On Tuesday, swing by Pete Muller’s site for the June edition of Muller’s Monthly Music Meta.
Sharon Delorme’s New York Times crossword
I hopscotched over to the upper right and found myself enjoying the fill before I’d figured out any of the theme answers. BUMBLEBEE! Figurative ALBATROSS! STUCK UP, GAS MAN, a huffy “ABOUT TIME!” and GUEST SPOT. Plus the unusual specialized word ENGRAM, meaning [Memory trace].
Then I made it through the theme and back up to the rest of the upper sections, where ERNES and IRANI and ONE-D all IRKed me, and where uncovering NEW when I’d already filled in its German cognate NEU was unwelcome. Took the bloom off the rose a bit.
The theme answers start with words that usually begin with a consonant followed by an I, but here the I is changed to a U. So dill pickles become DULL PICKLES to find yourself in (if it’s dull, I say it’s not a real predicament). Ditch diggers plant tulips as DUTCH DIGGERS. BUTTER ENEMIES replace bitter enemies as margarine advocates (the horror!). Mr. Rogers of neighborhood fame morphs into MUSTER ROGERS, or [Bring Ebert and Moore together?], but who would ever talk about “mustering” people with the same first name? Odd. The final theme entry turns ringmasters into ladder RUNG MASTERS. If there is more to the theme, more tying these particular phrases together, I missed it.
Now I’m thinking of switching I and U in words that go together, like Huck Finn becoming HICK FUN. (Don’t spoonerize that Twain character, people.) Entirely different theme idea.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Pretty Cheesy”
Cheeses-with-a-letter-change that did not make it into Matt’s theme: SIM BURGER, MASCARA ONE. Cheeses that did:
- 17a. PEPPER JOCK, [Prank where you pour seasoning over the captain of the football team?]. Pepper Jack.
- 31a. PROVO ZONE, [Area where everything feels like a Utah city?]. Provolone.
- 39a. ROGUE FORT, [Rampart for rebels?]. Roquefort.
- 57a. GORDON ZOLA, [Emile’s lesser known author brother?]. Gorgonzola.
And also, JanglerNPL points out in the comments, the first and last Acrosses are cheeses-with-a-letter-change, but they lack question-marked clues, playfulness, and the two-word answer format:
- 1a. SWIMS, [Crawls, for example]. Swiss.
- 64a. GOLDA, [Former Israeli prime minister Meir]. Gouda.
I didn’t know 48d: O’MARA, [Actress Kate of “Dynasty”]. Apparently she played Joan Collins’ bitchy sister for one season. I also didn’t know the middle answer, 37a: CLUNY, [Historic French town (anagram of LUCY N.)]. Now, I would have been tempted to clue it [Historic French town whose name sounds like a two-time Sexiest Man Alive]. My third “did not know” is 18d: [Taekwondo great Jhoon ___] RHEE, whose first name looks to be another spelling of Joon’s name. Say it with me: “Joo-oo-oo-oo-oon.” (That is not meant as a “BOO, HISS,” though it can sound like a boo.) And as a strong #4, we’ve got 22d: FADO, [Sorrowful Portuguese folk music]. When things actually aren’t as bad as they first seemed, the Portuguese folkies may be playing much FADO about nothing.
Interesting clue for 61a: IOWAN, [Like actor Michael Emerson of “Lost,” by birth]. Or John Wayne!
That answer is taunting me. PLOPS DOWN wants me to step away from this computer and plop right down on a very enticing couch. (There was a bit on 30 Rock this spring in which Jack’s boss Hank says something about a sofa and then catches himself being all fancy and switches to calling it a couch instead of a sofa. I am firmly in the couch camp.)
2.9 stars. The theme didn’t quite catch my fancy, and the fill didn’t thrill me either. Besides The Four Unknowns, we’ve got IDAS, IBAR, NORI, CANA, ESSE, and A HOLE. Not as fresh and fun as most of the Jonesin’ puzzles.
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
Initially, I thought that our constructor could fit this grid, but it seems she’s just not got the J Factor necessary.
- 17a. [Creator of Holden Caulfield] – J.D. SALINGER
- 24a. [Creator of Neverland] – J.M. BARRIE
- 37a. [Creator of Hogwarts] – J.K. ROWLING
- 53a. [Creator of TV’s island that “wasn’t just an island”] – J.J. ABRAMS
- 61a. [Creator of Bilbo Baggins] – J.R.R. TOLKIEN
My one displeasure comes from J.J. Abrams. The other J-ers are authors, but he’s known for his work in in Hollywood. Maybe I’m just picking nits. Really easy puzzle for a Tuesday I thought – played like a Monday what with the straightforward theme and smooth fill. I was able to just breeze through it with no trouble. I hope you had the same experience.
Naturally there are a lot of Js in here. I don’t feel great about HAJ (so many variants there), but the rest are solid. I’m really glad that the fill wasn’t sacrificed in order to achieve this theme. (Let that be some advice to constructors wondering if they should add that one X to a corner that makes all of the fill nasty. Don’t!)
Just a few more thoughts on this fun one:
- The lower left: HELIPAD, ONE MILE, STAPLES – supernice. Just look at that – it’s the kind of stacking that I’d expect out of one of those themelesses that just has a bunch of 7-letter entries.
- [Like most honeymooners] – MARRIED? People who aren’t married go on honeymoons? This is a travesty.
- A [Maze-solving rodent] is a LAB RAT; Lindsay Lohan is an L.A. BRAT.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Give It a Rest” – Sam Donaldson’s review
We all know crosswords are a popular way to pass the time, and this puzzle riffs on that idea. The three theme entries end with words that are synonymous with “rest:”
- 20-Across: A PREGNANT PAUSE is a [Meaningful silence]. It’s the result of having unprotected lex.
- 37-Across: A COMMERCIAL BREAK is a [Time to hit the restroom] or [When fridge raids often happen]. Here, it’s a [Sitcom interruption].
- 48-Across: HEAVEN CAN WAIT is the [1978 Warren Beatty film], not to be confused with the 1943 film of the same name.
It’s a busy week in work land (I know, you’d think blogging crosswords would be enough to pay the bills, but in fact some of us have to take second jobs). So let’s just go with four random observations:
1. For once, IDLE is more than tired fill; here, it’s a nice supplement to the theme.
2. Given the many synonyms for “rest,” there would presumably be a lot of possible theme entries here. Heck, you could make a “movie break” puzzle out of THE BIG SLEEP, VEGAS VACATION, and HEAVEN CAN WAIT. I liked PREGNANT PAUSE, but COMMERCIAL BREAK since a little meh, and HEAVEN CAN WAIT stands out as the only title.
3. My favorite clues were the consecutive [Zambia and Zimbabwe, once] for RHODESIA and [Zambia and Zimbabwe neighbor] for BOTSWANA. That’s just awesome! Speaking of great clues, a hat tip to [O.K. Corral OK] for YEP. That’s mighty fine, pardner.
4.PEGGY SUE is a nice entry, as is XANAX. (That’s not to suggest a connection between them.) But the best entry, I think, is KEEP COOL.