Erik Wennstrom’s New York Times crossword
Hey! Look at that: another NYT puzzle that I like. Six theme answers, with the two vertical ones each intersecting two Across themers, and lots of sparkle.
- 23d. [Drink garnish ... or a hint to five letters in the answer to each starred clue], TWIST OF LEMON. “Twist” or anagram LEMON and those five letters are found in the next five entries.
- 20a. [*What paper profits aren't], REAL MONEY. Real money is also what you might get soon enough with a billion here and a billion there.
- 31a. [*Photo gear with variable focal lengths], ZOOM LENSES.
- 42a. [*Titularly], IN NAME ONLY.
- 53a. [*Sarcastic remark upon hearing bad news], KILL ME NOW. Awesome.
- 4d. [*Precious, brief time with a loved one], STOLEN MOMENT.
Overall, the grid might be a little name-dense (meaning I enjoyed it but the folks who hate “you know it or you don’t” bits may have had less fun).
Five more things:
- 15a. [Capital on the Vltava River], PRAGUE. Been there, crossed the Charles Bridge. Now, I wouldn’t complain about all those European river names in our crosswords if we could upgrade to the 6-letter ones.
- 29a. [Taste whose name means "savoriness" in Japanese], UMAMI. Think meat, think MSG. I could do without umami.
- 59a. [One passing out cigars, maybe], NEW DAD. Fresh answer.
- 65a. [Prefix in some French surnames], DES. I saw a guy in a DES MOINES: HELL YES t-shirt tonight. Francophones: Would you consider “prefix” to be on target here?
- 7d. [With 2-Down, book that includes the line "Conventionality is not morality"], JANE EYRE. Neat clue.
Michael Dewey’s Los Angeles Times crossword
I’m not really following the theme-revealing clue in today’s puzzle by Michael Dewey. It reads [Container that holds two generous glasses of wine (as well as a double dose of this puzzle's theme?)]. I think what it’s trying to get at is that the second half of CARAFE in HALFCARAFE is an AAH-F sound, which the other three long across answers end in. The fun part of this theme is that that same AAH-F sound can be spelt four different ways, involving different vowels and consonants each time. Take a look:
- 17a, [Hearty har-har], BELLYLAUGH. Beautiful clue evoking the sarcastic “har-de-har-har”
- 26a, [National Geographic's first natural one appeared in 1914], COLORPHOTOGRAPH. Another interesting clue, this time an extra-effort trivia clue.
- 47a, [Group on "The West Wing"], WHITEHOUSESTAFF
- 62a, [Container that holds two generous glasses of wine (as well as a double dose of this puzzle's theme?)], HALFCARAFE
You’d have thought [Hearty har-har] would be run-away winner for clue of the puzzle, but the clue for BALDSPOT is as awesomely punny: [Where there's no hair apparent]. It’s symmetrical partner, DREAMCAR is a fresh-feeling entry. We also have colourful longer vocabulary action with LASCIVIOUS, POMPOUS and WALLOP.
I found myself scowling at answers more than I’d like to today. I’m not sold on SIGHAT, but maybe this is American English that I just haven’t come across. I’m also on the fence re ERISA; I expect to have come across it before, because of the friendly letters, if it was a good entry, but maybe that’s just an oversight of other puzzles? Like how one never sees the nearly the same enzyme-linked immunosorbancy assay (ELISA) ;). The definite weak spot was LEOI/ELUL/SYST: I think it looks worse because of how the answers are stacked on each other! There were other odd bits of crossword cruft scattered around the puzzle though.
So with the above in mind, I’d like to rate the puzzle a “3.3″.
Postscript: “Roy” has pointed out what I missed in today’s theme. The final answer consists of two “AAH-F” sounds, the first one being the initial “HALF”. Thank you, Roy!
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Spell of Weather” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Not sure I’ve seen a cryptic-inspired puzzle since I’ve been reviewing the daily CrosSynergy puzzles, but we have one today. Three phrases taken cryptically spell out a (rather simple) weather forecast.
- [Isolated place] clues MIDDLE OF NOWHERE – “nowhere” is 7 letters, so the middle letter is number 4 or H
- [Close race] is a PHOTO FINISH – the “finishing” letter of “photo” is the letter O.
- [Earliest historical point] is BEGINNING OF TIME – the first letter of “time” is T.
So put those three letters together, and your weather forecast for today is HOT, but you knew that already, didn’t you? (Today’s forecast for my area is a high of 80, which is somewhere between HOT and WARM, I would say.) That middle 11-letter phrase forces some rather large black square patches on either side to anchor it, which are a bit hard on the eyes and lead to a rather isolated middle section that only had a couple of entries from the top and bottom. My FAVE this morning was [Milky Way alternative] which surprisingly wasn’t Andromeda, but instead the gooey MARS BAR. I had trouble with the last letter of [Family nickname] for MAMMA, since I had -ENE for the [Hydrocarbon suffix] instead of -ANE. When I didn’t get the notice that I had correctly solved the puzzle, I changed it that E to a Y and I at first; I guess I should’ve had the B’way show Mamma Mia more in mind instead of the much older I Remember Mama.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Double Tracks”
Pop music loves a good cover song, but I suspect the song pairs in this theme are all entirely different songs with the same title.
- 1a. [Single for Prince in 1991 and Wu-Tang Clan in 1994], CREAM.
- 17a. [Single for the Rolling Stones in 1971 and D'Angelo in 1995], BROWN SUGAR.
- 26a. [Single for Kanye West in 2007 and Kelly Clarkson in 2011], STRONGER.
- 34a. [Single for Julie London in 1955 and Justin Timberlake in 2002], CRY ME A RIVER.
- 48a. [Single for Black Sabbath in 1970 and Kanye West in 2009], PARANOID.
- 55a. [Single for Badfinger in 1970 and Van Halen in 1998], WITHOUT YOU
- 65a. [Single for Frank Sinatra in 1969 and Usher in 1998], MY WAY.
- 24d. [Single for Metallica in 1989 and U2 in 1992], ONE.
- 41d. [Song performed by U2 at Live Aid in 1985, and a single for Michael Jackson in 1987], BAD. Was the U2 song ever a U2 recording? Just an album cut that wasn’t released as a single?
I know very few of these songs (3.5 of 18?), but I can’t say it really got in the way of solving the puzzle.
I keep seeing lemonAde when I look at LE MONDE, 21a. [Daily reading on the Metro]. Could someone bring me a glass, please?
Eight more things:
- 31a. [___ Cobb Freed & Partners (architectural firm)], PEI. Pretty sure I’ve never seen that clue for I.M. PEI before.
- 40a. [Shrimp, at sushi restaurants], EBI. Pretty sure I’ve never seen that word before. Sushi + shellfish ≠ my food.
- 50a. [She had a tryst with Tristan], ISOLDE. When I was 12, I was dead set on someday naming a baby Tristan. Should I have done it when I had the chance?
- 6d. [Up to eleven, say?], LOUD. When the volume dial goes past ten.
- 7d. [Whence J.L. Borges], ARG. (entina)
- 8d. [Lots of houses], REALTY. As in lots with houses built on them.
- 10d. [Like many characters in "Romeo and Juliet"], VERONESE.
- 57d. ["Goddamned corner of this goddamned table ..."], YOW. We would also have accepted ["Goddamned corner of this goddamned bed footboard ..."] and ACH OW OW OW SH….