Dan Feyer’s New York Times crossword
This is Dan’s third published NYT crossword. Don’t miss Dan’s behind-the-scenes blog post about the puzzle’s development. Not only can Dan solve crosswords in his sleep, he can also come up with theme ideas then. This one is add-GE-and-clue-accordingly:
- 17a. Garbage scow that docked with Mir?], SPACE BARGE.
- 20a. Swapping out Sheen for Rose?], CHARLIE CHANGE. A move for the better, surely.
- 35a. Boy Scout’s reward for karate expertise?], BREAKING BADGE.
- 54a. Caveman’s injury after discovering fire?], ORIGINAL SINGE.
- 59a. Feeling when one’s voodoo doll is poked?], EVIL TWINGE. Nice one!
- 32a. ["What Do You Do With ___ in English?" ("Avenue Q" song)], A B.A. My dad had that exact question, or perhaps “What kind of job can you get with an English degree?” The answer is go into publishing, editing, writing, that sort of thing. DUH!
- The part MAORI singer KIRI Te Kanawa gives us a nifty answer combo, no?
- TOP GUN, BREWSKI, pretty GARDENIA, I BLEW IT, the HEPCAT/ZOOT suit combo—also fill I appreciated.
- 51d. [Like a schlimazel], INEPT. Who doesn’t love Yiddish, I ask you?
ORACULAR doesn’t feel particularly Tuesdayish, and the sheer number of proper nouns (about 20) might make this puzzle a mite more challenging than the usual Tuesday puzzle. How’d it treat you?
Steve Blais’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I like the theme here, though it would’ve been fun to do without a revealer answer—maybe get actor EDWARD FURLONG into the game. 60a: [From afar, and how 18-, 29-, 37- and 46-Across literally end] clues AT A DISTANCE, and that doesn’t quite jell grammatically, does it? The other four theme answers end with units of distance:
- 18a. [Eschew punishment, in an old saw], SPARE THE ROD. One rod is 5 1/2 yards.
- 29a. [Really puzzling], HARD TO FATHOM. One fathom equals 6 feet.
- 37a. ["Toy Story" space ranger], BUZZ LIGHTYEAR. One light year is almost 6 trillion miles.
- 46a. [Athletics group for kids], PEE WEE LEAGUE. One league is about 3 miles.
In the fill, AY CARAMBA is fun, although perhaps a bit dated. (Bart stopped saying that, didn’t he? It went the way of “eat my shorts” and “cowabunga”?) Much of the other fill, however, definitely moved the needle on the Scowl-o-Meter. APACE isn’t terrible, but it comes right after AROAR. Then there’s ERN, ESTER, EEN, severed OOM and PAH, ENTO, CEN, OPE, A TO, and A LAW.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “That’s a Switch!” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Ouch! This puzzle took me to the cleaners with lots of gnarly clues and difficult crossings. But first to Bob Klahn’s tribute to the Reverend Spooner:
- [Crowd's crumb?] alliteratively (see below) clues LOUSE OF THE HORDE (“House of the Lord”)
- [Fame fancier's family?] alliteratively (see below) clues CLAN OF THE MOTH (“Man of the Cloth”) After this one, I wondered (1) would they all have alliterative clues (yes), (2) were they all religious references (no) and (3) were they all in the “x OF THE y” form (yes, thank goodness to help get toeholds in other sections!)
- [Combo's cabbie?] is HACK OF THE BAND (“Back of the Hand”) there aren’t any religious allegories about someone slapping someone is there?
- [Milliner's mall unit] is MART OF THE HATTER (“Heart of the Matter”) probably my favorite of the bunch.
With so many alliterative clues in this one, I began to lose a bit of patience, even though it’s a master stroke. Spice in puzzle cluing is a treat, but only when used in moderation and not when it calls so much attention to itself. I did enjoy the paired clues, for instance the crossing JOE and JAVA shared just one clue at 23-Across: [Beanery brew] (alliteration alert!) But my FAVE pairing were [Main squeeze] for BEAU and [Main squeeze's squeeze] for HUG. My UNFAVE entry was the [Sudoku's cross-sum relative] or KAKURO – something I’ve never heard of.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “The Quiet People”
If you add a “sh” sound to the beginning of some words, you turn them into people’s names. Here, Matt changes the first word of three phrases (adjusting the spelling as needed) and clues the resulting oddball phrase:
- 17a. [Quiet person with a Scottish accent?], SHARON BURR. Sh + Aaron Burr, Scottish burr, random Sharon.
- 40a. [Quiet person who oversees new family additions?], SHIRLEY ADOPTERS. Sh + early adopters. This one is jarring because let’s say you had someone named Shirley who was in charge of adoptions—would you call her Shirley Adopter or Adopters? That final S isn’t working for me.
- 64a. [Quiet person who moderates debates?], SHAWN TOPIC. Sh + on topic. I find this one jarring too, as I pronounce on as “ahn” and not “awn.” (Dictionary lists both pronunciations.)
- Favorite clue: 54a. [Secret place?], ARMPIT. Secret antiperspirant.
- Did not know: 24d. [Liqueur from the Basque country], IZARRA.
- Freshest fill: 12d. [Site with the slogan "Film. Biz. Fans."], INDIEWIRE.
- Random German word: 10d. [Color in Cologne], GRAU. It means gray. How many of you get tricked by Cologne sounding more French than German? The Germans call the city Köln.
I like the southwest’s triple stack of 9s (AS YOU WERE, THE X-FILES, PIANO DUET), but not its lesser crossings AT PAR, ELUL, and ESTE. Not overly enthused about the bulk of the fill, actually. And the theme doesn’t quite win me over, so I’m calling it 2.75 stars.