Two links for you today:
Do you like video clues on Jeopardy!? Get ready for the first video crossword. Erik Agard and a bunch of other people crowd-sourced a crossword that has all video clues. Joon Pahk gives wordplay hints for one answer. Andy Kravis (who blogs the Saturday LAT here) dances. Brendan Quigley uses a household prop. It sounds gripping, right? You can fill in the puzzle in Java (I think), or download the clueless grid in .puz or .pdf form. You access the video clues by clicking on the clue numbers. Check it out! It’s at videoxword.com.
In case you missed the link on yesterday’s post: Michael “Rex Parker” Sharp has put together a Red Cross fundraiser puzzle book. You can download the book’s PDF at American Red Crosswords for free, and then click the Red Cross button on the website to donate to Sandy disaster relief. (Suggested donation is $20, but you can set your own amount.) The puzzles were donated by all sorts of fabulous constructors and Patrick Blindauer deftly edited them.
Tom Heilman’s New York Times crossword
I am not feeling very 15-Across tonight. Really more keen on sleeping than being CEREBRAL, so we’re taking it listicle style:
- 1a. [Smelting ended it], STONE AGE. [Melting ended it] would clue ICE AGE. I think our smelting ushered in the Iron Age, and I don’t know who had the big idea for the Bronze Age.
- 19a. [Pringles Light ingredient], OLEAN. Continually surprised to learn from crosswords that food products are still being made with OLEAN/Olestra. Do the packages still warn of possible anal leakage?
- 21a. [Bach wrote three for violin], PARTITAS. When I had PARTI**S, I absolutely needed the crossings for those two letters.
- 29a. [Close match point?], RINGSIDE SEAT. Great answer, great clue.
- 43a. [Nagg’s wife in Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame”], NELL. I had no idea here.
- 48a. [Procured unlawfully, old-style], ILL-GOT. As opposed to ill-gotten. Meh.
- 51a. [“Piranha” director, 1978], JOE DANTE. Also did that Twilight Zone movie, right?
- 54a. [One of the Wayans brothers], KEENEN. The handsomest of the Wayanses, no?
- 55a. [Wicker seat place?], U.S. SENATE. Tom Wicker? Is that someone?
- 1d. [Ice cream store employees], SCOOPERS. I rather doubt that’s the job title.
- 5d. [Controversial school language subject], EBONICS. Hey, 1996 called. It wants its controversy back. How do you feel about this entry?
- 9d. [Like a snow angel maker, at times], SPREAD-EAGLE. Chicago’s had very few days for snow angel making this winter. Our only snow now is in gray piles at the sides of parking lots.
- 10d. [1890-1941 Italian colony], ERITREA. Dang! Country gains independence from Ethiopia in 1991 and the Italians still get the credit? My son’s got an Eritrean-American classmate.
- 12d. [Like hydra neurons], APOLAR. If you say so.
- 22d. [Now], “THIS INSTANT!” I like this entry.
- 24d. [Quaint undies], STEP-INS. I checked the dictionary. It labels the “pair of women’s panties” definition dated. What was the alternative? Wrap-around undies? Pullover? Sewn on?
- 37d. [Some graveyard flora], YEW TREES. I feel like this is a distinctly English thing. Are American cemeteries particularly yewish?
- 39d. [Figure of speech like “not unlike”], LITOTES. Suggested edit for clue: [Figure of speech not unlike “not unlike”].
- 40d. [Not unlike a ballet dancer], SLENDER. You see what they did there? A little litotes in the clue.
- 45d. [McCarthy-era epithet], PINKO. As a leftie who sunburns easily, I embrace this term.
Overall, pretty solid puzzle with a few lowlights. Let’s call it 3.5 stars.
Donna Levin’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
It feels like we’re seeing Ms. Levin’s byline far less than we used. A pity, her puzzles always seem to have a singular style, although I’d be hard pressed to put a finger on what that style is.
OLA, as an entry, is pretty wince-some. Insert it into theme answers and you get, for me, a fun time with one or two asterisks appended. PLUGOLA is a great entry, and especially nice is the use of PLUG to mean add, it makes for a perfect revealer, IMO! And isn’t CUPSIZE such a surprising-in-a-good-way choice for a base phrase? I hadn’t heard of SHINOLA before but I assume it’s well-known to Americans. The only shoe polish brand I can name is KIWI, which was last clued thusly in 2005 (per Ginsberg’s database). The one entry that’s weak for me is COLARATIONS. It always feels like a cheat when your base word is not a word but a letter. It’s a pretty uncommon trigram, though, so I don’t think Donna had a whole heap of alternatives.
For completeness the entries are:
- 20a, [Catch that’s burnt sienna and cerulean?],CRAYOLAFISH. I was the fifth kid. I coloured my pictures with crayons from a big box of crayon stubs. I added my own layer of new crayolas into that mix. It was like doing archaeology! (Ah, an early Bronze Age burnt umber!) I assume that box is still extant, I should check next time I visit my parents. (Apologies in advance for that rather boring suburban reminiscence.)
- 37a, [Paid endorsement, in slang, and an apt title for this puzzle], PLUGOLA
- 53a, [Result of Pepsi shortages?], COLARATIONS
- 11d, [Bootblack’s buffer?], SHINOLA
- 29d, [Spec on an architect’s blueprint?],CUPOLASIZE
More bouquets and brickbats:
- 5a, [Alley biters], CURS. Really!? Does the reflect present reality for anyone? Are the people in trauma centers inundated by patients who strayed into alleys and were bitten by curs?
- 16a, [Having a designated assignment], ADHOC. Is a technically correct, but not reflective of typical usage clue.
- 19a, [Capital name derived from an Arabic term for “the conqueror”], CAIRO. Am I going to be the only one who clung to SANAA today? Or am I just one of a multitude?
- 44a, [Hit on the head], BRAIN. I like its use as a verb!
- 48a, [Charley, in Steinbeck’s “Travels With Charley”], POODLE. Nice clue, even though I had no idea about that factoid. It’s part of a dog mini-theme. We also get a COLLIE, and these are contrasted with the before-noted CUR.
- 22d, [Common ’80s-’90s failure], SANDL. Meant nothing to me at the time. Apparently it’s referring to this.
- 30d, [Senate wear], TOGAS. Am I the only one who thinks that modern senates would be way cooler if togas and stolas were compulsory?
- 32d, [1975 film sequel], FUNNYLADY. Again, I had no idea, although once the answer appeared I guessed correctly that the original film was Funny Girl.
- 35d, [Fantasy author McCaffrey], ANNE. One brother is a fan. Even in my fantasy-obsessed period, I found her books utterly coma-inducing.
- 50d, [Shoebill’s cousin], HERON. Both pelicaniformes, according to many taxonomists, although bird taxonomy is rather up the air at the moment so how accurate this clue is is a bit subjective.
3.5 stars from me. More ambitious than your average “add letters” theme, nice revealer, but some reservations. Not much to complain about fill-wise, plus some nice entries too!
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Shoe Biz”- Sam Donaldson’s review
Oof. This is one of those days where I feel like a 33-1/3 record in a 45 world. For those under age 40, that means I’ve been a step or two slow on everything so far today. I should have solved today’s puzzle two minutes faster than I did, but the synapses just weren’t firing.
The theme was easy enough. The four longest Across entries start with words that can also follow “shoe:”
- 17-Across: STRING CHEESE is the [Pull-apart dairy product]. Well, that and VELCRO BUTTER. “Shoestring,” of course, is one of the more flavorful varieties of french fries.
- 32-Across: [TKTS booth, e.g.] refers to a BOX OFFICE. Some box offices are indeed the size of a shoebox.
- 45-Across: A TREE HOUSE is a [Kids’ backyard retreat], and a shoe tree is neither a shoe nor a tree.
- 59-Across: A [Thanksgiving centerpiece, perhaps] is a HORN OF PLENTY. It’s a much better centerpiece than a shoe horn. Were this a skating competition, we’d have to deduct a point here, as this is the only theme entry with more than two words. Were this a skating competition, of course, I’d be neither a judge nor a viewer.
Part of the slow solving time is attributable to my general SNAIL pace today, but there seemed to be more than the usual amount of Stuff I Didn’t Know. Like KASHA, the [Bow-ties go-with], LEMMA, the [Logical proposition], Be-BOP-a-Lula, and SOHIO, the [1987 BP purchase] that’s short for “Standard Oil of Ohio.” My biggest time-suck came at the intersection of RIG, clued as [Paraphernalia] (WTH?), and GILT, to be [Covered in a shiny coat of gold]. Good thing there’s still three weeks until the ACPT!
Favorite entry = LIP SYNC, to [Fake it, musically]. Favorite clue = [Dangerous partner?] for ARMED.
Hancho Parrison’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Frame of Gazes” — nannopica’s review
A crossword grid is a kind of frame, and some of the nonsensical-seeming theme phrases may leave you gazing with glazed eyes, but they’re simply spoonerisms, in which the initial sounds of words are swapped. This puzzle is a game of phrases.
- 23a. [Irritated Dubliner’s complaint list?] MY RILED IRISH WOES (My Wild Irish Rose).
- 37a. [Mementos from a couple’s visit to seedy Hawaiian bars?] LEIS OF OUR DIVES (Days of Our Lives).
- 53a. [Offers mortgages out a retro Harlem barbershop?] LENDS IN ‘FRO PLACES (friends in low places). Toughest one for me to get; more on this later.
- 78a. [How goods may be arranged in a bakery display case?] CAKES OVER THE ROLLS (rakes over the coals).
- 95a. [Reinstated athlete’s position?] BACK IN THE JOCKS (jack-in-the-box). Odd one, this. Seems risqué, but it’s merely awkward phrasing, highlighted by the presence of a more appropriate word than “in” in the grid: 36d AMIDST (AMONG would have also worked better). Even though the entry isn’t in a BEQ or AV puzzle, it caused a raised eyebrow.
- 114a. [Peeling, say, for overzealous sunbathers?] BOTHER OF THE FRIED (father of the bride). Oh, bother.
As you can see, spelling alterations abound. This is a good thing, as it makes the new phrases more surprising and interesting. For a while, I thought that all the originals might be linked somehow, since many are titles of plays, films, television shows. I could have considered Father of the Bride to be one of the films (1950 or 1991), “Friends in Low Places” was a hit country song, Jack-in-the-box seemed as if it might be the name of a play or somesuch, but apparently it isn’t (Erik Satie’s music for a pantomime-ballet of that name probably isn’t famous enough, and it was the title of the UK’s entry in the 1971 Eurovision Song Contest). And ‘rakes over the coals’ certainly isn’t the title of anything, so that notion eventually ran out of steam.
LENDS IN ‘FRO PLACES, as I mentioned above, was the toughest themer for me to get, and in fact the section where it encounters the central white area of the grid was the very last section I completed. With the IN FRO down, it seemed to be LENDS IN FROM … , but that wasn’t working. M-ITV made no sense for [Premium channels, for example] (I had ALYCE spelled with an I). Then I thought it might be … PALACES … but again it wasn’t happening. Not knowing Hill Street Blues actor Charles HAID (60a) didn’t help either. Part of what prevented me from seeing the correct answer sooner is that I was expecting the spoonerism to involve the last word of the phrase, as it did in all the other answers. It’s definitely the odd one out, the general weirdness of 95-across notwithstanding.
Some juicy long fill: CUBIC INCH [One of 231 in a gallon], though it reminded me of 48a [202, to Spetimius Severus] CCII, what with the 231/202 and cc as cubic centimeter. Down in the southwest, 77d [One of a Dumas trio] was obviously too long for Athos, Porthos, or Aramis, and d’Artagnan was the fourth; oui, I smacked my forehead upon realizing it was simply MUSKETEER.
- 26a [Atlanta nickname] BIG A. If I ever kick myself into constructing a crossword, I intend to make a point of including BIGA, and perhaps POOLISH. They’re both types of dough “sponges.” Perhaps also Swedish LIMPA.
- 30a & 31a [Recipe instruction] MIX, STIR.
- Although 42a AT ONCE and 93d NONCE don’t have the exact same etymology, they both ultimately derive from something meaning “one,” and both terms have to do with time, so I feel it constitutes enough repetition to be suspect.
- 112d [Unspoiled spot] EDEN; 3d [“East of Eden” girl] ABRA.
- 73a [Light circler] AURA? HALO? MOTH!
- Tricky clues: 91a [Site for some rafters] CANYON, 1d [Buck passers?] ATMS, 50d [Pull down] RAZE, 80d [Spots for doing figures] RINKS, 103d [Fire proof] ASHES.
- 12d [Instrument whose name derives from “high wood”] OBOE. That’s French, haut-bois.
Good, amusing and entertaining puzzle.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Barre Room Humor” — pannonica’s review
Oh, the Terpsichore!
Frolicsome dance puns, Annnd… Begin!
- 18d. [Dancer’s signature piece?] FONTEYN PEN (Margot, fountain).
- 23a. [Dancer’s fried treats?] DUNCAN DONUTS (Isadora, Dunkin’).
- 37a. [Invoke a dancer to get what one wants?] WISH UPON ASTAIRE (Fred, a star).
- 48a. [Dancer’s jogging routine?] RUN OF DE MILLE (Agnes, the mill).
- 58a. [Dancer’s bellybutton?] FOSSE NAVEL (Bob, fuzzy).
- Consistency? – yes, all five are famous dancers.
- Strong original phrases? – yes.
- Entertaining new phrases? – yes.
- If answers involve people, gender equality? – yes, 2 women, three men. Close enough; let’s not go into details.
With five lengthy themers, one of them spanning the full 15 squares, there isn’t much room for long fill among the ballast, but constructor Wechsler was able to include two relatively nice phrases: I’M CONFUSED and the pedantic-sounding AS I TOLD YOU. Neither is there too much compromise in the fill, the least savory items being Les ASPIN [Secretary of Defense after Chaney] , [“__ wrong?] AM I, and ANA [Major Japanese carrier].
Some fun cluing too, such as [[Liquid lunch?] for SOUP, [One extending from a palm] FROND, [Athletic outfits] TEAMS.
Quite the fun puzzle.