Richard F. Mausser’s New York Times crossword
It’s a cute theme, unless you’re one of those people who hates to see the letter I used as a numeral 1 and the letter O and numeral 0 similar interchangeable. The face and denomination of U.S. currency starting with $1 and escalating by powers of 10 are included:
- 17a. [Face value?], FRANKLIN IOO.
- 25a. [Face value?], HAMILTON IO.
- 37a. [Face value?], CLEVELAND IOOO. Not printed since 1934.
- 52a. [Face value?], CHASE IOOOO. Last issued in 1946.
- 52a. [Face value?], WASHINGTON I.
The Federal Reserve Banks used a $100,000 bill with Woodrow Wilson on the front in the mid-1930s.
German cross-referencing? Ach du Lieber! 35a. [Viejo : Sp. :: ___ : Ger.], ALT. That is super-tough if you don’t know your Spanish vocabulary, because there is not a damn thing in the clue that tells you the English meaning of the answer you need. And then 64d. [Opposite of 35-Across] is impossible if you haven’t figured out which German word is at 35a. ALT is old, NEU is new.
Nice to see toons MR MAGOO and OLIVE OYL ([Toon with size 14-AAAAAA shoes]) in the grid. Less nice to see ISERE, SEVE, EROSE, LAH, ARAL, HIE, and ADZ, which all feel a tad like crosswordese to me. Certainly none are words you are likely to hear in all your conversations tomorrow.
Three stars from me.
Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword
This sort of partial-anagram theme can fall flat quite easily, but Gareth keeps it lively and juggles the fill well, and the overall effect is good.
- 62a. [Classic horror magazine, and a literal hint to the beginning of 17-, 25-, 36-, and 51-Across], WEIRD TALES. “Weird” might signal anagramming of the word that follows in a cryptic crossword.
- 17a. [Get closer to home?], STEAL THIRD. Wait, is this about cricket?
- 25a. [Electrical device named for its inventor], TESLA COIL. Who doesn’t love a Tesla coil? There’s a big one at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
- 36a. [Chestnut], STALE JOKE. Not quite “in the language,” but passable.
- 51a. [Dress pants shade], SLATE GRAY. Dress pants? All right, then.
I confess that I first assumed the theme would have to do with the letter G, since there are a bunch of G’s in the puzzle, particularly up top where I began solving. The record is 21 G’s in a daily LAT and this one only has 13, but it’s still a lot given that it’s not thematic. Clearly it’s Gareth’s overweening egotism that led him to lard the grid with his first initial.
- 42a. [Puddle gunk], MUD. What is it about the letter U that lends itself to these words? See also: muck, musty, fusty, dusty, ugly.
- 59a. [Big cheese]/60a. [Big cheese in Holland], NABOB and EDAM.
- 2d. [DVD extra], OUTTAKE. Who doesn’t love outtakes? Except when they’re nothing but the cast messing up their lines unexceptionally and laughing all out of proportion. I saw such dreadfulness on the Disney Channel once.
- 22d. [White co-worker], SAJAK. Vanna White. Not former Justice Byron White, not a Caucasian colleague. Although Pat Sajak is, in fact, white.
- 30a/38d. [With 38-Down, "People's Court" rival], JUDGE JUDY.
- 5a. [Like weather that makes hair frizz], MUGGY. Although some of us have hair with zero innate frizzability. Humidity serves only to maintain the straightness of my hair.
Did not quite get 26d. [Affected preciousness, with "the"], CUTES. Do you use this or hear this?
Four stars from me. Enjoyed the MUGGY, SOGGY FOGG of G-fill.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “O Man” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Four men whose first and last names have no vowels other than the letter O:
- An entry that was fill in a recent CS puzzle (if memory serves), now makes it to the big time as a theme entry: [He played George Utley on "Newhart"] clues TOM POSTON.
- A [Tennis player who won five consecutive Wimbledon championships] is BJORN BORG – along with Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Jimmy Connors and badboy John McEnroe, he was the dominant tennis player as I was following the sport growing up.
- [He portrayed a deputy who was allowed to carry only one bullet] clues DON KNOTTS of Knott’s Berry Farm, of course.
- [Harpers Ferry raider] clues JOHN BROWN – the anti-slavery insurrectionist sometimes called “America’s first terrorist.” Do the ends justify the means?
Rather ho hum theme in my book; but having just four theme entries of 9 letters each did leave the constructor some leeway to add the even longer 10-lettter crossers AMMUNITION and OVER AND OUT. In general, I had a lot of false starts in this one and it took a bit longer than average as I struggled for traction in almost every quadrant. (Could be because I was solving this while watching The Voice finale last night–did you want Danielle Bradbery to win? I was definitely in the much more unique (and all kinds of awesome) Michelle Chamuel camp, not the least because she’s from my hometown area.) A clue like [Mardi Gras cover] had me thinking of floats not a MASK which covers the face, for instance.
My FAVE entry was BANGOR, a beautiful city in the “Pine Tree State” of Maine, which we see a lot less frequently than the neighboring (and less-populated) Orono, home to the University of Maine. Was a bit surprised to see what I know only as a suffix, -OLOGY clued simply as [Science]. My UNFAVE was seeing both director ELIA Kazan and statesman ELIE Wiesel in the same puzzle. One ELI? proper name per puzzle, please!
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Moving On”
I was flummoxed by the theme here when I test solved the puzzle a couple weeks ago, and had to ask Ben how this “I’M IT” pertained to the theme answers. D’oh! The word I’M is over the word IT, and “I’M over IT” is the key:
- 20a. [See the circled words], NO APOLOGY NEEDED.
- 37a. [See the circled words], THAT’S SO LAST YEAR.
- 55a. [See the circled words], NO LONGER AN ISSUE.
I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who was confused here. Not that it’s always desirable for a crossword to confuse people, but when the explanation comes, it’s a pleased “Oh!” rather than a disappointed “…Oh. That’s lame.”
Five more items:
- 9d. [Lasagna cousin], BAKED ZITI. Anyone remember that Byron Walden themeless from maybe 5-7 years ago in which BAked ZITi and BArry ZITo anchored the grid? I call it the BaZit puzzle.
- 10d. [Venerable topical treatment], ALOE. Fresh clue! And any remedy my grandma gave me certainly counts as venerable.
- 34d. [High-profile film nominations, as it were], OSCAR NODS. Nice fill.
- 45d. [Put a face to a name?], TAG. This is a Facebook reference, to tagging people in photos.
- 49d. [Pope who wrote obscene plays before becoming pope]. PIUS II. Cool papal trivia.