Bonus puzzle! Matt Gaffney has created a crossword in honor of Joon Pahk’s Jeopardy! run. You can catch it over at the Island of Lost Puzzles.
John Farmer’s New York Times crossword
Perfect theme for movie buff John Farmer: B-MOVIES play a double role, also meaning “movie titles to which a B has been added.” The Spike Lee joint becomes DO THE BRIGHT THING. Never saw East of Eden so BEAST OF EDEN doesn’t resonate much with me. Streep and Redford make way for Ali and Foreman’s BOUT OF AFRICA (this was my favorite of the theme answers—is it not perfect?). Moe, Shemp, and Curly Howard cue up HOWARDS BEND. And earworms—songs that get stuck in your head—relate to SINGIN’ IN THE BRAIN (my runner-up favorite).
I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t get this puzzle to load in the applet. Must have something to do with the 16×15 grid—though I’ve seen odd-sized puzzles work in the applet before.
Good vibe throughout the whole puzzle. I liked the heathenish PAGANS, the graffiti TAG, the “double dribble” clue for BIB (nothing to do with basketball no-nos), the [“] clue for the INCHES symbol, and the word FESTER (though I had that word starting with a V for the longest time—curse you, Nordic Olaf/Olav confusion!). Overall, this crossword sort of felt like a Wednesday puzzle from the old New York Sun, smooth but moderately challenging.
A mild boo to the clue for 40d: FLAB, [Undesirable roll]. Hey, some people relish a soft and welcoming roll of flesh. This clue should, if you ask me, be limited to ONION BAGEL usage.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Capitalists”
I feel like we just had a hidden-world-capitals theme, maybe in the NYT. This one limits the sandwiching phrases to people’s names: ELI MANNING, FRANKIE VALLI, RADOVAN KARADZIC, ADAM MANSBACH, and HENRI GAULT. I’m pleased to say I pulled #3 and #4 together without much trouble (and #1 and #2 were easy), but I’ve never heard of #5. French food and I have nothing in common, except where it comes to dessert crepes and croissants.
Favorite clue: 24d: 24d. [End of an 11-letter palindrome with the middle letter “t”] is I’M MAD. “Dammit, I’m mad” is a great palindrome.
Nothing else really leapt out as “meh” or “wow” stuff, and nothing seemed unfair—though I could see people who don’t know TruTV and who are rusty on their Serbian spelling trying RADOHAN and TRUTH. Four stars.
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sounds Like a Yes” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s crossword from the always-terrific Doug Peterson has 3.5 theme entries, each of which starts with homophones of the yes vote, “aye” (thus, the start of each one “sounds like a yes”):
- 20-Across: The [Ken Follett WWII spy novel] is EYE OF THE NEEDLE. I’ve never read it, but the title felt familiar enough that I only needed EYE OF T- to get it. (Yes, “Eye of the Tiger” went through my mind, but I quickly saw it wouldn’t fit.)
- 38-Across: I DREAM OF JEANNIE was a [Sitcom set in Cocoa Beach, Florida]. Only needed the I DR- here.
- 51-Across: The [Oft-quoted soliloquy selection] is AY, THERE’S THE RUB. The AYTH- start had me somewhat flummoxed at first, but it sorted itself out soon enough.
- For a little while there, I thought 39-Down, EINSTEIN (clued as a [Name synonymous with genius]), was supposed to be a theme entry too. But it’s not, of course, since: (1) the other theme entries have four words, the first of which is the homophone, whereas this is a one-word entry where the first two letters form the “aye” sound; and (2) the eight-letter entry in the symmetrically opposite location is [Supermodel Gisele] BUNDCHEN, and no matter how you badly you mangle the pronunciation of that surname you just can’t get it to start with an “aye” sound. (BUNDCHEN is a terrific entry, btw). So let’s just call it a half-theme entry that adds a nice little touch to the whole package.
Name haters—those who have little regard for proper names in crosswords—won’t like some of the fill, but I, for one, loved it. There’s Glenn BECK, Alfred MOLINA, Lynn SWANN, DEMI Moore, GOMER Pyle, ZACH Galifianakis, the stunningly beautiful Marisa TOMEI, some lady named ONO, CARLA from “Cheers,” Daryl HANNAH, Franz KAFKA, General Stuart JEB, ALEC Waugh, and our ol’ buddy BERT from “Sesame Street.” Most of those names are right in my wheelhouse, though, and undoubtedly that affects my reaction.
Regardless of your view on proper names, though, there’s other good stuff here to admire. I love the Zs floating at the top, and WE LOST, SEW ON and BYE NOW add some spice in the equator and southern hemisphere. In the clue department, my favorite was [Cabinet member?] for a FILE folder.
Tom Heilman’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Neville’s review
Didn’t know what to expect from this puzzle? Well, you got a little bit of everything – it’s a MIXED BAG. Each of the five other longest entries contains a scrambling of the letters B, A and G. And Tom Heilman knows what he’s doing – he covers each possible permutation exactly once. I’d say that this puzzle’s isomorphic to S3, the symmetric group of six elements, but that probably wouldn’t endear me to anyone!
- 17a. [Cher title words before “my baby shot me down”] – BANG BANG
- 23a. [Lawn invader] – CRABGRASS
- 32a. [Olympics opening ceremony VIP] – FLAG BEARER
- 42a. [Place to keep thyme] – HERB GARDEN. Oh, it’s a bad pun clue that I love.
- 50a. [Evoke something from the past] – RING A BELL, a la Pavlov, perhaps.
Did you try JIGGLE for JOGGLE? Who says joggle when jiggle will do? IN EDGE was clearly wrong, though. Upsetting, though, was that alternate spelling ENROL that I’m yet to see outside of crossword puzzles. Any day now it’ll come up… yeah, right. RISE UP and LAID UP in the same puzzle doesn’t thrill me, especially after having a conversation with another constructor recently about duplicating the word UP, where we decided it was best not to.
Enough griping – there were some great entries in this puzzle. WHAM-O, the [Frisbee maker], rang a bell, though I’m wondering if they converted a second M into the hyphen. It looks like that A should be long to me. And KGB SPY in the lower right corner is a marvelous entry, clued fairly with [Former CIA agent counterpart]. I like entries with few vowels, and this one does not disappoint. GENERA is a lovely Latin plural. BALDISH – [Somewhat spotty on top?] – now there’s a good use of -ish. Makes me think of George Costanza from Seinfeld.
Mandatory baseball clue:
- 58d. [National, before moving] – EXPO. The Montreal Expos moved to DC and became the Washington Nationals. The fact that this was a baseball clue did not dawn on me until a few moments after I had filled in EXPO.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “In Loving Memory”—Matt Gaffney’s review
Have you read Brendan’s classic essay “10 B****hit Themes”? If you haven’t, consider doing so now.
With today’s crossword, Brendan declares the TRIBUTE PUZZLE to be #11 on this list. I know this because he clues it at 20-across with [Crossword genre that has been beaten to death].
The timing works, but I’ll still assume he wasn’t “inspired” by my or Kevin Der’s recent Steve Jobs tribute crosswords. I’ll just assume that. Anyway, the other theme entries are STRAINED CLUING, INCOMPLETENESS, and RANDOM ANSWERS, the last one apropos since the most cruciverbally useful movies/songs/whatever from the honoree’s oeuvre are normally used in the tribute puzzle, not the most famous.
- Took me 7:32.
- 12-d, 50-d and 51-d are all funny touches to the theme.
- Nice clue for 40a.
- I dig the clue for 42-a a lot. Looks like it’s going to be random gobbledygook but it’s just AUNT.
- Lots of multiple word entries: WAR BRIDE, ON SPEC, HEY ZEUS, RED DUST, THE O.C., ALL IN, SAW IN and BEAR CUB.
- I can’t stand tribute puzzles either and believe they should be banned.
- Check out my tribute to Joon’s recent game show run here: http://crosswordfiend.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=834
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “New Order” — pannonica’s review
The instructions in the revealer at 38-across are a little confused, but the gist is readily understood. [Like the letters of one word in 17-, 27-, 45-, and 60-Across – and what the words themselves can be] TWISTED. Hence, anagrams:
- 17a. [Book about a retiring shepherd?] A FAREWELL TO RAMS (“A Farewell to Arms“).
- 27a. [Skip lectures and such?] RESIST COLLEGE (Sister college).
- 45a. [Body parts that allow some coastal ducks to fly?] WINGS OF EIDERS (“Wings of Desire,” which happens to include Peter FALK (7d) in the cast).
- 60A. [Coffee?] POT OF THE MORNING (‘Top of the morning!’).
Now, each of the anagrammed words in its original form can ostensibly be associated with the word TWISTED: arms, Twisted Sister, desire, top. See what I mean about the instructions being a bit muddled? It should have specified the original words. “Like the letters of one word…” = they have been twisted; “…and what the words themselves can be” = references the same words, still post-modification.
Beyond that technicality, I found some other aspects of the theme problematic. Working up from the bottom, I posit that a top doesn’t twist but spins instead. Twisting involves torsion and—unless the top is made of some sort of floppy or plastic material—it’s going to rotate, in rigidi, around a central axis. Next, a slight editorial recommendation: The clue for 45a is undeniably clunky and it could be streamlined just a skootch by replacing “body parts” with “appendages.” It isn’t much, but every little bit helps, no?
Finally, we come to SISTER COLLEGE. My immediate and unflinching association is to the institutions known collectively as the Seven Sisters: Mount Holyoke, Vassar, Wellesley, Smith, Radcliffe, Bryn Mawr, Barnard. And, in my experience, they aren’t ever referred to individually as a “sister college,” but rather “one of the [Seven] Sisters.” I realize that that’s a mouthful, but it’s how I feel about it. However, there is support for Sister College. “Colleges that are paired are referred to as sister colleges, and have a ceremonial and symbolic relationship to one another.” This is most commonly seen, but not exclusive to, venerable institutions such as Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge, and Yale. There also seems to be a trend for transnational relationships, akin to sister cities.
Hey, I liked A FAREWELL TO RAMS.
Oh yes, the rest of the puzzle. That was pretty good, especially considering the volume of themic material, 63 squares. I must, must start with one-across: what’s SNUS? A report of recent events, but that isn’t important right now. Actually, as clued, it’s a [Chewing tobacco relative] originally from Sweden. It appears that it’s growing in popularity, so much so that American companies have started to produce it and, predictably, reformulated in a way that “may diminish some of the ‘possible benefits’.” [additional quotes mine]
- Nice 10-letter downs, UNAMERICAN and EQUESTRIAN.
- Got 5a [Chrome alternative] SAFARI right away thanks to last week’s Jobsian Gaffney crossword. With its stacked and topical neighbor [Natives who greeted Christopher Columbus] ARAWAK, I was put in mind of SARAWAK, which along with Sabah constitutes the Malaysian territory of Borneo (Brunei and Indonesia’s Kalimantan make up the rest).
- Some clever cluing:
- 11a [It might be slung during a race] MUD. Political race, that is. Could also have repeated the clue from 60a [Coffee?], but why dilute the theme?
- 37a [Wasted word?] HIC!
- 32d [Change Shape?] EDIT. The capitalized word shows we’re talking about Shape magazine, aimed at the amoeba demographic.
- Musical crossing of ADELE and DEVO.
- Downer vibe with the triumvirate of WOE, DOLORS, and DEMONS, the last clued as [Troubled person’s problems].
- Is 59a REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) well-known enough to be clued generically as [Outdoor store]?
- 28d [Things __ and do] clues the partial TO SEE. Strikes me as strange without a following phrase “in [location]” or at least ellipsis. However, there seems to be ample evidence via Google for the phrase as a stand-alone. Who knew?
- Had XERS for GEN-X at 31d [Marketing category after boomers]. And why isn’t “boomers” capitalized?
Fairly smooth fill overall, but the inconsistencies in the implementation of the ambitious theme soured the experience.