but they are all songs I am familiar with. Could be fertile ground for a upcoming Pete Muller Monthly Music Meta. My FAVE entry today was [Spook's employer with "The"] for AGENCY, just because I love the word “spook” and especially after learning the related Russian spook agency SMERSH yesterday. My UNFAVE was the odd partial A BLUR as in ["It's all ___!" (It went by so fast!")]. It didn’t help that the longish clue called a lot of attention to it.
Victor Barocas’ Chronicle of Higher of Education crossword, “Warning Lights” — pannonica’s write-up
Solved this one a few days ago but haven’t returned to it until now, Friday morning. So it’s a bit hazy in my mind, what with all the intervening crosswords and eels flying back and forth, not to mention the inevitable vicissitudes of daily life.
The central spanner plays revealer: 36a [Longfellow classic containing a code that is represented within the asterisked down clues] PAUL REVERE’S RIDE. Here’s the POEM (44a; notice how the other clue avoids duplication by referring to it as a classic)—originally titled “The Landlord’s Tale”—in case you’d like to review it; line 10 is the relevant bit. I’ve circled the appropriate clues in the grid for ease of review.
- 1d [*Triatomic gas] OZONE, 2d [*French aviator Garros] ROLAND (who?).
- 9d [*It may be skipped] STONE, 10d [*Pasta maker's equipment] COLANDER; the clue’s use of “maker” misdirected me on this one, putting me in mind of one who produces, not cooks the pasta. But of course it’s very common to say “I made pasta for dinner,” so there isn’t anything wrong with the clue.
See what’s going on? The word LAND is by the word ONE, and each is a segment of longer fill. Hence it isn’t any surprise to see what happens roughly symmetrically in the bottom half of the grid:
- 39d [*Ultimate authority] LAST WORD, 51d [*Stitching sites] SEAMS.
- 49d [*"Oryx and Crake" author Margaret] ATWOOD, 53d [*Takes to the table, say] SEATS.
I say “roughly symmetrically” because it’s made impossible by the unavoidable fact that LAND is four letters long and SEA is only three. Perhaps it may be thought glib, but I would have been pleased if the theme clues for the bottom had been marked with a pair of asterisks each. It’s a great theme, expertly executed (never mind that there isn’t any “if” involved in the abutment).
I doubt this is earth-shattering news to any of the readers here, but there are a number of myths associated with the famous event. And if you’re really interested, David Hackett Fischer’s 1995 book is supposed to be very informative.
25-down [Choices for those who want to be up at night?] REDEYES. This is ostensibly about plane travel, but considering its central location in the grid, I’m sure it’s intended as a tangential, winking comment on Revere’s “midnight” ride.
In line with my introductory confession, I don’t recall any specific highlights among the ballast fill from my solve, but I remember not feeling all scowly afterwards, so I must assume it to have been pleasant as well. The long ones are LOVE STORY, WS GILBERT (with a nifty “a lot o’ news” / “hypotenuse” clue) , the longish ones are NAÏVETÉ, BANANAS, MAE WEST, ROB LOWE.
Very good puzzle.
Janet Bender’s Wall Street Journal crossword,”Mother Board” — pannonica’s write-up
Watch out! It’s another Mother’s Day crossword, and we’re still two days out from the calendar slot.
Each theme answer has a base phrase which the letters MA have “boarded,” so to speak, creating – you know it – wacky new phrases.
- 23a. [Good bargain in northern Italy?] PARMA VALUE (par value). Just in case you forgot this is the Wall Street Journal.
- 28a. [Artificial tooth from a French dentist] LE MANS IMPLANT (lens implant). An eye for a tooth.
- 48a. [Director-producer Roger's attention?] EAR OF CORMAN (… of corn).
- 67a. [Exhibition devoted to a single French painter?] NOTHING BUT MANET (… but net). Probably my favorite.
- 93a. [Brothel manager who likes to vacuum?] HOOVER MADAM (… Dam).
- 111a. [28th president in a Dustin Hoffman role?] RAIN MAN WILSON (Rainn …, the actor).
- 120a. [Telephone company in a Washington Port?] TACOMA BELL (Taco Bell). Second favorite.
Not the most astounding crossword theme ever conceived, but it garnered a few interior chuckles nevertheless. Witty and clever cluing throughout makes the difference and pushes this puzzle to the next level.
- Similar or repeated clues:
- 19a [Scads] A HEAP, 17d [Scads] A TON.
- 39a, 18d [Discontinue] CEASE, QUIT.
- 58a, 44d [Birthstone of some Scorpios] TOPAZ, OPAL.
- 97a [Lincoln or Jackson] CITY, 128a [Lincoln and Kennedy, Abbr.] CTR., 121d [Lincoln or Ford] CAR.
- 16d, 69d [Luau entertainment] HULA, UKES.
- 85d [Not fictitious] REAL, 87d [Fictitious] PHANTOM.
- Puns or misdirections:
- 86a [High rollers] ELS, 87a [Tart hawkers] PIEMEN (though I thought it was BAKERS), 92a [Remote possibilities?] CHANNELS, 123a [It's felt on your head] BERET (wanted the too-long FEDORA), 3d [Stock collections] HERDS, 94d [Makes a comeback] ANSWERS, 102d [Person giving dollars for quarters] TENANT (was tempted by TENDER for a while], 110d [Hides from trappers] PELTS.
Clues that clunked for me:
- 51a [Luxurious] OPULENT. Seems a stretch.
- 61a [Sanctuary sight] ALTAR. Not the kind of sanctuary that comes to my mind, so it isn’t surprising that I thought it was going to be ARBOR.
- 73d [Mother's work] LABOR. This one needed a question mark.
- 104d [Carnival music] SAMBA. The Portuguese spelling, which is used in the home of SAMBA, is Carnaval, so I would have preferred the clue either spelled it that way or had a question mark.
The puzzle’s rounded out with the usual dose of finance flavored clues appropriate to the venue, some good long fill (CAVERNOUS, SHELTERED, GRADIENT, CROUTONS) and some fun, less common words (that more people should know): TONTINE, FRACAS, COZEN.
Factette: 65d [Pigment from cuttlefish] SEPIA is also the name of one of the major genera of cuttlefish, which comes from Greek, through Latin, meaning … cuttlefish.
Meh theme, but better puzzle.