Tom McCoy’s New York Times crossword
McCoy’s recent Sunday NYT won “Crossword of the Month” honors for November over at Gaffney on Crosswords. I did love that colorful puzzle, quite a bit more than his less ambitious offering here. The theme takes writers known by their first and middle initials and their last names, and converts the initials into a chemical symbol and swaps that out for the element’s name:
- 20a. [“The Sword in the Stone” author, to a chemist?], THORIUM WHITE. T.H., Th.
- 34a. [“The African Queen” author, to a chemist?], CESIUM FORESTER. C.S.
- 43a. [“The Children of Men” author, to a chemist?], PALLADIUM JAMES. P.D. James just died a couple weeks ago, at 94. Here’s an interview with her.
- 58a. [“The Island of Dr. Moreau” author, to a chemist?], MERCURY WELLS. H.G.
Clever theme. I like the SHIH-TZU and model’s JAWLINE in the fill, but found much of the fill to be rather more arid than I like—TRI-, UTE, ZEES, ONE-A, ETE, DAW, STS, OREM, ALII, SOCIO-, and STOA.
Three more things:
- 36d. [Full of innocent wonder], ROUND-EYED. Sort of an odd term. Not all of the mainstream dictionaries see fit to mention it.
- 55d. [About whom Obama said “There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music”], DYLAN. Said on the occasion of bestowing the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Really? I bet many of you can suggest someone who is a bigger giant in American music.
- 52d. [Something to be rubbed out?], GENIE. Surely I’m not the only one who snickers at such a clue.
3.5 stars from me. I liked the theme but the rest of the puzzle didn’t bring me much of a thrill.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Listen to This!”—Ade’s write-up
Welcome to another Hump Day, people! If music calms the savage beast, then today’s puzzle, brought to us today by Ms. Lynn Lempel, definitely did so with me using today’s theme. In the puzzle, each of the five theme answers are multiple-word entries in which the last word in each is also a type of musical genre.
- CHRIS ROCK: (18A: [Stand-up comic who voiced Marty the zebra in the “Madagascar” films]) Also, the voice of Li’l Penny, the doll featured in Nike commercials featuring former NBA All-Star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Remember that?
- BEAT THE RAP: (24A: [Manage to dodge a conviction])
- IT’S A FREE COUNTRY: (39A: [“This is the US of A, and I’ll say what I want!”])
- TOOTSIE POP: (52A: [Chewy-centered candy on a stick])
- BABY BLUES: (61A: [Trait associated with Sinatra])
Which childhood toy did you play with more: POGO (27D: [Kelly’s comic possum]) or LEGO (35A: [Colorful building brick])? As a matter-of-fact, I’ve never been on a pogo stick before. Guess it’s not too old to try, right? We get a couple of references to the Teflon Don with MAFIA (15A: [John Gotti’s group]) and BOSS (28A: [John Gotti, for one]). Speaking of doubling up, here’s hoping you know your enchantresses!! MEDEA was down my alley (3D: [Enchantress who helped get the Golden Fleece]), but not so much with CIRCE (67A: [Enchantress who turned Odysseus’s crew into swine]). Liked that the entire name of TSETSE FLY is in the grid, not so much that it’s such an African scourge (14D: [Dangerous biter]). There’s an interesting intersection with RUST (40D: [Worry for the Tin Man]) and LUST in the grid as well (44A: [Lascivious loving]). So did the Tin Man go lusting for a heart down the Yellow Brick Road?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BONY (47D: [Gaunt])– Ivorian soccer player Wilfried BONY is a forward who currently plays professionally in the Barclays Premier League with Welsh side Swansea City. In this past 2014 FIFA World Cup, Bony scored two goals in the three group games, including the game-tying goal in the 74th minute in the final group stage game vs. Greece. That goal looked to be getting the Ivory Coast through to the knockout phase, but Greece scored with the last kick of the game, a 93rd minute penalty which sealed a 2-1 Greek victory and saw Bony’s heroics wasted.
Have a great day, everyone, and I’ll see you on Thursday!
Gareth Bain’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s summary
So, I’m in the awkward position of blogging my own crossword again. This puzzle was inspired by Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venske’s GIRLCRAZY puzzle from a year or so back. As I recall, it used that revealer in a theme with words in phrases matching “___ girl”. I thought CRAZY worked better as implying anagramming, so I made my own puzzle; I got their green light to go ahead. I was happy to get all six permutations of the trigram boy into the puzzle (compare to the SCRAMBLED EGG one where I could only get 3…) As for the entries, I suspect TOKYOBAY will be unknown to some, but hopefully inferrable. Here’s an earworm for TWOBYFOUR.
This is the highest average Scrabble value of any puzzle I’ve had published. I think approximately one person cares about this fact.
There are definitely some compromises here. The existence of JARJAR Binks is not something I’d like to encourage, but with ??RJ?? what are you going to do? ANET is awful, but it stuck enough together that I decided other options with more smaller compromises were worse.
Rich Norris edited the clues heavily. [“Take me! Take me!” at the shelter] is one of my favourite clues of all time; I wish I wrote it.
Caleb Madison’s American Values Club crossword, “A Little Extra”
The theme answers add -ICLE to the end of familiar phrases to create goofy new phrases:
- 20a. [Wicked delicious Fla-Vor-Ice, brah?], BOSTON POPSICLE. I didn’t know “brah” had any Boston vibe to it, but “wicked” as an intensifier, yes.
- 25a. [Ball in development?], BETA TESTICLE.
- 36a. [“7 Things Only People Who Have Worked at a Restaurant Will Understand,” e.g.?], WAITING LISTICLE. Love this one. (Note to the editor: There’s an extra space before “Restaurant.”)
- 44a. [Thinkpiece about pumpkin spice drinks?], LATTE ARTICLE. I have never once received a drink with pretty latte art swirled on top. Do you think it’s because the world hates me, or is it because I don’t drink coffee?
- 54a. [Atom neither high nor low in mass?], MIDDLE PARTICLE.
The five theme entries take up a sizable amount of real estate here. Are there compromises as a result? Perhaps: YRS, EBRO, AS I, AD REM, OTO, AFL, ESSE, TO LET (with an all-too-rare clue that reflects the phrase’s extreme Britishness, [Sign on an open flat]—I hate hate hate TO LET clues that act as if every “For Rent” sign in the U.S. says “To Let”), SASES, and ETES. More blah bits than I like to see, fewer than I see in a great many daily puzzles. On the plus side, we also have THIRD-RATE, PALEO DIET, PRISS, and pop culture’s AVICII and NIALL.
Five more things:
- 21d. [Ltrs. within ltrs.], SASES. No, no, no. A self-addressed stamped envelope is not a “letter.” It’s an encl. within a ltr., sure, but not a ltr.
- 27d. [This puzzle’s constructor, e.g., for the next 3-4 months anyway :(], ELI. What? No! Caleb just started college! He can’t be graduating this spring. He must be transferring from Yale, right?
- 19a. [Like kids, often, or inappropriate for kids], DIRTY. Great clue.
- 60a. [Program with ancient history courses?], PALEO DIET. I’ll call it the paleo diet when these people start foraging for edible plant bits in the great outdoors. Also, more mammoth and beaver meat, less domesticated-cattle beef.
- 33d. [Rebellion, to the powers that be], RIOT. Mildly politicized and topical clue.
The relative newness of the word LISTICLE elevates this theme, if you ask me. PARTICLE and ARTICLE are so ordinary. (If you are aggrieved that people use the word listicle, or that such items exist in the greater journalism/publishing world, your mileage may vary.) 3.75 stars from me.