Seth Geltman and Jeff Chen’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
This took me nearly twice as long as last week’s. It did not play like a Tuesday puzzle for me at all. For one thing, I actually needed the revealer to get the theme; once I figured that out, it fell into place pretty quickly.
The revealer is down at 61a [“Shoot for the moon!” … or a hint to interpreting the clues to 17-, 25-, 35- and 51-Across]. Each of the theme clues is written in all caps, which is part of the theme as well. The answer to 61a is THINK BIG. If we add “big” in front of each theme clue, it all makes sense.
17a [HOUSE] = CLINK (big house).
- 25a [APPLE] = NEW YORK CITY (big apple).
- 35a [MAC] = HAMBURGER (Big Mac).
- 51a [CHEESE] = GRAND POOBAH (big cheese).
Seems like there should be something to say about big apple/Mac and hamburger/big cheese, but I got nothing.
I like the theme; it’s fresh and consistent and all the original phrases are in the language. The fill, however, does not feel Tuesday-ish to me.
- 19a [Hemingway who wrote “Out Came the Sun”] is MARIEL, which is not what she’s best known for.
- 10d [Golden] = AURIC, a Maleska-worthy word that does not belong in a Tuesday puzzle.
- 39a [“I learned to be a movie critic by reading ___ magazine”: Roger Ebert] is an interesting factoid, and an original way to clue a common three-letter word (MAD) but is also obscure.
- 32d [Be alongside] is ABUT ON, which is just awkward.
Liked the theme, didn’t care much for the fill. It’s got a decent beat but I can’t dance to it.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: Roger Ebert and MAD Magazine. I also didn’t know that WWE RAW debuted in 1993.
Edited to add: as several people have already pointed out, this is a Wednesday puzzle, not a Tuesday puzzle. Mea culpa. I still think the fill was a bit obscure.
Celia Smith’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Deck the Halls” — Jim’s review
Christmas puns! Specifically those having to do with decorations.
- 20a [Miniature Christmas decoration?] PEE-WEE WREATH. “Pee Wee” Reese.
- 28a [Association responsible for setting up nativity scenes?] MANGER LEAGUE. Major league.
- 43a [Front yard, for some Christmas decorators?] SNOWMAN’S LAND. No man’s land.
- 51a [How to Create a Nativity Scene 101?] CRECHE COURSE. Crash course.
There is some inconsistency in that two themers are related to nativity scenes while the other two are not. I do like the presence of the word “CRECHE” which you don’t see too often. Overall, the puns aren’t bad and they work. And the clues aren’t without humor.
There isn’t a lot of non-theme fill to highlight except for CATWOMAN and HEATHEN, both of which make a nice counterpoint to all the Christmassy clues and entries (which I won’t list). Some of the other longer entries are rather bland (MADE UP TO and SMARTER). And in general, clues were rather staid throughout, so I didn’t feel a lot of joy during the solve.
Just a couple clues of note:
- Got a bit stuck with 32a [Cosmetics brand pitched by Carrie Underwood]. I was thinking Camay, but it’s actually ALMAY. Camay is just a soap.
- I’m not too keen on 24a THE ACT clued as [1977 show for which Liza won a Tony]. That’s digging deep for a pretty generic title. I think I’d prefer something along the lines of [Something you don’t want to be caught in].
Overall, a serviceable theme, but not a lot of excitement beyond it.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Piano Composition” —Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! Today’s crossword is from our Piano Man for the day, Mr. Patrick Jordan. In the grid, the first word in each of the two-word theme entries also happens to be, when standing alone, a part of the makeup of a piano.
- KEY CONCEPT (17A: [Core idea])
- STRING BIKINI (27A: [Daring beachwear])
- PEDAL PUSHERS (45A: [Calf-length trousers])
- HAMMER MILL (60A: [Rock-crushing contraption])
Though probably unintended, I liked how SHARP was placed on top of the “key” portion of “key concept,” giving the grid even more of a musical feel to it in some respect (14A: [Freshly honed]). Well, it’s supposed to reach almost 50 degrees in the next couple of days, so whatever COLD FRONT is featured isn’t going to hit us as roughly as it has in the past few days, even though winter officially starts today (36D: [Wintry weather map feature]). Those two entries mentioned were probably the highlights for me today in solving, along with the mixed reaction that I always had when I saw the pejorative phrase of JACKO in newspapers and tabloids (34A: [“Thriller” singer, in tabloids]). Time for a quick power nap before getting ready to really start the day in earnest.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: RILEY (51D: [Colloquial carefree guy]) – One of the best coaches in NBA history, former player Pat RILEY is currently the team president of the Miami Heat, a team he coached to its first NBA championship in 2006. Prior to that, Riley is most known for his time as both a player and a coach with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning the NBA title in 1972 as a player with the Lakers, then winning four titles as the team’s head coach (1982, 1985, 1987, 1988).
Thank you for the time once again, and enjoy the first day of winter! See you tomorrow!
Ron Toth and C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
The theme is basic in concept – FAIRGAME mean, somehow, that theme answers begin with words that can be completed by “___ FAIR”. FAIRTRADE and TRADEFAIR are both phrases, so I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to apply this the wrong way first.
The authors have opted to cram the puzzle with fill, to make up for the broadly-defined theme. Two pairs cross; (FAIR)TRADEBARBS and (FAIR)DEALMEIN are opposite (FAIR)TRIALOFFER and the revealer. The remaining vertical pair are (FAIR)BALLOFFIRE and (FAIR)PLAYPOSSUM.
Unsurprisingly, the rest of the puzzle is mostly short, functional answers. For the Collectibles & Art Website, I tried EtsY first, but I think that would be the whole website in that case! [Chaotic mess], SNAFU has a covert F-bomb, which may jar some. I don’t know my MMA people, but I appreciate [Mixed martial artist Holly], HOLM being there, recognizing the event’s exploding popularity.
Byron Walden’s AVCX crossword, “Social Contract” — Ben’s Review
Happy holidays, all! Hope your travels are safe and your gatherings are a little better than the one painted in today’s AVCX by Byron Walden. Let’s take a look at the wordplay going on into the theme entries:
- 23A: Predictions for the family holiday gathering: As usual, my brother’s gonna give everyone a hard time …– HE’LL HOUND
- 29A:… yours truly’s gonna try to play the peacemaker …– I’LL TEMPER
- 35A:… grandma’s gonna say lots of inappropriate things …– SHE’LL SHOCK
- 45A:… but somehow everyone’s gonna find a way to get through it — WE’LL DRINK
- 50A: What the AVCX hopes our pagan (and any other!) solvers will enjoy this season … and a homophonic prediction about the reaction to completing this puzzle — YULE CHEER
I can’t say I cheered, but I did really dig this puzzle’s theme. Hopefully you did too. Happy holidays, all!