Alex Boisvert’s New York Times crossword
Our Tuesday NYT theme is a vowel progression one, with D*E filling its gap with A, E, I, O, U, and also Y The D*E word jumps around from middle to end to beginning, with each location represented twice so that the inconsistency has a consistency. In order to fit the six phrases into the grid, Alex stretched it to 16 squares wide instead of the usual 15.
DANIEL DAE KIM needs to be in another puzzle with Daniel Day-Lewis, doesn’t he? TWEEDLEDEE is pleased to be rid of Tweedledum today. Who doesn’t enjoy DIE-CAST CARS? MEET JOHN DOE is an old movie I know nothing about (but I bet there’s some amnesia involved). DUE PROCESS is a cornerstone of the American justice system, and the wearing of TIE-DYE SHIRTS is not sufficient cause to issue a search warrant.
I like the theme okay, but I’d be happier if TWEEDLEDEE were two words. In any event, it’s far more accomplished and logical than that vowel progression theme last August.
You know what’s nice? When you come at a 4-letter entry from the end and you have **UI, and you start to run the dreadful possibilities—ETUI, PTUI, PFUI—but it turns out to be MAUI.
I like the ICE-T clue, [“Cop Killer” singer who went on to play a cop on TV]. Speaking of musicians, nice shout-out to the Big Man at 65a: SAX is clued as the [Instrument for Clarence Clemons].
53d: ORTHO is clued as [Straight: Prefix]. I feel like switching from “hetero” to “ortho” for my sexual preference. Who’s with me? And what’s the opposite of “ortho”?
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Puh-leeze!”
Just as you add an unstressed vowel (schwa) to “please” to make “puh-leeze,” you schwa up the joint to make each theme entry:
- 17a. [Make those clumsy fools earn their living?] = WORK YOUR GALOOTS (glutes)
- 31a. [Redundantly named undergarment?] = SUPPORTS BRA (sports)
- 40a. [Hug in the shower?] = WATER CARESS (watercress)
- 56a. [Practice for being forced into something?] = DURESS REHEARSAL (dress)
Any theme that manages to work in the word GALOOTS and the concepts of glutes and shower hugs is a winner, don’t you think?
- 6a. COFFEE BAR, [Place to get a mocha and a paper]
- 16a. PRICELINE, Captain Kirk’s travel website
- 3d. DIRT NAP, [What the dead take, in a macabre phrase]. Yikes! I did not know this macabre phrase.
- 32d. OH, WOW, [“I was not expecting it to be that good”]
Did you notice that 18 non-theme answers are 7 letters or longer? You get the goodies of a themeless puzzle plus a phonetic theme. Four stars from me.
Julian Lim’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
I’m solving this puzzle in the middle of the day, but it seems I should’ve waited up for a late night challenge.
- 17a. [*Artsy-sounding microbrew] – CRAFT BEER
- 25a. [*Brains, informally] – GRAY MATTER
- 47a. [*Officially restricted yet widely known information] – OPEN SECRET
- 10d. [*Many “South Park” jokes] – TOILET HUMOR
- 25d. [*Classic Greek ruse] – TROJAN HORSE
- 64a. [*When night owls thrive, or where the last words of the starred answers can go] – AFTER DARK
There’s an asterisk in (at least the .puz version of) this puzzle’s meta-theme clue, but I don’t think it should be there. I’m not familiar with the phrase “dark dark.” We’ll call that a typo. I like you-can-add-a-word-before-or-after themes when there’s a nice entry that ties it all together (not just DARK sitting by its lonesome, say), so I enjoyed this one.
With six long theme entries, what else is there room for? I like ID CARD a lot, and though HAJJI looks nice with its double Js, I prefer the variant HADJI just because it’s the name of one of the characters on Jonny Quest (remember that show?). The long verticals – JEERED AT and EXPORTER don’t do anything for me, though the latter pairs nicely with EMBARGO. Favorite clue: [It’s held underwater] for BREATH. Other than that, this puzzle seemed pretty standard – not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Patrick Blindauer’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Gem Dandy” – Sam Donaldson’s review
My challenge this week is to see if I can figure out the puzzle’s theme and the constructor without reading the title and byline until after I’m finished solving. Yesterday I nailed the theme and got the right constructor, but I only gave myself a half-point because I guessed two names.
Today I got only the theme. It would have been hard to miss, as all of the long Across entries clearly contain the name of a gemstone:
- 16-Across: First up is the [“Cracklin’ Rosie” singer], NEIL DIAMOND. “Sweet Caroline” is probably the most well-known Diamond tune, but I’ve always had a soft spot for “Forever in Blue Jeans.”
- 26-Across: THE EMERALD CITY is the nickname for Seattle. It’s also the formal name for the [Oz metropolis] whose nickname, oddly enough, is “Seattle.”
- 42-Across: BOMBAY SAPPHIRE is a [Bacardi brand of gin]. Don’t drink it, but I know about it.
- 57-Across: The [Restaurant chain founded in 1972] is RUBY TUESDAY. I don’t think I have ever eaten at one, though I am familiar with the franchise. Their location map says the closest one to me is 146 miles away, so now I’m almost positive I’ve never been inside one. Are there any fans of the franchise out there?
My first guess for the constructor was Lynn Lempel, and I stuck with it even though there were warning signs telling me I might be wrong. What made it seem Lempel-lian, you (didn’t) ask? It was mostly the silky smooth fill. I really liked HAND ME DOWN, PAIN KILLER, and SWING SET, and yet there appear to be no compromises made to get those and other good entries to fit together comfortably. SYN, the [Prefix meaning “together”], was the only thing that stood out as being the slightest bit awkward, and since it was buried in the southwest corner, I thought Lynn might be okay with it. Looking back, she might have wanted something else for RE-DYE (clued here as [Try, as a new do hue]). But that’s a tricky corner–the only possible substitute I could find in a few seconds was HAD ME, and a partial wouldn’t necessarily be more attractive than a RE- word. (Not to mention that the Bureau of Land Management, BLM, is probably more obscure than Nellie BLY.)
But I should have sensed something was up with all of the clever clues. Lynn’s puzzles have great clues, too, of course–but this one really smacks of someone who regularly engages in trickery. There was [Bath room fixture?] for a LOO (clever in its own right, but especially since the clue [Bathroom fixtures] is also used for SINKS), [They pass the bucks] for ATMS, [Sty cry] and [Sty guys] for OINK and BOARS, respectively, and [They might be Grecian] for URNS. Then there’s the uber-hipness of [“Sesame Street” character who sang “Hot N Cold” with Katy Perry] as the clue for ELMO (remember the scandal?). This should have tipped me off that it would be someone like Patrick Blindauer. Oh well. I think Patrick won’t mind being mistaken for Lynn Lempel–I, for one, would consider it a great compliment.
While we’re on the subject of Patrick, regular CrosSynergy solvers will appreciate this little “behind-the-scenes” nugget: Patrick was one of the puzzlemakers for this year’s MIT Mystery Hunt. One of his puzzles was this Diagramless crossword. Patrick emailed it to me after the start of the hunt, saying I might enjoy it. It took me a long time (I’m not the best at Diagramless crosswords) but I finally got something that I think was mostly right. Still, I couldn’t quite figure out what to do with the words that were not in the grid. Can you? (Try it out, and if you get stumped like I did, click on the “Solution” link in the top right corner of the puzzle’s page.) Hint: there’s a reason Patrick would think to send me this puzzle, and I’ll tell you that once I saw the solution, I gleefully felt as though I had somehow been a pawn in a much larger game.
Okay, so my total is 2.5 out of 4 possible points so far. Let’s see if I can do better tomorrow!