Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword
From a bird-watching standpoint, I’d say that the V formation in this puzzle is rather non-anserine in its wide angle. Geese prefer a more acute angle. The explicit theme answers in this puzzle with left/right symmetry number only two:
- 18a. [With 50-Across, it's represented by 15 squares in an appropriate arrangement in this puzzle], GEESE.
- 50a. [MIGRATION. I might call it "goose migration" rather than "geese migration," and MIGRATING GEESE would have been smoother.
The thematic material also includes the 29 answers with a V (or two, as in REVIVAL) in them. Quickly seeing the emerging V pattern definitely helped me solve the puzzle, although I confess I tried to put a V where SCANT's N is, continuing the V line from the northwest corner. Got it straightened out (or bent, actually) without much trouble.
- 3d. [Make-out session spot], LOVERS’ LANE.
- 11d. [Medical directive], LIVING WILL. At the very least, you ought to talk with your loved ones about your wishes so they’d know what to do in the event you need someone else making your medical decisions for you.
- 35d. [Experienced through another], VICARIOUS. Like a vicar.
- 66a. [Words of encouragement], NICE JOB.
Did not know: 28a. [Hebrew month when Hanukkah starts], KISLEV.
Self-centeredness: I WON’T, I HOPE, MOI. The ALPO clue tries to get into the game: 45a. [Iams competitor]. IVANA point out that I WON’T and I HOPE duplicate a word.
C.C. Burnikel & D. Scott Nichols’ Los Angeles Times crossword
How do we spell \soo\? Let me count the ways:
- 17a. [Most populous city in South Dakota], SIOUX FALLS. The only burg in S.D. with more than 100,000 people.
- 19a. [Second-in-command in the kitchen], SOUS-CHEF.
- 36a. [Michigan or Ontario city on the same border river], SAULT STE. MARIE.
- 57a. [Canal passage connecting Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes], SOO LOCKS. This is sort of a dupe as it can also be spelled Sault Locks.
- 59a. ["W is for Wasted" mystery author], SUE GRAFTON.
I like the 9-letter Down answers that intersect two theme answers apiece. CALAMARI: I would never eat it but it’s a lovely word. When I was a kid, there was a local indie kids’ clothing store called Calamari’s. Weird, right? Back then, we had no idea that a squid appetizer even existed. ALLSTATE: That’s the insurance company with the golden tones of spokesperson Dennis Haysbert, right? SAO PAULO: We rarely see both words together in a puzzle. ALTER EGO: I want to tell you about my alter id. “I’M COOL” and SNOOZE are also zippy.
I ran into a few words that I associate strongly with crosswords (vs. the rest of the words I encounter in my life): LALO Schifrin, ARETE, ARTY not meaning “artistic” but an insulting [Superficially cultured], URALS, IS IT I, OPE, and CREEL. Your mileage may vary, and you may well hike on ARETEs in the URALS, fish with CREELs, and insult people by calling them ARTY, but I do not. Such are my limitations. I encounter these words in the puzzle and make a frowny face.
I like the surprise aspect of all the nutty spellings in the theme. Did you notice that there’s a lot of French influence in our \soo\s? The SAULT/SOO twins are French, SOUS is French, and SIOUX has a French plural X in it. The verb sue came to English by way of Anglo-Norman French, so if we’d had SUETHEPANTSOFFOF instead of SUEGRAFTON, there would have been a solid French invasion. 3.33 stars.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Magazine Inserts”
Short magazine titles (in circled letters) are inserted into familiar phrases, creating new phrases that are clued accordingly:
- 20a. [Cleans up after a dance, as a janitor might?], DRY-MOPS THE BALL. Aww, I wanted DRY-MOPS THE MIKE. Or MIC. (Since “drops the mic” is much hipper than “drops the ball.”) Which wouldn’t make sense as something to mop, but then the janitor’s mopping the gym floor and not the ball/dance. YM used to be Young Miss, I believe.
- 32a. [How to get a wanderer to suddenly appear?], JUST SAY NOMAD. I heard that you have to say the word three times, like “Beetlejuice.”
- 40a. [Hollow gas pumps?], FAKE FUELLERS. The American spelling would be fuelers.
- 51a. [Apple drink of the 21st century?], HARD WIRED CIDER.
Let us ponder a few other things:
- 6a. ["The Voice" judge Levine], ADAM, of Maroon 5. Technically, the show calls its celebs “coaches” rather than judges. Do they also judge/vote? I have no idea.
- 10a. [Machiavellian Karl] ROVE. First I asked myself how Karl MARX could be considered Machiavellian.
- 26a. [Current that flows between two objects: abbr. (hidden in YES, DEAR)], ESD. Apparently this is short for electrostatic discharge.
- 6d. [He gave Jackie her O], ARISTOTLE Onassis. I’m a tad surprised the clue doesn’t call it “her big O.”
- 10d. [Mars and Mercury], ROMAN GODS. The only sort of mythological beings with a hidden MANGO?
- 32d. [Real-life catalog in many Seinfeld episodes], J. PETERMAN. I loved the Mr. Peterman character played by John O’Hurley.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy crossword, “Oy!” – Dave Sullivan’s review
It’s pretty rare that I can guess a puzzle’s theme from just the title, but seeing today’s “Oy!” I did have a good idea that the letters OY would be inserted into base phrases:
- A [Top-ranking crook?] was a DOYEN OF THIEVES – I’m more familiar with the feminine version of this word doyenne, but I suppose it can apply to men as well.
- [Rounds up some drifting channel markers?] clued CATCHES THE BUOYS – is a channel most often where the buoys are?
- [Trample some valuable artwork?] was STEP ON THE GOYAS – I always think of La maja desnuda when I think of Goya, because of the frequency MAJA shows up in crosswords. Rather sad that my cultural knowledge is limited to words that have alternating vowels and consonants, rendering them friendly to constructors.
Solid theme and examples, but I felt a bit cheated with only 3 theme entries today. That led me on a search for a fourth, so, if you’d like to play along, let me know if you can guess this one: [Greet a sailor?] (7 letters). No CRUD in this one, I enjoyed HUMPH, LOOFA, AGE GAP, and my very FAVE, LAME EXCUSE. Since we head to Scotland next week, SCOTTISH was a fun find as well. I had some trouble in the lower center with [Appear to be legit] with SEEM TO BE before SEEM TRUE, but the rest fell smoothly.
What can I say? This is my kinda puzzle. Theme and execution? Top-notch in my book. And what have we here? The circles tip us off to something embedded—but same word or different words? A word that anagrams or one that doesn’t? The title tips us off to the fact that we could “simply” be in for reconfiguring the letters in those circles—whether or not they form discrete meaningful words as delivered. And sure enough, that’s how it plays out. Liz ‘splains it all with the beautiful grid-spanning revealer at 36A. CONTROLLED CHAOS [Pandemonium that's kept in check (it's the puzzle's theme revealed in the circled letters]. Gorgeous. Even more gorgeous—the theme-fill that makes the point. Here the letters of the word CHAOS are tossed in the air—and when they land, they span four sparkling two-word phrases:
- 17A. SQUASH COURT
- 23A. NACHO SALAD
- 49A. BACH SONATA
- 57A. MOCHA SHAKES
An altogether exemplary theme set, no? Ya get yer spicy, appetizing entree, yer creamy-smooth beverage, ya get to work up a sweat and work it off athletically, and then ya get to go home to listen to some inspiring music. Sweet. Alternatively, you could get your workout first and then treat yourself to the meal and music after. Win-win either way!
- 11A. “ABRA-CADABRA!” [Incantation that works like magic]. First of October. And because I often associate magic and incantations with witchcraft, this reminds me that Halloween ain’t that far away.
- 25D. CRANBERRIES [Fruity Thanksgiving sauce base]. Yep. Autumn’s definitely in the air today.
- 5D. “SO SOON?” ["Already?"]. Yup. Time flies when yer havin’ fun… And if that doesn’t fly with you,
- 46D. “BOO-HOO” [Sarcastic sob]. Good incentive to carpe the diem. Just hope no one
- 18D. HAS A COW [Freaks out on the dairy farm?]. But if so, let’s also not forget that “music has charms to soothe the savage breast” and take comfort in a
- 53A. HARP SOLO ["Heavenly" moment in a symphonic piece]. Try this one on for
sighssize. Aaaaah. And for more fun, there’s
- 35A. [Starting lineup] having nothing to do with sports, but instead, the alphabet, so that’s ABCD and
- 26D. [Military skipper?] having nothing to do with the ship’s captain, but to the personnel who’s skipped out and gone AWOL.
Was this an easy solve? I don’t know about you (and I like this about today’s puzzle!), but I found it to be a bit more challenging than usual. One reason is that while I quickly entered BRATS for those [Sassy kids] at 1A, I also erased it since I was having trouble with the crosses for it. Which is my excuse for entering MOE instead of APU for that [Character on "The Simpsons"]. D’oh… And couldn’t think of SQUASH COURTS to save my life, so that NW corner was slow in falling. Talk about “D’oh,” entered NAH instead of NAW in response to [Slangy refusal]—which kept me from seeing AWOL for quite some time. Am RED [Visibly shamefaced] to say, that I couldn’t figure out what that AHOL was or what in the world Liz meant by it. But all’s well that ends well and once I had my “aha” moments (theme-wise and elsewhere), it was pretty smooth—and quite rewarding—sailing.
How did you do? And did you like this one as much as I did? Inquiring minds want to know!
Have a great week, all!