Steve Salitan’s New York Times crossword
Steve interprets 65a: CLOUT as “CL” OUT and jettisons the CL from the start of four phrases, cluing what remains in a plausible way:
- 20a. (cl)EAR CUT SOLUTION is iodine, for a barber. Eh.
- 26a. Heh. (cl)ASS DISMISSED is fun.
- 46a. This one takes an insurance industry term, gives it a spelling I don’t use, and makes it something even duller. I would go with “claims adjuster,” with an -er, and AIMS ADJUSTOR just feels like a bit of a reach. Not fun enough.
- 56a. I wanted this to start with plural ASHES because of the clue. I feel as if barbecue remains should be ASHES and not ASH to be in the language. ASH OF THE TITANS does nicely evoke Clash of the Titans, though.
Fill I liked: CATCH-ALL, the BICOASTAL relationship, an OLD MASTER, the delicious answer REDD FOXX, RUSHDIE, and the sorely underused word DULLARD.
Fill that supercharged the batteries in the Scowl-o-Meter: the paving stone crosswordese SETT, ADIA crossing AMOLE (I just tweaked the fill in a puzzle I was editing to get rid of AMOLE, so little do I care for this crusty entry), and TZE.
Bruce Venzke and Gail Grabowski’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Let’s roll through the theme first. The first words of the first four theme answers spell out “open-and-shut case.” Here’s the rest of the theme:
- 20a. [*Test that sounds easier than it often is] clues OPEN-BOOK EXAM.
- 26a. [*”End of discussion”] clues “AND THAT’S THAT.” This answer’s the best part of the whole puzzle. Love it.
- 36a. [*Z’s] means SHUT-EYE or sleep. Hard to get your clues any more concise that that!
- 43a. [*Thing to do before a heist] is CASE THE JOINT. Also a colorful phrase.
- 51a. [What the first words of the answers to starred clues describe] is LAWYER’S DREAM. Well, that depends, right? If the prosecutor’s got an open-and-shut case, it’s the defendant’s lawyer’s nightmare.
Now, this puzzle had to work really hard to win me over after it completely lost me in the opening corner. ALERO atop ROLEO atop ABYSM? Crossing ARA and ELY? Eek. And it didn’t have to be that way. It took me no more than 15 seconds to lay down RADIO on ALAMO on TEN PM, crossing RAT, ALE, and DAN and changing RESORTS to IMPORTS. Will anyone argue that ALERO ROLEO ABYSM ARA ELY offer any advantage over my changes? The Scowl-o-Meter was also triggered by ANONO, RANI, SKEE, DELE, NEUT, DOMO, and LEOXI. If the 1-Across corner had been cleaner, I might barely have noticed those, but as I said, the puzzle has its work cut out when it loses me at the get-go.
2.5 stars, with most of the points taken off because of that dang opening corner.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Pitching Repertoire” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Today marks the end of Major League Baseball’s regular season, and Randolph Ross commemorates the occasion with four types of pitches that get clued as something else. Thus, a SINKER could be clued not as a baseball pitch but as a [Capsizing ship]. But the names for pitches are a bit too short to be suitable theme entries, so Ross adds in a twist: the solver is given the pitches and has to find the clues. Here’s how it works:
- 17-Across: The “clue” given to solvers is [SCREWBALL]. Since it is in all caps, we know that it is the “answer”—our job is to figure out the clue. In this case, it’s WILD AND CRAZY GUY, a synonym for “screwball” that has no relation to the baseball pitch of the same name.
- 30-Across: The clue is [CHANGE OF PACE] and the answer is BREAK IN ROUTINE. I just now realized that the clue should be [CHANGE-UP]. There isn’t a baseball pitch called a “change of pace” (at least I don’t think there is—is Peter Gordon, Barry Silk, or Doug Peterson in the house?). But I know there is a pitch called the “change-up.” Maybe this was corrected between the version I just solved and the one that appears in your local papers.
- 47-Across: A [SLIDER] is not just a baseball pitch, it’s also a SMALL HAMBURGER. When I was at my heaviest (late in college), my sliders were called “Big Macs.”
- 62-Across: A [CURVEBALL] is both a baseball pitch and an UNEXPECTED EVENT.
I had a few false starts, like FROM ME instead of FOR YOU as the [Words from a gift giver], SHOWER instead of SOAKER for the [Heavy rainstorm], TYPED IN instead of TYPESET as the answer to [Readied to print, the old-fashioned way], and SLYEST instead of COYEST as the [Most modest]. But some other clues were right in my sweet spot, like [Subj. of “The Professor and the Madman”] for the O.E.D. (a book I bought years ago but have yet to read), [Wilson Phillips, e.g.] for TRIO (hold on for one more day, ladies!), [TV’s Batman] for “Mayor” ADAM WEST, and [Moore in the movies] for the ever-alluring DEMI.
Today’s clever clue award goes to [Sewer lines?] for HEMS. For those of us who hear words in our heads when we read (meaning we hear the words we read and not just voices that say “go do evil”), this kind of clue is delightfully confounding.
Soon it will be playoff time? Anyone want to use the comments to record a prediction for the winner of the World Series? I’ll go out on a limb and take the Brewers. They used to be the Seattle Pilots, you know—and that may be the closest Seattle comes to the MLB playoffs for a long time.
Deb Amlen’s Onion A.V. Club crossword
The theme entries take phrases that end with words that can mean “fisticuffs,” swap in a homophone for the preceding word, and clue violently:
- 17a. [Dust-up among ballerinas?] is a BARRE BRAWL. This was the working title for the movie Black Swan.
- 28a. [Dust-up over the price of a cab ride?] would be a FARE FIGHT.
- 42a. [Dust-up between bunnies?] clues HARE BRUSH. This is the theme’s weak link. I checked a thesaurus listing for “fight” and BRUSH didn’t make the cut amid dozens of other words. “A brush with __” is idiomatic, but nobody just says they had a brush.
- 56a. [Dust-up over who has the best innies and outies?] is a NAVEL CLASH. “Naval clash” feels to me like a phrase that’s out there, but not quite at the level of a cohesive “lexical chunk.” There is, however, an Android game app by that name, a version of Battleships. So I could be wrong.
Five more clues:
- 21a. [Top ratings] clues A-ONES. This answer has two problems: First, it’s pluralizing an adjective, really. And second, it’s something only crossworders really see, this A-ONE. “A1” is what’s in the dictionary, but crosswords spell out the number.
- 40a. [First age in geologic history] clue AZOIC. A- = “without,” -zo = “life.” Also called the Archean eon, though I’ve never run across that term.
- 1d. [Young socialites] are DEBS, as in Amlen et al.
- 7d. [Needs to get keyed up?] clues FLAT. Wait. Shouldn’t the answer be SOUNDS FLAT or IS FLAT? There’s no verb in the answer but there sure as shootin’ is one in the clue.
- 38d. [Mesh infusers] are TEA BALLS, those metal screen balls you put loose tea inside of when your tea’s not provided in tea bag form. Wow, that’s a weird-looking answer.
Given that the theme didn’t quite resonate for me and the fill and clues didn’t knock me out, three stars.