Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword
I am too tired to blog, so I’ll be quick.
The theme is an OUTSIDE CHANCE, and the other three theme entries are phrases that happen to be bracketed by CHAN/CE, CHA/NCE, and CH/ANCE: CHANTILLY LACE, a CHAIN-LINK FENCE, and the I-didn’t-know-that-was-a-thing CHURCH OF FRANCE.
Aside from the theme, I like LEASH LAW best. TONY SNOW was a trivia question unto himself. Would have liked 11d and 39d (HOME IN ON, LOOK INTO) better if they weren’t both verb+IN+other preposition.
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Dear Hunting”—Janie’s review
Ooh, baby—this ex post Valentine’s valentine is loaded with synonyms for someone who’s the object of your affection. No license required for the “dear” hunting you’ll do today. Whether this person is your sugar, your honey, your love or your sweetheart, you’ll fine him/her in the theme fill (unromantically) attached to:
17A. SUGAR RAY LEONARD [“Boxer of the Decade” for the 1980s]. Named Ray Charles Leonard (yes, for the singer), this is a pretty impressive for a welter- to middleweight, no? Am having trouble finding any other boxers with this title. Anyone know of a by-the-decade list?
27A. HONEY BLONDE [Fair hair hue]. Here are Marie Claire‘s “Favorite Honey Blondes.” From the looks of things (and as those nice folks at Clairol long-ago suggested), “Only their hair dressers know for sure”…
63A. SWEETHEART DEALS [Transactions with too-good terms]. Interesting. Hadn’t been aware of the term’s negative connotations. Still—makes for great fill.
Other great fill? Why, thank you, madame constructor, for both BIG BAND ERA, that [Jazzy period of the 1930s and ’40s], and SNAIL’S PACE, the perfectly clued [Pathetically slow speed]. While I’m by no means an expert in the bands/music of the Big Band Era, that was the sound of my parents’ youth and as such, something I came to appreciate as “their” pop music and then to love for its own sake. Like rock and roll, it’s decidedly American as a form with great melodies and rhythms—and oh boy, can ya dance to it!
There was a quicksand feel in the way the puzzle began. This was a result of three of the first four entries across: EBBS [Abates], GONE [Nowhere to be found] and SLIP [Lose ground]. Still, the way these words BEAR ON [Relate to] each other only increases my enjoyment of the puzzle. In the “internal glue” department, we also get both AURAL [Sound-related] and EAR [Sense of sound]; the Indy 500 pairing of OVAL [Racetrack shape] and LAP [Racetrack distance]; and the (ill) health pair by way of COLDS [Nose woes] (I like that clue, too) and ACHES [Flu symptoms].
“RAH!” [Pep rally cry] for the vigor of “VOTE ‘NO‘!” [“Turn down this proposal!”]. Oh, and with just under two weeks til Fat Tuesday, Lynn throws out some BEADS [Mardi Gras mementos] today. Which reminds me: for an eye-opening read about one man’s family contending with Katrina and post-disaster New Orleans, do take a look at Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers. Prepare to be shocked and moved.
Jerome Gunderson’s Los Angeles Times crossword
There are four sorts of DUPES found at the start of the theme answers: a patsy, pawn, mark, and sucker. I was looking for a sap, but the most familiar sap- word, sapsucker, that duplicates the theme’s sucker.
I had little trouble with PATSY CLINE, PAWN TICKET, and SUCKERFISH, but the biblical MARK OF CAIN isn’t quite in my vocabulary.
The fill measures high on the Crosswordese-o-meter, with lots of words I wouldn’t know if I hadn’t been doing crosswords:
- I like geography so I might’ve picked up ADEN and URAL, but they’re definitely more familiar to crossworders than non-.
- ADIT—Not a lot of chat about mine entrances in my social circle.
- ELOI—Never read The Time Machine.
- ANION—I don’t recall seeing this word in those chemistry classes, but in crosswords? Oh, yes.
- OLIO—Is this word part of a Jeopardy! category? If so, then I’d know it outside of crosswords.
- ARETE—I’m not a mountain climber or geologist. Do those folks use this word?
- ONE-L—Never went to law school, never read Turow’s memoir.
P.S. I see from PuzzleGirl’s post that the DUPES clue points out that FOOL and TOOL are also part of the theme. Eh. Why include stand-alones as well as first-word-of entries? It’s not as if that provides a full set of synonyms. There’s no gull, chump, or stooge. Better to limit it to synonyms that can begin longer phrases or words.
Byron Walden’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
Tough puzzle, and tough theme to make sense out of. What’s going on here is that Byron has taken SKIN out of six phrases and found a way to clue the remainder of the letters:
- 17a. [*emiT or DAM?] is a BACKWARD MAG (Time and MAD magazines). The original phrase is “backward masking,” which is…I forget what.
- 24a. “Risking one’s neck” becomes RIG ONE’S NECK, or [*Put on a whiplash collar?].
- 31a. [*Put a variety of labels on?] clues MULTI-TAG (“multi-tasking”).
- 38a. [*Commodities market concern, casually?] clues AG PRICES (“asking prices”).
- 44a. [*TSA treatment that goes way beyond inappropriate touching?] would be an AIRPORT FRIG (“airport frisking”). I’ve never heard the phrase “airport frisking.”
- 54a. [*Result of having no room under the beach umbrella for your knapsack?] is having your BAG IN THE SUN (“basking in the sun”).
- 61a. [Sextet of cancellations that produced the starred entries…or an oversexed MTV production now facing cancellation] clues SKINS. Skins is the racy MTV teen soap.
While it’s impressive to find phrases that can lose a 4-letter chunk, ultimately I didn’t find this theme too satisfying. The resulting phrases weren’t really funny, so the entertainment value suffers.
Some more clues:
- 20d, 33d. [With 20-Across, soccer dad’s outburst], GET / IN THE CAR. I think I’d like this all in one entry, but split across two, it pained me.
- 11a, 12d. Love the jam/jelly combo, [Toe __] JAM and ASPIC, the [Jelly (hopefully) never found in a PB&J].
- 14a. [With 18-Down, body builder?] is a challenging clue for a plain ol’ AMINO/ ACID. I thought we were looking for some sort of musclehead slang, so the ACID part was slow to dawn.
- 37a. [Leakes of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”] is named NENE. Ouch. I’m OK with the reality TV names I recognize, but find the unfamiliar ones patently unfair. Highly subjective, I know! Did you know NENE?
- 42a. [W or O, e.g.] is a wicked clue because those are both the names of magazines. I know W = Dubya = George Bush, but I didn’t know Obama was often called “O.” The answer is PRES.
- 9d. [Like many “Glee” numbers: Var.] wants to be A CAPPELLA but that “Var.” tag says to go with A CAPELLA. Never too happy to see a “Var.” tag.
- 10d. [The one for the Taj Mahal has 5922 pieces] clues LEGO SET. Super-fresh fill!
- 11d. [Montana senator with a good name for a plumber] had me thinking of puns on the last name alone, but it’s the full name of JON TESTER: toilet examiner. People! If you’re in the market for a new toilet, don’t buy the Kohler Wellworth elongated model. It’s terrible. I hate it.
- 26d. [Item on a Gotham utility belt] clues BATROPE. Got the BAT part easily; waited for the crossings to reveal the rest.
- 30d. [Anti-chapping applications] clues LIP CREAMS. I don’t know what “lip creams” are.