Pete Muller’s New York Times crossword
Short write-ups tonight! The blogger, she is sleepy.
62a. [Assortments ... or what you'll find in 17-, 25-, 30-, 44- and 50-Across?] clues MIXED BAGS, and there’s a mixed/anagrammed “BAG” in each theme answer. They include DRUG ABUSE, LAG BEHIND, PUB GAMES (is that a thing?), BIG BANDS, and CRABGRASS. Eh. Not the wildest theme, not the most boring one, either.
In the fill, I liked seeing TAGALOG, Conan the BARBARIAN, and PERDITION. Could’ve done without 54d. [Singer/songwriter Davis], ALANA (who??), crossing the ONE O partial, plus old crossword stalwart LIANA.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “State of Reversal”
The theme involves reversing 2-letter postal abbreviations of states and pairing them with the names of cities in those states:
- 17a. [City that's all about farming?], SAVANNAH, AG. I was thinking that looked more like “attorney general” than “agriculture.”
- 21a. [City that's peacefully centered?], ST. LOUIS, OM.
- 33a. [City where everyone wakes up for the day?], NEW BEDFORD, A.M. Surely the least familiar of this theme’s cities.
- 44a. [City full of Bugs?], CHARLESTON, VW.
- 57a. [City known for its cute cat videos?], SEATTLE, AW.
- 63a. [City that prevents others from copying them?], BILLINGS, TM.
Is the puzzle’s title a familiar phrase to you? It doesn’t ring a bell for me. And the theme doesn’t strike a chord for me, either—the payoff for figuring out each one wasn’t a giggle, they were just sort of there. Not to mention the fill, which didn’t tickle me. 2.9 stars. (Also, I’m sleepy. That may have affected my appreciation.)
Robin Stears’ Los Angeles Times crossword
BOY is the theme here: 61d. [Word that can follow both parts of the answers to starred clues]. Indeed, both parts of each theme answer can precede “boy”:
- 17a. [*Campus brother's residence], FRAT HOUSE. I could use a houseboy around here, frankly.
- 39a. [*Bossy's neckwear], COWBELL.
- 59a. [*Student's transport], SCHOOL BUS. Like houseboy and bellboy, busboy is also an insulting occupational term. “Boy”? Please.
- 11d. [*Christmas hit for Roy Orbison written by Willie Nelson], PRETTY PAPER. Never heard of the song.
- 25d. [*An outfielder may call it], FLY BALL.
- 24d. [*Color with a military name], SOLDIER BLUE. Never, ever encountered this color name before.
I like the theme all right and its criss-cross, Across-and-Down layout looks good. But as with the Jonesin’, the overriding vibe of the fill didn’t do a whole lot for me. A little ROLEO and ISERE go a long way, don’t they? 3.5 stars.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “That’s the Ticket!” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Four theme entries that end with a word that can be precede the word “ticket”:
- [Appetizer, entrée and dessert] is a THREE COURSE MEAL – “meal ticket” sounds old-timey to me, was it something one would get if they were on the dole?
- Something none of you assiduous solvers are, [Like a workplace slacker, maybe] is ASLEEP ON THE JOB – I had to look up “job ticket” and still am not sure I understand what it means. I’m inferring it has to do with a “work order,” perhaps a specification of a manufacturing lot request? Not my area of expertise, obviously.
- [2006 film that was an Internet phenomenon before it was released] clues SNAKES ON A PLANE – does this mean people could watch the film online before it came out? Was it on youtube? We all know what a “plane ticket” is.
- [Challenge for a driving school student] clues PARALLEL PARKING – I believe this exact entry was in Monday’s NYT and brought up lots of lively discussion in the comments section. Have we gotten all of that out of our system yet? A “parking ticket” is likely very familiar to all of us as well.
I have to say this theme leaves me a bit underwhelmed; these sort of themes work best when the operative words (meal, job, plane, parking) mean something different in their base phrases. Another CrosSynergy constructor, Lynn Lempel, has set the bar pretty high in this regard. I also felt this puzzle was rather high in the proper name category, which I might notice more than most as it’s my Achilles’ heel. I’m looking at the somewhat obscure (depending on your particular interests) footballer CAM Newton, actress ANNA Magnani, lyricist James RADO, and golfer John DALY.
I did enjoy seeing our POTUS, Barack OBAMA sidled up against his second-in-command Joe BIDEN today, so those would be my FAVE entries. Not only that, but they are crossed by the clue [All U.S. Presidents and Vice-Presidents] (I would add “to date” to that–will the clue still be valid in 2016?), which was MEN. Runner up honors go to the clue [Royal pain?], which is a clever way to clue PEA, which disrupted the sleep of one fairy tale princess. I also want to add a shout-out to singer Cyndi Lauper (of “SHE Bop” fame), who won the Tony for Best Musical Sunday evening for writing the score to the show “Kinky Boots.”
SETS for [Gets hard, like concrete] had my mind going in all the wrong places this morning, so that would be my personal UNFAVE, but perhaps not yours if you didn’t make the same prurient association. It could be my mind was heading in that direction after seeing the clue [Doe nut?] for STAG, which I’m still grappling with, though I realize the word “donut” is involved, and I’m guessing the word “nut” should be thought of as an “enthusiast” in this context.