So, last Wednesday I skipped the crossword in United Airlines’ Hemispheres magazine, because they run the subpar Greg Bruce puzzle. My return flight on Sunday was cancelled so I ended up on AirTran. “Hey, the magazine will have a different crossword! At last, a silver lining in the travel clouds.” But no. It was not to be. Here’s the theme in the AirTran Greg Bruce puzzle, “An Apple a Day.” (And no, I didn’t spend any time doing the puzzle. I tore out the page someone else had filled in.)
- 32a. [Jamboree] clues GALA. GALA apples are a kind of apple.
- 67a. [Squirrel away] clues STORE. The Apple STORE is a retail outlet that has nothing to do with fruit. Its symmetrical partner in the grid is the unrelated TONER.
- 68a. This one’s not in bold like the other theme clues, but it’s opposite GALA and FUJI is a kind of apple, too. [Filmmaker] is the tricky clue; Fuji is a brand of camera film.
- 57d. PINK LADY is [A woman’s cocktail] and a kind of apple. Symmetrical partner is the unrelated DEAF-MUTE.
- 64d. [Buffalo suburb, ___ Park] clues ORCHARD, and apples grow in the apple ORCHARD. Across the grid is the unrelated REACTOR.
So that’s a theme square count of 28 in a 17×17 grid, and the longest answers are the two 8-letter entries. We have three kinds of apples, an apple-related word, and the Apple Store, so the thematic consistency is nil. And the theme isn’t symmetrical. The grid is symmetrical, however, with those 60 black squares and a word count of 104.
Clive Probert’s New York Times crossword
- 1a (14a). [With 14-Across, breakfast order?] clues EGGS, which appears over EASY at 14a. People who don’t mind runny yolks order eggs over easy.
- 16a (8a). [With 8-Across, world’s oldest subway system?] is the LONDON UnderGROUND.
- 34a (42a). [With 42-Across, bogey?] clues ONE over PAR.
- 45a (42a again). [With 42-Across, birdie?] in golf is ONE under PAR. Yes, ONE is an entry twice in this puzzle, pairing with PAR both times.
- 70a (67a). [With 67-Across, dreaded words from a cop?] clues “YOU ARE under ARREST.”
- 69a (72a). [With 72-Across, motto of a fitness trainer?] might be “MIND over BODY.”
I like the theme placement, with the entries stacked in all four corners and in the center of the grid. But overall, the grid felt choppy.
- 15a. Whoa, really? LEI is clued atypically as [Romanian “dollars”] instead of the floral necklace of Hawaii.
- 19a. [Pontiac, for one] was an OTTAWA Indian.
- 31a. [Away from the mouth] of a river is UPRIVER. If you know your anatomical lingo, you may have wanted to shoehorn ABORAL in here.
- 43a. Crosswordese! COPRA is a [Coconut oil source], the coconut meat.
- 59a. PIUS II was the [15th-century pontiff who was the only pope to write an autobiography].
- 68a. [Actor Moody of “Oliver!”] is/was named RON. Am I the only one who’s never heard of the guy?
- 1d. [Result of a certain med. test] clues EEG, but that’s just plain weird. You know what an EEG (electroencephalogram) is the result of? EEG (encephalography). And it’s weird to call the tracing of brain waves a “result of a test.”
- 4d. Great Word Alert! SYBARITES are [Lovers of luxury].
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Attention to E-tails”—Janie’s review
Monday’s “Pigtails” gives way to today’s “E-tails”—and what a great group of theme phrases Patrick has put together by adding a final (“tail”) “E” to the last word in well-known base phrases. It’s said that God (or to some, the Devil) is in the details. Between the base phrase, the new phrase and the cluing, look how well Patrick excels in that department:
- 17A. [What Hamlet said when he spotted a yahoo?] “AY, THERE’S THE RUBE!” Somehow I suspect Shakespeare would have appreciated this immensely, too. If you need a reminder, it was originally “rub” and the source is Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy. (Notice, too, that LEAR today is clued not in connection with Will’s King…, but as [“Maude” creator Norman].)
- 26A. [Lady who loves vacuuming?] HOOVER DAME. Hah! Named for Herbert and not J. Edgar, at one time the dam was both “the world’s largest hydroelectric power generating station and the world’s largest concrete structure.” Now, remember how on Tuesday I mentioned my affection for Avenue Q? Well, today Patrick gives us not only PURPOSE [“Avenue Q” song about the meaning of life], but in creating Hoover dame, puts me in mind of another song from the show, “My Girlfriend in Canada.” This may not be to everyone’s taste/sense of humor, but ya just don’t see this in a lyric everyday, so here’s the closeted (puppet) Rod singing way over-zealously of his (non-existent) “girlfriend” and their passion:
Her name is Alberta,
She lives in Vancouver.
She cooks like my mother
And sucks like a Hoover.
Well, it’s not like I didn’t warn ya…
- 47A. [Aversion to vaqueros?] COWBOY HATE. Never!
- 60A. [Trio floating down the river?] THREE MEN IN A TUBE. Another one that made me laugh out loud. But, please, not in white water!!
That fresh and smile-making theme-fill finds its match in the non-theme fill (and cluing), too. Behold:
- HOLY GRAIL [Vessel at the Last Supper] What? No Monty Python reference?! Actually, yes: ERIC [Idle or Ambler]… Oh, and there’s another tie-in, namely LANCE, clued with reference to [“Camelot” nickname, on stage]. And let’s not forget that Sir Lancelot was one of the knights who participated in the quest for the Holy Grail.
- AIRHEADS [Dolts]
- BABIES [They get changed a lot]
- “YES!” [Repeatedly, a famous Meg Ryan line]. What a fine take on that oft-seen word. Context is everything! (Everyone knows that Patrick is referring to the movie When Harry Met Sally, right?)
- PORE [Hole in the largest organ of the body]. (Everyone knows that Patrick is referring to our skin, right?)
- NIK [Beat back?]. As in beatnik…
- And finally, working off the shared “Y,” the cross of YAK [Chat] and YUKS [Hearty laughs]. Today’s puzzle gave me several.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 22”
Top ten clues/answers:
- 24a. I like FORTY-SIX as an answer because it’s got an X and because once you’ve figured out the __TY-SIX part, there are still three options (FOR, FIF, SIX) to choose from. Who the hell knows Andy Pettitte’s jersey number? Michael Jordan was 23, either ORR or OTT was 4 (I know this only from crosswords), William “Refrigerator” Perry had a big number, and Chad Ochocinco is 85. That’s about it for my knowledge of players’ numbers.
- 32a. Didn’t realize [Sherman line] was referring to a verbal line rather than a physical one. “WAR IS HELL” had a good “aha” moment.
- 38a. For sheer insanity, let’s pay heed to AGAKHANIV, or AGA KHAN #4.
- 58a. Didn’t know the words, but remember the UNION LABEL jingle.
- 60a. [Vicious group] means Sid Vicious’s SEX PISTOLS.
- 3d. [What every mudder loves?] is the SLOP, in horse racing. Know this one only from Seinfeld. “His mudder was a mudder. His fadder was a mudder. This baby loves the slop.”
- 10d. Split’s in Croatia, and [Split end?] is a great clue for the ADRIATIC Sea.
- 39d. The KNESSET is a [Mediterranean diet?] of the legislature kind.
- 49d. “Game” is an adjective here, not a noun. [Game to play in bed with pretty much anyone?] clues EASY.
- Okay, so I only had nine.
Robert Doll’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 16a. [Tennis legend nicknamed “Rocket”] is ROD LAVER. He had a nickname? Before my time.
- 23a. [Mighty Mouse’s archenemy] is OIL CAN HARRY. Who? Never heard of him. How about you?
- 33a. [1983 film that won the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song] is FLASHDANCE. Ah, ’80s music and cheesy film!
- 38a. [Stray hunter] is a DOG CATCHER.
- 51a. [Deli side] is POTATO SALAD.
- 61a. [1979 song for which Donna Summer won a Grammy, and a hint to the puzzle theme found in the answers to starred clues] is HOT STUFF.
- The 7s in all four corners, particularly LIMEADE, TWIN BED, LIP-SYNC, and GRANDPA.
- REDRUM! REDRUM! 59a: [“The Shining” mantra] is murder backwards.
- 47a. [Mozart is on some Austrian ones] is a more interesting EUROS clue than usual.
- 44a. [Call from a crow’s nest] is a very literal CAW from a crow rather than “Land ho!” from a sailor in a ship’s “crow’s nest.”
- Lots of lame 3s, 4s, and 5s: ITE, ERSE, TAS, AKINS, STA, EDE clued as a word ending, ERI clued as an airport abbreviation, RIATA, OTT, HOR., EDT, TRAN, and FTS? Meh.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Anybody Home?”
Plus-sized puzzle (17×17) to accommodate a Dave Attell quote, “IF YOU GO TO / GERMANY AND GET / DRUNK, AT SOME POINT / YOU’RE GOING TO LOOK / UP ‘HITLER’ IN THE / PHONE BOOK.” Luckily, Hitler changed his name from Schicklgruber and modified the spelling of Hiedler, sparing generations of Schicklgrubers and Hiedlers from mocking. Everyone who does bad things should first change their name to something original. Like Stalin, “man of steel”—he began life with the Georgian name Dzhugashvili.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Intersections”
Intersections are found where two things CROSS, and that’s 1-Across, the [Word that can precede the first word of the twelve starred entries in this puzzle]. Twelve! That’s a whole lotta theme entries for one 15×15 puzzle. What’s more, the black squares play a role in the theme, too: the big plus sign in the middle is a CROSS.
The words that follow CROSS appear at the beginning of all these answers: WORDPRESS (the blogging platform I use), TIE-DYED, EYE DROP, HAIR NET, PEG LEGS, WINDSOCKS, OVER THE HILL, BOWHEAD, BAR NONE, STREET SMART, TOWN CAR, and POST-SEX. Only the last of these feels iffy as a crossword entry. The theme entries contain, what, 101 squares? Some are where two theme entries CROSS so the theme square count isn’t quite that big, but my goodness, that is a lot of theme material.
Not all of the fill sparkles, but you have to swallow a little SIG., -OMA, and RAX to get so many theme entries to work. Surprisingly smooth fill overall. This puzzle does not make me CROSS at all.