David Poole’s New York Times crossword
It’s Thursday, time for a rebus puzzle. In my house, PB is peanut butter (… or Patrick Berry … or Patrick Blindauer), but here it’s Pb, the chemical symbol for lead: 61a. [Legendary guitarist … or a hint to eight answers in this puzzle] clues LEADBELLY, and the “belly” section of four crossing pairs of answers is a square with PB in it. We get POP BOTTLES (not “soda,” yay!) crossing TOP BID, UPBEAT with LIP BALMS, APBS with DEEP BLUE, and RASPBERRY with CUPBOARD. Solid rebus concept and execution.
Five more things:
- I like BRUCE LEE, BRASSERIE, OVEREATER, CARELESS, and “I MEANT IT.”
- Toughest geographical crossing: 24d. [The “high heel” of Italy’s “boot”], APULIA, meets 28a. [Capital of Majorca], PALMA at the P. I’ve seen Palma way more than Apulia, but Palma’s tough because Majorca’s not a country and Palma’s not a national capital. At least Bolivia’s judicial capital, SUCRE, doesn’t cross any other proper nouns.
- 49d. [Like M, L or XL, but not S], ROMAN. I see what the clue’s doing, but I don’t think ROMAN is sufficient. Those are Roman numerals. The alphabet the Romans used absolutely included S.
- 44a. [One of the I’s of ISIS], IRAQ. There was some discussion (much of it negative) about the inclusion of ISIS at 1-Across in last Sunday’s NYT. The naysayers probably would have appreciated an IRAQ clue that didn’t give ISIS another mention. What say you?
- As often happens when the theme restricts a lot of the fill, the Scowl-o-Meter kicked into gear. ASTA (at 1-Across!), ECARTE, SUCRE, ODEONS, OBE, BELG, CRESC, APULIA, ETTES (plural suffix!).
3.5 stars from me.
Jacob Stulberg’s Fireball crossword, “Timberline”
Okay, there’s something I’m not grasping in this theme. 20-, 33-, and 43-Across are all trees with at least one O in their name. The Down crossings for the O’s need to be seen as a slash: AND/OR, YES/NO, C/O, N/A. Peter’s solution grid shows O’s or 0’s or circles with a slash through them; I don’t know how to make those show up in my grid. Then there’s the theme revealer: 56a. [1965 song (or what 20-, 33-, and 43-Across become in this puzzle?)], NORWEGIAN WOOD. No idea what that means. Wait, is it just that the Norwegian language includes ø? Because it also includes a plain O with no slash. If the theme is about ø, then I’m not finding that satisfactory at all. It’s not as if “white øak” is a Norwegian name for the tree. This is not hitting the whimsy spot in my brain.
Four more things:
- 57d. [“God of Carnage” playwright Yasmina], REZA. That’s solid, but I’m a little surprised writer and TV pundit REZA Aslan wasn’t the subject of the clue.
- 36d. [Hate-filled, in a way], POISON PEN. Only when used to modify something written. A hate-filled person isn’t a poison pen person, but they might write a poison pen letter.
- 60d. [Stat that goes down when you hit a sac fly], OBP? On-base percentage? Not the sort of baseball stat that comes readily to mind for non-avid baseball fans. Or avid nonfans.
- 34d. [Flamingo habitats?], LAWNS. Timely, as the creator of the plastic lawn flamingo died quite recently.
I dunno, this puzzle just didn’t resonate with me. Three stars.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Come Together” — Ben’s Review
For as much as I love crosswords that push the boundaries of what can be done with the medium, sometimes it’s really really nice to have a theme that’s straightforward. Especially if it’s done well, which this week’s BEQ Thursday is. I’m more than certain I’ve solved crosswords themed around THE BEATLES (65A) before, and possibly even Beatles mashups before, but this still felt fresh and was a fun solve. It’s all about overlapping song titles in the theme clues:
- 17A: Despicable golfer Tom? — MEAN MR KITE (“Mean Mr Mustard”/”Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”)
- 23A: 24 hours spent around Stalingrad? — A DAY IN THE USSR (“A Day in the Life”/”Back in the USSR”)
- 38A: “We stop serving at ten past”? — FOR NO ONE AFTER 909 (“For No One”/”One After 9 o 9”)
- 54A: “My coal pit ain’t for sale!”? — CAN’T BUY ME MINE (“Can’t Buy Me Love”/”I Me Mine”)
Lots of other great words and cluing throughout the puzzle. SIKHS (1A) came up at pub quiz the night before I solved the puzzle, making for an easy (if coincidental) get out of the gate, and I can’t say it’s often that I’ve seen HENTAI (4D), CHEETO (22D), and NINTENDO (39D) in the same puzzle. Or for that matter, that I’ve seen the phrase “baby batter” (37D) used in the clues for a crossword. I didn’t love the crossing of ZAX (21A), which feels like a more obscure Seuss work, with TOKAY (6D), an equally hard-to-think-of Hungarian wine, but I’ll let it slide because there was so much of this puzzle I liked. Great job, Brendan!
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “This Cost Me an Arm and a Leg! Twice!”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, is a pretty cute theme, with the words “arm” or “leg” excised from common phrases, creating puns that still somewhat make sense, even without taking out those letters. Well, at least for a couple of the entries, the entry makes sense with its corresponding clue with or without removing the arm/leg.
- FOREIGN ION (17A: [CERN particle?]) – From “foreign legion.”
- CHINK IN THE OR (28A: [Hosp. surgery center crack?]) – From “chink in the armor.”
- ARTHURIAN END (49A: [Death on Avalon, some say?]) – From “Arthurian legend.”
- CAUSE FOR AL (65A: [Global warming?]) – From “cause for alarm.” Good one!
This grid was definitely for the birds, with IBIS (10A: [Cousin of a spoonbill]), TERNS (44A: [Wetlands birds]) and TEALS all appearing in the grid (46A: [Wetlands birds]). Initially typed in ‘terns’ where ‘teals’ ended up being to start. I’ll admit that I’ve had a couple of moments earlier in my life where I ended up saying, “I DID WHAT,” but the scenario outlined in its clue today definitely has not happened to me before (10D: [Question posed after waking up with a lampshade on one’s head]). Umm, maybe. I randomly thought about the rhyming, intersecting entries of ROADIE (15A: [One who helps Coldplay play]) and ODIE, and imagined a “Garfield in Concert” cartoon with Odie as his roadie (7D: [Cartoon canine]). Does any contemporary singer/group sing DOO-WOP (53A: [Music style of the Drifters and the Platters]), as an homage to a BYGONE ERA (11D: [Roaring Twenties, for example])? There are a good number of singers whose styles harken back to a genre that was popular years ago, but I don’t think there’s one going right now that channels doo-wop. That genre would be great to bring back into the national consciousness.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CAPS (57D: [Spending limits]) – The Washington Capitals, CAPS for short, are a National League Hockey team that, two months ago, continued one of the most head-scratching trends of any professional sports team in history. Including this year, the Caps have led in a best-of-seven playoff series by a three-games-to-one count a total of five times in franchise history. Of those five series, how many times did the Caps win that fourth game to win the series. ZERO. In the 2015 Eastern Conference semifinals, the Washington opened up a 3-1 series lead against the New York Rangers, only to lose the last three games, including in overtime in the deciding Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.
TGIF tomorrow! Have a good rest of your Thursday, everyone!
Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I’m close to a hundred percent sure that AEMT anagrams have featured as a crossword theme many times before. That said, METAMORPHIC as a revealer is excellent: META morphs into the other three combinations used. Me though, I prefer progressive or blues rock to metamorphic… [Patient care group], MEDICALTEAM was the pick of the three theme answers; [Political convention announcement], RUNNINGMATE and [Casing filler], SAUSAGEMEAT round out the set.
The grid design is pretty conservative. It eschews the use of longer non-theme answers to spruce the grid up. SORESPOT and STIMULI are the picks of the medium-length answers – as I said, fairly prosaic.
- [Video game brother], LUIGI. When playing two-player, did anyone ever WANT to be LUIGI?
- [“Frasier” role], ROZ. I can never remember if her name takes an ‘S’ or a ‘Z’. I didn’t know the crossing [Aunt in “Nancy”], FRITZI, but a ‘Z’ seemed more plausible.
- [It’s usually not more than a foot], TAPIN. Great clue! May be a little arcane to those not conversant in golf. When you hit your shot very near to the hole, you may be allowed to assume the next shot would have gone in – a “TAPIN” – to save time.
- [Slush Puppie maker], ICEE. Had a Slush Puppie (‘ie’??) for the first time in ages, recently at the flicks. It does seem to be crap cooldrink disguised by iciness…
- [Eighth-century pope], PAULI. What!? Wolfgang is orders of magnitude better known than some random pope!
- [Ratt or Poison], BAND. Fabulous clue. Awful bands.
Loved the revealer, but mostly a little on the staid side: 3.25 Stars