David Woolf’s New York Times crossword
I’ve seen other car gear themes before. There was a 2009 NYT daily with PARK, REVERSE, NEUTRAL, and DRIVE, and a 2009 NYT Sunday rebus puzzle also including the numerical gears. This one’s got five phrases ending with gears, and a revealer:
- 18a. [*Legoland, for one], THEME PARK.
- 29a. [*Tricky football play], DOUBLE REVERSE. Never heard of it.
- 34a. [*Like you or me?], GENDER-NEUTRAL. “Hey, speak for yourself, buddy!”
- 44a. [*Essential feature of a PC], INTERNAL DRIVE.
- 57a. [*Equal rival], SWEET N LOW.
- 68a. [Quintet representing the ends of the answers to the five starred clues], PRNDL.
I think we can all agree that we’re not interested in seeing a Sunday-sized version of this theme in four months’ time (that happened in 2009), and that probably we are going to continue getting puzzles with gear themes every few years when another constructor hits on the idea again. I am likely to remain unexcited.
- 22a. [Busy time at Speedway or Churchill Downs], RACE DAY. Didn’t know RACE DAY was a thing.
- 41a. [South American wildcat], EYRA. Whoa. I’m sure pannonica knows of this beast, but I’ve never heard of it. It wasn’t even in this pick-out-the-felines Sporcle quiz. (I got all 12 in 30 seconds, guessing right on one I’d never heard of; pannonica nailed them in 17 seconds flat and of course knew of all the cats.)
- 64a. [TV actor Jason], O’MARA. Who? He’s Irish and he’s been in a bunch of things I haven’t seen.
- 12d. [Firth of Clyde island], ARRAN. Not to be confused with Ireland’s Aran Islands, famed for the chunky sweaters.
- 50d. [Muslim princely title], NAWAB. Also not a common word. I’m frankly surprised to find EYRA, O’MARA, ARRAN, and NAWAB as early in the week as Wednesday.
3.33 stars from me.
Aimee Lucido’s American Values Club crossword, “Get With the Program”
This theme is so Aimee—she’s a software engineer, and the theme answers are phrases that start with words that are also software languages. The phrases are clued as if they relate to the coding languages:
- 17a. [Dog that programs on a Commodore 64?], BASIC BITCH. If “basic bitch” is new to you, read up. I like the statement that “bro” is the male equivalent. (Note: Only in crosswords is “bro” still considered urban/street/black lingo.)
- 29a. [Lingo specific to Android programming?], JAVA JIVE.
- 45a. [Lab for some low-level coding?], C-SECTION. Is this a college science thing, lab = SECTION?
- 62a. [The edginess of a high-level language?], PYTHON BITE. Word to the wise: Do not Google python bite.
I like the title’s interaction with the theme here.
Five more things:
- 11d. [One with a strong temper], SPITFIRE. This word is sorely underused.
- 43d. [Certain Grindr message contents], DICK PIC. I was assuming “contents” was plural here and having DICK PIX slowed me down.
- 60a. [Jesus who could hit a curveball well], ALOU. Fun clue.
- 48d. [Big name in armored vehicles], DUNBAR. The money trucks, not military vehicles. The only other DUNBAR that comes to mind is Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves character.
- 36a. [Last name of an actor — or a food — that Redditors are obsessed with], BACON. I am so, so tired of the bacon fetish.
This puzzle was sent out labeled with a 2.5/5 difficulty level. I vote for at least 3.5!
Four stars overall.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Bar Orders”—Ade’s write-up
It’s New Years’ Eve, everybody! Hope things are well with you as you get ready to bring in the New Year. There’s a good chance that ringing in the New Year will involve some sort of alcohol, and, if so, be very careful and safe. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, lines up different kinds of orders that you could have at a bar with the last words in each of the theme answers. Drink up, everybody!
- COLLEGE DRAFT: (20A: [Bar order at a campus pub?])
- PARTING SHOT: (32A: [Bar order at closing time?])
- WITCHES BREW: (41A: [Bar order from Broom Hilda?])
- FRANKEN STEIN: (52A: [Bar order from a Minnesota Senator?])
In about 6-8 hours from now, you might be hearing a lot of EURO POP when a lot of the continent rings in the New Year (5A: [ABBA music, e.g.]). Loved the fill of CHARISSE (10D: [One of Astaire’s partners]) and ON SERVE, which is something (serving a tennis ball) that I wish I could do much, much better (30D: [Like a tennis match without breaks]). Took a little while to unearth HANK from the recesses of my brain when staring at its clue (42D: [Handful of hair]). If anyone is still driving/owns a TERCEL, let me know and I’ll give you a round of applause for holding onto your beloved, now-outdated vehicle (4D: [Old Toyota model]). I can empathize a little, given that I drive a Ford Taurus, a car that was discontinued just a year after I bought my first car, which was that Taurus. It’s now back in production, but totally took pride back then in the fact that I had bought a model that was then discontinued not too long after. Or maybe I should have taken it as a sign that the car I was buying was junk, possibly?!?!?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: TIE (3D: [20-20 or 50-50]) – Although a rarity nowadays, a TIE does remain a possibility in American major sports, and, earlier in the NFL this season, the Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals played to a 37-37 tie on Oct. 12. There have only been five ties in the NFL since 2000, and two of them have involved the Bengals. The National Hockey League eliminated the possibility of tie games when they introduced the shootout after overtime periods after the 2004-05 lockout wiped out the entire NHL season. Lame!
See you all in 2015, everyone!
Alex Miller’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I think I’ve seen this theme before somewhere recently, the NYT? But no matter. IVYLEAGUE translates to phrases ending in IV: LOUISXIV (bonus points if you filled the numerals in without checking!), ROYGBIV, TELAVIV, and PROACTIV. I think it’s interesting to be able to find a set of answers with such an unusual ending.
The worst section of fill by far is the top middle: FESS/LSAT/STE/ESAI/singular EAVE is not a pleasing block of fill. The top-left also has a couple of irregular abbrs. Do you see ENER or PERF in the wild?
The plus side is, outside of that, it’s mostly very well and interestingly filled. There’s an ALIBABA MESSKIT in the top-right, a SEALPUP in the top-left, some Z action with VUVUZELA and GADZOOKS, the latter crossing ZYGOTE. I also think crosswords in general need more SALIVA.
Strangest clue: [Lampshade-shaped chocolate] for ROLO. Huh???