Randall Hartman’s New York Times crossword
Too bad this puzzle ran in the NYT rather than in CrosSynergy, where it could have appeared on a Saturday. The theme is SATURDAY NIGHT, with three other phrases beginning with words that can follow 47a: SATURDAY NIGHT:
- 20a. The [Green Berets] are also called SPECIAL FORCES. Certain guns are called “Saturday night specials”; I don’t know why.
- 33a. FEVER PITCH is clued as a [Frenzied state]. Saturday Night Fever is a movie I saw when I was 11 and far too young for its adult subject matter. In those pre-Internet decades, it was harder for a parent to know which movies were horrible inappropriate for their kids to see! But the soundtrack, that is ageless.
- 40a. This phrase is not, I think, so familiar to people who don’t work in TV. A LIVE REMOTE is an [Out-of-the-studio TV broadcast].
Among the more interesting clues and answers are these:
- 5a. [“Shut yo’ mouth!”] clues HUSH.
- 25a. Whoa, a 6-letter partial, ARE YOU. It could be clued, perhaps more laboriously, as a stand-alone question. Skeptical response to “I’m the coolest person here!”? The clue is [Words before serious, ready or listening].
- 53a. [Chinese province where Mao is born] is HUNAN. Also a spicy cuisine.
- 1d. Just once, it would be fun to have PAP clued as [___ smear] or [Part of an annual visit, perhaps], wouldn’t it? Getting a PAP in the crossword would certainly be more fun than getting one in the OB/GYN’s office. The word also means [Soft food for babies].
- 4d. MIKE MYERS, full-name action! [Portrayer of Austin Powers, “international man of mystery”].
- 5d. Ooh, three-word HAM IT UP, or [Chew the scenery]. Great entry.
- 25d. More entertaining than the usual clue for AFROS: [Hairstyles of Sly and the Family Stone].
- 35d. “COME AGAIN?” [“Say what?”]
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “The Final Cut”—Janie’s review
Looks like Randy’s got himself a double-header today. Way to go! And where CS is concerned, what a great way to start the daily-puzzle week. Yes, this is variation on a familiar theme—a before and after, basically—but somehow it plays out in a completely fresh way. Randy adds to the last word of a well-known phrase a single syllable that (today) is a synonym for “cut.” This makes for a discrete new word, and because this added syllable falls at the very end, it’s the “final cut.” I like that. The canny cluing, of course, never refers to the meaning of the base phrase. Here’s what we get:
- 20A. [A chef who won’t cook certain roots anymore?] ONE OVER PARSNIP. Now that’s just terrific. This chef has attitude! Maybe s/he should try relaxing with some golf.
- 37A. [Secretariat’s autobiography?] ME AND MY GALLOP. Can’t you just see 1973 Triple-Crown winner Secretariat behind his desk, dictating into some hoof-held device—or to his secretary? I mean, Mr. Ed isn’t the only talking horse, is he?
- 57A. [Torture device for a sock puppet?] RACK OF LAMB-CHOP. Ooooh noooo! Aren’t there rules preventing that? That has to be the “unkindest cut of all.” Probably the funniest, too!
There’s lots of good non-theme fill in the grid, too, so let me get right to it. First of all, there’re the two columns of eights, SW and NE. The SW gives us the unlikely combination (and perfect juxtaposition) of MA BARKER [Legendary public enemy of the ’30s] and EVA MARIE [Saint of Hollywood]. Then up in the NE we get ANTI-HERO [Cool Hand Luke, for one] and “BEEP-BEEP” [Road Runner sound]. (I think Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner’s ‘toon partner, might also be considered an anti-hero of sorts.)
STARTLE [Shake up] and DEAREST—a nice change from DEAR SIRS for [Letter opener?]—make for a strong pair of sevens; and while I prefer sixes TRIVET, AT BEST and BO-PEEP to most of the other fill at that length (and there’s nothing wrong with it!), look at the way those triple six-columns open up the NW and SE. That gets my vote.
So do several of the more oblique clues, like:
- [Make an impression?] for SEAL. (Think of sealing wax here and the signet ring [or stamp] that leaves its mark.)
- [Stretch] for STINT. So the clue is a noun and not a verb.
- [Heart of a winner?] Why that’d be those two ENS dead center, the word’s “heart.”
- [Shady giants] are not over-sized mafioso but the more botanic, bucolic ELMS. “AHA!” I hear you saying. [“I thought so!”]
Los Angeles Times crossword by Rich Norris, writing as Lila Cherry
Why do you pick up a newspaper? For the crossword, right? (Depending on the paper. It might just annoy you if the paper carries a crappy crossword instead of a good one like the puzzles this blog covers.) Apparently there’s also reading material:
- 18a. [Watch or clock] is a TIMEPIECE.
- 20a. [Second floor of a home, say] is the UPPER STORY.
- 33a, 35a. The [real McCoy] is the GENUINE / ARTICLE.
- 52a. [Where to begin adding numbers] is the ONES COLUMN.
- 54a. [Daily publication where you’d read the ends of 18-, 20-, 33/35- and 52-Across] is a NEWSPAPER, which also contains features, editorials, reviews, and sports standings.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
- 1a. [Funemployed, perhaps] puts the fun word in the clue, not the fill: AT LEISURE.
- 19a. [Time needed to get out of a slump] clues RECOVERY PERIOD. Too bad refractory period has 16 letters.
- 42a. [Linux inventor Linus Torvalds, e.g.] is a FINN. Wait, that name ain’t Finnish. He’s of Swedish descent.
- 54a. [Name on a magazine cover] totally had me going. It’s not the person depicted on the cover but the ADDRESSEE on the mailing label.
- 9d. EDDY GRANT is the [Singer with the 1983 #2 hit “Electric Avenue”]. That song contains my personal-best mondegreen: “Deep in my heart, I abhor ye.”
- 10d. [Straightened things up about a lack of straightness] clues CAME OUT. My best friend came out about eight years ago, promptly met someone, moved in together, and started a family. This fall, the couple will finally make honest women of each other…though, this being retrograde Illinois, it won’t be a legal marriage. Donations to Equality Illinois encouraged!
- 27d. Does [Pass by] work for LAPSE or just for ELAPSE?
- 34d. [King who faught in the Battle of Thermopylae] is LEONIDAS. Is it bad that I know this mainly from the spoof movie, Meet the Spartans?
- 30d. LOSTPEDIA is the [On-line wiki for a popular sci-fi TV show]. Well, that’s not dry fill.
- 36d. Okay, I guess HATE SEX doesn’t qualify as dry fill, either. It’s a [Connection made by enemies, perhaps].