Ian Livengood and the J.A.S.A Crossword Class’s New York Times crossword
Wow, I don’t expect to get hit with a theme entry I’ve never heard of on a Wednesday. The theme is FIVE STARS, [What 17-, 23-, 33- and 47-Across each have], and 5 stars apply to each of these:
- 17a. [Luxury hotel overlooking Central Park], THE PIERRE. Never heard of it. This might be the sort of provincial NYCism that irks many national solvers.
- 23a. [First chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1949], OMAR BRADLEY. Five-star general.
- 33a. [Constellation visible in Melbourne and Sydney], SOUTHERN CROSS.
- 47a. [Flier over Tiananmen Square], CHINESE FLAG. Would FLAG OF CHINA be a smidgen better? No?
Likes in the fill: IN-STATE tuition, THE MOB, “TRUE THAT.”
Surprised to see in a first-half-of-the-week puzzle: [Region known for its black tea] ASSAM, [Swiss canton] URI, and [Small sea projection] ARMLET. I think the “bracelet for the upper arm” sense of ARMLET is far more commonly known than the water definition.
Three more things:
- Shouldn’t 35d. [Derby hopeful] be OWNER rather than HORSE?
- 14a. [Quechua speaker], INCA. Don’t think that the language died out long ago. Quechua is an official language of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, and millions of people speak the language today.
- 18d. [Classic Langston Hughes poem], “I, TOO.” Have you read the poem? It’s short. Go read it.
Four stars from me, despite the puzzle lobbying for a “LOVED it, FIVE STARS” review.
Patti Varol’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Made to Order”—Ade’s write-up
Welcome to Hump Day, everyone! I hope you’re doing very well. I also hope you had some fun doing today’s puzzle, which was brought to us by Ms. Patti Varol, who’s probably still shaking her head after her New York Mets lost again last night and dropped to .500 for the first time in almost three months. Anyways, we’re talking puzzles! Anagrams are the story of the day today, with the
five six theme answers containing a five-letter word that winds up being an anagram of each of the other five-letter words contained within the other theme answers. The reveal, TESLA COIL, clues us in on the gist of the puzzle (11D: [High-voltage transformer, or an alternate title for this puzzle?]).
- MISTER SLATE (17A: [Fred Flintstone’s boss]) – Better Hanna-Barbera boss? Mr. Slate or Mr. Spacely?
- TO SAY THE LEAST (24A: [“That’s putting it mildly”])
- STEAL THIS BOOK (47A: [Abbie Hoffman’s counterculture manifesto])
- TATTLETALES (58A: [Playground snitches]) – The only one of the themes that is one word instead of two. And I can confidently say that I was never a tattletale when I was a youth running around in playgrounds and seeing misdemeanors being committed near the monkey bars.
- *Addendum* – STALE JOKE (32D: [Chestnut]) – More on this clue below.
So just like Porto/Oporto, I was temporarily confused when I filled in LYONS, as I had only heard of the city being referred to as Lyon for so long (44A: [French cathedral city]). I had the first four letters filled in, then said, “There has to be something wrong!” Referring to the opening of this graph, that sort of confusion happened much earlier to me in a grid when having to answer for the Portuguese city that I had only known as Porto. Speaking of getting slightly confused, the same happened with STALE JOKE, as I’m used to hearing that being described as an ‘old chestnut,’ but I’m pretty sure I heard it without ‘old’ being said a while back (32D: [Chestnut]). Loved the clue and entry of TRELLIS, referring to climbing plants (10D: [Creeper keeper]). Though the constructor is a Mets enthusiast, there’s some Yankees love in the grid with one of the M&M Boys, Roger MARIS (33A: [61-in-’61 slugger]). Of all the times I’ve entered LA LAW in a crossword puzzle, the theme song, which is a fairly memorable one (for those who are ’80s junkies) never creeped into my mind at any time when putting in that answer (22A: [Susan Dey series]). That is, until right now. But the song/earworm you definitely should have in your head right now is the one from A-HA (46A: [“Take On Me” band]). You’re welcome…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: EMERSON (5D: [Writer known as “The Sage of Concord”]) – As much as fellow Fiend bloggers Sam Donaldson and Doug Peterson would love it if I chose to talk about MOM (28D: [May day honoree]), the abbreviation used by the old WWF tag team Men on a Mission, I choose today to talk about Australian tennis great Roy EMERSON, who won 12 Grand Slam singles titles in his career – a record on the men’s side until Pete Sampras surpassed him in 2000. All of his Grand Slam singles titles came before the Open Era began in 1968, with his last Grand Slam singles title win coming at the French Open in 1967. Emerson is the only male tennis player to have won the career Grand Slam in singles and in doubles, as he was a part of 16 Grand Slam titles in doubles.
Thank you all so much for your time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Gareth Bain’s LA Times crossword — Matt’s review
Matt here filling in for Gareth, since he wrote this puzzle. I’ll go right to the punch line: 61-A is [Wayne’s World catchphrase, and a hint to the end of the answers to starred clues] = PARTY TIME. And each of those starred clues ends with a word meaning “party”:
17-A [*Lightweight kitchen appliance] = HAND MIXER
24-A [*”Let me help”] = WHAT CAN I DO
37-A [*Not doing one’s job] = DROPPING THE BALL
50-A [*Romance] = LOVE AFFAIR
***Normally I don’t dig it when there’s fill that’s as long as theme, especially if they run parallel to that theme, as here. But URIAH HEEP is such a good entry that I’ll make an exception, and I like AA MEETING as one of the 9-letter downs as well.
***Other good fill: SEE YA, PART TWO, OH MY!, MINSK, RABBI, WWII and PINKERTON.
***Less good fill: French IDEE crossing Italian TRE, half-only MAU, only-used-in-“pratfall” PRAT.
Byron Walden’s American Values Club crossword, “Stock Options”
Oh, hey, I forgot to blog this earlier. Theme is FISH HEADS, 61a. [Certain soup flavorers, or what both halves of this puzzle’s seven theme entries can be?]. The theme entries are all two-word things where each word can precede “fish.” BLUE ANGEL, bluefish and angelfish. CATCH COLD, catch fish (verb + plural noun?), cold fish (metaphorical thing). WHITE GOLD, whitefish and goldfish. LION KING, lionfish and the kingfish, which I’ve never heard of. DEVIL DOG, devilfish (can be a devil ray or something else), dogfish. GO FLYING, Go Fish card game and flying fish. ROCK STAR, rockfish and starfish. It’s a little weird that we get 11 kinds of actual fish, a game, a verb phrase, and a nonliteral fish.
The AV Club team is on crack if they think this is a 2/5 on the difficulty scale, though. I’m calling it 3.5 because it took me longer than a Friday NYT. That ain’t easy-peasy!
Five more things:
- 15a. [Willow in basketry], OSIER. Crosswordese alert!
- 16d. [Gets new actors for], RECASTS. When editors recast a sentence, the words are shuffled around to avoid something that wasn’t working.
- 42d. [Ocean Spray portmanteau], CRAISIN. I filled in CRAN*** right off the bat; that slowed me down here.
- 35a. [Bird whose scientific name is Ardea alba], EGRET. Didn’t know that, but alba = white and the snowy egret is white.
- 47a. [Jewish community org. for females], YWHA. Not sure I knew this existed. YWCA and YMHA, yes.
Four stars from me.