Allan Parrish’s New York Times crossword
The main thing that holds a Wednesday puzzle together is the theme, so the key to solving is making sense out of the principal entries. Right, Chief?
- 17a. SCHOOL PRINCIPAL, [Joe Clark in “Lean on Me,” e.g.].
- 29a. SKELETON KEY, [Item on a superintendent’s chain]. Hey! Don’t go putting that word in here right after the school principal. Now we’re thinking the superintendent is the principal’s boss rather than New Yorkese for “building manager/custodian/caretaker.” (It may be more than New Yorkese, but I can tell you that it’s not Chicago lingo.)
- 48a. SPANISH MAIN, [Ripe territory for pirates, once]. Checking dictionary … holy cow! Did you know this isn’t the Atlantic? No, ma’am. Caribbean coastline, mainly. (Coast, not sea? For real?)
- 63a. KANSAS CITY CHIEF, [Losing player in the first Super Bowl]. Not generally a fan of “city + singular of team name” answers (and this puzzle also has L.A. RAM, which is singular as well as defunct). Although “Chicago Cub/Bull/Bear” sounds okay to me. Maybe K.C. folks are more familiar with 63a’s form?
Tough crossings in this puzzle, no? Never heard of the 12d: [“Moonraker” villain] DRAX, who crosses AMARE Stoudemire and AXL Rose. Three entirely non-inferrable names if you don’t happen to know them. And then there’s 31d: KOA, [Org. for R.V. owners], butting into 41a: PAPP, [“Hair” producer Joseph]. If you don’t know your Broadway producer names or your RVer infrastructure, PIPP is nearly as plausible. At least 20a: CROSBY, [Hockey’s Sid the Kid], has four regular words and more familiar ENO(S) and HOL(Y)OKE crossing him. 34a: GEENA [Davis who portrayed a president] is broadly famous enough to make up for 25d: [“99 Luftballons” singer] NENA, an early-’80s one-hit wonder in America.
The broader issue here is that the puzzle as a whole has way too many proper nouns, brand names, and three-letter abbreviations. My cutoff is 14; less than that and the puzzle feels fine, 14 or more and the puzzle feels overloaded with names and solvers will have trouble. Besides the names already mentioned, we have J AND J, VENICE, IBM, NRA, RHETT, ENZO, WKRP, OAHU, ONE-L, ESPYS, K-CAR, ENIAC, and NAPA. What is that, 23, 24 capitalized entries outside of the theme? Yeow. The theme could play on Monday or Tuesday, I think, but not this fill.
Did I know that [The Plame affair, informally] was called CIAGATE? No, sir.
2.75 stars. The theme didn’t excite me, and the fill was problematic. I appreciated seeing this, 65d: THO.
P.S.! The first clue, FACE and [Body part first transplanted in 2010], put me in mind of Billy Idol’s ’80s hit, “Eyes Without a Face.” With pretty cheekbones like his, he really didn’t need the patented sneer and nostril flare. He worked the sneer/flare so frequently, I suspect he practiced it in front of a mirror. Oh, I greatly enjoyed this video tonight. Butt clap, everyone! *clap clap clap clap*
Aimee Lucido’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
Do we know why -ET is added to the end of five phrases/words to generate the theme answers? Is this about E.T. the Extraterrestrial, or the Latin et = “and”? Or is it just “let’s add -ET”? Here’s the thematic quintet:
- 17a. [Weapon of mass destruction?], PAPAL BULLET. Double meaning of “mass,” har. Can you picture an action movie in which the Pope pulls out an automatic weapon at St. Peter’s Basilica and mows down the flock? No?
- 28a. [Porn actor’s penis?], HARD ASSET. PuzzleSocial solvers will note that this is not the clue seen on the Facebook app (and 1-Across is different). Coincidentally, though, I recently read a GQ article (NSFW, very NSFW words; the pineapple makes the photo safe for work) about a porn actor. Interesting read.
- 36a. [Secretly diluting the saffron, say?], SPICE RACKET. What, the racket isn’t coming from the curry powder raising a loud ruckus?
- 43a. [Where “1, 2, 3, 4, we all want our water warm!” may be heard?], ICE PICKET. I had no idea “picket” could stand alone as a noun like that (as opposed to being partnered in “picket line”) until seeing that in a dictionary just now.
- 59a. [Part of a groom’s wedding outfit?], UNION JACKET.
- 3d. [Numbers after HI and OH, e.g.], ZIP CODES. Love this clue.
- 25d. [One may be written / Just like this clue is written / But a lot better], HAIKU. In crossword blogging / you always need some LolCats / to distract readers.
- 27d. [In theory], ON PAPER. I like this entry.
- 38d. [Vegetarian holiday dish], TOFURKEY. Now, the brand name product is Tofurky, but the generic word is spelled better, with the E. The brand name is one of the ugliest words ever.
- 41d. [Machine that can be set to talk like a British butler], GPS. Great clue.
- 43d. [Morissette song that, by failing to give examples of things that are its title, becomes said title], IRONIC.Quelle ironie!
- 46d. [Ridiculous Starbucks size], TRENTA. Although, is it really so ridiculous if it’s hotter than hell outside and you order a trenta iced tea?
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Ure Outta Here!” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Five common terms get a URE-ectomy, resulting in wacky (but slimmed down) new phrases:
- 17-Across: “Holy scripture” trims down to HOLY SCRIPT, the [Screenplay for “The Greatest Story Ever Told”?].
- 24-Across: “Popular culture” becomes a POPULAR CULT, a [Favorite of fanatic followers]. Two words about the alliterative clue: freakin’ fabulous.
- 34-Across” The television show “Northern Exposure” becomes NORTHERN EXPOS, or [Arctic fairs?]. A quarter says Jeffrey is sad the clue didn’t reference to Montreal Expos.
- 47-Across: The [Fruit found at Fenway?] is a BALLPARK FIG, a curtailing of “ballpark figure.” I would guess that any fruit served at Fenway Park would be either deep-fried or a garnish to a beer.
- 57-Across: A “lady of leisure” becomes a LADY OF LEIS, or a [Welcoming wahine?]. More alliteration? Wahoo!
All of the theme entries were terrific, and the fact that the -URE is cut off the very end of each theme entry is an added touch of elegance.
This is a great grid, with the paired 8s in two corners offset with triple-stacked 6s in the other corners. ISE, ORO, and TPK are the relatively small price we have to pay for such craftsmanship. It was odd to see SCRIP, the [Makeshift money], intersecting SCRIPT, but those are technically duplicates. There’s a nice history lesson in here too with STANTON, MUBARAK, Richie VALENS (intersecting his hit, DONNA, no less), and ELIHU Yale.
Favorite entry = L’CHAIM, the toast clued as [“To life!”]. Favorite clue = [Company that used to do a lot of development?] for KODAK.
Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Gareth’s review
Gareth here again. It looks like I am to be semi-permanently blogging the LA Times, Wednesday and Friday…
Today’s puzzle is by another familiar name, Doug Peterson. The theme is simple, but subtle. I had to look up at the theme answers after solving to grok it. The last words of the four longest answers are synonyms meaning, more-or-less “brutish person”. The upshot of this is it’s a way to tie together the set of fun answers in Doug’s grid…
- 17a. [“The Wonder Years” star], FREDSAVAGE. I wish I knew how his named popped into my head with a few crossers. Lord knows I couldn’t name another actor from the show, although I have watched it.
- 25a. [Muppet with a voracious appetite], COOKIEMONSTER. Who is a monster. Nevertheless, who doesn’t love Cookie Monster in their grid.
- 45a. [Online news site that merged with Newsweek in 2010], THEDAILYBEAST. They had a crossword once; also, it’s another zesty answer.
- 59a. [Onetime shelfmate of Count Chocula and Franken Berry], FRUITBRUTE. These were never sold outside of the States as far as I can tell. This one had a brutish werewolf as a mascot.
I think I’m right in saying many of Doug’s puzzles have a lot of baseball answers. The clue at 1A [As a shortstop, he won the A.L. Gold Glove in 2002 and 2003], had me flustered, but it turned out to just be crossword favourite, AROD. I still tried ALOU first! AROD is crossed by [Baseballer Herchiser] OREL only it’s clued as the [Russian city east of Kiev] of around 300, 000 souls. Its river, the OKA, also shows up in quite a few puzzles…
There were quite a few answers that made me smile among the long and medium-length answers. We get two Z’s worked in with the fun answers ONEDOZEN and TOPAZ. As a November baby a plonked the latter answer in straight away, but I’d be a bit more iffy on matching months and birthstones for the other eleven. We get to wonder how many CHEETAHS are called FLUFFY? ONBUTTON is an innovative answer and I found both DADDYO and MALDEMER to be charmingly quaint. Finally we have [Chemicals giant] DUPONT to whom all crossword constructors are eternally grateful for their choice of product names, all the -ONS, TEFLON, NYLON and not forgetting everyone’s favourite: ORLON!
I thought I’d end by pointing out that, though there’s not a whole lot of scope for devious cluing in an early-in-the-week LA Times puzzle, I thought [Highest sudoku digit] was a creative way to clue NINE!