Molly Young and David Kahn’s New York Times crossword
The theme is famous people who refused the famous honors that could have been bestowed on them:
- 3d. [Actor who refused a 26-Down in 1971], GEORGE C SCOTT.
- 26d. [See 3-Down], ACADEMY AWARD. We all wanted to fill in MARLON BRANDO at 3d and were confused when the crossings denied it, didn’t we?
- 5d. [Rock star who refused a 37-Down in 2003], DAVID BOWIE.
- 37d. [See 5-Down], KNIGHTHOOD. I don’t think I knew that trivia.
- 15d. [Playwright who refused an 8-/57-Down in 1964], JEAN-PAUL SARTRE.
- 8d/57d. [See 15-Down] NOBEL / PRIZE.
I’m not sure why the theme answers run Down instead of Across. Because they “turned down” the prizes? Or because it was easier to fit the 16×15 grid in the taller dimension rather than going wider?
Six more things:
- 33a. [Modern prefix with aggression], MICRO-. Microaggressions are the seemingly endless onslaught of remarks and actions that serve to make women, people of color, LGBT folks, and so on feel othered or insulted.
- 39a. [Like virgin soil], UNSOWN. The word seems like it would apply to the seeds rather than the soil the seeds go in, but no.
- 44a. [Home of the elves known as huldufólk: Abbr.], ICEL. Around half of Icelandic people believe in elves.
- 73a. [Vertical strip on a map], TIME ZONE. Although not strictly vertical. There are tons of zigzags and deviations.
- 50d. [Poker game?], EPEE. Fencing with an epee is a “game”? Not keen on question-mark clues for blah answers that are overused in crosswords.
- 28d. [Onetime home of the Huns], STEPPE. I had the last two letters when I reached this clue, and filled in EUROPE. Anyone else?
Department of Minimizing the Consequences: 72d. [Some bad P.R. for a celeb], DUI. If the drunk driver injures or kills someone, the issue goes far beyond “bad P.R.”
3.75 stars from me. Wasn’t loving all of the fill, so below four stars.
Ben Tausig’s American Values Club crossword, “Taking Names”
The title can be interpreted as “stealing names,” aka identity theft. ID is short for identity, and in this puzzle, ID has been stolen from some entries and added to others (changing the phrases’ meanings):
- 17a. [Poetic figure of interconnection in a Douglas Hofstadter book ti … hey wait, I’m shiny, heavy lingerie!?], GOLDEN BRA. Never heard of “golden braid.”
- 20a. [European toilet fixture that you can’t possibly get hurt by?], SAFE BIDET. Safe bet + ID.
- 41a. [Crime committed four times in this puzzle’s grid, briefly], ID THEFT. Theme revealer.
- 63a. [Liquid purchased at a gas sta … hold on a second, I’m a virus that afflicts a certain household appliance!?], WASHER FLU. Washer fluid.
- 70a. [Pawn shop opened by Karzai after his presidency ended?], HAMID HOCK. Hamhocks meet Karzai.
- 9d. [In quick succ … huh, how did I become an inferno of Waka Flocka flames!?], RAP FIRE. Rapid fire.
- 10d. [Our nation’s supremely bitter capital?], ACID D.C. AC/DC.
- 55d. [Revealed … uhhh weird, why am I a Hollywood skin magazine!?], L.A. BARE. Laid bare.
- 51d. [Terrorist group that tries to win eBay auctions?], BID CELL. B cell.
Tough puzzle. Took me a while to figure out what the theme was doing, and then to piece together all of the theme answers. Plus, it’s 17 squares tall, so there were two extra rows to fill in.
- 4d. [Kevorkian sobriquet], DR. DEATH. Always makes me think of “My Sharona.”
- 53d. [Coot relative], MOORHEN, “a small aquatic rail with mainly blackish plumage.” Sure did not know that bird, and usually I’m pretty good with bird clues.
- 23a. [“Slouching Towards Bethlehem” author Joan], DIDION. She wants in on the theme. Something about Dion and the Belmonts?
- 60d. [1970 Neil Diamond single], SHILO. Don’t know it. Not a Neil Diamond aficionado.
Given the four stacked pairs of theme answers plus the center reveal, the grid gets a little crowded and we find ourselves grappling with EWER, ABOU, ORNE, TESTEE, ERDE, TWO-A, and AARE, along with the aforementioned MOORHEN and SHILO challenges.
3.75 stars from me.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Crying Inside”—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! Today’s crossword is far from a crying shame, although Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith’s offering definitely involves turning on some waterworks. Each of the four theme answers are two-word entries in which the word “tear” spans the two words. Oh, and we have TEARS as the reveal as well in the grid (65A: [Signs of sorrow, and a hint to the word hidden inside 17-, 24-, 45-, and 57-Across]).
- DEFINITE ARTICLE (17A: [Sentence element, often])
- PLANET EARTH (24A: [Our world])
- LATE ARRIVAL (45A: [“Fashionable” partygoer, say]) – That’s usually me when putting up my reviews on here each day!
- CONFEDERATE ARMY (57A: [Lee’s command])
Pretty straightforward puzzle without too many hang-ups, but definitely some TEETH (13D: [Saw features]). Of all the things to possibly notice, all I thought about the unintentional (?) placement of SHEDS right next to ‘tears’ in the grid (64A: [Leaves hair here and there]). The weather is definitely heading towards summer rapidly, though I don’t think I will GO FOR A DIP anytime soon, since I’m not a swimmer and usually don’t make my way towards a beach or a pool (3D: [Cool off at the pool]). Back at my parents’ apartment, I bet there are at least five TAPE DECKS that my father had bought/ordered/picked up off the street, as my father was such a huge fan of reel-to-reel players (40A: [Players that are mostly obsolete]). Might have to plug one of those back on and give it a whirl for old times’ sake.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: AT BAT (42A: [Facing the pitcher]) – This was a tough crossword to choose a word and give a sports slant to it since I used a couple of them already in earlier editions. We’ll go with AT BAT, and let you know that there are situations in which a batter is not officially credited with an at-bat, even though he/she actually saw at least one pitch. If a batter walks, gets credited with a sacrifice fly or sacrifice bunt, gets hit by a pitch or reaches on a catcher’s interference, that turn at the plate is not an official at-bat. (It does go down as a plate appearance, though.)
Thank you all for your time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Jack McInturff’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Despite an open design that doesn’t normally facilitate fast solving; and a constructor, Jack McInturff, who is culturally on a different planet to me; this crossword played very easy for me. The theme is of a basic early week variety. BEFOREHAND means the first word of the four other long across answers can complete “___ HAND”. These are: IRON HAND (a far less comment variant of IRONFIST), HIRED HAND, RANCH HAND (very similar to the previous one, yes?) and GLAD HAND (a barely familiar phrase meaning to greet with fake enthusiasm, it seems). They occur in: IRONFILING, HIREDGUN (HIREDHAND and HIREDGUN are again very similar), RANCHDRESSING, and GLADRAGS (obligatory link to Chris Farlowe).
I must say I admire the grid design: big open corners and yet it all feels fairly balanced. A couple of partials and scattered difficult answers that may be termed crossword-esey, but all in check.
- [No-frills sleeper], COT. Here’s cots are where infants sleep, and they have plenty of frills…
- [Loathsome things], NASTIES. Most famously in the phrase “video nasties”.
- [Boston __: ’50s TV detective], BLACKIE. See? Jack McInturff’s cultural frame of reference and mine? Poles apart!
Theme was subpar for me, but enjoyed the rest of it mostly…