David Poole’s New York Times crossword
Playful, unstale theme today. The name of CHUCK BERRY (56a. [One of the original Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, whose name is a hint to the answers to the four starred clues]) instructs us to enter the theme answers after chucking the “berry” portion:
- 17a. [*Drifter of literature], HUCKLE FINN.
- 28a. [*Potent potable in “Arsenic and Old Lace”], ELDER WINE.
- 33a. [*Nicole Kidman, hairwise], STRAW BLONDE.
- 43a. [*1985 Prince hit], RASP BERET.
In each case, “berry” would normally end the first of the two words. The theme phrases (with their berries) are a lively bunch, and CHUCK BERRY is always welcome.
I suspect the constructor intended this as a Thursday puzzle, given the openness of the corners and the word count of 72. But the clues took the venture down to near-Monday/Tuesday difficulty.
Four more things:
- 20a. [Sorrowful 1954 Patti Page hit], “I CRIED.” Didn’t know the title but the clue pretty much gave it away.
- 32a. [Big ___ (hallux)], TOE. Hallux valgus is the clinical term for bunions.
- 39a. [___ Savage, player of the boy on “Boy Meets World”], BEN. And the player of the dad (the same character, older) on Girl Meets World. Never saw either show.
- 22d. [Plane’s parking place], APRON. You don’t say.
You know that thing Matt Gaffney is wont to mention when he reviews an NYT puzzle? That the clues could all have been written a decade a more ago? The only clue I see that runs afoul of that is 15a. [Internet giant that purchased Flickr in 2005], YAHOO, with a 9-year-old fact. It wouldn’t be hard to freshen up the clues a bit. [Screenwriter Sorkin] was writing movies in the ’90s, but he won an Oscar for his Social Network script in 2010, for example. BEN Savage, as I said, is on a current show.
3.75 stars from me.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Reception Lines”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning everybody! Beware the Ides of October! (Wait, is that how it goes???)
Yesterday’s puzzle ushered in the funny with a riddle, and today’s grid, offered up to us by Mr. Tony Orbach, does more of the same, with puns relating to happenings at wedding receptions, with the resulting answers being popular idioms. And I have to say that it’s a very nice execution of the theme as well.
- DON’T GILD THE LILY: (17A: [Line to the wedding florist about excessive arrangements?])
- STAND AND DELIVER: (37A: [Line to the best man at speech time?])
- CATCH AS CATCH CAN: (57A: [Line to the crowd at the throwing of the bouquet?])
For about two seasons, I watched every episode of The Vampire Diaries at the request of, and as a favor to, a good friend (Thanks, Mariel…???), so getting NINA was an absolute cinch (3D: [Actress Dobrev of “The Vampire Diaries”]). I’m not up on it now, but I’ll have to ask my friend about the happenings of Elena and Co. during this current season. All this is to say that I know more about TVD than I should, including abbreviating the show’s name as such.
Not only do I have TVD in my mind, but I also have DEAN MARTIN and his popular tune in my head as well, and love seeing his entire name in the grid (28D: [“That’s Amore” crooner]). We also have a little music theme as well, with the presence of BANJO (1A: [Instrument that might have five strings]), USE ME (42A: [1972 Bill Withers hit]) and ARLEN (10D: [“The Wizard of Oz” composer Harold]). Oops, forgot another music reference with AFROS (49A: [The Jackson 5 have five]). I also had an AFRO comparable to the heights of the afros of each Jackson at one point, and the next time the entry (afro/afros) appears in a grid on CS/WaPo, I’ll try to produce a picture of me in my youth with my hair reaching to the sky.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KIDD (30D: [Basketball’s Jason]) – Because I know next to nothing about JET SKIING (4D: [Riding the waves, as in a personal watercraft]), I’ll stick with the hardwood and stay out of the water. Jason KIDD is currently the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks (after engineering his departure as coach of the Brooklyn Nets earlier this year) and, as a player, was one of the best point guards the league had ever seen. He retired from the game after the 2013 season ranking second all-time in NBA history in assists and steals, and third in three-pointers made. He also was one of the most versatile players in NBA history, as he recorded 107 career regular season triple-doubles – double figures in three basketball statistical categories (disregarding turnovers) in the same game.
Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you on Thursday!
Ben Tausig’s American Values Club crossword, “Crossing the Tracks”
Songs with matching letter counts get their final words swapped, with the resulting faux titles clued in goofy ways:
- 11a. [Conga line that began in Nazareth?], JESUS TRAIN.
- 16a. [Parkour techniques?], CRAZY WALKS. “Jesus Walks” and “Crazy Train” are two songs I don’t know at all.
- 58a. [Prince’s passion?], PURPLE FIRE.
- 62a. [Group tasked with organizing sorority rush week?], RING OF HAZE. Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze,” Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”
- 9d. [Guy who prefers Afghans and bassets?], HOUND MAN.
- 10d. [Chopin’s nickname, among his close peeps?], PIANO DOG, or whatever the Polish or French equivalents thereof may be. Elvis’s “Hound Dog,” Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.”
- 35d. [Hip-hop song about where Thanksgiving stuffing is supposed to go?], IN DA BIRD.
- 36d. [Offer on the golfing section of Craigslist?], FREE CLUB. “In Da Club,” not sure who that’s by Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.”
Favorite theme answer: IN DA BIRD. Recipe rap is the wave of the future, people.
Having JESUS TRAIN as the first themer in a puzzle called “Crossing the Tracks” did make me think everything would have a railroad angle. I forgot the rule that “track” always seems to mean “song” in indie puzzles.
Five more things:
- 2d. [Spinal column bone accorded mystical qualities in Judaism and Islam], LUZ. Say what? With the sort of weird clue for the L crossing (1a. [High mountain, in a certain back-formation] for ALP), this was a slow spot to complete.
- 30a. [Mil. bigwig], COMDR. Weird-looking abbreviation. It’s in the dictionary, though, as short for “commander.”
- 47a. [West of Hollywood], MAE. Also the name of new baby Tausig. Just a little bit of fame and she could find crossword immortality.
- 5d. [Label word after lo-], CAL. Can you find me a current example, outside of crosswords, in which a food package says “lo-cal” and not “low-“?
- 31d. [Neither Christopher Columbus nor Grover Cleveland], OHIOAN. I just heard this week that a bank in Ann Arbor, Michigan (home of University of Michigan) refused to honor the Columbus Day holiday because Columbus, Ohio is home to Michigan rival Ohio State. I’m fine with refusing to recognize Genocidal European Heritage Day, but not for a silly reason.
Neat theme, didn’t love the fill as much. 3.75 stars.
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
BACKUPPLAN becomes NALP hidden in theme phrases in today’s LA Times. A sound concept, though the resulting phrases are a touch dry:
- [Project windup], FINALPHASE
- [Subject of an antique auto owner’s quest], ORIGINALPART
- [Me, for one], PERSONALPRONOUN
- [Badlands or Death Valley], NATIONALPARK
Other PERSONALPRONOUNs can be found in the grid: HERESTOYOU, MAYI, IMIN
- [Take turns?], STEER
- [Vulgar language?], LATIN
- [“The Big Bang Theory” star], JIMPARSONS. Fails my breakfast test – horrible, simplistic characters that perpetuate stereotypes plus just plain unfunny.
- [“___ Free”: Minute Maid spec], PULP. Why would anyone not want the pulp???