Wow, I upgraded my Mac OS to Lion today, so I had to download that newer version of Across Lite. It looks good but I hate, hate, hate solving in it. Every time I change directions, the active square jumps to the side. I tried a few different options in the “solving” menu, to no avail. Anyone figure out how to get Across Lite 2.2.1 to feel like the older versions of the program?
Gary Cee’s New York Times crossword
So the theme is really carried all the way here. There’s a TEPEE in the middle to tip you off to the other nine theme answers with T.P. initials. The top half of the puzzle is all solid (hey, hey, keep your solid waste jokes to yourself), but then there’s all this crazy fill in the bottom (the jokes, they write themselves), and you need some T.P. for that s…tuff. You hit the crosswordese [Fireplace], INGLE, on your way into the toilet bowl of BELEM and LEVENE (who??), and then you swirl over to the left side and encounter the decidedly un-Tuesdayish APSIS. These four answers completely wiped out the good feelings I was having from the assorted T.P. phrases.
The T.P. action comes from THINK PIECE, TACK PIN (Wait, what the heck is TACK PIN?? Seems redundant. Let’s flush it away), THE PIPS, TEAM PLAYER, TENNIS PRO (love how that crosses ASHE), TEA PARTY, TAR PITS (meh), TOM PETTY, and THEME PARK. So seven of these theme answers are Terrific Phrases.
I could see people grumbling at the U-BAHN at 13d, but I’m with Matt Gaffney—I studied German and I like seeing the basics (beyond the lifeless DER, DIE, EIN, EINE, EINS) in my crossword puzzles.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Cheatin’ With the Codes”
There’s some old video game that had some sort of “cheat code” involving pressing a sequence of buttons on the controller. “Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start,” I presume? Those things are found in the theme answers:
- 16a. [Direction for “my beautiful balloon,” in song] is UP, UP AND AWAY.
- 19a. [What “we’re” doing, in a Fall Out Boy song lyric] is GOING DOWN, DOWN.
- 30a, 39a. [With 39-across, marching chant] is “LEFT, RIGHT, / LEFT, RIGHT.”
- 50a. [Degree that focuses on human behavior] clues a B.A. IN SOCIOLOGY. As opposed to Bain sociology, which explains why Mitt Romney made the choices he did while working at Bain Capital.
- 56a. [Panicky yell to a getaway driver] is “START THE CAR!”
Themes that hinge on video game arcana that are completely out of my experience do not tend to captivate me.
Loves: The slangy/casual verb phrase DRUG OFF. The slangy/colloquial “OH, LORD!” The [1970s song with a letter-forming dance] cluing approach to YMCA. SHAWTY, or [BET Hip Hop Awards “Rookie of the Year” winner ___ Lo]—because, as a woman who sometimes wears the petite sizes, I’m fond of the Shorty/Shawty slang meaning. THREE clued as [“A magic number,” according to “Schoolhouse Rock”], because my family of three loves that song. “NOW WHAT?” is good too.
Unloves: GO BY CAB feels ungainly, and so does BROTHY.
3.5 stars. There’s not really anything wrong with the theme—it just doesn’t do anything for me.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “The Green Economy” – Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s puzzle features four economic terms from today’s turbulent times that start with a word that can also have a botanical meaning:
- 20-Across: An ANNUAL REPORT is a [Yearly accounting of economic health]. (An “annual” is a plant that blooms and dies on a recurring basis annually. Like many of the weeds in my lawn.)
- 31-Across: HEDGE FUNDS are [High-risk investment companies] and not vehicles for investing in shrubs.
- 41-Across: One [Contentious economic issue from the 112th Congress] was the BUSH TAX CUT. The term is usually plural (“Bush tax cuts“), but hey, I’ll happily take whatever tax law references I can get in my crosswords.
- 54-Across: A PLANT CLOSING is one [Event with a negative effect on employment]. This one struck me as a bit arbitrary coupled with a hyper-generic clue. But it certainly fits with the theme.
For a half-second I wondered whether TAKE ROOT ([Become established]) was part of the theme. But of course it’s not–it’s not a distinctly economic term, the plant-related term is not the first word in the entry, and it’s symmetrical cousin in the grid, EYE TESTS, clearly has no relation to the theme. Put aside those three important facts, though, and it would fit right in.
This is a 74/37 grid, so there’s a host of 5- and 6-letter entries that give the grid a nice, open feel. Working off the M in PANAMA at 1-Across, I tried MALOMARS as the [Marshmallow and chocolate treats]. It fit, so I was confident. But that meant 20-Across, a likely theme entry with 12 letters, would start with AO-, and that didn’t sit well with me. Eventually I tumbled to MOON PIES. I blame the lapse on the first moon pie I ever ate, back in high school. It came from a vending machine and looked enticing. Heck, I should like moon pies–I changed my food pyramid into a food Star of David just so chocolate and marshmallows could get their fair shares. And yet I can’t recall a less enjoyable sugar treat. Did I sample a bad brand or are they just gross?
Some of the other stand-out entries include SNEAK IN, TOYLAND, GIZMO, TIP-TOE, RATED R, and UP CLOSE. My favorite clue was [Now you see it, now you don’t] for the MIRAGE. Yep, that’s what I say to my money every time I gamble at The Mirage.
Gail Grabowski and Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
- 17a. [Cosmopolitan piece] – MAGAZINE ARTICLE
- 27a. [“This can’t lose”] – IT’S A SURE THING
- 49a. [Los Angeles Times piece, e.g.] – NEWSPAPER ITEM (self promotion!)
- 63a. [Stipulation from a wealthy purchaser] – MONEY IS NO OBJECT
Each long entry ends with with a synonym here. The NEWSPAPER/MAGAZINE similarity is a but too much for me.
Some quick notes, since this is coming out so late:
- When you have a TA—Y pattern and the clue [Cheap and gaudy], don’t you just want to write in TACKY even if it won’t fit? TAWDRY stymied me for a while this morning.
- DOPES OUT is a new phrase to me.
- I think we saw TONIER recently, and it still doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe it’s because I’ve never heard anyone use it (or just the word TONY).
- 10d. [Pain in the neck] – NUISANCE. I love this clue because I thought we were looking for an actual neck pain. Overthinking it.
- INA JAM got a rather literal clue: [Experiencing serious traffic]