David Kwong’s New York Times crossword
Magician David Kwong has crafted a Tuesday puzzle whose clues and fills hit at a Wednesday or Thursday level. Who knows why. The theme answers lose an ARM:
- 17a. [Home-invading Gore?], BURGLAR AL. Burglar alarm.
- 24a. [Area for aristocrats?], GENT DISTRICT. Garment District, Manhattan’s West Side. I work near there when I visit the office. Do not care for the clue/answer combo, though, because roughly half (maybe less?) of aristocrats are women.
- 38a. [W.W. I novel … hinted at by 17-, 24-, 52- and 64-Across], A FAREWELL TO ARMS.
- 52a. [Exchange of vows again for the Grim Reaper?], DEATH WED OVER. Death warmed over.
- 64a. [Emmy, Oscar and Grammy-winning reptile?], SNAKE CHER. Snake charmer. Cher needs to get into Broadway performing so she can try for an EGOT.
Theme is all right, no great shakes.
Highlights: MR. BEAN, a BOOBOO, MOTOROLA. And I like the TACO clue, 27d. [Burrito alternative]. It mystifies me why so, so many crosswords clue the TACO as a “snack” when what it is is an alternative to the burrito, tostada, and enchilada.
There’s a timely ORCA—timely because Sam Donaldson is hard at work on his annual tour de force honoring 2013’s cruciverbal tours de force. Stay tuned for the Orca Awards!
Least savory crossing: 47d. [Home of the Bahamas, once: Abbr.], BWI, meets 57a. Old Testament prophecy book: Abbr.], ISA. Short for British West Indies, Isaiah.
Entries that look like meta clues: NORW (25d. [Oslo’s home: Abbr.]) and TORV (42d. [Star of “Fringe,” Anna ___]) look like “N or W” and “T or V” more than they look like good crossword entries. Fringe was canceled and Anna Torv isn’t famous outside of that show, but what else will fit that T**V spot?
Not loving the fill here, as there is plenty—ALIA, [Amman’s Queen ___ International Airport], PARA; [Editor Marshall of financial publications], LOEB; BWI; ISA; TORV; [Early film star Daniels], BEBE—that feels out of place in a Tuesday puzzle. Grid looks a little broken up, too, with 42 black squares.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Private Dinner” – Dave Sullivan’s review
The “Private” in the title refers to a military rank, or someone that might partake in [WWII fare, and what this dinner consists of] or C-RATIONS, as all courses are made up of words beginning with the letter C:
- [Bubbly beverage for this puzzle’s dinner] clued COCA COLA – crossword entries often make me think of music, and this one comes to mind, even though the first word starts with P, not C.
- [Soup course for the dinner] was CLAM CHOWDER – I assume the clams were from Cape Cod.
- [Spicy entrée for the dinner] was CHILI CON CARNE – this dinner is becoming less and less appetizing; I mean, who would eat chili with a Coke and clam chowder?
- [Tropical dessert for the dinner] clued COCONUT CAKE – why not Chocolate Chip Cookies instead?
Interesting idea to build a dinner menu from food and drink that begin with the same letter–it might be fun to choose a different letter each night of the week and see what you come up with, although I’m afraid the X night would be rather spartan. I thought there were nice open areas in the four corners–“I’LL SAY!”, PIPE ORGAN, PARQUET and ALIEN RACE all stood out for me. HUAC, or the [Cong. investigator of Alger Hess] stood for the House Un-American Activities Committee, which is often confused with the Government Operations Committee led by Wisconsin Senator (not Rep.) Joseph McCarthy.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle, “Weather Patterns”—Janie’s review
Given the persistent “weather patterns” of this past winter (a winter which, it seems, simply does not wish to give up the ghost), there’s a real timeliness to today’s puzzle. We have five themers, the last of which, at 59A., is a reveal: STORM CHASER [One who follows tornados (or a hint to the opener in four horizontal answers)]. In other words, the first word of the theme phrases—which have nuthin’ to do with the weather!—can follow (chase) the word storm. So let’s see what that gives us.
- 17A. [Urban flower planters] WINDOW BOXES → storm window. Good insulation method. You’ll be glad when you get your utility bill! And window boxes? I’m already thinking about what’s gonna go in mine this year. Made the happy discovery of bacopa last year and suspect I’ll be getting more of the same this year.
- 23A. [It might keep your motherboard from getting fried] SURGE PROTECTOR → storm surge. Oh-oh. Shades of Superstorm Sandy. Not the happiest of thoughts in these parts. If only that plug-in surge protector could have been of any use! Man-made barriers—islets and/or gates–look to be one method of prevention. And while surge protector isn’t my favorite fill, it really ties in with the theme—because you surely want your desk-top computer connected to one during an electrical storm.
- 38A. [“I’ll demonstrate…”] “WATCH ME…” → storm watch. As differentiated from a storm warning… The former says, “This is something that could happen”; the latter, “It’s now on the radar.” “Watch me…” is the shortest of the themers and anchors ’em all nicely at center.
- 49A. [Online file-storage service offered by Dropbox or SkyDrive] CLOUD COMPUTING → storm cloud. Bring on the cumulonimbus. And while it’s true that “into every life a little rain must fall,” looks like these babies‘ve got more than a little rain to offer! Recently finished reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. “Mr. Nice-Guy” he weren’t. But in many areas, “ahead of the curve” he was. Yep. Cloud computing was something else he’d envisioned early on. (Not to mention how he imagined iTUNES would and did revolutionize the music industry…)
So we’ve pretty much got a perfect storm puzzle here—so to speak. Happily, we’re completely safe, fortified as we are by those long, strong double columns SW and NE. The SW gives us the beautiful BOOKLOVER and ANCHORAGE; the NE, BOOMTOWNS and (I especially love this one:) “AHA” MOMENT, with its peppy, exclamatory clue [“I just cracked the puzzle theme!” breakthrough].
Then, for their variety and range, other clues that keep things lively (and/or got my attention) include:
- [Actor with the lion’s share of a 1939 movie script] for Bert LAHR, who played The Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.” The “lion” wordplay here is fun and fresh.
- [Hunky tennis star featured in Shakira’s “Gypsy” music video] for Rafael NADAL. Did not know this. (Quel surprise, no? No…)
- [First name in spydom] for MATA. As in Mata Hari. Hmm. Should this clue have been followed by a question mark? Seems like she’s always referred to as Mata Hari, and not by one part of the name or the other. Regardless, the lady led one colorful life!
- [Trail left by a wild animal] for SPOOR—because spoor is the animal tracker’s word for “poop”/”scat” and because it thus gives me the opportunity to share with you one of my favorite hiking-trip souvenirs: a Great Smoky Mountains “Tracks & Scats” bandana!
- [Limousine driver?] for MOTOR. This is tricky. “Driver” here is the thing that impels the car (the “limousine”) and not the person behind the wheel. Btw, a limo may be [One way to get around town]. Another is BY TAXI.
- [Street of awful dreams] for ELM. As in Wes Craven’s iconic horror flick “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
- [Types “public” without an “L,” for example] for ERRS. Oops. It’s even happened at the university level. (Actually, I think this would have given the famously earthy Mr. Johnson one hearty laugh.)
- And finally, not because I was a fan (far from it!), but because of the apt anagram the first name of the late and [Former Senator Thurmond] gives us vis-à-vis today’s theme: STROM…
Before departing, just want to give a shout-out to exacting colleague and ardent indie-puzzle-supporter Rex Parker who, in his Sunday column, cited Liz’s 3/11/14 “Side Effects” puzzle as his “Puzzle of the Week.” Sweet! That’s welcome recognition indeed and much appreciated at Crossword Nation, so thank you, Rex!
In the meantime: two days til spring. YAAAAAAAAY! (Bet those storm chasers out in Tornado Alley are fairly champin’ at the bit!)
Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 18a. [Smart remark], WISECRACK.
- 27a. [Crisp cookie], GINGERSNAP.
- 48a. [Super-popular], ALL THE RAGE.
- 63a. [Compulsive cleaner], NEAT FREAK.
- 71a. [Lose it, and a hint to the last words of 18-, 27-, 48- and 63-Across], GO APE.
DR. WATSON and ATTACK AD are great entries, and “THEY’RE OFF!” is kinda fun too. Overall, though the fill left me wanting more. In my “blah” category were RKO, OMOO, OHM, somewhat outdated IBM PC and ON CD, OPEL beside URAL, IRMA and SAHL and SEVE, and the woeful E-NOTE. KOKO clued as 13d. [Early cartoon clown] was an all-crossings answer for me; would have loved to see Chicago blues great KOKO Taylor in the clue.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “It’s Really Nothing”
Stick a zero in the middle of each theme answer and those made-up phrases split into two familiar things that end or begin with “zero”:
- 20a. [Amount of time before you stop reading inflammatory Web comments?], NET TOLERANCE. I love Diary of a Crossword Fiend because the caliber of commentary is damned high. On much of the internet, “never read the comments” is good advice. (The ISP NetZero, zero tolerance.)
- 33a. [Force that I’m certain will pull you back to Earth?], ABSOLUTE GRAVITY. (Absolute zero, zero gravity.)
- 40a. [Food label units that don’t mind waiting around?], PATIENT CALORIES. (Patient zero, the initial patient in an infectious outbreak; zero calories.)
- 54a. [Burp after drinking too many colas?], COKE EMISSION. (Coke Zero, zero-emission.)
- 67a. [Word appearing before or after each word in the long theme entries], ZERO.
Highlights in the fill include Rick James’ COME AND GET IT, “holy GUACAMOLE,” BOX IN, and a NECK RUB.
Lots of fresh & tasty clues, such as:
- 1d. [Moda Center, e.g.], ARENA. Never heard of it, but guessable.
- 7d. [Castle Grayskull hero], HE-MAN. Pop culture for people a tad younger than me.
- 35d. [Focus of traffic reports?], SITES. I use SiteMeter more than Google Analytics.
- 9d. [Blue Velvet, for one], CAKE. I know red velvet cake. What the heck is blue velvet? Googling … oh god, it’s hideous. I am philosophically opposed to these velvet cakes. They’re just a regular boring cake spruced up with artificial food coloring, which some scientific studies link to hyperactive behavior in children. McCormick red food coloring is Red #40 and Red #3; there’s a ton of it in red velvet cake. Gross.
- 31a. [Wonder-ful count?]. ONE HIT. One-hit wonders in pop music.