Michael Torch’s New York Times crossword
- 20a. [Two charts?] are a PAIR A GRAPHS…though a pair of graphs should perhaps be PAIR O’ GRAPHS. Hmm. Frowny face here. (The original word, of course, is paragraphs.)
- 58a. To PARE A PHRASE might be to [Edit?]. (Paraphrase.)
- 11d. Paramount becomes PEAR AMOUNT, or [A bushel of Boscs?]. Boy, “pear amount” sure would be a useless term.
- 29d. This one doesn’t need to be plural except to make the entry fit into a 10-letter space. Paramours turns into PERE AMOURS, or [French father’s affairs?]. I’m not crazy about this one because the amours part is about love both before and after the wordplay.
I think the theme concept has more potential than it displays here.
In the fill, HOP ON POP (27a: [Dr. Seuss title]) and WINGSPAN (5d: [Bird spec]) are worth the price of admission. It’s odd, though, that the 5d clue includes the informal word spec when the answer word is utterly straightforward. And BUS STOP, a [Point on a line?], is a cool entry.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Surprise Endings”
I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, so I can keep up on what TV shows are out there even if I don’t watch them. The programs involved in Matt’s change-the-last-letter-of-the-TV-show-title theme aren’t all so familiar to me, though:
- 16a. [Show with mystery numbers like “Lost,” only they’re all divisible by 2?] clues THE EVENS. The Event is a new show this fall. You know who’s in it? Laura INNES, who played Kerry on E.R. So there’s a fresher way to clue INNES now.
- 20a. This one’s funny: DOCTOR WHA…? is a [Reality show with a surgeon operating blindfolded?]. Based on Doctor Who.
- 33a. [Show about farming for beer ingredients?] could be RAISING HOPS. I think Raising Hope is the one about the teenager or young woman who gets her biological dad involved in her life. He was…her mom’s one-time fling? A sperm donor? Wait, the latter is that movie, The Kids Are Alright. Yes? No?
- 40a. American Dad is one of those cartoons I don’t watch. AMERICAN DAB is a [Show that’s only a tiny bit U.S.-centric?]. Meh. No Brylcream reference to throw off the younger solvers? Speaking of a dab, we usually have turkey bacon here, but this past weekend my husband fried up a pound of bacon. We were wondering what to do with all that bacon grease. I think he’s gonna use it as a pomade.
- 50a. [Show about what really goes on in a flower bed?] clues TRUE BLOOM. True Blood is an awesome vampire/werewolf/fairy/sex show on HBO. Thought it looked silly last season but got semi-hooked on it this year. But it is silly.
- 58a. [Show about how difficult it is to work with actress Blanchett?] clues HELL CATE. Hellcats…is that the cheerleading show? Yes. I know it only from this Go Fug Yourself post.
Six theme answers, 100% pop culture. Plus plenty of pop culture in the fill: BAI Ling, SANRIO’s Hello Kitty, ZOHAN, TED LEO, actress from The Wire, Steve EARLE, LINDA Evans, The Onion’s FROOT, MERLOT from Sideways. Slangy SISTA and NADS. And you gotta like it when T&A (spelled out, alas, as T AND A) appear in close proximity to a COLONIC.
Mark Bickham’s Los Angeles Times crossword
All right, I’m just going to put this out there: I don’t watch Mad Men. I don’t want to watch Mad Men. So a theme tangentially about advertising doesn’t give me a chance to bond with the cool kids who rave about the show. (Modern Family! That’s a good show.) Anyway—the theme isn’t a big one. Just three entries, 37 squares, two-word terms that begin with words that also mean “advertisement”:
- 20a. [Promo after promo after promo?] clues AD INFINITUM. I like that.
- 35a. I’m not sure what COMMERCIAL PAPER really is. Dictionary to the rescue: short-term unsecured promissory notes a company issues. *snore* [Thesis on promos?] livens that up a tad.
- 52a. [One who takes a promo off the air?] might be a SPOT REMOVER.
A few of the highlights from beyond the theme:
- 32a. [Well-endowed, so to speak] is one meaning of CHESTY. There’s also a chesty chuckle or a chesty cough.
- 2d. [Scream bloody __] MURDER, but only if you must.
- 5d. [Wine-and-soda drink] is a SPRITZER. Imagine if, instead of soda water, the spritzer was made with Coke. White wine and Coke. Or maybe red wine with Mountain Dew.
- 11d. A [Twist-off top] on a corkless wine bottle is a SCREW CAP. Not to be confused with a twist-off beer bottle cap, which is no screw cap.
- 21d. Hmm, how to clue FATHER? How about with [Darth, to Luke]?
- 33d. [Building repair platforms] are SCAFFOLDS, and so are those movable window-washing platforms. Remember that window washer who fell 47 stories on a scaffold and lived? I was watching a show on cable devoted to explaining weird mysteries, and this was one of the segments. It’s all physics. He was in just the right spot of the scaffold. The scaffold’s descent was slowed a bit by hitting the building on the way down. And the scaffold folded into a “V” shape, cradling him just so, kind of like a race car driver in a roll cage. TV can be so educational, I tell you.
- 38d. A LOOSE END is a [Detail to tie up] and a lively crossword entry.
- I kinda like seeing OJAI in the same puzzle as [Jai ___] ALAI. They should have a fronton in California called Ojai Alai.
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Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “What’s for Breakfast?”—Janie’s review
Now here’s something that just a little bit out of the ordinary. Randy has compiled a set of well-known phrases whose last words are also the last words of familiar breakfast fare—of the grain variety. So,”What’s for breakfast?” Cereal. Well, sorta… High-concept, funny, fantasy cereal. Sad to say (no—mostly relieved to say), you won’t find any of these on your grocers’ shelves. Brew yourself a steaming cup of OOLONG [Tea type], then imagine what it would be like to enjoy [Breakfast cereal for…]:
- 17A. […music lovers?] BOSTON POPS. The Boston Pops Orchestra (an off-shoot of the Boston Symphony Orchestra) has been delighting audiences with lighter-fare classical and contemporary music since 1885. Kellogg’s seems to be king of the Pops cereals, with Chocolate Peanut Butter Corn Pops, Coco Pops and Corn Pops. This last variety has been around since 1951 and used to go by the name of Sugar Pops. I remember that the last line of the theme song was “Sugar Pops are tops!” and that they claimed to be “shot with sugar through and through”… There’s a marketing hook sure to turn today’s parents away in a hurry!
- 25A. […make-up artists?] POWDER PUFFS. I dunno. They sound a little dry to me… Some “Puffs” include Sugar, Reese’s and Cocoa, Golden, Magic and Organic Wild.
- 37A. […dentists?] DRILL BITS. Ouch!! This one never gets soggy…unlike Alpha-Bits. Or even Marshmallow Alpha-Bits… (More sugar with your sugar? This one’ll definitely get your kids into the dentist’s chair.)
- 53A. […woodcutters?] LUMBERJACKS. A tad saw-dusty at the bottom of the bag, but very high in fiber! On second thought, maybe just stick to Apple Jacks.
- 63A. […skiers?] SNOW FLAKES. You’ll definitely want something warm to drink with this one. “Flakes” have been around for more than a century and now includes the likes of Banana Frosted, Bran (since 1915), Chocolate, Corn (since 1907), Crazy, Flutie, Frosted, Grape Nut, Pink Panther, (Nestlé’s) Snow (really—but they’re not sold in North America), Sun and Team. This handy little list is my cereal name source.
Other delights in today’s puzzle? Well, look at all four corners, where we get triple columns of 7-letter fill. Because they’re so very solid, my faves (and there’s something to commend each one) are the SW (with FOLIAGE, LOUNGED and OLMSTED) and the NE (with REGIFTS [!], ONE OF US and “GUESS SO“). (If you do regift something—and sometimes this is a great way to make sure a gift doesn’t go to waste—please make certain it’s also UNUSED…). I was amused by the appearance of both MOA and LOA; and having recently finished the grim (and gripping) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, kinda chilled to see STIEG [Larsson who wrote…]. Not for the faint of heart.
A [Handyman’s work] is an ODD JOB, a label that’s sometimes ascribed to “-ER” fill—like today’s KAYAKER, playfully clued as [One who is up the creek with a paddle]. DIPLOMA, clued as [Sheepskin], makes for a great center combo. And I also like how it’s adjacent to another sheep-byproduct entry: WOOL [Mitten material]. Go to the head of the class, Mr. Ross!