Kurt Mueller’s New York Times crossword
I am beat, so this’ll be a short review.
Theme: GHOST rebus with four symmetrically placed GHOSTs, in PALE AS A */* TOWN, GIVE UP THE */MARLEY’S *, * WRITERS/* OF A CHANCE, and HOLY */*BUSTERS. Good stuff. All united by the word HAUNTED in the center of the grid.
Tons of long ghostless fill, including these great entries: BEANIE BABY, WOODY ALLEN beside his fan ROGER EBERT, a LHASA APSO, and colloquial “YES, INDEED.”
On the down side, RADDLE = [Make by interlacing]? Haven’t ever seen that word before, and in all honesty, I know an awful lot of words. We also are stuck with variant spelling EERY, Latin HAEC, crosswordese ALB and APER and NLERS, reasonably obscure geographic names LIPARI and LOD, and incomplete WHEN I, HEB., ATH., and AUT-. I’m not convinced that the theme and long fill are worth these trade-offs.
Peter Collins’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review (6:21)
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Peter Collins with this puzzle:
- 20a/50a. [Pair named in a puppy-love rhyme that ends with the circled letters] – GRADE SCHOOL SWEETHEARTS
- 39a/41a. [More of the rhyme] – SITTING IN A TREE
- Circled Squares: K-I-S-S-I-N-G
I know that doesn’t look like much, but remember that there are linked entries.
When you read the answers in that order, it reads right nicely in the meter of the original poem, but it loses the flavor a little with the jumping around. Having K-I-S-S-I-N-G explicitly spelled out and not a single entry was a nice touch. But I do believe the end of this rhyme speaks of a baby carriage – kissing is just a means to that end. Well, part of a means, at least.
“THAT SMARTS!” is a great long entry, but INTERTWINE isn’t as cool. Only now looking back do I realize that PCPS means Primary Care Providers, which didn’t seem obvious to me ([General MDs, to insurers]). And PONIES are [Assateague denizens] – Assateague being an island just off Maryland/Virginia known for its wild horses. Not sure how I feel about CHICHI – it’s a little too chichi for me (61a. [Oh-so-stylish]). And that’s TEN G in the lower right, not “teng” ([1% of a cool mil]).
Can someone explain READ IN as an answer for [Transfer to memory, as data] to me? I thought you wrote things to to memory. Color me confused by this entry.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 45”
Good grid design, with space for two or three 10s in each corner plus intersecting 15s in the middle.
Never heard of FIREBALLER, which is a baseball term for a pitching hotshot. All I could think of for [Club ace] was tennis pros and golf pros. Is baseball over yet for the year? No, not yet? Sigh. (But cute 1-Across for Fireball Crosswords!)
Am torn on the promotion of crosswordese pieces ORONO, PERLE, and MESTA being promoted to marquee status in ORONO, MAINE and PERLE MESTA. I think I’m coming down on the side of “meh.”
Didn’t know those “The Girl Who…” thrillers were called the “Millennium” series, but I’ve read enough Entertainment Weekly coverage of the books and movie adaptations to know how to spell LISBETH SALANDER. That name needs to be in a cryptic with a motherless salamander in the clue.
Bright lights: Gaga’s BAD ROMANCE, still-relevant STAYCATION, goofball PARROTHEAD, and Hermione portrayer EMMA WATSON.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Ear-Splitting” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Patrick Jordan splits an EAR four times by cramming a bunch of letters between either the E and the A or the A and the R. In better words, each of the four theme entries either starts with E and ends with AR or starts with EA and ends with R:
- 17-Across: The [Bright planet appearing around sunset] is the EVENING STAR. For some reason this confused me for a while, as I thought I had to come up with the name of a planet, and eleven letters just seemed impossibly long. Not the first time my interpretation of the clue has led me astray.
- 56-Across: On the other hand, I had no problems at all with EAGER BEAVER, the [Overly diligent sort]. But is an eager beaver overly diligent? As an alumnus of Oregon State University, I’d like to think an eager Beaver has just the right amount of diligence.
- 11-Down: A [Station wagon, in Suffolk], is an ESTATE CAR. Older station wagons were certainly large enough to merit the name “estate.”
- 34-Down: The [Furnishing in many a den] is an EASY CHAIR.
Kevin McCann’s Cruciverb.com website calls this a “bookends” theme, and it’s a good illustration of the gimmick. Aspiring constructors, note that half of the theme entries split the EAR between the vowels and half the entries split between the A and the R. Three of one and one of another would be a jarring inconsistency; two of each creates a sense of balance (especially important when working with ears).
The puzzle also illustrates the “pinwheel” placement of theme entries (two Across, two Down) that used to be much more common. Today’s crosswords tend to put all of the theme entries into the Across slots unless there’s a good reason to have them in the Downs. I kinda miss the pinwheel placement myself, but I get that it’s easier for solvers to see (and appreciate?) a theme when they’re all laid out in the easier-to-read Across position.
A companion puzzle could be titled “Inner Ear,” featuring phrases where an EAR is hidden near the middle (LOUNGE AROUND, FALSE ARREST, LANGUAGE ARTS, SURFACE AREA). Look for it soon (assuming it hasn’t been done already!).
Oh, hey, we can’t end with giving props to the nice assortment of rare letters and the neat fill they facilitate: ELIXIR, I QUIT, SQUARE UP, and JUDE LAW are highlights, as are the animated films TOY STORY and CORALINE. My only beef is with [Paltry poker pair] as the clue for TWOS. Nice use of alliteration, but “twos” in poker are almost always called DEUCES or, for those in the know, DUCKS. Don’t ask how I know that.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Leading From Behind”—Matt Gaffney’s review
In today’s puzzle, “Leading From Behind,” Brendan gives us six famous people whose last names imply leadership:
- 16a. KERRY KING
- 18a. JACK LORD
- 24a. HUGO BOSS
- 39a. CYBILL SHEPHERD
- 49a. JOHN DEAN
- 63a. EDITH HEAD
- This is, once again, a 15×14 grid. Come on, Brendan — give me a 15×15!
- I don’t know my time since Across Lite appears to not have a timer anymore when I open it. You guys, too? Anyway, I’m sure I beat Amy handily as usual though we’ll never know for certain.
- NW and SW corners are nice: NSYNC, ARKIN, YMCA and ENRON in the former, JULIA, ON/OFF, IF SO and A FEW in the latter.
- 54d clue: too soon?
- With the smaller grid and six theme entries, we’ve got extremely short fill: nothing longer than six letters, and just four of those. Lively fill from BEQ considering that he doesn’t get his usual three-point shots in (LBJ, REIKI, LINDT, GINSU, ORAL-B).
- 24d: nice clue.
Thanks for the puzzle, BEQ, and have a boss Thursday, everyone!