David Kahn’s New York Times crossword
The Halloween Spooky Crossword Themes run continues with a riddle: WHAT IS A / GHOST’S FAVORITE / DESSERT? Answer: BOOBERRY PIE AND / I SCREAM. Hmm. Pretty sure Boo Berry is a registered trademark of General Mills. (Cue up the angry letters to Will Shortz: “This is an outrage! First you provide free advertising for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s rallies, and now you’re pushing sugared breakfast cereal! How much are they paying you to lose your soul?”)
I mucked up the lower right corner by positing the existence of TACOMA Indians and a TACOMA River. Whoops—YAKIMA. But three of the letters worked just fine with the crossings! And I had SASSY instead of SAUCY, which also worked with three crossings.
- 16a. [“The poison of life,” per Bronte’s Rochester] in Jane Eyre, is REMORSE. Je ne regrette rien.
- 51a. TRE (“three”) is an [Italian TV channel].
- 54a. [Sniffler’s supply] is KLEENEX. (“Shortz has been bought out by Kimberly-Clark, too!”)
- 64a. Baseball, meh. Casey STENGEL is the old [Yankee manager who wore #37]. No one has ever explained to me why they call ’em “managers” rather than “coaches.”
- 5d. [Math groups] clues COSETS. The feminized version of a coset is Cosette, the young heroine of Les Miserables.
- 9d. [“That issue is in the past”] is a robotic way of saying I’M OVER IT.
- 10d. [Capital of the U.S.?] is the almighty DOL., short for dollar. It’s really an ugly abbreviation, isn’t it? I like USD better.
- 42d. Pretty sure Stephenie (sic) Meyer, author of the Twilight books, is a far more famous MEYER than [Debbie who won three swimming gold medals at the 1968 Olympics]. So is Russ Meyer.
- 43d. Whoa! I’ve never encountered the word [Picaroon] before. It means BANDIT, rogue, or scoundrel, and the word is archaic.
- 46d. [Nurses take these] clues PULSES. Dang, I had VITALS next to my TACOMA.
Jascha Smilack’s Los Angeles Times crossword—Jeffrey’s review
- 18A. [Libertarian slogan?] – FIRE THE FED instead of “fed the fire.” Feed the fire sounds more normal to me.
- 24A. [Finish an ascent?] – SCALE THE TIP instead of “tip the scale.”
- 35A. [Tidy up in a wood shop?] – DUST THE BIT instead of “bit the dust.”
- 43A. [Floor an oppressive boss?] – DECK THE MAN instead of “man the deck.”
- 51A. [Value one’s vision?] – PRIZE THE EYE instead of “eye the prize.”
- 62A. [Send a star pitcher for an MRI?] – TEST THE ACE instead of “ace the test.”
Bonus points for six theme answers.
- 14A. [Pararescue gp.] – USAF. IS that like paralegal, meaning almost? They almost rescue. Or are paralegals lawyers who jump out of planes. Insert favourite lawyer joke here.
- 17A. [Poet who wrote, about children, “And if they are popular / The phone they monopular”] – NASH. Today they textopular, Ogden.
- 20A. [Rich sponge cake] – GATEAU. Also French for any kind of cake.
- 46A. [__ scripta: written law] – LEX. Literal translation is bald evil scientist writing.
- 56A. [Warrior trained by the centaur Chiron] – AJAX. AJAX is the go-to answer when you want a pangram. Mission accomplished.
- 60A. [It merged with AT&T in 2005] – SBC. I have previously noted that any three letters can be an answer. See?
- 61A. [Be amazed (at)] – MARVEL. You will recall I’m more DC.
- 66A. [D.C. underground] – METRO. I know why Montreal’s subway is called the METRO, but how did D.C. get the name?
- 67A. [“Rigoletto” highlight] – ARIA
- 1D. [Airway termini] – LUNGS. I was thinking airport but tarmac is too long.
- 2D. [Stern with a Strad] – ISAAC
- 3D. [Noodle topper] – PASTA SAUCE. Nice long fill.
- 19D. [Checker’s dance] – TWIST
- 30D. [“That’s my take”] – I BELIEVE SO. More nice long fill.
- 32D. [Charon’s river] – STYX
- 33D. [__-da: pretentious] – LA-DI. This is missing at least one H.
- 36D. [Orch. work] – SYM. Did you see the new Motown version of the popular video game? It is called “I Hear A Sym.”
- 45D. [Edible part of a pecan] – NUTMEAT. One word? Two words? Sounds made up to me.
- 49D. [Doo-wop syllable] – SHA
- 54D. [Busybody] – YENTA
- 55D. [John with Grammys] – ELTON
30D. [“Yo”] – S’UP!
Theme: Railroad (RR) Crossings – Two words, the first ending with R, the second beginning with R
- 17A. [They often point toward Mecca] – PRAYER RUGS
- 21A. [Court cry] – OVERRULED
- 58A. [When pretty much every fruit and vegetable is available, in modern supermarkets] – YEAR ROUND
- 64A. [Academic publication process] – PEER REVIEW
- 3D. [Device mentioned in “Brown-Eyed Girl”] – TRANSISTOR RADIO
- 11D. [Major physics event] – NUCLEAR REACTION
I like trains, and I like this puzzle. Two down theme answers each crossing two across theme answers.
Other stuff on the tracks:
- 14A. [Simba’s mother] – SARABI. I just rewatched The Lion King last week. Still needed all the crossings. Maybe because she doesn’t have a song.
- 16A. [Hip-hop impresario Knight] – SUGE. Ted and Wayne were already taken, so his (her?) name is SUGE.
- 24A. [Kentucky college integrated since its founding in 1855] – BEREA. I’m not up on my Kentucky colleges as it appears I need to be.
- 47A. [Stat for Halladay or Sabathia] – ERA. Equal Rights Amendment. Sabathia prefers the ELA – Equal Lefts Amendment. Is it time yet for my rant about how lefties have an unfair disadvantage at crossword tournaments? We need ELA!
- 51A. [Some coverage providers] – TROJANS. Tusk!
- 55A. [Final two words in a Joyce Kilmer ode] – A TREE. Did you put “Music Blest,” the last two words of “To A Blackbird And His Mate Who Died In The Spring”? Me neither.
- 60A. [How one has to win in ping-pong] – BY TWO. You have to. Don’t cheat. I’m watching you!
- 66A. [Third-century year of Philip the Arab’s birth] – CCIV. I’m glad this clue was detailed so I wasn’t confused with my old friend, Philip the Jew born in the twentieth century.
- 70A. [One day ___ time] – AT A. Not to be confused with “One Day At A Time.”
- 1D. [DS alternatives] – PSPS. It appears to have something to do with computers or videos games or hamburgers or pickles.
- 4D. [Panettiere of cinema] – HAYDEN. She is currently dating heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko. She was ringside for his knockout victory over Samuel Peter on September 11th, 2010. That same day, my wife watched me not win the Bay Area Crossword tournament. That last part is nowhere to be found on the fancy interwebs. Until now!
- 7D. [Shade for Prince] – MAUVE. “Mauve Rain” was a huge hit.
- 8D. [“What Is the What” author Dave] – EGGERS. Who is the who?
- 9D. [One-named R&B singer with “Feel So High”] – DES’REE. Born, Desirée Annette Weeks, she had a painful accent removal and apostrophe insertion.
- 10D. [Jacob grasped at his heel during birth] – ESAU. Went downhill from there.
- 12D. [Some humanoids of myth] – OGRES/18D. [Some actual humanoids] – ROBOTS. Who doesn’t love multiple humanoid clues?
- 22D. [California glam band with “Round and Round”] – RATT
- 35D. [“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” composer Jerome] – KERN
- 40D. [Containing some sex, say] – RATED R. No link, this is a PG-rated blog.
- 52D. [Second H.S. squad] – JAY VEE. As in JV, Junior Varsity. I never knew that. Now I do. And so do you.
- 54D. [Robin of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”] – LEACH.
- 56D. [Cleaning method for which you might buy a pre-packaged kit] – ENEMA
A Robin LEACH/ENEMA combo. Wow. I’d better head out on the Midnight Train after that. Champagne wishes and caviar dreams! Whoo-whoo!!
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 31”
Mystery answer: 28a. [1972 film directed by Terence Young] is RED SUN. Never heard of it.
Pop-culture trivia of the day: 9a. [Usher, to Ben Vereen] is his GODSON. My first thought was NEPHEW. My kid’s favorite song is Usher’s “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love.”
Answer least likely to appear in the NYT crossword: PAP SMEAR (36d. [Gynecologist’s test]).
Entry I don’t think I’ve seen before, but I like it: AGENT J, 21d: [Will Smith’s role in “Men in Black”]. Just watched most of Men in Black 2 and it was so cartoonish it was painful to watch. I’m deeply discouraged that MiB 3 is now in the works.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Cee Inside”—Janie’s review
For me, the freshest aspects of this puzzle are the appearance of the grid itself and its lovely, relatively low word count (72) with its 38 blocks. The theme is of the embedded word variety; today, as the title suggests, it’s the spelling of the letter “C, or “CEE.” (The title is also a nice pun on the directive we often encounter on envelopes to “See inside”…) We get four theme phrases (two of them grid-spanners); two of ’em fulfill the assignment with “-ANCE” words, two with “-ICE” words. The cluing is quite straightforward. Here’s what we get:
- 17A. CHANCE ENCOUNTER [Unplanned meeting]. This is one beautiful phrase. Makes me think of the lyric in “Hello, Young Lovers”: “You fly down the street/On the chance that you’ll meet/And you meet—/Not really by chance.” Aah.
- 25A. ENTRANCE EXAM [Aspiring collegian’s hurdle].
- 43A. POLICE ESCORT [Presidential motorcade part]. Hmm. Far better this kind than this kind…
- 55A. OFFICE EXTENSION [Part of a business pone number].
As a direct result of that lower word count we do get a lot of longer fill, which surfaces today as wealth of 7-letter words—10 in fact, accounting for 70 squares or nearly a third of the open grid squares—and more than 50% of the non-theme white squares. That gives us: FEELERS [Trial balloons], DIARIST [Journal keeper], IN TOUCH [Communicating regularly], PRESETS [Fixes beforehand] (this word gets a lot of usage in the theatre world), STOMACH [Gut], DO A DEAL [Negotiate with success] (isn’t this usually make a deal?), ATLASES [Map books], SWEE’ PEA [Infant raised by Popeye], HAUL OFF [Cart away], CANTEEN [Water flask], ARMORED [Like many military vehicles], and JONESES [Family to keep up with].
Felt the [Bass producer?]/ROE combo was perhaps, um, fishing to be clever (while not all fish have names that have other meanings and pronunciations, all fish produce roe, no?). That alliterative [Brassy blast]/BLARE combo is more my speed today.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Whistle Stop”
It was the presence of the word “court” in the puzzle’s subtitle that pointed me toward basketball and the meaning of the theme: The ref blows the whistle to stop play when a basketball player commits an infraction such as CARRYING, CHARGING, TRAVELING, a TECHNICAL, or HACKING. Never heard of HACKING in a hoops context before…and now that I think of it, CARRYING doesn’t ring a bell either. Clever theme for sports fans; “huh?” theme for non-fans.
Grid’s an unusual 17×15 to accommodate TRAVELING WILBURYS (a terrific entry, baseketball aside) and the two 16s.
Highlights include SANGRIA and MUDSLIDE, the non-AEIOU word GLYPH, and a BEAR CAVE. Lowlights include ENSTEEL; plural ESSES, TYS, IRANIS, and NOES; ENROL’s variant-spelling cousin, the one-L APPALS.