If you’re not an American Values Club crossword subscriber but are intrigued by the idea of doing a crossword constructed by comedian Patton Oswalt and Caleb Madison, you’re in luck! You can buy this week’s AV Club xword for only $1, here. Catch the wave!
Patton Oswalt and Caleb Madison’s AV Club crossword, “Hello Donut My Old Friend”
This puzzle marks Patton Oswalt’s crosswording debut. I believe his name has appeared in the blog before, and I’m pretty sure I’ve linked to the YouTube of his classic “failure pile in a sadness bowl” KFC bit (language NSFW). The theme is derived from a hashtag Patton promulgated on Twitter, inciting people to make food-related puns on Simon & Garfunkel songs:
- 21a. [Simon and Scarf-funkel song about Louisiana cuisine? (credit to Chris Weitz)], I INGEST A PO’ BOY. (“I Am Just a Poor Boy.”)
- 28a, 39a. [With 39-Across, Simon and Scarf-funkel ode in praise of dining with a Rubenesque cougar? (credit to Ricky Gervais)], HERE’S TO FOOD, / MRS. BLOBINSON. (“Here’s to You, Mrs. Robinson”).
- 52a. [Simon and Scarf-funkel song about a Thanksgiving table jones? (credit to Alan Sytsma)], FEELIN’ GRAVY. (“Feelin’ Groovy.” What does gravy feel like? Don’t answer that.)
- 60a. [Peruvian song about fettucine covered by Simon and Scarf-funkel? (credit to Patton Oswalt)], EL CONDOR PASTA. (“El Condor Pasa.”) Does this have meatballs made of vulture meat?
Aptly, this grid is plus-sized—it’s 16 squares wide instead of the customary 15. The stretch makes room for some surprisingly long, super-crispy non-theme answers:
- 18a. [Double platinum album with "Firework" and "California Gurls"], TEENAGE DREAM.
- 67a. [Stop-motion Adult Swim comedy created by Seth Green], ROBOT CHICKEN.
- 12d. [First US governor of Indian ancestry], BOBBY JINDAL.
- 25d. [Potentially smelly percussive gatherings]. DRUM CIRCLES.
Usually we don’t see non-theme Across entries that are longer than the theme answers, but 18a and 67a are both a letter longer than 52a. Mildly confusing as I worked the puzzle, but the theme answers had obviously thematic clues and the random answers did not. Nice to see these four in the puzzle, at any rate.
Other groovy gravy:
- 16a. [Vacation isle that sounds like an old-timey car horn], ARUBA. Aggressively goofy. I approve.
- 76a. [Pseudonym for street photographer Arthur Fellig], WEEGEE. You can delve into his work here.
- 5d. [Trendy Aztec supplement], ACAI. A bar was unable to serve me the Marga-Rio cocktail I ordered because they were out of the açai berry booze that goes in it. The waitress pronounced it “uh-KAY” instead of “uh-sigh.” Sigh.
- 19d. [Company whose product was first dubbed "Froffles"], EGGO. Whoa! I did not know that. Now we’re wondering at my house: Why “Eggo”? That name doesn’t make a lick of sense.
- 44d. [Sleeping with the enemy?], HATE SEX.
- 64d. [An old one might be bald], TIRE.
There are plenty of blah little short answers tying everything together (your ADE NIE OSA ORI ORU, for example), but the longer answers and theme were enough to distract me from those while solving. Four stars.
Gary Whitehead’s New York Times crossword
I do like the theme here. The central revealer provides the rationale for adding -AGE to create each themer:
- 17a. [Distance at St. Andrews golf course?], SCOTLAND YARDAGE.
- 23a. [Cost of mail from Manhattan?], NEW YORK POSTAGE.
- 35a. [Wing, e.g. ... or a hint to answering 17-, 23-, 49- and 56-Across], APPENDAGE or APPEND “AGE.”
- 49a. [First-aid supply for Springsteen?], E STREET BANDAGE. Having trouble envisioning what exactly this would entail.
- 56a. [Top-secret proverb?], CLASSIFIED ADAGE.
My favorite clue is a bizarre geographic one: 6d. [Capital whose main street is Nezavisimosti], MINSK, capital of Belarus. No, we’re not supposed to actually recognize the street name. Are we?
Five more things:
- 2d. [Source of the line "Something wicked this way comes"], MACBETH. I had MAC*ET* and my mind went straight to MACHETE. (Machete Kills! I may need to see that movie.)
- 30a. [Arcturus, e.g., spectrally], K-STAR. Blech. Too much of a dupe with 39d: MY STARS.
- 12d. [Locale of a 1956 fight for independence], ALGIERS. Know your world history.
- 64a. [Vase handle], ANSA. Old-school crosswordese, that.
- 22a. [Base figs.], GIS. People on an Army base, and not pHs that pertain to acids and bases. Whoops.
The theme is simple enough but the fill pushes this one beyond Wednesday territory. Can you think of easy clues for BAH, ISIDRO, ST LO, K-STAR, ORT, ENA, MILNER, ANSA, TEK, EN FIN, and TOILE? These are a little out there in terms of words and names we use in our daily discourse.
Three stars. More for the theme, fewer for the fill.
Peter Abide’s Fireball crossword, “Moves Like Jagger”
The Dude abides. This week’s Fireball theme has nothing to do with the Maroon 5 song that shares the puzzle’s title. Rather, the theme answers are Stones songs that serve as anagram clues for the words in the theme clues. The theme clues provide the year of each song’s release.
- 15a. ["Mooniest" (1989)], MIXED EMOTIONS. Mix up the letters in EMOTIONS and you can get “Mooniest.”
- 23a. ["Shores" (1971)], WILD HORSES.
- 38a. ["Mahler" (1986)], HARLEM SHUFFLE.
- 49a. ["Title" (1972)], LET IT LOOSE.
- 62a. [Onsets (or the group whose songs include 15-, 23-, 38-, and 49-Across)], ROLLING STONES. “Onsets” is an anagram of STONES.
I do enjoy a good anagram theme with a cryptic crossword vibe to it. The 13×17 grid is roughly the same size as the standard 15×15, so we’re not getting ripped off or having more work to do.
- 13a. [Business for manicurists?], LAWN CARE. Making a manicured lawn.
- 17a. [Either "O" of BOGO], ONE. Buy one, get one (free). Do not be bamboozled by BOGO offers that are “buy one, get the second of equal or lesser value at half off.”
- 32a. [Blue note?], SEXT.
- 37a. [Pack member?], LIE. As in a pack of lies. How many lies is that? Is this a six-pack? A carton of 20?
- 53a. [Trio that included Jam Master Jay], RUN-D.M.C. Run-D.M.C. isn’t in nearly enough crosswords, people.
- 21d. [Abide], DWELL. I see what you did there, Peter (and Peter).
- 25d. [Smartphone photo often taken at arm's length], SELFIE.
- 45d. [Thick as thieves, say], SIMILE.
Well-executed theme, what with carrying the concept through to the “rolling” STONES/Onsets bit. Smooth fill, entertaining clues. 4.33 stars.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy crossword, “Broken Promises” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Let’s see, how do I do this again? Oh yeah, now it’s slowly coming back to me…. Hi folks, back from our trip abroad to the UK, simply fell in love with Scotland and learned a lot about the history there. The photo below is of me and my partner Gary at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness–see if you can see just the faintest hint of the fabled sea monster in the background! I would like to thank Matt Gaffney and Gareth Bain for holding down the fort while we were away as well. I brought you both back some haggis which I’ll be sending through the USPS to you shortly.
So, back to work. Today’s puzzle’s theme was revealed by 66-Down: [Promising words (and what's hidden in this puzzle's four longest entries)] or I DO:
- The first entry is rather appropriate given the theme: [Wedding party person] was MAID OF HONOR.
- Next we have [Common rocket propellant] cluing LIQUID OXYGEN – for some reason, I thought hydrogen was the more common propellant, but I’ve hardly done an exhaustive survey on this. Here’s an earworm for you!
- [Put on layaway] was PAID OVER TIME – the “is that a phrase?” nerves in my brain fired a bit on that one, but I silenced them by drugging them with a shot of the 10-year single malt whisky we brought back with us.
- ["Pipe down!"] clued PUT A LID ON IT.
Fun theme entries that all consistently split between the D and O.(Guess the alternative of splitting at the I and D would be difficult, except perhaps a CHILI DOG anyone?) I found myself wanting one fewer letter for [Nada] or JACK SQUAT, but then I remembered I wasn’t solving BEQ’s Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll Crosswords. My FAVE goes to SNOOTY for [Hoity-toity], as I love saying both the clue and its entry. On the other side of the fence, I bristled a bit at the clue for IDLE as [Useless], it seems to paint a negative light on something I pride myself on being, particularly on vacation.
Julian Lim’s La Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I’ve never in my life heard the phrase this puzzle is based on. Eventually, I typed “chief cook bottle washer” into Google and apparently this is something people say somewhere, just nowhere near me: CHIEF, COOK and BOTTLE-WASHER. The theme answers themselves are very nice. I especially like the spanning CHIEFCRAZYHORSE and BOTTLEFED (as in an abandoned kitten). COOKISLANDS and WASHERDRYER are also solid.
Julian Lim is an extremely proficient grid filler. Today’s puzzle is chock-full of great answers. My favourites were: ABCNEWS, ZORRO, POSTDOC, CASHCOW, and METIER. Consider there’s virtually no junk answers and further that theme is 59 squares and what that amounts to is some serious gridding!
The grid itself is 4.5 star territory, but I feel incapable of evaluating the theme itself so I leave you sans star rating. I will however leave you with a clip from the sitcom MIRANDA, in case you have yet to discover it…
Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “Cut Down” — Matt’s review
Brendan shows off his cut physique with a clever idea. A 6-pack of abdonminal muscles, a.k.a. ABS, runs down the middle of the grid, requiring the rebus ABS in each square:
28-a [Avoid doing] = (ABS)TAIN
32-a [Like Ionesco's plays] = (ABS)URD
39-a [Away] = (ABS)ENT
42-a [Lamb snacks] = KEB(ABS)
47-a [Post-surgery places] = REH(ABS)
49-a [They get settled at the end of the night] = BAR T(ABS)
And then defining the row:
28-d [Gym rat's goal, so to speak] = ABSABSABSABSABSABS, or a 6-pack of ABS. Nice. I do wonder if it would’ve been possible to stack the ABS in a 2×3 arrangement like they are on the body, probably making the rebus squares AB instead of ABS. But this linear arrangement is still very nice and cool-looking, and it’s crystal-clear to the solver what’s going on, so big thumbs-up.
And there’s more theme, too: in a pinwheel formation around the edges we have four abs-related entries:
18-a [Rock collection?] = CORE SAMPLE. As in the core of the body.
63-a [Honeycomb alternative] = CAP’N CRUNCH. As in the ab-strengthenin exercise called crunches.
3-d [Be right behind home plate, say] = SIT UP FRONT. We all know what a sit-up is.
33-d [Average dude] = JOE SIX-PACK. Great kicker entry. There’s that 6-pack we talked about.
That’s a really good crossword. 4.65 stars.