Jim Peredo’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
I knew where we were headed from the first theme answer. I enjoyed the trip, nonetheless, and there was still a surprise at the end.
Each theme answer has circles that contain related – expressions? sounds? exclamations? interjections?
- 21a [City called the “Silicon Valley of India”] = BANGALORE.
- 34a [Little Italian girls] = BAMBINAS. I’m sure this is correct. It’s also not the most familiar form of the word to non-Italian-speaking USers.
- 45a [Post-lunch pick-me-up] = POWER NAP. Now this, I like. I gather the thing to do is drink coffee and immediately go to sleep. In theory, you wake up after twenty minutes, when the caffeine hits, and the sleep and coffee act synergistically. If I tried that, I’d be shaky and tachycardic and not any better off.
- 55a [Hendrix famously used one in his Woodstock rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”] = WHAMMY BAR. Is it just me, or does that sound like it should be a kind of candy?
And the revealer at 71a [1960s TV icon whose name follows a pair of letters found, appropriately, 16 times in this puzzle’s Across answers] = BATMAN. The pair of letters is NA. Remember the theme from the TV show? “Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na…BATMAN.” The circles, of course, give us the cartoon “sound” effects.
I love this theme. I just love it. I’m a child of the ’60s (and I do mean child) with fond memories of that TV show; we had to watch it at other people’s houses because my mother thought it gave my brother nightmares. The reason for the circles was obvious; it’s the NA NA NA NA that makes it genius.
The fill doesn’t detract from the theme, which is all I ask.
- Drinks! ALES and ADES and NECTAR and things that are ON TAP.
- Names! Arthur ASHE and Loretta LYNN and Desi ARNAZ and Silas DEANE and GEENA Davis and Bart and Ringo STARR and our old (and I do mean old) friend NITA Naldi.
- I liked the clue at 48d [Question repeatedly posed by Ferris Bueller’s teacher] = ANYONE?
- 49d [Indian drums similar to bongos] was a gimme. I have actually played a TABLA.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: that Jimi Hendrix used a WHAMMY BAR when he played at Woodstock.
Alex Eaton-Salners’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Foot Paths” — Jim’s review
Holy cow, this felt like a breath of fresh air! Alex has been enjoying a recent rash of crossword success and deservedly so. This one has a modest (word-following-another-word) but modern theme and the grid is full of fun.
Our revealer is KICKSTARTER at 61a, [Crowdfunding choice, and a hint to the beginnings of the starred answers]. Ergo, we’re looking for words that can precede KICK.
- 17a [*Eco-commuter’s path] BICYCLE LANE. Bicycle kick. I didn’t recognize this as a proper phrase at first, but the more I said it to myself, the more it inched out of my memory banks. It’s a soccer move (football for you non-American types) in which the player leaps backward up into the air and kicks the ball backward over her head.
- 24a [*Pedestrian’s path] SIDEWALK. Sidekick. Dr. Watson or Robin, e.g.
- 37a [*Motorist’s path] FREEWAY. Free kick. Another soccer term. Minor demerit for that (but not really).
- 50a [*Ethical person’s path] HIGH ROAD. High kick. Now what is this exactly? I’m thinking Rockettes, but is there another use for this term?
There is some inconsistency in that three of the phrases are terms for actual kicks where one is not. Sidekick’s origins are unclear.
I love the title and its relationship to the themers (think the path a foot follows as it goes through the motion of a kick). At first you’re thinking the puzzle is about pathways because of the title, the clues, and the theme entries themselves. They are so tightly intertwined. Alex chose themers that could be consistent in that way. He didn’t have to; it’s not necessary for the theme to work. But it’s that extra level of effort that shows a lot of dedicated thought went into the grid. So all along, you’re thinking of pathways. Then you get to the revealer and zing! You come to find out that’s not the theme at all; it’s really just words to precede KICK. Now ain’t that a kick in the pants!
And then there’s a huge supply of fun and interesting fill, and not just in the long stuff either. I love OVER AND OUT, PORTUGUESE, FAY WRAY, COLD BEER, and KEY GRIP. In the mid-range, we get COMICS, SEA GOD, NEW ERA, ROSITA, ATHENA, and EPIPEN (with a timely clue [Pricey medical device in 2016 headlines]). Even the short stuff seemed unusually fresh: RAVEL, ME TOO, I QUIT, and DUKES (as in things you put up).
Oh, and I’m especially keen on VAL with its clue [Batman portrayer between Michael and George] in light of my NYT puzzle reviewed by Jenni above. ;)
The only thing I grumbled about was IRANIS. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard anyone refer to the Iranian people as anything but Iranians.
But other than that, this was a really fun puzzle with a nice twist in the theme and plenty of good fill.
Kameron Austin Collins’ AVCX crossword, “AVCX Themeless #11” — Ben’s Review
I’ve been a big fan of the themelesses Kameron makes for the AV Club, and this was no exception, but from a purely visual sense, I think this is one of the most beautiful grids I’ve ever seen from him. The fill that went in it was just as top quality – here’s a few notes from my solve:
- Loved the trio of DESERTED ISLE, FAKE EYELASHES, and OKLAHOMA CITY cascading down the middle of the puzzle
- Other great down fill: Chuck Berry’s entendre-and-a-half “My DING-A-LING“, EATING CROW, BANANA CHIP, HODA Kotb, and Trent REZNOR
- Acrosses were great too – particularly loved the parallel STRIP POKER (“Game in which winners get less exposure”) and SCHERZANDO (which, along with 22D‘s “loud notation” of FFF, was great for my music theory knowledge)
- Other great entries there: ASSONATE, TAYE Diggs (Taye is short for “Scotty”, BTW. Now you know.), WHITE LIE, PINE NUTS, SPIDERY
5/5 stars – this is a gorgeous grid with fill that strikes a great balance of categories without getting too crosswordese-heavy.
Bruce Haight’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
The theme is “words describing a type of person derived from a specific person”. HATEDTOGO, WEEDEATER, ARMEDESCORT and TATTLETALES are not thematic, though you’d be excused if you thought they were while solving. POINDEXTER is apparently from Felix the Cat, though I didn’t know that until post-solve Googling. SHERLOCK is from Doyle of course and EINSTEIN from Albert. METHUSELAH is Biblical.