Sam Donaldson’s New York Times crossword
Neat theme—Sam adds HIS or HERS to change familiar phrases and ties it all together with a 15:
- 17a. [Blow away singer Johnny?], FLOOR MATHIS.
- 23a. [Boars?], BACON FATHERS.
- 35a. [Call it quits ... with a hint to 17-, 23-, 48- and 56-Across]. THROW IN THE TOWEL. Does anyone actually have towels embroidered with HIS and HERS? I feel that I’ve never seen them in person.
- 48a. [Sala?], HISPANIC ROOM. Love the riff on “panic room.” (Sala is Spanish for “room.”)
- 56a. [Toddler raised on chocolate?], HERSHEY BABY. “Hey, baby!” It is, of course, child abuse to raise a toddler on Hershey’s. For Pete’s sake, get some higher-quality chocolate and not that waxy junk.
Top fill: MOO SHU, “I CHOKED,” “BE GOOD,” HORSE SENSE, “OH, MY,” PHREAK (old-school [Telephone system hacker]), and YOU ARE HERE.
Worst crossing: 38d. [Spiders' nests], NIDI, meets 41a. [First Chinese dynasty], HSIA. I know that NIDI are nests only from crosswords.
I would grouse about the plural first name LEONAS (62a. [Hotelier Helmsley and others]) except that I just passed a Leona’s restaurant location yesterday.
Raise your hand if you remembered seeing 4d. [Volcano on Kyushu] in other crosswords before but misremembered the volcano’s name. *hand raised* I tried ABO before ASO peeked through the clouds.
Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s Review
Cute theme by Ms. Klawitter today. Three answers begin with things presumably served at ICECREAMPARLORs (I’m really not too familiar with the establishments)… SPLITDECISIONS (banana splits), SHAKETHINGSUP (milkshakes) and CONEOFSILENCE (ice-cream cones). I hadn’t heard of the last answer, mysteriously clued as [Sitcom security device that often defeated its own purpose]. Apparently this is from the TV show “Get Smart”, I think I may have watched an episode once.
The rest of the puzzle was a tad uneven. There are only four theme answers, but 14/13/13/14 makes it a challenge to create a fillable grid. There were several nice answers, but also a few stinkers. All the answers of six or more letters that aren’t theme answers go down, so it’s no surprise that my highlights real is all downs! LASTLAP and DONEDEAL fall under colourful idiomatic phrases, while FORAGE, BLUISH and SENSEI fall under interesting vocabulary. On the other hand, we have the maximum (2) partials: UPONA and RIODE, plural IANS and the old-school crossword answer ORLE.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Repossession”
The theme takes a phrase with a possessive apostrophe-S in it and adds another S. Not technically adding another layer of possession, as the new S attaches to the possessed thing rather than to the possessor, if that makes sense.
- 17a. [Princes and princesses?], QUEEN’S SPAWN. From chess to royal families.
- 30a. [Water vapor from right here in the US of A, dammit?], AMERICA’S STEAM. From sports to jingoistic science. Love the clue.
- 45a. [Long rant about how the captain was mean, the shanties sucked, and everyone got scurvy?], SAILOR’S SCREED. See also: Moby-Dick.
- 58a. [Specialty side dish for Norbit?], MURPHY’S SLAW. Norbit! I never think about that Eddie Murphy movie. Anyone see it? Anyone?
Top five clues:
- 22a. [Purplish green, sometimes], KALE. Green is a noun meaning “salady veggie” rather than the color here.
- 24a. [Go into private practice?], ENLIST. “Practice” as a private in the army.
- 49a. [They're milked for all they're worth], UDDERS. Literally.
- 5d. [Half of the duo on the album "You Eediot!"], REN. Ren and Stimpy had an album? I assume it has the “Happy Happy, Joy Joy” song.
- 32d. [Inedible-pizza magnate Herman and his family], CAINS.
Did not know: 53d. [Early hip-hop group with "Strictly Business"], EPMD.
My FAVE (28d) fill includes LOVEFEST, Tim “the TOOL MAN” Taylor, HAWKISH, and SMIDGENS.
Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy crossword “Parting Company” – Gareth’s Review
I had already seen a post from a Facebook friend saying how unusually easy it was for a Klahn. It was certainly easier than yesterday’s brutally challenging puzzle, but still up a notch from a regular CrosSynergy. The puzzle’s theme had me confused mid-solve. The three theme answers all sounded somewhat similar in meaning:
- [Ideally], INAPERECTWORLD
- ["Good enough"], THATWORKSFORME
- ["It'll be OK"], YOUNEEDNTWORRY
- And, somewhat less so, [Joe DiMaggio's "I'll finally get to see Marilyn," e.g.], FAMOUSLASTWORDS
Unusually, this CS has not only a title, but also a revealer: TWO, as in TWO’s company. Each answer splits TWO across two words. There is a school of thought that such phrases should then only have two words, but the fact that these are 4, 4, 3 and 3 word phrases just meant extra pizzazz to me. It’s nothing special as a theme concept, but it facilitated fun answers, which is probably more important in this context!
As usual for a Bob Klahn, we have spectacular clues; he’s the best clue-writer in the business in my book, although he has a few rivals! We have a quirky pun in [Poplar spot to ski?] for ASPEN; [Stick that breaks?] CUE, as in used to break the rack at the start of a game of snooker or pool; [One with a stable career?] for GROOM; [Chicken dinner] for FEED; [Front lines?] for ISOBARS; [Zombie's punch] for RUM – as in the zombie drink. I’d be delighted to find even two clues of that standard in a typical puzzle, and that’s six. Plus there were plenty more good’uns I didn’t list!
So yes, a simple theme, but interesting theme answers and lots of beautiful clues: 4.2 Stars