Lynn Lempel’s New York Times crossword
D’oh! Typo (HANDSSAND meets SSUN) took me 40 seconds to root out.
The theme is a plain Jane one—rhyming phrases or compound words that start with body parts, all of which feature the various “A” sounds;
- 17a. BRAIN DRAIN. Have you ever seen a brain melt like an ice cube? With this ice tray, you can.
- 25a. BACKPACK.
- 37a. HANDSTAND.
- 53a. HAIR CARE.
- 63a. HEART-SMART.
Is that all there is to it? Rhymes starting with body parts? I can’t help wondering if there’s some other connection I’m missing here.
The 11 7-letter answers jazz up the grid—to wit, SWAHILI, the HEISMAN Trophy, the LONG RUN, the IRON AGE, a TRINKET, and a BANSHEE (crossing Irish singer ENYA!) And despite the inclusion of all those 7s, the word count’s still a standard 78 and the fill is as smooth as we have come to expect in Lynn’s puzzles.
John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword
It’s rhyme time again! This time, it’s two-syllable rhymes. The first three theme entries were great—lively, colorful, fun to say—and then the fourth one appeared. Good gravy, I’ve never heard of that! Is it just me, or is 56a wildly out of place in a Monday crossword? The first and fourth theme answers have an “S” tacked onto the end of the rhyme because presumably those phrases can’t be singular.
- 20a. [Feeling of uneasiness] is the HEEBIE-JEEBIES.
- 27a. The WALKIE-TALKIE is a [Hand-held two-way communications device].
- 47a. BOOGIE-WOOGIE is an [Up-tempo jazz piano style].
- 56a. [Symbolic nosegays] clues TUSSIE-MUSSIES. Dictionary says you can indeed have a single tussie-mussie, that it means “a small bunch of flowers or aromatic herbs,” and that the origin is unknown/late Middle English.
- 1a. Q-TIPS are [Cotton swabs originally called Baby Gays]. Aww, why’d they ever change the name?
- 7d. [Affectionate bop] is a LOVE TAP.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Tooth or Consequences”—Sam Donaldson’s review
For most of us, crosswords offer relaxation but trips to the dentist give us anxiety. Levin finds a happy balance with today’s dental theme. 55-Down, DDS, is clued [Deg. of the professional who may instruct you to do the last words of the four longest puzzle answers]. And sure enough, you’re likely to hear each of these short commands at your next trip to the dentist:
- 20-Across: Something that’s [Apparent] is OUT IN THE OPEN, and “Open,” is a short command that you hear from the dentist.
- 28-Across: The [Natural hair treatment for extra shine] is a VINEGAR RINSE. The ad practically writes itself: “For bouncy, shiny hair that smells like a salad bar, try a vinegar rinse.”
- 43-Across: The [Rod in a barbecue joint] is not Rod Stewart, Rod Sterling, Rod Laver, or Rod Blagojevich. It’s a ROASTING SPIT. I can’t say I remember a dentist ever telling me to “spit.” I think it’s sort of understood when you’re told to rinse and gestured toward a basin. Besides, I don’t think swallowing water mixed with a bunch of grainy plaque dust would ever occur to me as an option.
- 51-Across: To [Conclude] is to COME TO A CLOSE. I find that people of all professions (not just dentists) tell me to close my mouth.
What, no phrase ending in FLOSS? I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, lest I be accused of being an Anti-Dentite. Besides, the puzzle’s got a lovely grid with no partials and just a few non-theme abbreviations like SRTAS, the [Mlles, across the Pyrenees], URI, the [Ocean State sch.], and MISC, the [Category for odds and ends (abbr.)]. Bonus points for giving the VOYEURS, the [Peeping Toms], a little BOOTY, [Spoils], and for placing SOBER, clued as [Unlooped?], directly across from ALES, the [Provisions at The Red Lion]. I also liked the intersecting SIAM, clued as [Mongkut’s kingdom], and SAMOA, clued as the [South Pacific country whose capital is Apia]. Having both ENTER and INTERS struck me as odd, but I can live with it.
I lost a little time with EDWIN, [Dickens’s Drood], and with piecing together ISABEL as [Eva’s successor as Mrs. Peron]. But on the whole this was much quicker and much more enjoyable than a trip to the dentist. Do I get a free toothbrush now?
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Themeless Monday”
I owe my ability to get 1-Across to my kid, who always asks to listen to top-40 radio in the car. Sirius/XM displays the song artist and title on the screen, and I scowl at “WE R WHO WE R” every time. I can look past Ke$ha not being pronounced as “ke-dollar-sign-ha” or “kee-shuh” (it’s “kesh-uh”), but the title? Slays me. I had not, however, noticed that only the 5 letters of WHORE are used in that title. (If you’re not familiar with “letter bank,” 5a: [Letter bank for 1-Across (!)] refers to the group of letters used to spell out 1a.)
Never encountered WORK MOUTH. What is that, the cleaned-up version of the potty mouth you have outside the office? I work from home so I can swear all I want. Sure, there’s usually no one around to hear it, but that doesn’t mean the potty mouth doesn’t exist. If a tree falls in the forest…
- MIDDLESEX, C.S. LEWIS, THE / SITUATION, CHAT ROOM, and OLD STYLE.
- OLEOS instead of HEROS in the “CISSY who?”/”MONTY who?” corner.
- 3d. RED SUN…is that a thing? Or just color + orb?
- 8d. ETESIAN—seen it once or twice in crosswords, sure didn’t remember it off the clue. The root is the Latin etesius, meaning “annual,” from a Greek word. So no connection to the French été, meaning “summer.” However! The etesian or meltemi wind occurs in the summer, so I will go ahead and use été as a mnemonic.
One minute into this puzzle I was going, “ANOTHER rhyming pairs puzzle?” But I think the body parts theme, plus all the different A sounds, ties it together remarkably well. HAIR CARE is a bit visually offputting, though, odd man out-wise.
I initially noted that the theme seemed a bit simple, but that I liked it just fine despite seeming ‘loose’. (Which I mean in a totally non-sexist way. (This time:))
I also noted:
“Maybe I’m missing something that Bloggo Amy will have to explain to me.”
The rhyming thing was a cool plus and probably a whole lot harder than it looks.
I was looking for something related that I could use as a sort of related title for the day’s crossword. Looks like Lynn Lempel left little on the bone. I was trying searches for all kinds of body parts, including the nasty ones. Finally came up with the cool THIGH HIGH.
I wonder if that was on her list, which I now suspect was pretty limited, for the nine in the center. It has never been used in the NYT, which would have been a nice plus. It does show up in Matt Ginsberg’s database as being used in the LAT last year.
P.S., re: LAT – gotta love the symmetry of ARTIST/EASELS in the grid, as well as their corresponding clues. Didn’t love the theme, or some of the fill, but this was pretty elegant.
HEARTSMART in the NYT and LOVETAP that you singled out in the LAT were two great answers! Ditto for what the hell is a TUSSIEMUSSIE!!!
I’ve got a book (picked up in a museum) about TUSSIE-MUSSIES, and the meanings ascribed to the different flowers that go into one (e.g. oxeye stands for patience), so that one was obvious for me. Nice clean fill in both NYT and LAT.
Good fun to do such similar puzzles and learn about the posies! Mostly, I’m glad the CS came back — it didn’t seem fair before, requiring a new format and dumping the old!!! Now if I could just get access restored to the USA Today combos? And figure out why I can post here but not at Rex’s???
I thought the NYT theme was fine for a Monday. I had no idea what TUSSIE-MUSSIES were, so that really slowed me down on the LAT. I don’t think that belonged in a Monday.
Just my luck. All of the people who have never heard of TUSSIE MUSSIES happen to be crossword solvers.
Take heart, John. I’ve heard of TUSSIE MUSSIES, from years when I indulged in trashy period romance novels. I thought seeing it in the grid was fun, though probably not a Monday-type answer. I liked it. congrats on a smooth Monday puzzle with some very nice fill.
For the rest, well, you can send them a tussle mussie of yellow carnations, lettuce, and eglantine roses.
Hey, @ArtLvr! I wondered why I had not seen you in Rexworld. Hope that Blogger relents soon. I, too, am delighted to once again be able to do the CS puzzles by getting them in .puz form at Cruciverb. What happened with that?
@Jax, @ArtLvr: The .puz files for the CS puzzles are quite likely to end their run this month. Instead, we’ll have .jpz files to download, and an alternative to Across Lite called Puzzle Solver to solve them with.
Thanks, Jaxin — It’s a downer, being shut out of the Rexworld! And I really don’t see why CS can’t cater to those of us who don’t want to deal with yet another format, when they could just as well continue the old with the new… Worst wipe-out was AOL erasing my entire year’s Calandar without warning: I still haven’t found all my IRS info elsewhere!
@ArtLvr, I’m not sure we get a vote when we pay nothing to get the crosswords! They sure aren’t free to produce and publish.
Thanks, Amy. Why the change? Is this the wave of the future and all publishers will eventually switch to .jpz? Does the new format allow programmers to do something cool that they can’t do now? Would I be up on this if only I read _____ ?
Not sure, but .jpz is likely a bit more portable, as it can be used in an online java applet, as opposed to .puz, which is strictly an offline client software experience. It might also have something to do with rights to use the proprietary LitSoft (AcrossLite) software.
The advantages of .jpz over .puz deserve their own blog post. But in short — the new format will indeed allow constructors to do things they can’t do now, like shaded squares, bold/italicized clues, unusual numbering schemes, etc. Basically, just about any puzzle that looks different in print than electronically could look the correct way with a .jpz file.
TUSSIE MUSSIES belongs in a Saturday puzzle! Other than that one, I liked the puzzle – nice and smooth and Mondayish.