Sometime on Tuesday, Matt Gaffney will be blogging the PatrickBlindauer.com puzzle for July. If you haven’t solved the crossword yet, you can get it here.
Daniel Raymon’s New York Times crossword
Geography! And anagrams! I know some of you are groaning with dismay, but others of us enjoyed the theme. I like that none of the answers involves a European country—instead, we visit Africa, the Middle East, and Asia:
- 18a. [Adversary on the Arabian Peninsula?], YEMEN ENEMY. Is this about AQAP?
- 24a. [Something comparable in southern Africa?], ANGOLA ANALOG. I’m going to go with Mozambique as an Angola analog. It’s a coastal nation in southern Africa that used to have Portuguese overlords.
- 38a. [With 40-Across, royal emblems in North Africa?], ALGERIA REGALIA.
- 47a. [TV show in the Mideast?], ISRAEL SERIAL.
- 57a. [Part of an air force in south-central Asia?], NEPAL PLANE. I knew a guy in college of Nepali descent whose dad was an airline pilot. I don’t know any royal Algerians, although one of my favorite Mexican restaurants is owned by an Algerian. (Also? Today I passed a restaurant serving Ethiopian and Chinese food. Here’s the menu.)
I liked this puzzle. The theme works for me and, as I said, I like the geographic assortment Mr. Raymon chose. The fill and the clues struck the right chord overall—no woeful fill, PILGRIMAGE, the SAY I DO/ALTARS combo, the MOUSSE/GEL combo, ARAFAT crossing the ISRAEL theme answer to mix it up, EVIL clued with 17a: ["Don't be ___" (Google's motto)]. Four stars from me for this eminently reasonable Tuesday puzzle.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Let Freestyle Reign”
It’s time for a themeless Jonesin’ again! And as usual, Matt entirely disregards all the standard grid designs that pop up again and again, and separates each pair of 15s by an intervening row. Who does that? Pretty much nobody, right?
- 30a. [Way off], NOT EVEN CLOSE. Colloquial.
- 38a. [It turns green in mid-March], CHICAGO RIVER. The funny thing is that it’s already green. It just becomes more of a radioactive green with the dye.
- 47a. [Scorsese, Soderbergh or Shyamalan], BIG-NAME DIRECTOR. Would you believe this phrase Googles up okay? I bet the entry is in very few database-driven constructors’ word lists. (Same with the other 15s and NOT EVEN CLOSE.)
- 52a. [Forbidden], AGAINST THE RULES. Smooth.
- 61a. [They end "time" and "date"], SILENT E’S. The plural is slightly bogus but I’ll let it slide.
- 11d. [Crimethink offender flushed down the memory hole], UNPERSON. No idea what this is a reference to. 1984? Doctor Who? A sci-fi classic? But no matter. I like it anyway.
- 21d. [They may have innings past midnight], LATE GAMES. In the language. Probably not included in too many word lists, either.
- 23d. [Irritation for a web surfer], HOVER AD. I didn’t know that was a term, so I learned something. Hover ads are ads that float over the surface of a webpage and hide what’s behind them. Annoying, right?
- 39d. [Mos Eisley saloon], CANTINA. Included in my top 10 because I was a sucker for the music in the cantina scene in Star Wars.
- 54d. [Rolls out a prank?], TPS. I had TP and eggs on my grocery list last week, and not much else. Looked like I was hellbent for mayhem.
While a THE repetition is better than a duplicated ONE’S, REVEALS THE SECRET crossing THE MOLE and parallel to AGAINST THE RULES seemed to exceed THE limit. Also in the demerit (…DEMEROL…EMERITI…demeriti!) list are partials (A HOME, NO TWO), crosswordese (ALATE, AGA, ODA), and abbrevs (SYR, NYS, SSA).
Cute to cross HONEY with BEE.
Not familiar with the one-L HIL, former [Sec. of State nickname]. I would spell it Hill, personally.
3.5 stars for this 66-worder.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Dream Destinations” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Five “destinations” that one can only get to in his/her dreams, as they only existed in myth:
- [Mythical island of misfortune chronicled by Plato] is ATLANTIS. Nothing mythical about this place.
- [Mythical realm of fantasy created by C.S. Lewis] clues NARNIA. Without this “mythical place,” there’d be no ASLAN, much to the dismay of crossword constructors.
- [Mythical spring of restoration sought by Ponce de León] is a nice grid-spanning 15 letter entry, FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH. My ear wants a “the” at the beginning of this, how about yours?
- [Mythical setting of perfection described by Sir Thomas More] is UTOPIA. The world depicted in George Orwell‘s 1984, which seems to be much more real than mythic these days, is just the opposite, a dystopia.
- [Mythical city of riches searched for by Sir Walter Raleigh] was EL DORADO. Not to be confused with the Eagle’s Desperado.
Interesting theme placement–you don’t often see six letter theme entries, but luckily for me, they were all clued beginning with “Mythical,” so they were easy to discern. I liked that each clue referenced the one who dreamt up the destination as well. Nice consistency there. My FAVEs were the zed-leading triple play of ZUBIN, ZONKS and ZOOT. Huzzah! My UNFAVE was the entry MOONSTRUCK, not that it’s not a great entry in itself, but I was a bit bothered by the duplication in its clue [Dreamily romantic] with the puzzle’s theme, when it wasn’t a theme entry itself.
Patrick Blindauer’s July website puzzle, “Go Nuts” — Matt’s review
“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” is the 1963 comedy forming the basis of the July Blindauer theme. The unchecked rebus square MAD appears four times in the grid, creating a Gorskian image of a planet (“world”) if you’re kind enough to arc those connectors as in the solution grid at right. Those themers are:
7-d [Great Dane of note] = MARMADUKE. Because Tycho Brahe wouldn’t fit.
23-d [Tony’s cousin] = DRAMA DESK. I know Tony and Obie but not this one. But I’m theater-illiterate so there’s that.
28-d [Words to a latecomer] = YOU MADE IT!
Then we had bookends at 17-a and 65-a, clued as [First part of the 1963 comedy which is the basis for this puzzle’s theme] yielding IT’S A and WORLD. Asymmetric grid to accommodate those two symmetrically. Isn’t that ironic? It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid.
The fill is pretty sweet: LIP GLOSS, ISAAC STERN (I wanted it be Isaac Hayes), POOR TASTE, MONKEES, BASSOON, PARROTHEAD (awesome), SEAPORT and CAST AWAY stood out. To illustrate how little dreck is in here, let me pick out the three worst entries: ESSO, EKE, and DDS. If those are your cellar-dwellers in a 15×15 then you’re doing well.
Nice theme idea and excellent fill. Always interesting to solve a Blindauer, isn’t it? See you back here in early August.
Amy Johnson’s Los Angeles Times crossword
The theme answers change an -IGHT word into an -ITE word, changing the meaning:
- 20a. [Bad web designer's product?], NOT A PRETTY SITE. There are so, so many of these sites out there.
- 37a. [Start the service ceremonially?], LEAD WITH A RITE. I don’t think “lead with a right” is actually a familiar phrase. I Googled it in quotes and I got soccer (“a first half lead with a right footed shot”) and cardiology (“coronary sinus defibrillation lead with a right pectoral ICD and high DFT”) and a 1961 newspaper caption. The second page of hits got a boxing reference, but it was “lead with a right hook,” which sounds more like a thing to me.
- 56a. [Dieter's hope when entering the brewpub?], LET THERE BE LITE.
There are some interesting 8s in the fill (LOVE LIFE, SKITTISH, four others), but overall the fill palled. For a puzzle with a modest 41 theme squares, I’m surprised to see so much in this vein: ENATE, LATH, EATERS, OVI, OST, SOMA, ETUI, TSO, DDE.
Explain this one for me: 61a. [Like some support], SOLE. Is this about shoe insoles? Is it about support from a single person/source? I don’t get it.