Matthew Paronto and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword
Do you iron? I own an iron. In the last 15 years, it has scarcely been touched by anyone except a houseguest. Thus, I almost missed seeing that 34a was also a theme entry.
- 17a. [Say that neither side benefited], CALL IT A WASH. Colorful phrase.
- 23a. [Strand], LEAVE HIGH AND DRY. Another colorful phrase.
- 34a. [Start being printed], GO TO PRESS.
- 48a. [Join a community again], RETURN TO THE FOLD. And another lively phrase.
- 55a. [Extensive enumeration ... or what's formed by the ends of 17-, 23-, 34- and 48-Across], LAUNDRY LIST. Wash, dry, press (iron), fold.
The longer Down answers are a good bunch as well—HOARDER, DARK AGE (though DARK AGES is better), THE NORTH, BAD EGGS (though one BAD EGG is better), IN TOUCH. My eyes GLAZED over at the Across fill, though—MEA, ASK A, TAI, ETA, NEH, STS and friends. And the shorter Downs include SWED., ENDO, ADLAI, and YEE.
One clue fails the crossword lunch test: 25d. [Unpleasant discoveries in soup], HAIRS. *shudder* A scientist’s blog has a poll on whether you should go ahead and eat soup with a hair in it. If it’s at my house and I know whose hair it is, I say eat it. At a restaurant? No way.
3.9 stars from me. Lovely theme, but slightly more blah fill than I like to see in the grid.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “All Together Now”
Matt’s theme this week is a quip: IF THERE IS A PRIDE / OF LIONS AND A PACK / OF COYOTES, / WHY CAN’T WE HAVE AN / OFELOT OF OCELOTS? (Pronounce OFELOT as “awful lot.”)
I Googled “ofelot of ocelots” to see if this came from Ogden Nash or somebody. The closest match I found was on a discussion board where someone said, “I think it would take an ofelot to titillate an ocelot.” So I think Matt may have concocted this himself. It’s cute.
Favorite clue: 47a. [Rabbit food?], GAS. Gasoline for a Volkswagen Rabbit, that is.
1d. SOFT FUR strikes me as a somewhat contrived answer, but [Stuff on a kitten's underbelly (because awwwww....)] sells it. Now go laugh at some pathetic-looking wet cats, here.
Top fill: Bryan CRANSTON and a SHIV.
Tell me about this: Is this ICE FORT, 43d. [Winter project in the Arctic, maybe], an actual thing? I’m thinking a snow fort is more doable than an ice fort.
I am not seeing much else to talk about, on either the good front or the bad front. So let’s call it 3.5 stars and say good night.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle, “A Cute Accent”—Janie’s review
Ooh. A pun puzzle. And puns having to do with sound. HURRAH! So, literally, theme fill that relies on using a “cute” accent for meaning—and no words with an “acute accent” (as in lycée or bananas flambé…). The accent is perhaps best described as deeply southern (to my middle-Atlantic ear); the results (in combination with those seriously clever clues), smart and smile-making.
- 17A. [Story written under a Penn name?] WILLIAM TALE. Colonial America’s William Penn (the Penn in question). William Tell (the story in question). Cute accent. William tale (and let’s not forget that a story is a tale). That all makes for one multi-layered joke that’s both succinct and pretty darned funny in my book.
- 27A. ["Revolutionary" leader of a motorcycle gang?] HALE ON WHEELS. Oh, I do love this one a lot. Nathan Hale (the “revolutionary” leader in question [we're back to colonial America and that revolution]). Hell on Wheels (how many motorcycle gangs and clubs are referred to [or are actually named] by journalists). Cute accent. Hale on wheels. (Put your own image of this right here.)
- 46A. [French-style corduroy feature?] ARTESIAN WALE. Live and learn. Really had no idea of the origin of the base phrase here, but this will explain it all to you. Corduroy feature? Wale. Result of French method of drilling for water? Artesian well. Cute accent: artesian wale. Silly and a bit convoluted but charming and funny.
- 60A. [Christian's "hot" commodities?] BALE PEPPERS. I confess. I was now, um, “wale” onto the game (lovely how the “accented” words all rhyme and keep the theme set tight, no?), so I suspected the clue was referencing Christian Bale and was not about a member of the religious group. Still, loved seeing this in the grid along with its rhyming theme-mates. So, Christian Bale (the Christian in question). Bell peppers (the “hot” commodities). Cute accent. Bale peppers. If you’re a Bale fan, btw, see him as you’ve never seen him in American Hustle.
This great theme set (and the way it’s been developed) receives a worthy complement of non-theme fill and clues. Looking at the highlights (and starting with the longest entries), I’d have to include both the solid GOOD SENSE and the ultra-fresh RAW TALENT—which, with it’s [Sushi chef's inborn gift?] clue, is simply one of the great clue/theme pairs to come down the pike. Period. (And when it comes to sushi, let’s face it: ultra-fresh is what yer lookin’ fer!)
Then there’s BELUSHI, OEDIPAL, and “I LOST IT” with its understatement-of-the-year clue [Admission from someone who went postal]. Oops. Speaking of “oops,” there’s also the sports-centric OWN GOAL [Soccer game snafu]. For any doubters, this is a real term and not simply a roll-your-own description; nor is it unique to soccer… “SHEESH!” and “ANYONE?” and “WHA?”, with their scenario-invoking spoken clues ["Crikey!"], ["Do we have a volunteer?"] and ["Huh??] all add to the puzzle’s liveliness. Ditto the specificity in such clues as [Do the Boston Marathon] and [Rice Krispies sound] for RUN and SNAP. A little cluing specificity like this goes a long way to giving new life to familiar fill.
Finally—and I know how retro this example is! (but it’s practically a trope in its own right)—here’s the kind of image the [Frying pan, at times]/WEAPON combo conjured up for me:
And that, dear readers, is just about a wrap. My last word on today’s puzz? In slang or otherwise, PRIMO!
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Horsing Around” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Four phrases that begin with a horse breed:
- [Collection of stories that includes "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves"] was ARABIAN NIGHTS
- [1966 Wilson Pickett hit] clued MUSTANG SALLY – my favorite cover of this is from The Commitments
- [United States coin minted from 1878 to 1904 (and again in 1921)] was MORGAN DOLLAR – according to Wikipedia, the coin was named for its designer, United States Mint Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan.
- [Breakfast choice named after a country] was SHETLAND SCRAPPLE…um, no it was a BELGIAN WAFFLE
This one was A-OK in my book. I’m not a big horse lover, but my brother raises Friesians, and they are beautiful beasts. I have to call foul on RUE DE, though–we have to draw the line somewhere, and French partials are definitely over that line in my book. OTOH, OK SIGNS, BUBBLE, LETHAL, HAS-BEEN and SLOVENLY easily made up for it.
Ed Sessa’s Los Angeles Times crossword
A TV show title is used as the impetus for a theme. The word BAD “breaks” across multiple words in each themer:
- 20a. [They swim with the fishes], SCUBA DIVERS. Luca Brasi is the best one, of course.
- 57a. [Vince Gilligan TV drama, and a hint to something happening in 20-Across and 11- and 29-Down], BREAKING BAD. I watched the pilot episode last year. My son stays up too late for me to watch the whole series after he’s gone to bed!
- 11d. [Bookmarked link, say], WEB ADDRESS. Do people still use that term instead of, say, URL?
- 29d. [Start of a rhyme featuring a butcher and baker], RUB A DUB DUB.
I am typically underwhelmed by such themes but will note that each BAD breaks a different way—BA/D, B/AD, B/A/D. People like it when a constructor nails that.
The Scowl-o-Meter was making noises during my solve. In the category of Apparel You Won’t Find in My House, we have ALB, [Priest's garment], and SABOT, [Wooden shoe], in the same corner. Blech! I poked around at trying to refill that corner, retaining the DUBDUB and DILBERT feeders. In 5 minutes, I could get much better fill … provided I was willing to accept a complete non-word at 55a. (D’oh.) If it were me, I might’ve opted to remake the whole grid to avoid the SABOT and ALB corner. Plus there’s AGHA, COTE, ENER., ELSA clued as the outdated [Movie lioness] (Constructors! The recent hit animated movie Frozen has a lead character named ELSA!), plural BAHS, partial A SEC, and ECCE keeping me distracted from the solve.
Three stars. I did like seeing SOLEDAD O’Brien, DADAIST, DILBERT, and Tommy HILFIGER in the grid.