Nina Rulon-Miller’s New York Times crossword
Not your garden-variety easy Tuesday theme, as three of the theme answers aren’t “lexical chunk”-style entries and I honestly didn’t see 65a coming. The theme is tied together by TWENTY-ONE, a number “associated with” these answers”
- 17a. The game of BLACKJACK. You gotta get close to 21 without going over to win.
- 25a. SPOTS ON A DIE. Add 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 and you get 3×7, or 21.
- 41a. I can picture the guy who played Jack Barry in Quiz Show, but FIFTIES GAME SHOW didn’t come to me right away. The GAME SHOW part, sure. But not FIFTIES.
- 51a. Random NEW YORK CLUB, a.k.a. bar, where you have to be 21 to drink.
I was slightly thrown to encounter NYSE so soon after filling in NEW YORK in 51a. And I was distracted enough from the get-go that when I read the 7d clue, [After-dark time in Germany], I started to fill in NOCHE. Gah! NACHT! I took German for five years.
Lotsa crosswordese-type stuff today, no? Things most of us don’t encounter outside of puzzles: ASTA, OTTO I, ERNE, ANODE, EERO, ODIST, NACRE, and EPEES. All in one Tuesday crossword?
On the plus side, there’s THAT’S LIFE, IDIOT BOX, and JAPANESE.
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
I’ll be honest – long Memorial Day weekend and I’m tired, so this one will be nice and quick. Each of the theme answers begins with the last name of a famous Tom – they’re calling it TOMFOOLERY, though I don’t see the “fool” in this.
- 17a. [Port of call] – CRUISE STOP – Tom Cruise is the actor known for Top Gun, Risky Business, Jerry Maguire and jumping on Oprah’s couch. Still.
- 24a. [Readily interchangeable, fashionwise] – MIX AND MATCH – Tom Mix was an early Western actor that I’m not familiar with. Seems like he’s the pre-John Wayne John Wayne.
- 34a. [Office fund for minor expenses] – PETTY CASH – Rock singer with the Heartbreakers.
- 49a. [Head locks] – HANKS OF HAIR – Tom Hanks suffers from gigantism in the film Big. Okay, that’s not quite right. But he was in Bosom Buddies! What are hanks of hair? Coils? I’ve never heard this phrase.
Lots of well played Xs: ST. CROIX, MAX ERNST, TELEX and XEROX. We’ve got other fun long entries, too – SAID YES, HIJACKS and MEANT IT. TIN WORK might be a winner, but the Sn in the clue said to me, “This is a reach.”
Oh, and if you’re bad at parsing like I am sometimes, it’s not ALUNSER but AL UNSER. He raced for Penske (among others), which sorta rhymes with Venzke. Clever, Bruce.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Ernie’s Buddy” – Sam Donaldson’s review
My favorite Sesame Street characters were Bert and Ernie. I still remember their “banana in your ear” routine with great fondness. The title of today’s puzzle suggests we’re in for a tribute to everyone’s favorite unibrow-ed, floppy-armed muppet, but in fact it’s a tribute to several men with the given name Bert. All of the clues to the four theme entries start with “Bert:”
- 20-Across: The [Bert Lahr film role] is the COWARDLY LION from The Wizard of Oz. That’s a pretty famous Bert.
- 32-Across: [Bert Kalmar’s songwriting partner] is HARRY RUBY. Objection! I can’t believe Bert Kalmar is a household name. Quick, name a Bert Kalmar/Harry Ruby song. Don’t worry, I couldn’t either. I found out they wrote the songs in the Marx Brothers movies, Animal Crackers and Duck Soup. This clip starts with one of their songs from Duck Soup. Click for the music, but stay for the gags.
- 44-Across: Former major league pitcher [Bert Blyleven’s specialty] is a CURVEBALL.
- 55-Across: [Bert, in “Mary Poppins”], is a CHIMNEY SWEEP. Or is that chim-chimney-chim-chimney-chim-chim-cher-ee sweep?
I expected to see legendary sportswriter Bert Sugar and former Miss America host Bert Parks in the grid. I’ll concede these four may be better known than Bert Sugar, but how can Bert Parks not be in this puzzle?
Highlights in the fill included BREW PUB, the [Place to catch a draft?], [“Glee” villainess] SUE Sylvester, and the intersecting entries forming the [Robert Redford film], OUT OF / AFRICA. I had ON IN as the completion to [Barge ___ (interrupt)] but the correct answer was IN ON. I suppose either can work.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Now in 3-D!”
Congratulations to Matt Jones on celebrating the 10th anniversary of his Jonesin’ crossword!
This week’s theme takes movie titles with 2-D shapes in them and converts them to 3-D:
- 20a. [1997 Jennifer Jason Leigh adaptation of a Henry James novel–refilmed in 3-D?] turns the literary Washington Square into WASHINGTON CUBE.
- 38a. [1995 Chris O’Donnell/Minnie Driver romance–refilmed in 3-D?] is SPHERE OF FRIENDS (formerly Circle).
- 55a. [With “The,” 1978 horror mystery with John Huston–refilmed in 3-D?] clues BERMUDA PYRAMID. Don’t know this Bermuda Triangle movie, but I bet my son would love it.
Solid, entertaining theme that doesn’t try to do too much. Three theme entries is plenty. The advantage of not having five or six theme answers is that there’s room for a lower overall word count (74) and lots of juicy fill. Consider MAD HATTER, RICE MILK, SHOOTS DOWN, GO TO BAT FOR, and CONCERTI—those answers alone account for more squares than the theme, and they elevate the solving experience from one of recognizing clues for familiar short words (your EPEE and ARIA, for example) to piecing together longer answers that you may never have run into in a crossword, but certainly have run into in your daily life.
- 12d. [Cause to cease to exist, in olden times] clues UNBE. Is this a word you’ve ever encountered?
- 2d. [Dominated in, as with a sport] clues the awkwardly phrased WON AT.
- 3d. [Gray Panthers’ cause célèbre] clues the variant spelling AGISM. Prefer AGEISM.
- 46d. U NU, the Burmese [Palindromic prime minister of the 1950s], is old-school crosswordese.
- 58d. [Aston Martin high-performance model] is the DBS. Never heard of it.