Jason Flinn’s New York Times crossword
Nice find—Two of 42a: [Author Philip K. __] DICK‘s sci-fi stories adapted into movies have 30-letter titles that split perfectly into 15/15.
- 17a, 20a. [With 20-Across, story by 42-Across on which the movie "Blade Runner" is based], DO ANDROIDS DREAM / OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? (You can see why the title was changed for the movie.)
- 54a, 59a. [With 59-Across, story by 42-Across on which the movie "Total Recall" is based], WE CAN REMEMBER IT / FOR YOU WHOLESALE. (Ditto.)
Unusual structure for a theme, the stacked pairs of 15s supplemented by that little 4 near the middle.
Do note the middle section’s Across answers: BUMP SAMPLED DICK. If you are concerned about a lesion, gentlemen, see your doctor about sending a sample of it to the lab for diagnosis.
The down side of stacked 15s, of course, is the risk of unsavory Downs and neighboring fill. I was not pleased by the reemergence of 3d. [Christine ___, heroine of "The Phantom of the Opera"], DAAE—a name I know only from crosswords, and fortunately from rather few of them. Partial A VOTE and I’M NO, the RUHR, roll-your-own REPEN (64a. [Put back in the fold]), DSCS (19d. [Mil. awards]), IVAN I (15a. [First in a line of Russian grand princes])? Eh.
On the plus side, I liked COMMIE, PIG OUT, Lily TOMLIN (though the clue, ["One ringy-dingy" comic], didn’t give me the answer), and the rare crossword 6-letter river, the DANUBE.
Bird facts: The PEWEE (51d. [Bird that's as small as it sounds]), also spelled peewee, is named after the sound it makes (you can listen here) and not its size. It is an entirely different creature from the PEWIT (also spelled peewit or Northern lapwing), which was in another puzzle recently.
3.5 stars overall. Fresh and unexpected theme, slightly uneven fill.
Updated early Wednesday afternoon CAT, although it’s morning Stateside:
Gerry Wildenberg’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I’ve contemplated a “piece of hair” theme before, but gave it up because I couldn’t get it to go anywhere! Congratulations to Mr. Wildenberg on seeing it through. The first clever thing I didn’t think of was the revealer: SPLITHAIRS, which is a solid idiomatic phrase to build a puzzle around! I also didn’t come up with STRAND! Other options not seen here include HANK and RINGLET. Anyway, the theme answers are all solid, unimpeachable choices. We have:
- 17a, [1949 Olivia de Havilland film], THEHEIRESS
- 25a, [Home of the Clinton Presidential Library], LITTLEROCK
- 36a, [Bead in a necklace], CULTUREDPEARL
- 49a, [Sam's Choice, e.g.], STOREBRAND
- 59a, [Nitpick, and what this puzzle's circled letters represent], SPLITHAIRS
This puzzle has a near-themeless grid design of 34/74. Some of the shorter fill is a tad on the rough side, but it’s mostly a solidly-filled puzzle. The most unusual corner of the grid is the top-left; does TITHE / ETHEL / THEHEIRESS / RASHES / THESES / HEHHEH count as a mini HE theme? It made that area more fun to solve in any case!
Let’s switch to bullets and look at some individual answers:
- 10a, [Credit card bill nos.], APRS. I have no idea what this is getting at. Looking through a list of possible APRs, I’m going to with “annual percentage rate.” Am I right?
- 19a, [Kathryn of HBO's "Oz"], ERBE crossing 10d, ["Wheel of Fortune" buy], ANE. You rarely see an unfair cross in the LA Times, but I’m willing to bet this one’s going to cause a LOT of problems. The down clue can be any of the five vowels, and if you don’t know Ms. Erbe yet – Arbe, Orbe and maybe even Urbe are going to look plausible! A more specific clue for ANE would’ve gone a long way to avoiding this.
- 33a, [Pope of 903], LEOV. Did he do anything of note?
- 35a, [Van Cleef & __: French jeweler/perfumer], ARPELS. Don’t know them myself, but they seem legitimately famous. I’m not up on my jewellers I’m afraid….
- 53a, [Blackguard], CAD. The “ck” of “blackguard” is silent FWIW. It’s a fun word to say and use!
- 57a, [Course for Crusoe?: Abbr.], ANAG. Curses, foiled again! Like Amy, I never seem to see these ANAG clues coming! Well-played!
- 62a, [Actor Jared], LETO. I’m told he isn’t ugly. See right.
- 12d, [Autodialed electioneering tactic], ROBOCALL. Great, modern answer!
Ably executed theme with some interesting fill? 3.5 Stars
Randall Hartman’s CrosSynergy puzzle, “Second Grade” — Matt’s review
Straightforward theme from today’s CS: the second word of each theme entry can precede the word HILL to form a phrase:
17-a [California racetrack] = SANTA ANITA
27-a [Conviction of the devout] = ABIDING FAITH
42-a [Lovable bigot of ’70s TV] = ARCHIE BUNKER
55-a [Wheel clamp] = DENVER BOOT
Forming Anita Hill, Faith Hill, Bunker Hill and Boot Hill; nothing earth-shattering, but it works. I wasn’t too familiar with BOOT HILL but now that I’ve read the Wiki page I’m glad to know it.
The grid has a little ARA-OONA-ESE-SRI-ARNEL (in particular that NW section should certainly have been reworked), but not too much. On the good side we’ve got TOM CRUISE, AS I RECALL, CLOSE IN ON, ISUZU, AGASSI, PREZ and MALAGA.
Top cluage: [Place to find a date?] for OASIS and [Cover story?] for ALIBI (I had the incorrect ALIAS at first).
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well / Chicago Reader crossword, “Raised a Few Degrees”
This puzzle isn’t about thermostats, it’s about academic degrees. Three degrees are extracted from one phrase and added to the answer above in this 15×16 grid:
- 17a. [Job postings that list spoiling kids as a desired skill?], GRANDMA OPENINGS.
- 21a. [Piece of erotic fiction?], HOT TALE. Yesterday I ordered a singular tamal (Spanish plural is tamales, English “hot tamale” ignores Spanish convention) at a Mexican restaurant; pineapple/pecan filling, yum!
- 40a. [Rich, non-vegan novelty flavor of a popular hipster beer?], BUTTER PABST. It’s like Harry Potter’s butterbeer, only more hipsterish.
- 45a. [Vehicle for a "Sesame Street" vampire?], COUNTING CAR.
- 61a. [Bubblicious marketed as a post-nursing treat?], BABY GUM. Extra soft for the toothless.
- 66a. [Introduce a criminal boyfriend to one's family?], BRING HOME THE CON.
The original phrases, of course, are grand openings, hot tamale, butter pat, counting carbs, “by gum,” and bring home the bacon. The results of moving the degrees around provide an adequate amount of surprise and humor. Theme works for me.
Six more things:
- 4d. [Elton John single before "Crocodile Rock"], HONKY CAT. Say wha…? I do not know of this song. Makes for a great crossword answer, though.
- 14a. [French Persian's utterance?], MIAOU. Persian cat, not Iranian person in France.
- 55a. ["Don't shit where you eat," e.g.], ADAGE. Much more interesting clue than [Old saw] or ["A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," e.g.].
- 76a. [Ronald, Ernie, O'Kelly, Rudolph, Vernon, or Marvin of soul music], ISLEY. Didn’t know any of these first names, but sure, the Isley Brothers are famous.
- 8d. [One in 10th: Abbr.], SOPH. Sophomore in tenth grade. Clue looked mystifyingly mathematical, no?
- 13d. [Like Jesus or baked dough], RISEN. If you don’t know one, you might get the answer from the other part of the clue. Isn’t that helpful?