Tracy Gray’s New York Times crossword
Aargh! I updated my Java today and the NYT Premium Crosswords page fell over and died as a result. Eventually I found a browser that could load the puzzle page (but not the applet) and retrieved the Across Lite file. Most vexatious! Mac users who love the applet, beware the latest Java update.
The theme is CUT IT OUT (62a. [“Stop that!” … and a hint to the answers to 17-, 23-, 39- and 52-Across]), and the word IT is cut out of the other theme answers:
- 17a. [Online university staff?] are NET PROFS (net profits).
- 23a. [What Nashville sunbathers acquire?] are TENNESSEE TANS (Titans, TN’s NFL team).
- 39a. [Sign prohibiting sunshades?] is NO VISORS ALLOWED (visitors).
- 52a. [Salon jobs from apprentice stylists?] clues LEARNERS’ PERMS (permits). I can’t help seeing this as LEARNER SPERMS. “It’s okay, little fellas. There’s a huge learning curve when it comes to traversing the Fallopian tube.”
I love seeing UNCLE LEO, Jerry [Seinfeld’s eccentric relative], in the puzzle.
Uh, nobody really wants to read a crossword blog tonight, right? You took a short break from election returns and you’re either returning to politics or hitting the sack. So I’ll sign off for now.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Shoe Business”—Janie’s review
Ah, there’s no business like it, is there? Even Irving Berlin toasted it in a song made famous by Ethel Merman in….. But I jest. Still, Ray gives a hearty shout-out to the shoe, as the “last” word of each of his four lively theme phrases is footwear-related. Whatever your preferred style, the coverings for your pedal extremities are likely to include some kind of heel and/or sole and/or a tongue and/or a lace. We get all these elements today by way of:
- 20A. DOWN AT THE HEEL [Worn out from neglect]. Wow. I’d always heard the expression down at heel, but not down at the heel and was impressed to see the 99,000 Google hits the former received. But guess what? The latter gets nearly 7 million. Both have plural variations as well. (Aha! In fact, I just realized I know the expression from a lyric in the Lloyd Webber-Rice song “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” where it’s sung as down at heel…)
- 37A. FILET OF SOLE [Seafood selection]. Lightly sautéed, a bit of lemon. Lovely.
- 44A. SHARP TONGUE [Critical manner of speaking]. If the person with said sharp tongue also has an acerbic sense of humor s/he might also be called SASSY [Smart-mouthed].
- 59A. CHANTILLY LACE [Hit song for the Big Bopper]. Rock ‘n’ roll baby that I am, I think I was in the third grade when this was released… “Aww, baby, that’s-a what Ah lahk!” Sadly, the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson, Jr.) went down in the small-plane crash with Buddy Holly and Richie Valens (“the day the music died”).
WHOLESOME [Healthy] makes for some fine longer fill as does the colorful REAL MCCOY [Not a fake]. Classic filmdom is remembered by way of LON [Horror star Chaney] and THEDA [First name among silent vamps]. (That’s Theda Bara, whose name anagrams to “Arab Death”…) More contemporary stars may be seen on the relatively small screens of our computers (and smart phones, no?) thanks to HULU [Net source for TV programs]. How is Hulu for “vintage” TV? Can you tune in the Petries, LAURA [Rob’s wife on “The Dick Van Dyke Show”] and little Richie?…
William Howard TAFT was the [Follower of Roosevelt] (Teddy). Did you know that President Warren G. Harding appointed him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? Yup. He’d been out of office eight years when he got the nod—and served (until his death) for almost nine years. Birth state for both men? OHIO [Steubenville’s state], though Taft was born in Cincinnati and Harding near Blooming Grove.
Today’s NEONS [Broadway lights] get some competition from the primaries YELLOW [Canary color] and the very red and blue PAPA [Smurf elder], famous for saying, “Enough fighting! Lets all have a smurfy day!” Okay, then—if you insist!
Amy here: You know, last Saturday night we drove past a Halloween celebrant dressed as Papa S. My husband rolled down the window and shouted, “Yo, Papa Smurf!” Papa waved his walking stick in acknowledgment.
Brendan Quigley’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
If you don’t know football terminology, this theme isn’t easy. I didn’t know all the terms, and their applicability to Brett Favre’s sexted genitalia is tenuous at best. But who doesn’t appreciate a chance to mock Brett Favre and his crass sexting? (If this story is new to you, Deadspin can bring you up to date.) The key detail to know is that in a text-messaged photo allegedly displaying Favre’s bare genitalia, the man’s feet are wearing Crocs.
- 48a. The clue is just plain wrong. CARAT is a unit of weight for gems; it’s KARAT that is a [Gold measurement] of purity. The British like the C spelling for the gold purity measure, but the Onion’s an American publication. Brendan, just because your lovely wife is English doesn’t mean your crosswords have to skew transatlantic too. (Unless you want to make British-style cryptics, that is.)
- LOOSE BALL made me laugh because I had seen the Deadspin video with the Favre photos.
- KANDINSKY and OUT THERE are terrific entries. I like Kandinsky’s art, too.
- Do you have a favorite VIDEO BLOG? Mine is Jay Smooth’s Ill Doctrine.
- Never seen FLU BUG in a crossword before. [It goes around in winter] but doesn’t much bother those of us who have gotten our flu shots.
At 2d, CLIP ART is clued as a [Tacky e-mail attachment]. Can y’all help me convince my mom to send plain email rather than using Yahoo’s clip art themes?
Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword
KFC anchors the middle of the grid and the four longer theme answers start with chicken parts: WING CHAIR, THIGH-SLAPPER, BREAST STROKE, LEG WARMER. Solid theme, though it’s lacking any mention of the horrifying KFC Bowl (who can forget comedian Patton Oswalt’s foul-mouthed takedown of the KFC Bowl?) or Double Down sandwich (here’s how Patton responded when he first heard about this one).
Least familiar answers:
- 25d. SAWFISH, or [Swimmer with a bladelike snout].
- 48a. A.J. AYER, or [British philosopher who wrote “Language, Truth and Logic”].
- 67a. LOGAN, or [Canada’s highest mountain]. This one’s for Jeffrey. We Americans know Logan better as Boston’s airport.
Most troubling clue:
- 32d. [Ripple near the nipple] for a PEC (pectoral muscle). It’s not much of a “ripple near the nipple” in women. In the same general vicinity as BREAST STROKE, this clue is off-putting.