Oh, dear. Six puzzles for Thursday? Too many! And I’m tired. Not as tired as my husband, who pulled a travel all-nighter last night and went to sleep an hour after he got home this evening. Glad that was him and not me! (she says lovingly)
Corey Rubin’s New York Times crossword
Theme: A JOY rebus. Did you know how many phrases contain that word? We have BUNDLE OF JOY crossing jump FOR JOY. Tasty ALMOND JOY crossing the ODE TO JOY—which this puzzle is, in a way, and which is part of BEETHOVEN’S NINTH. OVERJOYED crossing the NO JOY in Mudville when Casey (mighty Casey) struck out (iffy as fill, that NO JOY, but it’s used to good effect here). Super-cool answers JOY RIDING and JOYSTICK. And Amy Tan’s The JOY LUCK CLUB crossing Al JOYNER.
Highlights, in brief:
- 17a. BAWDY means [Blue] in the “racy” sense.
- 34d. HEIMLICH is the [Eponymous doctor with a maneuver].
- 15a, 25a. I was tempted to put this in the “dislike” column, but on further reflection I give a thumbs-up to I LOVE / A PIANO, [an Irving Berlin song] split into two entries. It would be cool (though still a song I’ve never heard of) as an 11.
Lowlights, in brief:
- 35d. ONNA? [Tony-nominated choreographer White] is named ONNA? I hope her middle name is Clearday. Her work was mostly before my time, and I suspect she wasn’t all that broadly famous in her heyday. Because if she were, wouldn’t I already know her name from crosswords?
- 41a. Nobody likes chemical suffixes in the singular, much less the plural. ENES are [Hydrocarbon suffixes].
- 59a. IGNIS, Latin for “fire,” is clued as [Top of a Roman candle?]. Now, a Roman candle is a firecracker, but that’s not what the clue’s getting at, is it? It’s what’s at the top of a candle, if you’re in ancient Rome where they speak Latin. If you’re wondering if the Romans even had candles, the answer is yes.
- 40d. HOD is a homely little word, clued as [Container on a pole]. Extra, extra, read all about it.
Robert Harris’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 17a. [Alan Alda feature with a Will Smith short] clues CALIFORNIA SUITE, with Will Smith’s ALI embedded within. All right, that’s cool.
- 27a. [William Hurt feature with a Warren Beatty short] clues ALTERED STATES. Hey, I like how this theme is shaping up.
- 47a. [Barbara Stanwyck feature with a Dustin Hoffman short] is…well, Dustin Hoffman was in HERO, a not particularly distinguished film, but what on earth is the Stanwyck picture? Can’t say I know anything about NO MAN OF HER OWN. Is this a mash-up of “No Man Is an Island” and “A Room of One’s Own”?
- 62a. I’ve heard of THE LADY VANISHES, but couldn’t have told you it’s a [Michael Redgrave feature with a Helen Gahagan short], and have not heard of SHE (or Helen Gahagan, for that matter).
I’ll give the theme props for having the circled letters contiguous. Much better than spacing them out. And the movie-within-a-movie concept is worlds better than a theme that puts the circled-letter words within unrelated phrases. Terrific theme concept, but the execution involves a couple movies I don’t know at all. How about you—Did you recognize all eight movies? (John Farmer and Jeremy Horwitz would probably both say “yes.”)
Okey-doke, five clues:
- 4d. [Christian guide] clues PRIEST. Is it weird that I needed a lot of crossings to get this?
- 5d. [Norman athletes] are the college players in Norman, Oklahoma, known as the SOONERS. I kinda wanted to learn an Old English word meaning “athlete,” but no, not that kind of Norman.
- 9d. LAST NAME is a [Job application line]. Aw, I’d like to see a question-marked clue obliquely alluding to “last name first.”
- 30d. Your ELBOW is an [Attention-getting joint] if you poke someone with it.
- 38d. I hope somebody read [Rice, to Montana] and put something like CASH CROP. No grains, no states: just football players, one the TEAMMATE of the other.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Color Scheme”—Janie’s review
Each of the four names that comprise today’s theme fill has a surname that’s also a color. As a group of colors (and unlike the puzzle as a whole), they make for a pretty drab palette. As a group of people (two Americans, two Brits), they’re pretty peppy. Those Americans especially. Say “hey” to:
- 17A. BETTY WHITE [She played Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”]. And famously hosted this season’s SNL finale. Technically speaking, though, isn’t white the absence of all color?…
- 10D. ADOLPH GREEN [“Singin’ in the Rain” coauthor]. As a writer, one of the gems of the American musical—for both film and stage—and one of the best song-and-dance men to boot. Coauthored with Betty Comden; was married to Phyllis Newman. Twelve Tony nominations; seven Tonys. Wow.
- 25D. GORDON BROWN [Prime Minister after Tony Blair]. Now Blair was colorful and one tough act to follow—someone who gladly did away with using the ROYAL WE [Pompous plural pronoun].
- 65A. THOMAS GRAY [“Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” poet]. A fitting color for this serious work.
We do get a livelier palette of colors, however, elsewhere in the puzzle. There’s [“Blue Hawaii” neckwear] for LEI and [“Big Blue”] for IBM; [Be in the red] for OWE; [Chiquita] BANANA (-yellow…); and representing the presence of all colors together, [KITT was a black one] for TRANS-AM.
There are a pair of eight-letter beauties in GUTTURAL [Like the end of Bach] (terrific clue!) and “IT’S A TRAP!” [“Don’t go in there!“]. (I won’t! I won’t!) And if not a SLEW [Whole lot] of twisty clue/fill combos there are some mighty fine ones:
- [Give a hand?] is SLAP—and not CLAP…
- [Cooler unit] has nothing to with (the too short) ACS or BTU, but is slang for (jail) CELL.
- [Hood’s projectile] refers not to, say, a gang member’s thrown SHIV, but to Robin “Hood’s” ARROW.
- [Flappers in “Dumbo”] do not refer to ladies with bobbed hair in short, drop-waist dresses dancing “The Charleston” in the movie Dumbo, but to the title character’s EARS. (On the subject of characters from childhood stories, how lovely to see Ms. MOPSY, [Fictional rabbit], sister to Flopsy, Cottontail and their mischievous brother, Peter Rabbit.)
Enjoyed seeing two entries beginning “RH-” in one puzzle: RHUBARB and RHO. And as I read it, where “Gotham” is understood to be a nickname for NYC, not only is BATMAN a [Good guy of Gotham City], but so, too, is RATHER, [Dan from Wharton, Texas].
Peter Gordon’s Fireball Crossword, “Themeless 20”
It’s not my favorite Fireball to date. The sports and band names didn’t come to me with the clues. I have no idea who puts SALAMI in an omelet. The proportion of solvers who saw the cartoon Igor has got to be small, and knowing it’s based on Frankenstein wouldn’t help you get EVA as a character (pfft, really, Peter?). I didn’t know TEST-FLIES was a verb.
- ALEX OVECHKIN, ZAC EFRON, STEELY DAN—all of which I needed tons of crossings to get. Complete names always look good in the grid, though.
- 47a. [Frenemies, at times] are BACKSTABBERS.
- 62a. [Child hood?] is a tricky clue for IMP.
- 48d, 50d. [Ursiform folivores], or bear-like leaf-eaters, are KOALA / BEARS.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s blog crossword, “Location, Location, Location, Location”
Whoops, out of time. Got a Cubs game to get to this afternoon, and I’m still in my PJs.
CORNER THE MARKET feeds into four corner “markets”: ANTIQUE SHOP, BIG BOX STORE, TRADING POST, and OPEN-AIR MALL, all wrapping the unclued corners of the grid. Some of the crossings were tough. (DRE is a kid in Karate Kid? Really? Is it SAW II or SAW IV? That last corner retailer was the toughest for me to uncover.)
Will get to the Tausig puzzle later, after the game.
Updated Thursday evening
Yay, Cubs win!
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “International Loans”
Do you know your Spanish? That’ll come in handy in this puzzle, where several common English words that form part of a longer term are replaced by their Spanish equivalents. The Spanish words appear in circled squares:
- 23a. [1992 presidential campaign ads?] clues PEROT PLUGS. PERO is Spanish for “but.”
- 37a. [Unsanitary place to buy soda and popcorn?] clues CONCESSION STY. Y means “and.”
- 10d, 51a. [With 51-Across, book about a terrible baseball season?] is THE NINETY-/FIVE LOSSES. LOS means “the,” and isn’t it fun to build a crossword theme entry off a seminal bit of the Reformation?
- 32d. [Dermatologist’s asset?] clues PORE SIGHT. POR means “for.” I’m a little less fond of this one because it’s the only one in which the active word in the original phrase, foresight, is split into two words.
- 61a. ESPANOL is the [Language into which parts of this puzzle’s theme answers have been translated].
Freshest fill, funniest clues:
- 17a. SEXILED means [Banished to the dorm’s common area for fifteen minutes, slangily].
- 21a. [Oft-snickered-at planet] is, of course, URANUS. (Not mine.)
- 31a. EPT, which can stand for “early pregnancy test,” is a [Brand often used with nervous anticipation].
- 6d. [Biblical boss] clues GOD.
- 40d. [Phallic shapes of some monuments] are OBELISKS. Hello, Washington Monument! Are you happy to see us?