Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword
Two NYT puzzles in a row with circled squares? Okay. Ian’s theme is HUMP DAY (53a. [Middle of the week … or an appropriate title for this puzzle]), and there are four humped CAMELs in the grid. I don’t think the central NEW MANAGEMENT is thematic, is it? The theme is 53-Across and the triple-checked CAMELs, right?
Favorite fill: ATTA BOY, the terrific SLOW BURN, ZIPPO, NEW MANAGEMENT, WESTJET, AMOS OZ, SOLAR PANELS, YES WE CAN, GAME SHOW, and HOMECOMINGS (though that would be better without the S).
Unlikeable fill includes plural EBONS (plural colors aren’t any better than plural names, are they?), LOAM SOIL (prefer just LOAM or LOAMY SOIL), SNO-, OUSE, and -ANE. Not surprising to find some blah stuff given the Thursdayish word count of 74, the long fill, the corners with stacked 7s. They didn’t ruin my solving experience, mind you. Sometimes a plethora of blah fill truly does.
Despite the extreme flatness of the word EELPOT, dang, I would rather have had that than 44d: POL POT. The dictator (clued so neutrally as a “leader” here!) ruled for 4 years, during which 25% of Cambodians—1 to 3 million people—perished. Sure, Hitler far out-slaughtered Pol Pot in his 12 years, but it doesn’t make Pol Pot a welcome name in a piece of entertainment. Imagine you’re a solver who lost family members in Cambodia. Fun puzzle?
22d. [Bicep image, briefly], TAT? No. It’s on the biceps muscle. You can casually use the “bicep” shortening, but a crossword clue’s supposed to obey the rules when it comes to words.
- 6d. [World capital half of which consists of forest], OSLO. Did not know that.
- 26d. [They’re blown on for good luck], DICE.
- 36d. [Image in the Timberland logo], TREE.
Francis Heaney’s AVCX crossword, “Double, Double” — Ben’s Review
After last week’s 6/5-rated puzzle, the AVCX may have had you seeing red if you got stumped. This week, Francis Heaney’s 3/5 will have you seeing double. I mean that literally – for the theme clues, though, it’s all about figuring out phrases who have had two of their letters double to make other items:
- 17A: Green clumps growing on decorative Christmas plants? – HOLLY MOSSES
- 21A: Dark cloths draped over the back of hammer-shaped coffins? – PEEN PALLS
- 29A: Enclosure for wetlands cattle? – REED CORRAL
- 45A: Holler so as to get the attention of a former Tonight Show host? – BELLOW PAAR
- 55A: “Take that step! Make that leap! Plant that flag and plant it deep! Goooooo Armstrong!”, e.g.? – MOON CHEER
- 62A: Breakfast waffles eaten at dinnertime? – SUPPER EGGOS
- 2D/49D: Slime to be delivered to Actress Shields? – GOO FOR BROOKE
I kind of wish there had been another set of down clues that fit the theme clue pattern (11D‘s TOLL FREE, while fitting the double-double pattern, doesn’t count), but this puzzle was so jam-packed with theme material that I can’t complain too much. 29A fell for me last, since I got brain-locked on somehow including MANATEE (since they’re the “sea cow”) even though I already had most of CORRAL in the grid. As with most puzzles by Francis, I found a lot of other clues/entries to love this week:
- 36A: “Most likely to be offended by a t-shirt that reads ‘OMG! It’s R2-D2! I loved him in Star [27-Across]!’ below a picture of a Dalek” – NERDIEST. (I would like to think I’m not this bad, but I did just correct a trivia host a week ago about a Doctor Who question that was incorrect.)
- 51A: “___! I didn’t need to know all these details about the ___ nuclear accident!” – TMI. (This was one of those ones where after reading the clue I almost skipped past it because I couldn’t think of a nuclear accident, then immediately circled back once my brain remembered what TMI also stands for in that regard.)
- 65A: “‘Give Schweppes Ginger ____ try!’ (Brilliant soda slogan I just made up) (This clue dedicated to the great Merl Reagle, the master of saving weak entries; RIP, Merl)” – ALEA (1. RIP, Merl. 2. Booooooooooooo)
This was a nice puzzle with a fun theme and lots of good cluing. 4/5 stars.
David Poole’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Today’s theme: five answers begin with synonyms for “make fun of”. They don’t mean that in their original phrases, but the clues are re-imagined such that they did. All theme answers are plurals, two naturally, and three pluralised for convenience. All the transformed answers are verb phrases – three of these changed from being noun phrases, while two merely had the meaning of their verb change. Lastly, the synonymity seems kind of loose, though I guess it’s tough to compile a theme like this and not suffer from that. MOCKTURTLENECKS (never heard of that, but it seems to be a thing), ROASTPIGS and PUTONAIRS make sense as clued. I’m slightly less sure of RIDEBIKES, but I think Americans do use RIDE in that manner. KIDGLOVES, on the other hand, doesn’t parse for me. Is this an American usage I don’t understand?
The interesting non-theme answers come in the form of names today: BEEGEES, TRUDEAU (wonder if our Canadian constructor clued it as Pierre or Justin?) and KUROSAWA (not linking to BNL).
There were some ugly moments: ELIZ/EZINES is a particularly joyless Z. There’s also a double dose of RESODS and REOIL and slightly more typical “glue” than usual.
[Proverbial reason for a break?], STRAW is an apt echo of the NY Times puzzle…
3 Stars. May be pursuaded puzzle is better if the theme answers parse better to Americans…
Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Fish Tale”—Ade’s write-up
Hey there, everyone. Sorry that I can’t stay too long: currently covering a tennis tournament in New Haven, CT and am running around the grounds as if I’m a tennis player in a long rally! Today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Alan Arbesfeld, is completing another funny line, this time about fishing. It specifically plays on the multiple meanings of the final word, fluke, which is also a type of fish.
- I’M SO AWKWARD WITH A ROD AND REEL THAT WHEN I CATCH A FISH IT’S ALWAYS A FLUKE (17A: [Start of a quip about fishing]); 25A, 44A & 57A: [Quip, Part 2; Quip, Part 3; End of the quip]).”
Another day, and another hockey reference to OILER (62A: [Edmonton hockey player]). Can the artists formerly known as the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) get some love if/when OILER is used?! I’m sure people like Warren Moon, Earl Campbell and Dan Pastorini don’t find the lack of Houston Oiler references funny. But what was/is funny is the appearance of CONWAY, and I just found out about a month ago that he’s still active and voices one of the characters on SpongeBob SquarePants (45D: [Comedian Tim of “The Carol Burnett Show”]). Can’t stay too long, as I’m about to back on to the courts, but at least today’s “sports…smarter” reference refers to tennis…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ASHE (13A: [Arthur in the International Tennis Hall of Fame]) – First of all, it’s official that A Lot of Sports Talk, the site/business that I founded and own, has been approved for a media credential to attend the U.S. Open for the first time! Woohoo! When I do make it to the Flushing section of Queens, I will see some some serious renovations at ASHE Stadium, the main show court at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Construction is well underway on building a retractable roof, and the projection is that it will be fully installed in time for the 2016 U.S. Open.
Thank you for your time and patience, and I’ll see yom tomorrow! Shoutout to Omobola Koiki, or BOLA for short (10A: [Gaucho’s weapon]). That’s my mom, for those who didn’t know…which is probably everyone reading this line until this second.