There’s no new Ink Well puzzle by Ben Tausig this week. Ben is a real mensch and he spent too much time with a friend in the hospital to make new puzzles last week. We wish Ben’s friend well and will return to Ink Well blogging next week.
Kevin Christian’s New York Times crossword
Cute theme. A word ending with X is paired with its -CKS homophone:
- 17a. [Complaints about a Kentucky fort?], KNOX KNOCKS. No Amanda Knox reference here.
- 36a. [Place a levy on pushpins?], TAX TACKS. I believe office supplies are subject to Illinois’s standard sales taxes.
- 42a. [Security for smoked salmon?], LOX LOCKS. Hey, some of that stuff is pretty spendy.
- 62a. [Piles of old soul records?], STAX STACKS. Could also have gone with those Pringles knockoffs, Stax chips.
- 11d. [Say no to some pro basketballers?], NIX KNICKS.
- 35d. [Critic Reed does major damage?], REX WRECKS. It’s so meta! You make a six-piece theme that lards the grid with X’s and K’s, thereby making the grid harder to fill with smooth answers. And then the puzzle is published, and Rex has no choice but to remark upon said compromises in the fill. He just might wreck it.
3d: [“Sicko” documentarian] clues Michael MOORE. Coincidentally, a horrifically large and powerful tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma on Monday. If you can spare a few bucks, please support the American Red Cross. If you never did get around to obtaining the fund-raiser American Red Crosswords PDF/e-book, you can turn a Hurricane Sandy fund-raiser into a Moore twister fund-raiser. The money goes to the Red Cross’s disaster relief fund, and the puzzles are good. Click here. Kudos to Rex Parker, aka Michael Sharp, for putting that project together and raising thousands for disaster relief. (Rex wrecks and Rex also helps.)
Fill in the category of 21a: STINKER:
- 23a. [“Winter’s Bone” heroine ___ Dolly], REE. Jennifer Lawrence’s character? Yes. Don’t recall hearing the character’s name when she was nominated for an Oscar. Judging by the movie’s box office figures, less than 1% of Americans saw the film.
- 24a. [Hebrew letter before nun], MEM. Did not know that one.
- 52a. [“Take Me Bak ___” (1972 Slade song)], OME. Ouch.
- 61a. [Mid 13th-century year], MCCL. Just a few more letters and we could’ve had Bruce Willis’s Die Hard lead character.
- 65a. [Eyelid malady], STYE. The more commonly encountered eye-related disorders, CONJUNCTIVITIS, GLAUCOMA, CATARACTS, and SCRATCHEDCORNEA, get so much less play in crosswords than the eyelid pimple.
- 28d. [Double-check the addition of], RETOTAL. Kinda roll-your-ownish.
- 54d. [Glacial ridge], ESKER. I don’t live by any glaciers, so this is crosswordese to me.
- 63d. [Firth of Clyde port], AYR.
- Not to mention SKEE, TSAR, SSRS, ALEE, TERR, TTOP, CCNY, SAV, AROO (I want to combine those two and open a dollar store called Sav-Aroo), and KEA.
I’m okay with finding a handful of these answers in the same puzzle, but this is a bit of a pile-on.
While I really do like the theme, I judge a puzzle just as much (sometimes more so) by the caliber of the surrounding fill. I can’t help wondering if limiting the theme to four entries would have retained all the fun of the theme but allowed the grid ample breathing room for the rest of the fill. 2.9 stars.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Soil Samples” – Dave Sullivan’s review
If someone were to ask me to build a daily puzzle around synonyms for soil, I’d be pretty hard-pressed, but constructor Hamel rises (or is it sinks?) to the occasion:
- [Frédéric Chopin’s paramour] clues GEORGE SAND. Apparently her birth name was Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin. She took a male pseudonym to give her more latitude in her writings and public persona in those patriarchal times. I read that she smoked tobacco and wore male men’s clothes in public. Quelle horreur!
- We really get down and dirty with the alliterative [Telling tabloid tales]or DISHING DIRT. I suppose “telling” is a verb in the clue to match the entry, but I prefer to think of it as an adjective in its “revealing” sense.
- Another alliterative clue, [Home of the Hobbits] clues MIDDLE EARTH. Earth here isn’t a planet, but another word for soil.
- [Military advantage point] clues HIGH GROUND. Well, it’s only an advantage if it’s higher ground than your opponent.
A bit of a hit-and-miss for me; the first two (SAND and DIRT), have different meanings than soil in their original phrase (DIRT as in gossip is arguable, I suppose), but the EARTH and GROUND of the latter two are pretty much the same meaning. I learned two new entries today, so my FAVEs are SUNDOG for [Partial rainbow] and DOGIE for [Motherless calf]. (Is the latter like the Immaculate Conception?) My UNFAVE today was Lord ZEDD from the Power Rangers. Suppose I needed to have children who watched that to get that one.
Doug Peterson’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
So from constructor yesterday (hope you all had a good time!) back to blogger today. This puzzle’s by another fiend blogger, Doug Peterson. It’s a common enough theme type, so I’m sure you all figured it out… FRAMEOFMIND means that the four preceeding answers all have the pattern MI…ND: MILLISECOND, MIDDLEGROUND (enlivened by the brilliantly subtle mis-directing clue [*Compromising position]) , MICROPHONESTAND (ooh, a grid spanner – stylish!), and MILLEDAROUND (fun phrase!).
61 Theme squares is pretty darn high, but that didn’t phase Doug! Outside of the theme there’s only two 8’s, but another 10 6’s. HOMILY is a fun word to start with at 1a. If you’re going to have EUDORA or ENDORA in your puzzle why not have both? LOLITA and LETFLY are also nice answers. For ROURKE, I had ROONEY off the RO… Seemed like an obvious answer! Only two answers I dislike: ADES and LII and I’m resigned to both. At least the LII clue was easy arithmetic! Really for that amount of theme space you expect and tolerate far, far worse!
Solid, well-executed early-week theme, plus an expertly-filled grid (what did you expect?) rates a “4” in my book!