Julian Lim’s New York Times crossword
Were this a CrosSynergy or Newsday puzzle, the title would be “East to West” and the theme answers would all begin with an E and end with W. But since this is the Thursday NYT, EAST TO WEST is in the grid and the theme answers are written from right (east) to left (west):
- 17a. [Tidal movement], WOLFDNABBE. Ebb and flow.
- 23a. [Firm last words?], WEIVRETNITIXE. Exit interview.
- 37a. [Take one's licks, in a way], WORCTAE. Eat crow.
- 51a. ["Be careful!"], WONTISEODYSAE. Easy does it now!
- 60a. [How 17-, 23-, 37- and 51-Across run (in two ways)], EAST TO WEST.
Cool theme, Julian! Overall, the puzzle was pretty tough even when I’d figured out the backwards thing. Clues that slowed me down:
- 14a. [Polyunsaturated fat source], OLEO.
- 28a. [Triple, quadruple or more], SOAR. Wasn’t reading triple and quadruple as verbs.
- 67a. [Hook up with], TIE TO. I was thinking of the slangy “hook up with” sense, which makes that answer smack of 50 Shades of Grey.
- 1d. [Big game], BOWL. Super Bowl, Rose Bowl. I was thinking BOAR or BEAR.
- 6d. [Possible coup instigator, for short], CIA.
- 8d. [Men of steel?], ROBOTS.
- 22d. [Actress Balaban of "Last Chance Harvey"], LIANE. Didn’t see it, never heard of her. Guessing she’s related to Bob B.
- 26d. [With 41-Across, co-creator of Captain America and the Hulk], JACK KIRBY.
Likes: AMBLE on your daily constitutional; BIGOTRY clued as [Homophobia, e.g.]; TAIWAN clued as [One of the so-called "Four Asian Tigers"]; idiomatic HELD WATER.
Grumbly bit: Right at 1a, we get BAHS clued as ["Humbug" preceders]. That plural … it’s making me hear “Bah, bah, humbug.” And now I’m getting a LOS LOBOS “La Bamba” earworm. Sing it with me!
Sam Donaldson and Doug Peterson’s Fireball crossword, “Play-ful Replies”
Doug and Sam are pretty much the two most easy-going, mellow, fun constructors out there, so it makes sense that they’d partner up for a whimsical look at recontextualizing famous Shakespeare lines:
- 22a. [Reply to "Mark Antony, dost thou require any of my Spock accessories for the costume party?"], LEND ME YOUR EARS.
- 30a, 65a. [With 65-Across, reply to "O, Richard, what will ye give to complete thy chess set?"], MY KINGDOM FOR A HORSE. Because, apparently, he is a total noob when it comes to chess and calls the knight a “horse.”
- 47a. [Reply to "Lackaday, Lady Macbeth, what shouldst be said to the cursed dog to make it leave the castle?"], OUT, DAMNED SPOT.
- 73a. [Reply to "Perchance, Hamlet, is this barbecue spice mix what ye seek?"], AY, THERE’S THE RUB.
Sometimes I groan to see a puzzle larger than 15×15 because it’s going to be a slog. But when you have a 17×17 that’s constructed by these gents and edited by Peter Gordon, you are in for a treat that keeps your interest instead of boring you.
- 1a. [Mary Jane alter ego?], GRASS. I wanted GANJA. We also would have accepted MRS. SPIDERMAN POSSIBLY.
- 25a. [Douche spray], EAU. Douche is French for “shower,” of course.
- 46a. [It "sounds like a bunch of Italian chefs screaming risotto recipes at each other," according to Aristotle Onassis], OPERA.
- 84a. [Closing bid?], ADIEU.
- 6d. [Silver in psephology], NATE. Psephology is the statistical study of elections and trends in voting, of course. (And yes, I just looked it up.)
- 8d. [Former circus-themed breakfast cereal from General Mills], KABOOM.
- 32d. [Large monitor], KOMODO DRAGON. Lizard, not computer screen.
- 33d. [Explorer Marquez], DORA. Dora the Explorer!
- 61d. [Author of "Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression"], SHIELDS. Brooke Shields. And then Tom Cruise sniped at her on morning TV, saying that the pills that healed her are a lie.
Smooth, fun, interesting puzzle all around. 4.5 stars.
Caleb Madison’s AV Club crossword, “Summer Blockbusters”
These big summer movies are “blockbusters” in that each of them busts a block in the grid:
- 20a. [Zack Snyder superhero reboot (June 14)]/21a. [Zack Snyder superhero reboot Part II], MAN Of STEEL.
- 60a. [Guillermo del Toro movie about massive human-controlled robot weapons (July 12)]\64a. [Guillermo del Toro robot weapon movie Part II], PACIFiC RIM.
- 3d. [Sofia Coppola film about fashion thievery (June 14)]/33d. [Sofia Coppola fashion theft movie Part II], BLING rING.
- 8d. [Gore Verbinski TV serial reboot in which Johnny Depp's performance seems kind of racist, with "The" (July 3)]/30d. [Possibly racist Depp movie Part II], LONE rANGER.
- 9d. [Final installment of a Todd Phillips bro comedy franchise, with "The" (May 23)]/26d. [Bro franchise finale Part II], HANgOVER III.
- 24d. [Baz Luhrmann romance that scores a story from the 1920's with hip-hop, with "The" (May 10)]/67d. [Hip-hop-scored Baz Luhrmann movie Part II], GREAT GAtSBY.
- 29d. [M. Night Shyamalan sci-fi film starring members of the same immediate family (May 31)]/61d. [Shyamalan all-in-the-family movie Part II], AFTER eARTH.
- 38d. [James Mangold superhero film that will be the sixth X-Men movie in twelve years, with "The" (July 26)]/56d. [Sixth X-Men movie Part II], WOLvERINE.
The letters that fall in the blocks are FIRRGTEV. Unscramble these and you get … GET FIR RV. This ties in to Caleb’s cinema theme, obviously.
Business interlude: If you buy a $15/year subscription to the AV Club crossword and include my name at checkout when you submit your order, I will get 3 months added to my subscription. If four of you do this, it’s a free year for me! These are good puzzles. Do it. Sign up. Unless you’re stodgy and intend to remain that way.
Also, the AV Club Xword team is having a theme contest over at Reddit. If you submit one of the winning themes, you’ll get a 1- or 2-year free subscription to the puzzle. If you’re great at cooking up themes but don’t want to build a grid…
- The bilingual Spanish/German clues, 15a. [Number of noches de Janucá] and 6d. [Number of Nächte in Hannukah]. I had no idea what Janucá was until I got ACHT and realized I needed OCHO noches. (Did you know: When Spanish-speaking people type in laughter, they generally type “jajajaja” instead of “hahahaha.” I like to pronounce it as if it’s German.)
- SHENANIGAN; BONUS TRACK; FIVE W’s; the should-be-a-pair of SMOOT and STOAT.
- 2d. [Schwarzenegger character who says "Crom laughs at your four winds. He laughs from his mountain."], CONAN the non-O’Brien Barbarian.
Four stars. That’s a half star per movie in the theme, you know.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Boffo Battles” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Not sure what makes the following battles “boffo,” but constructor Bruce Venzke depicts four classic battles in today’s grid in an x VS. y format:
- [Economic class struggle] clues RICH VS. POOR – reminds me of the TV miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man starring Peter Strauss and Nick Nolte.
- [Major 2000 political brouhaha] clues BUSH VS. GORE – yes, that brouhaha was boffo! It also introduced the phrase “hanging chad” into the American lexicon.
- [Classic ethnic conflict] is GOOD VS. EVIL – a bit curious about the “ethnic” term in the clue; I think of this conflict in more biblical/human nature terms and not related to ethnicities, but any sociologists out there, please enlighten me!
- [College football rivalry since 1890] is ARMY VS. NAVY – not unlike the now-defunct Blue vs. Gray game.
Did you notice that each side of these battles was four letters long? That allowed the constructor to put the entries in a “pinwheel” fashion, allowing some serious Zed action (there are 4 by my count) in the unconstrained center. I wonder which is the more common abbreviation for the latin “versus”–VS. or just V.? Certainly the latter is used in court cases (e.g., “Roe V. Wade”) but certainly I’ve seen VS. as well (“Kramer Vs. Kramer”?). My FAVE has got to be that central SHAZAM, which I intend to say at least once today (but likely well outside of earshot). The only German WWII vessel I’m familiar with is the U-BOAT, so my UNFAVE entry is the E-BOAT. I see here that the E comes from the British designation of “enemy,” whereas the U version was for “undersea” (or “untersee” in the original German).
Peg Slay’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Peg Slay is a name I haven’t come across before. If this is your debut, then congratulations Peg! Like Dan’s NYT (earlier this week), there’s no revealing answer; in this case, I find this puzzle’s letter addition interesting in of itself. Each answer has an AL tacked onto the first word’s end. Except in the case of POST, the pre- and post- al words aren’t related in anyway. In the POST answer the original POST’s meaning isn’t the same as POSTAL, it still feels a bit weaker than the others because of it though.
The answers are:
- 20a, [Wrigglers' waterway?], CANAL OF WORMS. My favourite!
- 33a, [Mail carrier's romantic activities?], POSTAL DATING.
- 42a, [Fortress for summer shoes?], SANDAL CASTLE
- 58a, [Collage of potpourri bits?], PETAL PROJECT
48 Theme letters is about par for the course these days; however, 4×12 dose up the challenge a tad, as the third and thirteenth rows can’t be used, and the theme answers are pushed closer together. So we don’t get pizzazzy longer downs, we get 3 plural 7′s and an -ED word. Personal fill highlights were YUCCAS at 1 across and COATI. The puzzle is dotted with low-level crossword-ese: EDDA, ENID, ALEE, ERATO, ABA, ARAL but nothing actually objectionable!
3 Stars. A solid theme idea, and I found the way the words change in meaning quite interesting. The rest of the fill is acceptable if not stellar. A fine debut though, and we look forward to seeing more puzzles, Peg!
Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “OS/X” — Matt’s review
Quick review today for BEQ: change an S to an X and see what happens:
17-a [One who wanders about espousing socialism?] = MARX ROVER, not Mars Rover.
25-a [Country where tailless cats are forbidden?] = NO MANX LAND, not no-man’s land.
37-a [Highest swinger?] = PLANET OF THE APEX, not “Planet of the Apes.”
47-a [Admission rule for the lumberjack convention?] = AX REQUIRED, not as required.
60-a [Choice about whether to get a full Brazilian?] = WAX/NOT WAX, not Was (Not Was).
1) Nice 5×5 corners in the NE and SW.
2) Extremely Skxzjabbly grid: 1 Q, 1 Z, 2 J’s, 2 K’s and no less than 9 X’s!
3) Good fill: IQ TEST, NO DUH, my wife’s favorite store TJ MAXX, WOOZY, KIX, XERXES, OPEN SEWER.