Michael Blake and Andrea Carla Michaels’ New York Times crossword
Andrea’s usually a Monday constructor but the theme entries in this joint production are not to be found in life, ergo it’s not a Monday theme. Michael and Andrea gathered five words with two familiar “X and Y” partners, put the X in the clue, and made “Y and Y” stand in as theme answers. Or they put the Y in the clue and went with “X and “X for the themer:
- 17a. “Kiss and tell” and “show and tell” are both super-familiar. KISS AND SHOW is an X+X.
- 24a. “High and dry” and “high and mighty” give you DRY AND MIGHTY, a Y+Y.
- 38a. PREJUDICE AND JOY are [Pride partners?], Y+Y.
- 49a. [Go partners?] clues TOUCH AND STOP, X+X.
- 60a. [Shine partners?] are RISE AND SPIT, X+X. I know “spit and polish” and I know “spit-shined,” but I’ve never seen “spit and shine.” Just me?
Those are weird phrases, aren’t they? Especially the three that can be verb pairs—they sound like commands to RISE AND SPIT.
The top answers in the grid are the two long Downs: a HATCHET JOB and the legitimate question, “ARE YOU NUTS?” Aside from those two, everything else in the grid except a pair of 6’s is 3 to 5 letters long. Sometimes I like a little less theme density and more long fill. Wait, who am I kidding? My real preference is for no theme and tons of long, cool fill.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”
I would have finished this puzzle faster if I’d paid attention to its title: The word body is “snatched” out of five familiar phrases and the results are clued question-markedly:
- 16a. Body mass index becomes MASS INDEX, the [Back-of-the-book section where Boston is located?]. Meh.
- 23a. “Like nobody’s business” is a great base phrase. To [Approve of a Bond Doctor’s evildoings on Facebook?] is to LIKE NO’S BUSINESS.
- 40a. MR. PEA might be the [Store you go to “for all your pod-based needs”?]. I forget who Mr. Peabody is. A bespectacled dog on Rocky and Bullwinkle? Yes!
- 52a. Have you ever had an out-of-body experience? Please, don’t tell me about it. OUT OF EXPERIENCE is clued [On a shortage of know-how?]. Not sure what the word “on” is doing in the clue. Sounds awkward to me. Would “having” be better?
- 61a. I don’t know if “everybody sing” is a thing, a title or something. But I love zis seme answer, mit ze Teutonic difficulty pronouncing the English “th” sound: EVERYSING is [What Sgt. Schultz really knew (but would never admit) on “Hogan’s Heroes”?]. “I know nothing.”
I liked this theme better before I had to really study it for blogging. Hmm,
- 27d: BUMPS UP, or [Improves, like airplane seating]. That happened to me once! And only once. The flight was overbooked so they bumped my husband and me up to first class. The hot towel, the wine with dinner, the multigrain roll, the hot cookie for dessert, the extra space—it was all lovely, but I’ve never managed to persuade myself that it’s worth paying more for it. And now I’m accumulating miles on Southwest, which has no upgrade-to-first option at all. Sigh.
- 25d. [Boat that goes back and forth?] means the palindromic KAYAK. Cute!
Gareth Bain’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
It’s late – I’ll jump right into the theme entries:
- 18a. [“Kiss the Girls” actor (1993)] – CARY ELWES
- 25a. [“Gladiator” Oscar winner (2010)] – RUSSELL CROWE
- 38a. [“Captain Blood” star (1938)] – ERROL FLYNN
- 53a. [“Field of Dreams” star (1991)] – KEVIN COSTNER
- 64a. [Role played by each of four actors in the years indicated in their clues] – ROBIN HOOD
Look at this – four actors that I’ve heard of! It’s nice on a “people puzzle” to be familiar with all four people. That wasn’t enough for me to figure out what these four men had in common before the finale entry. In fact, I was pretty sure that Gladiator came out in 2000, so I was quite confused. It definitely worked out in the end, though.
Whoa, did you notice? This is a wide load of a puzzle – 16 squares across. A lot of that’s spent on theme entries, but the fun fill includes PART ONE, LIVE AID and CHEW OUT. I was surprised MAD MEN didn’t get the Don Draper treatment, but instead received the clue [Lunatics] – still like it. I didn’t much care for ALL BUT – that just feels like a partial phrase to me. The clues seemed a bit dry tonight – was that just me?
Word of the Day:
- 12d. [Eloi predator] – MORLOCK. Usually we see Eloi in crossword grids (what with the vowels and all), but this time it’s reversed. The Morlocks are an underground species in H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine known for chomping on the Eloi. I wish I had remembered all of this before solving the puzzle!
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Out in Center Field” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Ashwood-Smith gives us three phrases with the letters O-U-T smack dab in the center. Thus, “out” is in the “center” of the “field.” If you had any trouble figuring out the theme entries, here they are (hey, that sentence has “out” in the center too!):
- 17-Across: The [Cookie-selling groups] are GIRL SCOUT TROOPS. This will be heresy to some, but the only Girl Scout cookies I like are Thin Mints. You can have the Samoas all to yourself.
- 34-Across: The [Ivy League rooters in green] are DARTMOUTH FANS. I know Ivy League schools, but I kept thinking this puzzle wanted the team name for Dartmouth athletes. You know, like Florida Gators, Arizona Wildcats, and Oregon State Beavers. I guess Dartmouth just has fans. I saw some references to “The Big Green,” but that sounds more like a medical condition.
- 53-Across: The [Asian capital on a peninsula] is SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA. I’ve never been there, so I did not know it sits on a peninsula. But I had enough crossings in place that the answer was obvious.
I really liked the open corners in the northeast and southwest corners. The stacking of DERRIERE and AL CAPONE is so sweet that I can totally look the other way on the otherwise awkward COARSEN. There’s even Frank NITTI to go with Capone; too bad Nitti didn’t spell his first name like the intersecting [Composer Cesar] FRANCK. The center of the grid is likewise open, highlighted by everyday terms like SHOUT AT, IN TEARS, and AT ONCE.
My only nit to pick is with the clue for HYSON, [Green tea type]. That’s a fine clue, but not when “Coffee OR TEA” is in the grid, and especially not when OR TEA intersects HYSON. Otherwise, I found this a smooth solve and a well-crafted puzzle.
An [Angler, at times] is a BAITER. So what does that make a master angler?