Michael Sharp’s New York Times crossword
Why, this theme is the greatest thing since a sliced bread…theme. It’s cheese, Gromit! A SLICED CHEESE theme in which assorted cheese names are sliced into shorter words and clued accordingly:
- 17a. GORGONZOLA is clued as Gorgon + Zola, [French writer with snaky hair and a petrifying gaze?] as well as stark and richly detailed prose.
- 26a. PROVOLONE splits up with an abbrev, for someone who is PRO VOL. ONE.
- 47a. The pronunciation changes the most in this one, LIMB URGER. This is a definite improvement over the cheese.
- 55a. And last but not least, we have MA’S CAR PONE. At this writing, my husband and I are watching Bitchin’ Kitchen, a weird cooking show on a channel I didn’t know existed. Nadia just whipped up a key lime meringue Oreo-crust cheesecake with mascarpone and habaneros, plus there was a glistening shirtless muscle man giving additional info about hot peppers and the OPIATE (14a) effects of endorphins.
Two “Wait, what?” moments:
- 21a. RHEBOK not spelled REEBOK.
- 1a. [Traditional March birthstone] is aquamarine, I know, because that’s my mom’s birthstone. Except that if you’re willing to consider non-translucent stones (ew), JASPER also fits March. I’ll bet you $10 that Michael’s original clue pertained to the old bearded dude on The Simpsons.
I count one partial entry (“Vive LE ROI“), which is respectable. Highlights: The STEEL-TOE FOOT RUB. The phrase BEEFS UP, which combines with all the cheese to deny this puzzle the “kosher” certification. ZIPPO, which I had really hoped was ZILCH since I filled that in first. Shakespeare’s OSRIC below the GLOBE Theatre (though GLOBE was clued in a challenging way: [Unisphere, e.g.]). Is this Justin BIEBER‘s first appearance in the grid? (My son the anti-Bieberite would approve of the CORPSE crossing.) Plus the TOPLESS beaches (don’t forget the sunscreen, folks).
So Michael says Will changed the clue for 53d: BARB to [Sharp put-down]. You see what he did there, the play on the constructor’s surname?
Claiborne Thompson’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
It’s a quip puzzle: I LIKE TO COOK / WITH WINE. / SOMETIMES, / I EVEN PUT / IT IN THE FOOD. I’m usually not a fan of a quote puzzle unless it’s funny; this one gave me a little chuckle. Get a variation on this quip on an apron here – that should show you that this isn’t original. I couldn’t find an author, though.
The rest of the joy from this puzzle needs to come from the fill, and there’s some pretty good stuff.
- 31a. [Word in a current account?] – AMPERE
- 6d. [Reading pen?] – GAOL. This felt mean to me. I don’t think I had a legitimate chance of ever figuring this one out on it’s own. If you’re stuck like I was, this is Reading (town in England) + pen (prison) = gaol (British spelling of jail). Canadian readers: How do you spell jail?
- I like the TEENIE / BIKINI crossing in the upper left – that’s classy.
- 39d. [Inventing family] – EDISONS – includes Thomas Alva Edison’s kids, Marion (“Dot”), Thomas, Jr. (“Dash”) and William (No nickname given).
- Long winners: ACID DYE, CREW CUT, OPEN FIRE, TAKE HOME and I GIVE UP.
- I have a soft spot for ELYSE, just because Meredith Baxter is amazing.
29a. [Payoff] – SOP. What? It sort of works with the first definition at Google’s definition page. But with something like a Handel cantata at the crossing, I think we could go with a more standard clue. I guessed well.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Smile While Solving!”
The blank grid’s got a sort of a smiley face pattern, doesn’t it? Not too obvious. The theme is a BERTRAND RUSSELL quote: “THE TIME YOU ENJOY / WASTING / IS NOT WASTED TIME.” Indeed.
I like the five zones with stacked 7’s. Random remarks:
- Why is WHITENER a [Coffee additive]? I don’t understand. Tooth whitening, I know. Coffee whitening? Not so much.
- Cute clue for TOUPEE, [Top secret?].
- Classic etymology: The Mexican language NAHUATL‘s word for “testicle,” ahuacatl, turned into aguacate and then avocado. Now, if any fruit should have such an etymon, it’s the kiwi fruit.
Fairly ordinary puzzle, aside from all the 7’s–not as involved or ambitious as many of the other Fireballs. 3.5 stars.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Comic Mix-Up” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Even this very novice-level solver of cryptics knew we were in for some anagrams upon reading this crossword’s title. I originally guessed that we were going to be rearranging the letters in the names of three or four comedians, but it turned out that this was a tribute to one great comedian, the [Geraldine portrayer] at 65-Across, FLIP WILSON. The clue to 65-Across also tells us that “Flip Wilson” is a [hint to the starts of 17-, 28-, and 49-Across]. That’s because each of those entries begins with a different arrangement of the letters W, I, L, S, O, and N (thus, each is a “flip” of WILSON):
- 17-Across:LOW INSULIN is [Something monitored by a diabetic]. Other things monitored by diabetics include babies, credit ratings, and employees.
- 28-Across: The [Artist known for his marine paintings] is WINSLOW HOMER. D’oh! I should have known that. Winslow Homer is perhaps best known for his painting of legendary Marine General Archibald Henderson. (Two, count ’em two jokes in one!)
- 49-Across: IN SLOW MOTION is [How some replays are shown]. I got nothing. May we please count one of the two jokes from the preceding theme entry here?
The theme is interesting enough, but what I enjoyed most were several of the great Down entries. The southwest corner looks headed for detention with LET’S PARTY right next to MALL RATS. And any reference to CHICO MARX in a puzzle is most welcome. (My favorite Chico line: “That’s a good quarter cigar. I smoked the other three-quarters myself.”)
I lost a little bit of time with Chico’s long neighbor, OKLAHOMA. For some reason, I had guessed that 10-Across was [Newspaper publisher Adolph] ACHS instead of OCHS and that [Stitch’s cartoon pal] was MILO when of course I know it should be LILO. 38-Across, the [Duqm resident] could just as easily be IRANI to this Western-centric solver as OMANI, so that meant I had AKMAHIRA as the [Tallgrass Prairie Preserve local]. Obviously that was wrong, but I was talking myself into thinking this preserve could be in Africa or Asia, and from that point it’s pretty difficult to suss out OKLAHOMA from AKMAHIRA.
One demerit for SKUA, the [Arctic gull], but five smiley faces for the following: (1) WOW ‘EM; (2) [Green belt?] as the clue for PUTT; (3) GAS UP; (4) the inclusion of both OCHO and RIOS, to make Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and (5) HEE HAW, the [Variety show that featured “PFFT! You was gone!”] That clue references a common skit on the show in which country crooners would bemoan, “Where oh where were you tonight? / Why did you leave me here all alone? / I searched the world over and thought I found true love. / You met another, and PFFT! You was gone.” See for yourself.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Midterm Exams” — pannonica’s review
My favorite part of this puzzle is the title, which is just perfect. In each of the long theme entries, spanning words in the middle of common terms, are abbreviations for standardized tests, i.e. exams.
- 17a. [Colbert’s specialty] POLITICAL SATIRE. The LSAT (Law School Admission Test) is for aspiring lawyers.
- 22a. [Cat’s game game] TIC-TAC-TOE. ACT is the acronym of the company that produces this SAT contender, American College Testing. Did not understand the clue.
- 37a. [Southwestern souvenirs] DREAMCATCHERS. The MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) is for, yup, aspiring physicians. In the Ojibwe language, asabikeshiinh is the inanimate form of “spider.” An alternate name, bawaajige nagwaagan, means “dream snare.” (Thanks, Wikipedia!)
- 50a. [Software designer’s feedback] BUG REPORT. The GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is a general test often required for post-collegiate study. Although it’s probably legitimately in the language, this was my least favorite theme answer.
- 56a. [Noted Australian folk song] WALTZING MATILDA. The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is for those seeking advanced business degrees. I don’t know the etymology, but a matilda is a swagman’s bundle, a rucksack of sorts.
Good theme, well executed. The remaining fill varies from strong to rather too many partials, crosswordese, and a few ugly abbrevs. WALTZING MATILDA is singlehandedly responsible for the bulk of whatever Scrabbliness exists in the puzzle.
- 22d [Restaurant table leaving] TIP. Yes, I admit that I quickly filled in ORT before the ‘restaurant’ part of the clue dropped a moment later.
- 10a. [Some newly eligible bachelors, in New York?] GAYS. An attempt to be au CURRANT (24d, [Modern-sounding fruit]) that fails. They were eligible before, because the term isn’t exclusively tied to marriage. Marriageable would have been a better choice of word. Also, some people may take offense at using “gays” as a noun.
- 20a. [Planets in the solar system, e.g.] OCTET. Poor widdle Pwuto.
- 36a. [They often feature merch tables] CONCERTS. No idea why my mind hijacked my fingers and had me filling in convents.
- 27d. [Hodgepodge] FARRAGO. Great word, always love seeing it.
- Starts of rows 14 and 15: IDEE|FREE stacked above GEAR|EARS? AW GEEZ (38d).
Brendan Quigley and Caleb Madison’s blog crossword, “The Supremes”—Matt Gaffney’s review
Brendan and co-constructor Caleb Madison get in touch with their higher power in today’s theme, where each of the theme entries ends in a word for the Almighty:
- 19a. GO ASK YOUR FATHER. Sweet words to the ears of manipulative children everywhere. Divide and conquer is the way of the world.
- 25a. MY SWEET LORD. One of the few good songs on the overrated double album “All Things Must Pass.”
- 42a. SO HELP ME GOD. Congratulations, you are now the president.
- 51a. TYLER THE CREATOR. Not a Hinman reference. Not someone I’ve heard of. Not a big deal.
I don’t know who did what on this puzzle, but the grid certainly feels like a Quigley: all six eight-letter entries are good or great. UTA HAGEN in full, CAMEL TOE (!), ESPRESSO, KEG STAND, RAINY DAY and IT’S ALIVE! That’s six-for-six from three-point range. DON’T LIE, WUSS and PEPYS are also nice. In fact, there’s not a single cringeworthy entry in the entire 74-word grid.
Best clue: [Where to see a band, perhaps] for ARM at 31-a.
Thanks for the puzzle, Brendan and Caleb, and have a praiseworthy Thursday, everyone!