Kevin Wald’s Fireball crossword, “Exodus Setting”
Cool theme. Where’s the “Exodus Setting”? I’m thinking Egypt, the Red Sea … I’m out of ideas. 59a contributes MOUNT SINAI, which provides the recipe for the theme: MOUNT “S” IN “AI.” Indeed, each theme entry’s original phrase has an AI and there’s an S stuck in there. Didn’t see that until I was into my fourth theme answer. If you caught on faster, you’ve earned a cookie (but you’ll have to obtain said cookie yourself).
- 17a. SKIPS BASIL, [Doesn’t follow a pesto recipe properly?], skips bail.
- 29a. WAS IT A MINUTE?, [Question to someone who measured an itty-bitty angle?], “wait a minute.”
- 37a. BRAS IN TEASERS, [Indications that an upcoming episode will feature lingerie?], brainteasers. This is the one where the extra S jumped out at me.
- 43a. NURSE’S ASIDES, [Comments heard by the audience but not the patient?], nurse’s aides.
- 26a. LENTO, [Played with a particular sloth?]. Not a fan of musical terms as crossword fill, but this clue’s visual makes up for that.
- 61a. DONE, [“Clean plate club” member’s shout]. I like the clue (my paternal grandma was a feared enforcer for our local branch of the club) as much as I hated the club. You know what? I was done when all of the sauerkraut was still on the plate. So sue me.
- 13d. WOW, [“Great googly moogly!”]. Doc Brown in Back to the Future, right?
- 57d. ADJ., [White, powdery, or addictive: Abbr.].
- 5d. REST MASS, [It’s zero for a photon]. Wha…? Is this the same as resting mass? It’s not a term I’ve ever encountered. Joon, help me out here.
- 35a. NO-NO, [Perfecto’s less-difficult cousin]. My husband is guessing perfecto just means “perfect game,” but he hasn’t heard the term before. Once again, we see hints of Peter Gordon’s baseball fixation. Meh.
Derik Moore’s New York Times crossword
Neat theme, but without a road atlas, most of these would have been blank if not for crossings. Luckily, familiar cities start to look like themselves even when you don’t know what the clue means—I had something like LOSA*G**** at 11d and filled in LOS ANGELES without knowing why. Each theme answer is a city found at the CROSSROADS of the two interstate highways whose route numbers appear in the clue. The interstates I’m most familiar with are 90, 80, and 70 running east/west (except in Chicago, where 90/94 has a definite north/south orientation), 55 running southwest from Chicago, 35 heading south from Minneapolis to SAN ANTONIO, and … that’s about it. 94, 88, 81 … no, wait, 81 is that CTA bus route number I saw yesterday.
The map goes like this:
- 17a. BIRMINGHAM, 65 + 20.
- 40a. ATLANTA, 75 + 20. So 20 runs parallel to 70 and 80 but down south? Is there a 10 south of 20?
- 4d. MEMPHIS, 55 + 40. I don’t know how 55 finds its way to Memphis. Checking online … holy cow! Memphis is southwest of Chicago, almost due south of St. Louis. I always feel like Tennessee and Kentucky are off to the east, and parts of them are but parts are west of the Windy City. (Pardon my old Kentucky ignorance, Neville and Byron.)
- 11d. LOS ANGELES, 5 + 10. Okay, so there’s the 10. And I gather 5 is the westernmost of the north/south routes.
- 28d. SAN ANTONIO, 35 + 10. Yep, that’s pretty far south.
- 30d. OMAHA, 29 + 80. So Omaha must be three odd-numbered highways west of I-35.
- 44d. DETROIT, 75 + 94. Passed through en route to Toronto last summer, but I don’t know which highways we took. Our Lady of GPS takes care of that stuff.
- 62a. CROSSROADS, a 1969 Cream hit that (without checking YouTube) doesn’t ring a bell.
Well! This has been educational. I usually do appreciate a geography theme, and it would have been fiendishly difficult to put these cities in their proper map orientation so we won’t deduct points for LOS ANGELES holding up the puzzle’s east coast.
Ugliest answer: 9d: RAMAL, [Of a branch]. Checked two dictionaries, which have the noun ramus (plural rami) but not any adjectival form of the word.
Favorite clue: 53a: DOORNAIL, [Carpentry item in a common simile]. (See also the crossing 50d: TACKS, plural of tack, smart as a.)
Cereal of which I was not aware: 47a: OAT Chex. I know Rice, Wheat, and Corn Chexes but not this Oat.
Nice juxtaposition: ALAMO next to SAN ANTONIO.
There’s a fair amount of blah filler, such as BESOS, SSTS, STN, ON AN, and I’M A. And also some ick filler—HAIR clued as [Common drain clogger]. Blurgh!
Bernice Gordon’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
It’s a boxer rebellion in today’s puzzle:
- 17a. [BOXERS] – FIGHTERS IN A RING
- 26a. [BOXERS] – SHORTS WORN BY MEN
- 43a. [BOXERS] – POWERFUL CANINES
- 56a. [BOXERS] – SHIPPING WORKERS
We’ve seen this theme many times before, and we’ll see it time and time again in the future. Four distinct meanings here, so it’s well conceived.
Otherwise, I found this to be a tricky puzzle for a variety of reasons.
- [Pilgrim to Mecca] – HAJI? Sure, HAJJI, or even HADJI (Jonny Quest, anyone?), but this deserves a sp. var. or something similar.
- [It gets into a lather] – RAZOR. Oh, this was quite clever.
- [Former Heathrow-based flier] – BOAC, British Overseas Airways Corporation. Sure.
- [One of the Marxes] – KARL Marx is certainly a Marx, but not a Marx brother. Oi.
- Crossing KRUPP with ORLOP? We’re not feeling very kind today, are we?
- [St. that turned 100 in February] – ARIZona. St. stands for state here, not saint as I had thought.
- The lower right corner here is a real mess. Three abbreviations and two frumpy foreign words in an isolated corner isn’t fun, especially when it looks like a strain to get a Q into the grid. That explains it – it’s a pangram. NO-NO. Writing a pangram is no excuse for this corner or the alternate spelling at one across. This makes me want to stop blogging this puzzle right here, so I will.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Hidden Accounts” – Sam Donaldson’s review
61-Across of the latest from Martin Ashwood-Smith says that a TALE is the [Account hidden inside 17-, 35-, and 53-Across]. Look carefully and you’ll see the T-A-L-E sequence spanning two or three words in all three answers:
- 17-Across: The [Green variety of sapphire] is an ORIENTAL EMERALD.
- 35-Across: The [Tools for drillers and fillers] are DENTAL EQUIPMENT. That’s a nice clue, because my first thoughts went to oil rigs and cement workers.
- 53-Across: To [Get schooled, in a way] is to BE TAUGHT A LESSON. That “BE” sticks out like a sore thumb to me, but it’s consistent with the clue (“Get” requires the “BE” in the answer; if the clue was simply “Schooled,” then TAUGHT A LESSON would be correct). This one’s also unlike the others in that it has four words and not just two.
Leave the thematic nits to the side, however, and you have a very nice grid. The highlight is DRAMA QUEEN, the [Prima donna], but I also liked AT BEST, NAUSEA (what Breakfast Test?), and Vince LOMBARDI. Many rare letters make an appearance (but the puzzle’s not a pangram–I stopped counting after seeing no C’s, but it looks like there’s also no J). The only entry that felt funny to me was LEAKAGES, but the more I think about it, the more I kinda like it. At first, it felt a little gross. But now, I find it’s really gross, and that makes it much better.
Given my upcoming visit to Paris in a couple of months, I found the French lessons helpful. But wow, there’s a lot of French here: BON APPETIT, EAUX, POTAGE, A LA, TETE, and ETATS. Mercy! (Merci?)
Favorite entry = DRAMA QUEEN, of course. Favorite clue = [Thoughtful gift?] for E.S.P.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Windows XP”
Brendan expresses himself cruciverbally with seven XP words:
- [Booze brought to a barbecue, often] = SIX-PACK
- [Wrap around a wrap] = WAX PAPER
- [Pioneering quantum theorist] = MAX PLANCK
- [Anarchy in the U.K. punk band] = the SEX PISTOLS
- [Stance on tariffs, say] = TAX POLICY
- [Crease in a fabric folded under each side] = BOX PLEAT
- [Man-on-the-street interviews, for short] = VOX POPS
And EXPO as a bonus/straggler, but going down.
The first four of these are excellent, the last three are acceptable. XP isn’t a horribly rare bigram in English but it does give us Scrabbly fill, so thumbs-up on the theme.
Six things — er, six points:
- I started off with two mutually-reinforcing mistakes: DINAR instead of DUCAT for [Old gold coin] crossing EXHIBIT instead of the correct OMNIBUS for [Big collection]. I had the IB in what I thought was EXHIBIT and didn’t see how it could be wrong.
- YOKEMATE is really a word! If you pronounce it with four syllables instead of two it could pass for Japanese.
- 16×15 grid. They’re getting so common now that I notice them right away since I’m always checking. Amy and I have an ongoing debate about whether letting asymmetry and 16×15 grids slide will produce a slippery slope at the bottom of which lies…wait for it…two letter-words. I say that in five years we’ll all have the same casual attitudes about 2-letter words that we do now about symmetry (even I violate that one all the time) and grid size. Time will tell, but you heard it here first! It’ll start with OX, OZ, QI, and other coolness.
- Top 5 fill: TYPE A’S, CEE-LO, ANXIETY, HEINOUS, XKE.
- This is one of the easiest BEQ’s in recent memory, as my solving time (4:28) will attest.
- Easiest clue: [African river that runs through ten countries] for…well, you know. Does that count the new South Sudan? And, moving westward, who’s going to be the first to put AZAWAD in a crossword? BEQ, I bet. And don’t overlook its crossword-friendly capital.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Shower Scene”
We’re not talking about Psycho or that awesome coed-group shower scene in Starship Troopers here. No, sir. It’s a baby shower that’s lurking behind this theme. Five familiar phrases begin with things commonly given (maybe?) at baby showers, and they’re clued as if they’ve got something to do with that merch:
- 17a. BOOTIE CALL, [Decision about which small socks to purchase?]. Now, this theme answer made me think, “Ah, so you change the spelling of a familiar phrase and get a baby product.” Turns out that no, Ben was merely going with the less common variant of “booty call,” as used in the title of a 1998 pop song by a British-Canadian girl group, said song having never gained any traction in the U.S. Meh.
- 24a. SWING VOTE, [Democratic way to decide which rocking device is best?].
- 34a. BOTTLE SERVICE, [Milk container delivery option?].
- 46a. CRIB NOTES, [Info jotted down about baby beds?].
- 53a. FORMULA ONE, [Premier breast milk alternative?]. Now, bottles are a common baby shower gift, but I don’t know that formula is given as a gift. I come from a pro-breastfeeding family so I haven’t seen it done.
- 12d. FACETIME, [Apple alternative to Skype]. Last week I was talking to a relative on the land line when my iPhone signaled me that her husband (who was in the room with her) was trying to FaceTime us. So I shut off the iPhone. Nobody wants a sneak attack video call.
- 5a. FRACK, [Extract gas, in a way]. What the frack?
- NAS and BIGGIE‘s feud gets into cross-referenced clue action.
- 26d. INSEAMS, [Measurements from the crotch down]. How often is “crotch” in the dailies’ crosswords?
- 33a. PIMP, [Playa]. MEH. I prefer “pimp” as a verb meaning “render more spiffy.”
- 10d. DSM-IV, [American Psychiatric Association handbook]. DMS-5 (no more Roman numerals!) comes out in a year. Am I the only one who can’t see the DSM-whatever abbrevs without thinking of Prince’s “D.M.S.R.”?
- 52d. ICP, [“Gathering of the Juggalos” band, for short]. Insane Clown Posse.
2.9 stars. That BOOTIE bugged me.