Tim Croce’s New York Times crossword
The theme is R AND D (40a. [Corporate division, informally … or a hint to the answers to the eight starred clues]—although really it is R&D without “and” spelled out), with a bunch of phrases with R.D. initials:
- 18a. [*Beverly Hills shopping district], RODEO DRIVE.
- 20a. [*Lead singer of the Kinks], RAY DAVIES.
- 37a. [*It might stretch a seventh-inning stretch], RAIN DELAY.
- 42a. [*Hora, e.g.], RING DANCE.
- 59a. [*”James and the Giant Peach” author], ROALD DAHL.
- 62a. [*Fertile area where a stream empties into an ocean], RIVER DELTA.
- 4d. [*Numbers fed into a computer], RAW DATA.
- 46d. [*1984 Patrick Swayze film set in the cold war], RED DAWN.
The fill is decent overall, which is surprising for a puzzle with nine theme answers. OLIO, ATRA, and assorted abbreviations are blah, but there’s nothing unconscionable here. The theme doesn’t offer any humor or wordplay, but several of the R.D. phrases are pretty fresh as fill goes.
1a. [Self-descriptive crossword answer] clues an abbreviation without having an explicit cue that the answer is abbreviated: it’s ABBR. I like the clue.
Jeff Chen’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Aww, Tuesday would have been Roger Ebert’s 70th birthday, so what better time to publish a tribute puzzle? (Other than right after his passing, as we did over at the Daily Celebrity Crossword.) Jeff Chen memorializes Roger thus:
- 17a. [Longtime employer of 44-/49-Down], CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Possibly this is the first time the crossword that appears in the Chicago Tribune has had the full name of the rival newspaper in it.
- 29a. [Award won by 44-/49-Down], PULITZER PRIZE. Helluva writer, for over 40 years. Terrific work, lots of heart and wit.
- 41a. [Signature 44-/49-Down gesture represented by the clusters of black squares bordering this answer], TWO THUMBS UP. Oh! I didn’t notice the chunks of black squares were pictures.
- 44d, 49d. [With 49-Down, late film critic born 6/18/42], ROGER EBERT.
- 41d. [“The movies won’t be the same without 44-Down” and others], TWEETS. After Roger lost his ability to speak, he stormed onto social media with eloquence and attitude.
- 43d. [Eulogize], PRAISE. This balances TWEETS and has to be part of the theme, right? Countless people eulogized Roger after his passing and testified to his warmth and kindness. For example, my friend Liz blogged about the way Roger mentored her.
Plus there’s some additional movie-related fill: SITE clued by way of imdb.com, CBS TV clued as the first to televise a classic film, HAN Solo, the MPAA’s STDS, and IDS needed to get into an R-rated movie.
Sure, some of the fill here is blah (EINE TSAR ULNAE?), but mostly I was plunged into thinking about Roger Ebert again. That is always welcome, no less so on the birthday he did not live to see.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Legal System” – Dave Sullivan’s review
What, has Arkansas judge Vic Fleming joined the CrosSynergy staff of constructors? Perhaps not, but I’m sure this is a theme he would cotton to. We have four entries that begin with something found in a courtroom:
- [Sylvester Stallone role in 1995] clues JUDGE DREDD – any relation to Dred Scott? Probably not with that extra D.
- A [Free sample] is a TRIAL OFFER – this is a better entry in that “trial” here does not refer to the “legal system” meaning.
- [Touchstone, in “As You Like It”] clues COURT JESTER – a somewhat different type of “court” here (royal court vs. legal court), so another good one. Even better would be a phrase referring to a tennis court, like COURT ETIQUETTE with that cool Q in there.
- [Player who rides the other team] clues BENCH JOCKEY – now I would’ve guessed this phrase referred to someone who sits on the bench and isn’t selected to play. Do others who follow sports more closely than me (meaning, ahem, all of you reading this) agree that it has to do with taunting the opposing players?
I sure wish in that first entry, the “judge” part didn’t refer to a legal title; I guess the fact that it refers to a street judge in the comic series helps a little bit. Otherwise, a pretty straightforward theme and execution. My FAVE entries are that entire first row of GUMBO, MASH and CORN; throw in that OKRA that crosses the O of CORN and it sounds like you have the fixings for a nice Southern meal. USURY for [Shylock’s practice] (from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice) is also an interesting word to come across. [Result of an oil shortage?] for CREAK was fun as well. I was a bit SAD ([Disappointed]) to see the archaic ABED ([Still sleeping]) in my puzzle today; I’d just ask if someone was “still sleeping” and leave it at that. I also wonder if the AMEX (used as a “rival” in the NYSE clue) is still around. Didn’t it get merged with the NASDAQ a while ago?
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “Product Placement”
In Merl Reagle’s recent “Product Placement” puzzle, brand names were found hiding inside various phrases. In Matt’s riff on the concept, an AD is placed within each phrase to change the meaning:
- 18a. [Ship of agreeing fools?], TOADY BOAT.
- 20a. [Duck or elephant silhouette on the wall?], A SHADOW OF HANDS.
- 40a. [Person who can’t enjoy great evenings out?], BEST NIGHT EVADER.
- 56a. [“And so this foul vixen kept me broadcasting for years” response?], HER NAME IS RADIO. “… and she dances on the airwaves …”
- 63a. [Guy who walks through water?], WADING MAN.
- 37d. [Focus of an exorcise plan?], DEMONS. A five-minute plank should compel the demons right out of anyone.
- 17a. [“___ Tag!”], GUTEN. I like this because it reminds me of last week’s interview on Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell with “colored” South African comedian Trevor Noah. He speaks at least six languages and told a story about how his animated German makes him sound like “schwarze Hitler.” Noah is in the US now so he can finally be considered black instead of mixed-race. Entertaining and informative interview.
- 27a. [Texting sign-off], TTYL. “Talk to you later.” Not to be confused with TTFN, which is “ta-ta for now.”
- 48a. [Cobra Kai, for one], DOJO. Fancy Karate Kid reference!
- 19d. [Kermit-flailing-his-arms noise], YAY. Who doesn’t love Kermit the Frog?
The add-letters theme is good but not great. (It’s hard for that theme type to achieve greatness.) The fill is par for the Jonesin’ course. 3.66 stars.