Peter Collins’ New York Times crossword
Okay. Take two. I had written a couple paragraphs and then the internet connection zonked out here and it vanished. Sigh.
Was horribly distracted by the local news and the blizzard, and kept typing with my hand over a row on the keyboard, entering all sorts of craziness in lieu of actual answer words. Plus, I started with STAY/SERVER at 1a/1d instead of LAST/LOBBER, which mucked up the northwest corner. “LOBBER”? I nebber use that word.
The theme is a LETTER / DROP with a vowel progression, with phrases that can appear in the middle of a sentence but are not stand-alone things:
- 18a. ASHES SHE’S
- 24a. ESTATES STATES
- 36a. ISLANDER SLANDER
- 49a. ORANGES RANGES
- 57a. USING SING–
I admire ISLANDER SLANDER, which you could plausibly clue as a made-up phrase. The other four don’t really work so well.
- 38d. I hate LICORICE but it’s a cool word.
- 26d. Who doesn’t appreciate SUNRISE? Aside from vampires, that is.
- OTTIS, BE ALL partial, five gazillion cross-referenced clues, A HIT partial, the German/Latin/Italian STILLE/ESSE/SOLA run, SMOLTS, old ARETES and SSRS and AMAH, UNHATS (I know it’s a real word, but…), two suffixes to follow magnet, and an ALER and his GTS in the NNE.
Martin Ashwood Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Hit Piece”—Janie’s review
In today’s puzzle, Martin “hits” us with five definitions of the word (and clue)[STRIKE] (another word for hit…). He more than ably demonstrates that “strike” can be a verb or a noun and makes his point with these phrases:
- 17A. DEAL A BLOW TO. Verb.
- 24A. BOWLER’S GOAL. Noun…
- 39A. WALK A PICKET LINE. Verb. Ooh. I like the way this one doesn’t involve physical impact. Such an interesting use of the word when you think about it. Workers who “strike” or are “on strike” do take a hit at their employers—but a non-violent one. (In theory… Sadly, there’re any number of strikes that have resulted in terrible violence— the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, for example.)
- 48A. TOLL THE HOUR. Verb. And a poetic one at that.
- 60A. UMPIRE’S CALL. Noun again. Another “non-impact” example, too, which is kinda funny/ironic when ya think about it. Particularly in the context of baseball.
That’s one nuanced word, “strike.” Check out the range of definitions and uses and you’ll see that these five examples only scratch the surface.
I don’t have lots to comment on today, but I do want to highlight a few attention-getting clue/fill combos. And they’d be:
[Printed mistakes] for ERRATA. Had to decide if “printed” was a verb or an adjective. It’s the latter, but I love that the clue forced me to think about the decision I needed to make.
Ditto [Letter from Greece] for BETA. A letter from the alphabet used in Greece. If this is an OLD [Far from fresh] cluing trick, it’s still a good one.
And [Cereal spike] for EAR. Huh? Did you know that one of the definitions of the word “spike” is “ear of grain, as of wheat“? News to me. I suppose an ear of corn is from the same etymological root—it’s just I never really thought about it. Looks like I should be thinkin’ more!
Bernice Gordon’s Los Angeles Times crossword
It may be time to go back to bed. I only slept for four hours—when the power came back on, the lights woke me. So I’ve been up for 2.5 hours and my eyes are bleary. Barely kept them open for this crossword.
Theme is crossword repeaters turned into clues, and plausible clues for those repeaters turned into theme entries. I’m not a fan of the theme variety.
- 20a. [Opie] is a CHILD IN MAYBERRY.
- 34a. The [Obie] is a THEATRICAL AWARD.
- 43a. A MAN FROM MUSKOGEE is an [Okie].
- 58a. [Odie] is described as GARFIELD’S FRIEND? Wait, I thought he was Garfield’s nemesis.
Not crazy about the fill overall. TWO O’ is an odd-looking partial, and a few other fill-in-the-blank clues are awkward: YAT, BALA, and ALL OR. Consider, too, the likes of BWANA, F MAJ., ELIS/NAVE crossing YSER, AXIL/VENA crossing TRINI, and trusty ol’ ERNES roosting at the bottom of the grid.
- 19a. [Earth, in Essen] = ERDE
- 44d. [Roast, in Rouen] = ROTI
- 36d. [Cancún quencher] = AGUA
Tyler Hinman’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
Hey! It’s a cool theme with fresh fill! You weren’t expecting that today, were you?
J. CREW describes the famous “J __” nicknames that anchor this theme. Each of these people forms a sort of “before and after” phrase with a familiar phrase in the “after” slot, only the key word gets its spelling changed by the name:
- 21a. [One reason for the success of “Jersey Shore”?] is the J WOWW FACTOR. J Woww (don’t ask me for the accepted punctuation of that), one of the women on that TV show, plus “wow factor.” Oh, dang, I just looked it up. “Jwoww,” one word, standard capitalization.
- 40a. [Pop albums, crappy romantic comedies, etc.?] clues J.LO EXPECTATIONS. Ha! Love the snark of the clue. Jennifer Lopez was great in Soderbergh’s Out of Sight and interesting in The Cell. Aside from those roles? Eh.
- 56a. Didn’t know Jason Kidd had a “J-Kidd” nickname, but [Hand protection for a Dallas Mavericks point guard?] clues J-KIDD GLOVES. Yes, I had to look up the punctuation. And I thought it was J-Lo rather than J.Lo. I failed on all three! I am not ashamed.
Highlights in the fill:
- THE BBC, good use of the definite article.
- I DUNNO.
- I do like the word SUMAC, but prefer the non-poisonous variety.
- 38a. [Its symbol is Sb, even though neither S nor b appears in its name]: ANTIMONY! This should trade names with the word alimony, which seems more “anti,” if you ask me. Also, why is antinomian a word? Just to mess up people’s ability to pronounce these words?
- 1d. Good clue for TWIST: [Shyamalan specialty]. He and Chubby Checker would’ve gotten along.
- 5d. [Title canine in a 1974 film] is BENJI. Ah, movies from my childhood. I was busy watching the sequel when Taxi Driver came out. Still haven’t seen it…
- 35d. [It spans the bridge] clues the NOSEPIECE of your glasses.
- 41d. Had no idea where this clue was going without a bunch of crossing answers. [“I think ___ initial intention was to make tennis balls” (Mitch Hedberg)] clues PRINGLES! Mitch Hedberg was funny.