Daniel A. Finan’s New York Times crossword, “Back to the Start” – Jeffrey’s review
Theme: The last three letters of the theme answers are the same as the first three letters, but they aren’t entered [again] in the grid.
- 23A. [Aide for a V.I.P. customer] – PERSONAL SHOP[PER]
- 25A. [Multiple Grammy winner who was a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars”] – TONI BRAX[TON]
- 35A. [Prozac, for one] – ANTIDEPRESS[ANT]
- 59A. [Freudian concept] – PLEASURE PRINCI[PLE]
- 78A. [Mountains, rivers, plains, etc.] – PHYSICAL GEOGRA[PHY]. This one doesn’t sound like a common phrase.
- 99A. [Fancy salad ingredient] – ARTICHOKE HE[ART]
- 117A. [London transportation] – UNDERGRO[UND]
- 119A. [Marlon Brando film] – ON THE WATERFR[ONT]
- 42A. [“Oh baby!”] – YOWZA. You cannot frown while saying YOWZA.
- 54A. [It may be popped for fun] – WHEELIE
75A. [X X X lover?] – KEGLER. Bowling term.
- 73A. [Jimmie Rodgers or Tex Owens, musically] – YODELER
- 123A. [Movie droid] – ARTOO. Yes, that is how R2 is frequently spelled out.
- 124A. [Fastener patented in 1939] – TWIST TIE. I got this with just one “I”.
- 19D. [Send some pixxx?] – SEXT. Modern naughtiness.
- 37D. [Cavemen] – TROGLODYTES. They weren’t big on SEXTing.
- 39D. [Eve who wrote “The Vagina Monologues”] – ENSLER. First time I’ve ever typed that word: “monologues”
- 41D. [Has parked] – VALETS. Am I missing something or is that a tense mismatch?
- 43D. [South Dakota memorial site] – WOUNDED KNEE. Good fill.
- 44D. [Modern December birthstone] – ZIRCON. Good fill.
- 49D. [“Eavesdrop” from across the room, say] – LIP READ. Good fill.
- 58D. [Only Hitchcock film to win Best Picture] – REBECCA. I believe it is something called the Oscars.
- 61D. [Song that starts “A winter’s day in a deep and dark December”] – I AM A ROCK
- 65D. [Draw (off): Var.] – SYPHON. “Var.” means spell it any way you want.
- 66D. [Premium Cuban cigar brand] – COHIBA. Mystery word.
Merl Reagle’s’s syndicated crossword, “I’d Like to Thank” – Matt’s review
22-a. [“I’d like to thank ___ …” [Incidentally, all of these were nominated, but none won.]] = ERIN BROCKOVICH
34-a. [“… ___ …”] = JERRY MAGUIRE
46-a. [“… ___ …”] HANNAH AND HER SISTERS. What a beautiful movie. Seen it probably 25 times.
55-a. [“… ___ …”] MARY POPPINS
70-a. [“… ___ …”] MILDRED PIERCE. Never heard of this one.
84-a. [“… ___ …”] ELMER GANTRY
92-a. [(hurrying as music starts to play)] “… ___ …” BUGSY LENNY SHANE TESS
105-a. [“… and last but not least I’d like to thank ___, without whose salad this town could not exist …”] JULIUS CAESAR
121-a. [“… Is this ___ or what?”] AS GOOD AS IT GETS
OK, so this theme concept started off reasonably well, and picked up steam with the “hurrying as music starts to play” bit. We’ve all seen that awkward part of Oscar speeches where the winner suddenly remembers to thank their agent, publicist or lawyer as the send-off music intrudes. So that clue/entry is a classic slice of Reagle wit…but then the show unravels on the last two themers, both of which seem rather random. The last one isn’t even a person, and there’s no laugh there to justify it. Is the speaker saying that winning an Oscar is as good as it gets, or that the show itself is lousy, as so many recent ones have been? I dunno. So a Siskel & Ebert-esque thumbs-sideways on the theme.
Nice clues include [Cut the crop] for REAP at 126-a, [Who’s on first?] for UMPIRE at 30-d, and [German marks] for UMLAUTS at 93-d.
Good fill roundup: SAINT PATRICK’S and TOMATO SLICERS, each slicing through three theme entries; DENVER, HINDU and ABYSS are also nice words.
Mystery fill: NIPOMO, California, population 16,714 (half that of Natick, Mass.).
3.65 stars, .01 star for every day of the year until next year’s Academy Awards.
Patrick Berry’s Washington Post “The Post Puzzler No. 99” – Jeffrey’s Review
A 66 word themeless with no yucky stuff. Must be a Patrick Berry puzzle.
- 1A. [A little something?] – MODEL. I should get my MODEL trains out of the box and set them up again. Shouldn’t I?
- 11A. [John Wayne film set in Seattle] – MCQ. If I recall correctly, this was set at the downtown McDonald’s/Dairy Queen combined restaurant.
- 20A. [Makeshift trumpets] – CONCH SHELLS
- 27A. [Vehicles ridden in Michigan’s International 500] – SNOWMOBILES
- 32A. [Do without restraint?] – BACCHANALIA. Can you say that in a crossword?
- 33A. [Unspecialized course of study] – LIBERAL ARTS. Often leads to a job at MCQ.
- 34A. [Democratic-Republican political opponents] – FEDERALISTS. It appears there was a time when Democrats and Republicans lived together in perfect harmony. Today the country is split into 10 Divisions, battling one Foreign Division. Or is that the ACPT?
- 35A. [Use it for whatever you’re going to do] – FUTURE TENSE. Ooh, grammar!
- 40A. [Salty dog’s kick?] – GIN. No idea. Drink name?
- 43A. [Uncustomizable meals] – TABLES D’HOTE
- 2D. [Eight-time loser in the Best Actor category] – O’TOOLE. He won’t win again today.
- 5D. [Cinematic dueling weapon] – LIGHT SABER
- 6D. [Believer in scientist-led government] – TECHNOCRAT
- 11D. [Jazz family surname] – MARSALIS
- 12D. [Arguably redundant beverage name] – CHAI TEA. I have never argued about this.
- 13D. [Airline mentioned in “Rain Man” as having never crashed] – QANTAS
- 29D. [Feigned sickness] – MALINGERED
- 30D. [Magnate who founded Olympic Airways] – ONASSIS
- 31D. [Shot makers] – BARTENDERS
- 35D. [Fictional horse at the Goose Bar Ranch] – FLICK
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Sunday Challenge” – Sam Donaldson’s review
It’s late on Saturday night (here in Seattle) and I, your friendly neighborhood D Division solver, just solved this puzzle in under five minutes. This “Sunday Challenge,” then, was more of a “Saturday Breeze.” I suspect many top speed solvers will get through this in under two minutes, though some may be solving on paper in preparation for next month’s American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and that could slow their times to something between 2:00 and 2:30.
Even before I filled in a single square, I knew this crossword had at least two PLUSES ([Extra benefits]) going for it–the two flattened plus-shaped signs in the center of the grid. The other pluses in this 68/36 freestyle take a little more effort to find:
- PBR! Short for Pabst Blue Ribbon, it’s the [Beer drunk by Eastwood in “Gran Torino,” for short].
- I liked [A little too high] as the clue for SHARP. My first few thoughts had nothing to do with music, so it was satisfying to unravel it.
- I didn’t know the [Goddess of abundance] was OPS. I hear she was special.
- I also liked IT’S LATE, APLENTY, and TEAM UP.
There are some “minuses” too, however. ALTE [Oder (German river)] isn’t especially pretty, and the same can be said for BRAE, HEST, and LIA [Fail (Irish “Stone of Destiny”)].
Did anyone else try abbreviate “light saber” in answering [“Star Wars” weapon (abbr.)]? It’s not a reference to the movie but to the ol’ “Strategic Defense Initiative” of the 1980s, rhetorically referred to as “Star Wars” after the film trilogy. (What? There was more than one Star Wars trilogy? No there wasn’t. There was the last 30 minutes of Revenge of the Sith and that’s it.) Anyway, the answer was ABM, short for “anti-ballistic missile.”
Peter Wentz’s Celebrity Crossword “Sunday Funday” – Jeffrey’s Review
Theme: The joon pahk of basketball
- 15A.[Taiwanese-American point sensation for 30-Across:2 wds.] – JEREMY LIN
- 23A./37A. [Ivy League team that 15-Across played for] – HARVARD CRIMSON
- 30A. [NBA team that 15-Across plays for: 3 wds.] – NEW YORK KNICKS
- 46A.[New word that describes the media blitz surrounding 15-Across] – LINSANITY
- 8D. [Vehicles that may bring kids to soccer practice] – MINIVANS]
- 28D.[2008 pyhsics-based Wii game co-developed by Steven Spielberg: 2 wds.] – BOOM BLOX. Wow. Something I’ve never heard of before in a Celebrity puzzle.
James Sajdak’s syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, “Coif It Up” – Doug’s review
Hey, crossword fans. Doug here. I planned to start this write-up earlier… Yeah, that’s my plan every week, and it hasn’t worked yet. So let’s get cracking!
We’ve got punny salon names this week. For some reason, salons lend themselves to goofy names. I bet some of today’s theme entries are the names of actual businesses. Apparently people enjoy getting their hair cut at a place called “Curl Up & Dye” or “Shear-N-Dipity.” I’m all for the clever names. I’d even go to a funeral home with a name like “His & Hearse” or “The Burying Kind.”
- 27a. [Salon for Trump and his imitators?] – WE SHALL OVERCOMB. Answer of the day! Perfect and funny. I’d have placed this one as the last Across theme answer. Most people solve from top to bottom (I assume), and you should save your best joke for a big ending.
- 35a. [The queen’s salon? ] – SCISSORS PALACE.
- 70a. [Salon specializing in plaits?] – BRAIDER JOE’S.
- 100a. [Salon for swimsuit models?] – BEACHED BLONDES.
- 111a. [London salon?] – BRITISH HAIRWAYS. I see British Hairways offers “Fast tan sunbeds.” If there’s one thing I associate with British people, it’s deep, golden tans.
- 5d. [Salon for newlyweds?] – BRUSHING BRIDES.
- 48d. [Salon for idealists?] – CURL OF MY DREAMS.
A few more.
- 30a. [Computer file acronym] – ASCII. Did I know this was an acronym? I’m not sure. Here’s what it stands for: American Standard Code for Information Interchange. And I just realized that emoticons are tiny examples of ASCII art.
- 67a. [Rapper __ Moe Dee] – KOOL. I went through a very short rap phase in college. One of my roomies was into rap, and we’d listen to his tapes sometimes. I was down with with Kool Moe Dee. Is he still kool? Probably not.
- 49d. [“May __ frank?”] – I BE. This has to be a line from Airplane.
- 101d. [Actress Cuthbert] – ELISHA. I wonder if anyone will notice that I changed the clue. Hey, it’s not my fault I couldn’t find a good picture of Elisha Otis.
Time to get ready for my Oscar party! OK, I’m lying. I probably won’t even watch the show, but it’s a good excuse to leave the blog a little early today. I’m waiting for next year, when The Dark Knight Rises will sweep every category. Yes, I mean every category. Best Picture, Best Animated Feature, Best Documentary, Best Foreign Language Film, etc. It’ll be epic.
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s Sunday crossword, “Works of Art” — pannonica’s review
I’d be surprised if a theme of this type hadn’t been done before, in the CHE if not elsewhere. Puns based on the surnames of famous painters. It’s well-suited to a larger grid, as there are many names to choose from.
- 23a. [Impressionistic bazaar scene?] MONET MARKET (money market, Claude Monet).
- 34a. [Rococo flowers?] WATTEAU LILIES (water lilies, (Jean-) Antoine Watteau. Nifty how it closely follows the MONET answer, as that artist is probably most known for his paintings of water lilies.
- 40a. [Modernistic birds?} KLEE PIGEONS (clay pigeons, Paul Klee).
- 65a. [Dutch Master’s soothing sweets?] HALS COUGH DROPS (Halls cough drops, Frans Hals).
- 72a. [Neoclassical lads?] INGRES YOUNG MEN (hungry (?) young men, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres). [correction: angry young men, as per joon’s comment]
- 97a. [Impressionistic cards?] CASSATT DECK (cassette deck, Mary Cassatt).
- 104a. [Post-Impressionistic pass?] CÉZANNE TICKET (season ticket, Paul Cézanne).
- 122a. [Surrealistic text?] MIRÓ WRITING (mirror-writing, Joan Miró).
- 15d. [Surrealistic monk?] DALÍ LAMA (Dalai Lama, Salvador Dalí).
- 89d. [Old Master’s portrait?] GOYA HEAD (go-ahead (?), Francisco (José de) Goya (y Lucientes)).
So there you are, 10 painters from a reasonable sampling of movements, all quite well-known to the public. I could complain about the underrepresentation of women (only one of the ten), but the history of art was historically dominated by men, for various socioeconomic reasons that are without this blog’s purview. Similarly, all but one of the figures are European. In fact, the exception in both cases is embodied in the same person: the American, Mary Cassatt. I’m sure that the two duplicated styles, Impressionism and Surrealism, occur at least in part due to the public’s familiarity with the genres; fortunately (and despite the appearance suggested by the list above), the repeated styles are distantly located from each other within the grid. So there’s a certain sameness to the themers, but that isn’t the fault of the constructors so much as the relative ignorance of the public.
Beyond the theme answers, there is no fill longer than a handful of seven-letter entries, with the result that the ballast component of the puzzle possesses little scowl-inducing content but is also unexceptional. Such is often the cruciverbal bargain.
- 15a [Pinch in the kitchen] DASH. I had SALT instead, and raised an eyebrow when I found the intended answer. In my experience, a dash pertains to liquid and a pinch to dry goods. A smidgen of research led me to learn that the dash has latterly become a dry measure as well, but is (generally) a different amount than a pinch.
- In a related milieu, if someone uses CAKE MIX, aren’t they by definition not a scratch baker? 97d [Scratch baker’s cheat].
- 45a [Make it legal] sounded much more provocative than the answer, WED, although it was only another E away from what it seemed to be implying. See also: 92d [Weed wacko?] STONER.
- Partials! A RAT, A LEG, I WAS A, I LIE.
- Strangest/most awkward clue and answer: [Beat at bounding] OUTLEAP.
- I appreciate the subtle connection between the consecutive 31- and 33-down: [Swinish comment] OINK, and [Sources of pearls] SAGES. “Pearls before swine.”
- Too much repetition between the nearby 45d and 71a? [Skid row sort?] WINO, and [Wine, to combine] OENO-. See also: 39a [“99 Luftballons” singer] NENA, 127a [CirKus singer Cherry] NENEH.
- Toughest crossing (and last square filled in): 104d & 128a. [Amber-like resin] COPAL, and [Whites only, maybe] LOAD. I just wasn’t thinking laundry. Even after I go the answer, I was wondering about baggage, illicit substances, and even racism.
- Unknown to me, but easily gotten through crossings, was 1 down [Confederate revolver] LEMAT.
- 19a [Yale or Root], 61d [Millay or Ferber]. ELIHU, EDNAS.
- Nice, unusual clue for PLANTS, [Magicians’ cronies] (59d). I also liked 84a [May neglect to] for NEEDN’T, although I would have preferred a Thelonious Monk reference.
Good, breezy puzzle.