Mike Buckley’s New York Times crossword
The theme is clued [Start of a thought by British journalist Miles Kington]: KNOWLEDGE IS KNOWING A TOMATO IS A FRUIT. WISDOM IS NOT PUTTING IT IN A FRUIT SALAD. Wow, that’s putting the bar pretty low for wisdow, isn’t it? You could have neither knowledge nor wisdom about tomatoes, and just go with tasting it. Your palate should tell you that the flavor isn’t quite in line with the fruits in fruit salad. Although it must be said that those grape tomatoes are sometimes so sweet and flavorful, I can’t swear they wouldn’t work in a bowl with melon, berries, grapes, and citrus segments. Mmm, tomatoes.
Now, your 7d: [Heart chart, briefly] is an EKG in common parlance. In my medical editing work, though, the electrocardiogram is abbreviated ECG. If you know it as an ECG and you don’t know your Boy Scout terminology, you can certainly be excused for guessing that [Scout pack leader] is ACELA (a fast Amtrak route between NY and DC, isn’t it?) rather than AKELA. Also, I call baloney on “scout” as shorthand for Boy Scouts of America. Girl Scouts are scouts, too.
11d isn’t about math. The [Calculus, familiarly] here is TARTAR, as in tartar-control toothpaste. Calculus is hard! Yes, it is. It’s hardened mineral deposits on your teeth that can be scraped off with sharp metal curettes. The etymology for math and tartar goes back to the same thing—rock-like minerals vs. math done via pebbles on an abacus. Who knew? I should have looked that up 20 years ago.
Not much else to note on either the “yay” or “boo” front. Not terribly excited by the fill overall, and I have heard some form of the quip before so the “aha” moment was a minuscule one. 2.9 stars.
P.S. Bob Klahn had a CrosSynergy puzzle in April 2011 with the same theme, but with a lower word count and tougher cluing throughout.
Alan Arbesfeld’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Colorful Groaners”- Sam Donaldson’s review
As the specifications for one crossword outlet state: “THEMES should be fresh and consistently constructed. In general, avoid cliched themes (colors, animals, etc.), although a new approach to an old theme will be considered.” Does this puzzle constitute a “new approach” on a color-based theme? You be the judge:
- 17-Across: The [Embarrassed fish?] is a RED HERRING. Don’t get too distracted by this.
- 32-Across: The [Inexperienced stinger?] is a GREEN HORNET. I preferred the Brown Hornet from Fat Albert.
- 48-Across: The [Frightened Senate staffers?] are YELLOW PAGES. For my money, this was the best of the bunch.
- 65-Across: A [Sad arrest?] might be called a BLUE COLLAR.
I guess color puns are a gray area for me in that I wanted to like the theme more than I did. Fortunately, the fill was much better. I loved the eight-letter Acrosses, CLUB SODA and, especially, YOGA MATS. Other goodies included PEDI, EASY A, OH GOSH, Alf LANDON, MUSCLE CARS, AXIOM, and Daffy Duck’s WEBBED feet.
I could have cracked the 4-minute barrier if I had tried LICIT instead of LEGIT as the answer to [Legal]. (To some, the appropriate hashtag for this paragraph would be #humblebrag. But if you note the other solving times around here, it’s more like #eventhelosersgetluckysometime.)
Favorite entry = DELTA, the [Alternative to United]. (Hey, I live in Atlanta. I have to root for the home team, right?) Favorite clue = [Part of a bucket list?] for MOP.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Why Just One Second!”
Ben inserts a Y into words and phrases to change their meaning, often adding a syllable and/or changing the word breaks.
- 17a. [Mouse hunter who washes down her meals with a six-pack from home?], B.Y.O.B. CAT. Bobcat.
- 21a. [“Lick my stilettos, Mr. Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget”?], RYAN DOM ORDER. Random order, Paul Ryan, dom as in dominant/submissive relationships.
- 37a. [Tom Brady lighting jerseys on fire just to watch them burn?], PYRO QUARTERBACK. Pro QB.
- 46a. [Uncertain, in Red Square?], NYET POSITIVE. A net positive. We may have to punctuate this answer. “Are you sure you don’t want something to eat?” “Nyet! Positive.”
- 59a. [Hostile takeover of Jim Beam?], RYE COUP. Recoup.
Lots of longer fill adds polish and zing to the grid. Consider I HEAR YA, SCHTICK, DOLEMITE, and EDWARD VII.
Literary studies clue of the day: 32a. [Device used in “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”], ANAPHORA.
Yiddishism of the day: 8d. [Yiddish “weenie”], SCHMOE. Didn’t know the -E spelling was out there as a variant, nor that SCHMO is an alteration of SCHMUCK, which I did know was Yiddish for “penis.”
Most innocuous racy clue: 55d. [Desex, as a pussy], SPAY. Crossword Fiend blogger Gareth desexes plenty of pussies and dogs as an SPCA veterinarian. Important work.
Kurt Mengel and Jan-Michele Gianette’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I don’t recognize either half of today’s byline… Anyone?
Anyway we have a really imaginative theme: four idioms all begin with a verb associated with riding horses and the idioms are clued “X, cowboy-style”. We have:
- 17a, [Lay a trip on, cowboy-style?], SADDLEWITHGUILT
- 27a, [Spur into action, , cowboy-style?], SPURINTOACTION
- 43a, [Control spending, cowboy-style?], REININTHECOSTS
- 56a, [Hang in there, cowboy-style?], RIDEOUTTHESTORM
As always, a four spanner (or nearly) grid curtails room for splashy non-theme answers, but that doesn’t mean our authors haven’t made a mighty fine grid, and besides the theme was really neat wasn’t it?
- 6a, [Black-clad subculturist], GOTH. Are they still extant? There were a few around still in my highschool ca. 2003…
- 32a, [Decathlon gold medalist Ashton ___],EATON. No idea. I think we’ve covered that my knowledge of decathletes is a little sketchy… The Ashton I know is a female, so I was a bit confused (decathletes are always male AFAIK), though I guess Mr. Kutcher isn’t female… Anyway, he’s the current gold medalist: so kudos for keeping things hip and happening even if I can’t keep up!
- 34a, [Chest protector], BIB. Clever, succinct clue!
- 63a, [Swimming contest], MEET. Around these parts they’re called galas.
- 30d, [More than just desires], OBSESSIONS. Sneaky! That’s desires (n.) not (v.)
- 31d, [Try to bite, puppy-style], NIPAT. They do do that even when they’re half dead with the parvo and you’re trying to put a drip in them!
- 42d, [Cut], SCISSOR. Perfectly legit; neveretheless, it made me wince!
- 52d, [Sphere starter], ATMO. I always put in HEMI. It’s always ATMO. You’d think I’d learn!