Ian Livengood and Brad Wilber’s New York Times crossword
What is this, ten of the maximally Scrabbly X/Q/Z letters? All righty, then.
Top eight answers and clues:
- 15a. [Bygone sportscaster with a statue outside Wrigley Field], HARRY CARAY. The Chicago Blackhawks took the Stanley Cup to Harry Caray’s restaurant in Rosemont before sunrise, after their plane got in from Boston.
- 22a. [Overzealous promgoer's choice, maybe], TAILS. As in a tuxedo with a long coat.
- 25a. [Noted press conference rhymer], ALI. If only President Obama spun rhymes in his White House press conferences. Or if Bush had done so. Or if John Boehner would only speak in rhymes.
- 36a. [O, more formally], WINFREY.
- 49a. [Business that may be a zoning target], SEX SHOP.
- 9d. [Pitch producer], LARYNX.
- 32d. [Ices], BUMPS OFF.
- 34d. [Intern's duty, maybe], XEROXING. Shhh, nobody tell the people at Xerox that we’re okay with verbing their trademark. Do you think they Google to find trademark violations?
- 54d. [Dial unit], BAR. Soap.
Comments on a few more things:
- 19a. [Not so apple-cheeked], ASHIER. Still waiting for a crossword somewhere, sometime, to use the standard African-American sense of ashiness (skin rendered paler from dryness, remediable via moisturizer). The dictionaries don’t seem to have caught up, but outside of crosswords, I never hear “ashy” used in the dictionary’s listed ways (ashen for “afflicted with a marked pallor,” sure; ashy, no).
- 57a. [Unlikely pageant winners], PLAIN JANES. Please tell me: What is the male equivalent of this term?
- 2d. [Base for Blackbeard], NASSAU. Presumably the Bahamian port rather than the Long Island county.
- 4d. [Train track parts], I-RAILS. Or, as I call them (provided these are what they sound like), just plain rails.
- 5d. [Actors Talbot and Waggoner], LYLES. Plural oddball name, oy! Waggoner was on the Carol Burnett Show in the early seasons and I have no idea what Talbot is known for.
- 41d. [Close again, as a change purse], RESNAP. Isn’t that just snapping it shut again?
- 55d. ["Encore!," to a diva], BIS. Here’s the dictionary entry, and here’s a mention in the Wikipedia article on claques.
3.75 stars from me.
Victor Barocas’ Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review
The central concept here is amazing: Jane AusTEN has ten letters, By wEIGHT has eight letters, mezzaNINE has nine letters. Each of them is also a pretty spiffy answer in its own right! The one negative I have for this theme is the wordy explanation: EACHOFTHEM/ENDSWITH/ITSLENGTH. At first I couldn’t figure out why this was necessary, but of course if your theme answers are 8/9/10 they need symmetrical pairs… Or at least the 8 and 10 letter answers do. I still feel its inelegant, but at least I know there’s a reason behind it…
- 14a, [Irish pop group family name], CORR. Surprisingly, I don’t think I’ve seen their name in a crossword before. They just about owned the airwaves circa 1999.
- 15a, [How most fly], COACH. Got what this clue was getting at but couldn’t get it without all the crosses, because I forgot the American word. This is called “economy” here.
- 27a, [Skye writing], ERSE. I don’t think I’ve seen this punny clue before! I approve, although I note it is a reprint…
- 41a, [___ Cakesters], OREO. This appears to be some sort of oreo variant…
- 48a, [Not now?], DATED. Wunnerful clue! So economical! “Now” as in “in fashion.”
- 4d, [Period marked by copper use], BRONZEAGE. Great answer! As is its symmetrical counterpart 34d, [Movement that fought stereotypes], WOMENSLIB.
- 24d, [Ship with two zebras on it], ARK. Note the carefully chosen unclean zebra. “Clean” animals were taken in by sevens per Gen 7:3.
- On the other hand 32d, [Shylock, e.g.], JEW is pretty much a stereotype. To be fair, it was written quite a while ago…
- 48d, [Schools where boards may be used to measure ability], DOJOS. Another wonderful clue, although much wordier than the previous one. The boards here are being karate chopped.
Novel, interesting theme, but with the afore-stated reservations. The rest of the puzzle was plenty lively too so 4-stars from me!
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Photo Finish” – Dave Sullivan’s review
I first thought from the title that constructor Patrick Blindauer would be tacking the letters PIC onto common phrases (maybe with an entry like [What visionaries discuss?] for LOOK FORWARD TOPIC), but instead has a much better idea as he adds the individual letters of PHOTO, one a a time, to five phrases:
- A [Sand dune?] is a BEACH BUMP
- [Where dirty Cardinals get clean?] clues BASEBALL BATH – Orioles and Blue Jays, as well.
- a [Vegetalbe that stays close to the ground?] is a LOW TARO – yay, no comments today about missing a short middle-of-the-grid theme entry. It helped that there was a question mark in the clue and I knew there had to be five theme entries today. Discussion topic: describe the relative taste differences of poi, taro and yucca. Are they all considered tubers?
- [Rotten kid who helps prepare babysitters?] clues TRAINING BRAT
- And finally, [Muppet from the Netherlands?] clues DUTCH ELMO – do Dutch puppets giggle differently than their American counterparts when tickled?
Cute theme, although it might be a bit tighter if the base phrases all had something in common. Nevertheless it was a professional effort with that many theme phrases packed in as well as having six overlapping letters in the upper and lower pairs. I learned that [Jon's brother in "Garfield"] was named DOC BOY; it looks like he’s a farmer, not a doctor in the picture to the left. My FAVE entry was [Austrian botanist Gregor] or MENDEL, a man who knew his peas and queues. LIZARD ([Skink, for one]) I also enjoyed, both for the word “skink” and the zed action in the entry itself. I was less excited by my UNFAVE entry of ILL, as an opportunity was missed to clue it more contemporarily as [Awesome] instead of the ho-hum [Hardly healthy].
Nancy Cole Stuart’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Sounds of the Fourth” — pannonica’s write-up
64-across: [Sounds heard during fireworks shows, and in this puzzle's longest answers] OOHS AND AAHS. Accordingly, the other theme answers consist of two-word phrases which differ phonetically as described—the first has an \ˈü\ sound, the second an \ˈä\. Spelling is altered as necessary.
- 23a. [Remedy for someone who's dazed?] STUPOR STOPPER.
- 34a. [Metal used for making barrel rings?] COOPER COPPER. Hm, the first two themers rhyme with each other. Also, barrel rings sound like a kind of rustic bar food.
- 42a. [Food fish that's been cheated?] SCREWED SCROD.
- 54a. [Place for storing monetary gains?] LUCRE LOCKER.
- 76a. [Bird that prepares sauerkraut-filled sandwiches?] REUBEN ROBIN.
- 86a. [Phantom jet piloted by a child of the 1950s?] BOOMER BOMBER. Is a phantom a bomber? Did not know this. The theme answer somewhat evokes fireworks.
- 95a. [Wide-eyed look at a page of search results?] GOOGLE GOGGLE, which is a name the company prudently didn’t choose for their ballyhooed new product.
- 110a. [List of members on the barnyard crowing team?] ROOSTER ROSTER. More avifauna.
Wasn’t initially thrilled with this theme, but in the marination process between solve and write-up, its quirkiness has grown on me. Certainly, the phrases are ludicrous, but I appreciate the array of spelling variations (including the anomalous monosyllabic pair in 42a), the inspired take on the revealer phrase (obviously the theme originated there), and the timeliness of the puzzle (better to be early than late—the fourth is six days hence, just a day before the next WSJ 21×21.
- HAWAIIANS, STEAM HEAT, TITULAR, LACE-UPS. Liked these.
- 35d [Win in a pencil-and-paper game] OOO. This has the semblance of intruding on the theme, so I’d rather it wasn’t in the grid.
- Toughest clue to parse: 11d [Words after somebody moves] I SECOND.
- Favorite clue: [Blue prints] EROTICA. Nifty, too, that it lies under 21a [Au ___ (naked)] NATUREL.
- A gathering of dislikes: NTS (note to self), NEED I, EMP., A TO, EN PEU, HEWER, GOERS, UTIL.
- In discussing the NYT Amy mentioned having not noticed CORR in a puzzle ere now, and here it is again, on the same day, in a different crossword. (34d)
- 4d [Bit of booze] NIP, 9d [Bit of booze] SIP. 24d [New car of 1905] REO, 96d [New car of 1957] EDSEL. 68d [Rusty on the diamond] STAUB, 111d [Mel of Cooperstown] OTT; wait, what? (nb: Rusty STAUB has been inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame, the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, but not the premier institution in upstate New York. Nevertheless, it seems to me the OTT clue could have been worded to create another parallel pair. Also, “Cooperstown” partially duplicates the COOPER of themer 34-across.)
Good puzzle, cute.