Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Logical Connections”
This week’s theme plays with the key conjunctions used in logic, AND and OR. Four phrases that contain OR get an AND swapped in:
- 20a. [Crisis following the breakup of Guns N’ Roses, the Eagles, and Mötley Crüe?], L.A. BAND SHORTAGE. Labor shortage. Extra OR in the last word, not changed.
- 25a. [Horror movie set at the dry cleaner?], FATAL ERRAND. “No! Don’t do it! Don’t hand over your claim check!” Fatal error.
- 38a. [Choice words swapped in this puzzle’s theme answers], AND/OR.
- 44a. [Tour manager for gummy bears and M&M’s?], CANDY BOOKER. Senator Cory Booker.
- 54a. [What the host of “Deal or No Deal” eats to make the gold suitcases look, like, *extra* gold?], MANDEL MUSHROOM. Morel mushroom meets Howie Mandel.
- 24a. [Human tail?], -OID. Suffix for the word, not a literal tail.
- 59a. [Bureau that provides sports stats], ELIAS. Never heard of it.
- 2d. [Ancient tropical tree], CYCAD. These trees still grow around the globe in warm climes.
- 5d. [Play the dozens], SIGNIFY. I learned something new; SIGNIFY means “exchange boasts or insults as a game or ritual,” as in playing the dozens, in African-American slang.
- 11d. [Michelangelo sculpture subject], KING DAVID. I had no idea that Michelangelo’s David was King David and not some other Biblical figure named David.
- 46d. [Animated clown some claim is based on David Letterman], KRUSTY. I’d never heard that before.
Did you notice the stacked jazz singers, 36a: IVIE Anderson and 60a: NINA Simone?
The fill is not awesome-wow!, and it’s not eww-ugh. It’s solid. 3.75 stars.
Michael Dewey’s New York Times crossword
The theme here is military commands, but clued in playful non-military contexts:
- 20a. [Overly bold member of the “Little Women” family?], FORWARD MARCH. This page will tell you how to properly execute your moves when someone barks “Forward, march” at you.
- 29a. [Result of bankruptcy?], COMPANY HALT. Not familiar with this one.
- 44a. [What blood donors do?], PRESENT ARMS.
- 51a. [Motivational words for a boss at layoff time?], READY, AIM, FIRE. Not sure how the answer fits the clue, what with “aim” having pretty much nothing to do with firing people.
- 11d, 39a, 58d. [With 39-Across and 58-Down, response to a military command], SIR, YES, SIR. Yep, that’s SIR appearing in two symmetrical places in the grid as part of this 9-letter phrase.
The clues for 20a and 44a are cute, no?
There’s a bit of a Crosswordese on Parade vibe in the fill, with OMOO, “Maria ELENA” (a #1 hit song … from before my mother was born), SRO, OTOE, EPEE, -ESE, HST, and TEHEE. But then there are Hostess HO HOS and Hungry Hungry HIPPOS for your HHH action (but no Hubert H. Humphrey today), a THERMOS, and a DIPHTHONG ([“Oy” or “ow”]) to add a little zip.
Favorite clue: 27d. [“Cry me a ___”] RIVER. It’s got a little attitude.
I wonder how many solvers will look at 16a. [Object of ancient Egyptian veneration] with I*IS in place and fill in the Egyptian goddess ISIS, given that the crossing is 10d. [Japanese P.M. Shinzo ___] ABE. Abe Lincoln, Abe Vigoda, and Abe Simpson are likely far more familiar to most solvers than Shinzo Abe, and a goddess is as plausible an “object of veneration” as a bird (the IBIS) is.
Might’ve been nice to ditch the HST in that corner, too. DEEP atop IAGO on PROD, crossing EAR/EGO/POD would work.
3.25 stars from me.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy / Washington Post crossword, “Hare Line” – Dave Sullivan’s review
Cute play on the homophone “hairline” (as in fracture)–the first words of the three theme entries spell out something a [Wisecracking rabbit] or BUGS BUNNY would say.
- [The true state of things] clued WHAT’S WHAT – true dat.
- [Like late-breaking news] was UP TO THE MINUTE
- [Companion of Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon] was DOC SEVERINSON – leader of the “NBC Orchestra” at the time. This is now Questlove of “The Roots” for the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Rather interesting grid design from the master of quad stacks–we have some very nice adjoining long downs in the NE and SW and two other 10-letter down entries. My FAVEs were:
- [Reverse course suddenly] clued MAKE A U-TURN – you won’t find that in many computer-generated grids!
- [Pseudonym] was NOM DE PLUME – literally “pen name”
- [Zero interest] had me thinking of car loans, but was NO DESIRE – you won’t find that in many computer-generated grids either, but perhaps there’s a good reason for that if it’s not a real lexical chunk. What do you think?
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
The theme of this puzzle is fairly basic: five answers start with titles of supreme rulers. Four are male only, with MONARCH the only gender-neutral one. Also, CAESAR and KAISER are cognates. To me, these are minor issues. There are two elements that really made this theme sing for me: the interesting choices of theme entries, and the waay Mr. Wechsler skilfully avoids using the rulers in a direct sense. The entries are:
- 17a, [Confederate slogan symbolizing financial independence], KINGCOTTON. I didn’t know a lot about this. As always, Wikipedia was there to help! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_cotton
- 24a, [Romaine lettuce dishes], CAESARSALADS.
- 39a, [“Happy Feet” critters], EMPERORPENGUINES. Putting that as your central answer is a surefire way to make me love your puzzle!
- 50a, [Study guides for literature students], MONARCHNOTES. I didn’t know this answer, and am struggling to get an adequate idea of what they are, beyond summaries of books. I’m willing to bet this is a fresh, interesting and familiar answer to most solvers though!
- 64a, [Sandwich choice], KAISERROLL.
Mr. Wechsler also seems to have carefully seeded his grid with a few other choice answers: the symmetrical long downs HOPPINGBAD/BIGFATLIAR make a striking pair. Another symmetrical pair, ACPLUG and PERTON, are a little quirky, but they also seemed fresh and made for surprising answers!
AOKS is utterly contrived, but other than that nothing really bothered me.
Gareth, leaving you with a classic song by 58A.