Ed Sessa’s New York Times crossword
The theme dances down the midsection of the grid:
- 10d. [Starter of a dance craze in 18-Down], CHUBBY CHECKER.
- 18d. [See 10-Down], NINETEEN-SIXTY. Ooh, I don’t much care for a spelled-out year.
- The circled letters spell out “COME ON, LET’S TWIST.” Are those in the song’s lyrics? Checking … nope. This site has “Come on, baby, let’s do the Twist” and later “Come on and twist,” neither of which is in this puzzle. That’s an odd choice, no? And the zig-zag pattern of this answer doesn’t, to me, clearly evoke the Twist.
CHUBBY CHECKER is great but that’s the only part of the theme I liked.
Elsewhere in the grid, MANNERISMS, WALL SOCKET, POWER STRIP, and FIELD TRIPS are all welcome. I’m thinking this puzzle should have run on a Wednesday, though, given the assortment of not-so-familiar-outside-of-crosswords fill:
- 4a. [Country getaways, in Russia], DACHAS.
- 14a. [Start of a Latin trio], AMO.
- 19a. [Together, in France], UNIE. This one’s not even very common inside of crosswords. There’s more French, too: 21a. [These, to Thérèse], CES.
- 22a. [Addis ___, Ethiopia], ABABA.
- 65a. [___-deucey], ACEY. It’s a backgammon variant I have never played.
- 9d. [Onetime New Left org.], SDS. Students for a Democratic Society. Acronyms of yore are not the juiciest fill.
- 27d. [Dear one, Italian-style], CARO. Latin, French, and now Italian!
- 28d. [Discovery in a British mystery], CLEW. Clue, in limey spelling.
- 29d. [Reds and Pirates, for short], NLERS. If ESPN isn’t using it regularly, I don’t know what it’s doing in a crossword.
- 30d. [Jai ___], ALAI.
- 33d. [Dog of 1930s-’40s mysteries], ASTA. Closing in fast on that century-old pop culture mark!
- 35d. [Jannings who won the first Best Actor Oscar], EMIL. 1920s pop culture! Silent movies!
- 51d. [Apartment rental sign], TO LET. Around here, the signs say FOR RENT. Never “to” and never “let.”
All that, on a Tuesday? Crazy diagonal answers causing triple-checked squares can be so hostile to the Acrosses and Downs.
2.5 disappointed stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle, “Just Between Us”—Janie’s review
As is my wont at times, I opted to solve without looking at the title for a possible hint to the puzzle’s theme. And guess what? I had absolutely no idea what Liz was going for until I hit the reveal. I like that! All I saw until then were four terrific grid-spanners (two movie titles, two quotation-mark contained), but darned if I could see what they had in common, what could possibly be holding them together. So, thank you, 55D. [Texter’s “it’s a secret” shorthand spelled out by the starts of four puzzle answers] FYEO. Stringing together those “starts,” we get For Your Eyes Only. And we get them thusly:
- 17A. FOR NO GOOD REASON [2012 film featuring Johnny Depp as himself]. Well, really—who better? Then again, it’s a documentary…
- 24A. “YOUR PLACE OR MINE?” [Hokey pick-up line]. Full disclosure: first time I glanced at the clue, I thought it said “Hokey-pokey line.” Alas, the 15 squares would have only accommodated “THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL.” Nevermind…
- 45A. EYES OF LAURA MARS [1978 Faye Dunaway flick]. This thriller also features a not-quite-yet-a-star Tommy Lee Jones. It was never a beloved film (except perhaps by Mad Magazine, which parodied it as Eyes of Lurid Mess), but it was filmed in Manhattan (I’d been here three years at that point) and also features Raul Julia, Brad Dourif and Rene Auberjonois. This may be one for my library wish-list.
- 60A. “ONLY TIME CAN HEAL…” [Start of Seneca’s quote that ends with “…what reason cannot”]. Smart guy, that Seneca.
Given the length of all that theme fill, it was especially pleasing to see how much OOMPH there was to be mined in the non-theme department. There isn’t A LOT of long fill—two tens—but they balance each other elegantly, in an elemental way, so to speak. There’s AIR SHUTTLE and ICE DANCERS, the latter referring to the Canadian team of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir who took the gold in Vancouver in 2010.
And there are several solid sevens, my faves being that central SCANDAL (the hit TV show), TOSS OUT [Chuck], DO SHOTS with its visually lively clue [Throw back jiggers of vodka], and the best (imoo…), FUN FACT [Kid-friendly bit of trivia]. Hey. Adults like bits of trivia, too! ;-)
I like how “YOWIE!” is clued as an interjection [“Holy cow!] but YAHOO, with its interjection-potential, is clued [ahem] as a fun fact—namely that it’s the [Web giant headed by Marisa Mayer]. LADDIE, “AYE, SIR!,” NINNY, “HA-HA!,” “WAAH!”—fun fill all. And especially nice, unexpected cluing with [Second word of a fairy tale] for UPON (think about it: usually we see [First word of a fairy tale]); and [Captain Pierce portrayer] for ALDA. That gave me pause for a moment or two. Who? Oh, now I get it. Hawkeye Pierce.
Finally, I like the way the intimate tone of the title resonates in the equally secretive [“Don’t say A WORD!” (“Hush!”)]. Fine. By way of Sheena Easton, then, we’ll keep this strictly entre nous: “For Your Eyes Only”!
Michael Dewey’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Lots of intruders in this theme:
- 20a. [Uninvited guests], PARTY CRASHERS.
- 27a. [Gold rush bad guys], CLAIM JUMPERS.
- 49a. [Thieves in the tombs of the pharaohs, say], GRAVE ROBBERS.
- 58a. [Early arcade game with pixelated aliens, and, in a way, what 20-, 27- and 49-Across all are], SPACE INVADERS.
And lots of proper names in the fill. SMURF OSSA HOSEA MAHRE GAGA BENET SATO ADANO NIKE X-MEN ESAU ESSEX MEG JIF SERT and BERNIE? Those who struggle with name recall, or who haven’t larded their brains with a huge list of Names Far More Popular in Crosswords Than Outside, will be frowning their way through this one. Heck, I’m good with names and I wasn’t keen on having OSSA SATO ADANO SERT at all. I don’t know anyone who uses BOSH to mean 10d. [“Fiddlesticks!”], but perhaps the NBA’s Chris BOSH was deemed one name too many.
I do like ESOPHAGUS and FORENSICS.
Four more things:
- 37d. [Speak, biblical-style], SAY’ST. Short for sayest, as in thou sayeth/you speak. Meh.
- 63a. [1974 Peace Nobelist from Japan], SATO. Prime minister Eisaku Sato, for renouncing nuclear weapons. 1974 appears to be the only year since 1946 when two people jointly received the Peace Prize for entirely different reasons.
- 5a. [Blue cartoon critter], SMURF. I would have preferred the word “humanoid” to “critter” here. It’s more alarming.
- 22d. [Rockefeller Center muralist José María], SERT. Recently a constructor wrote to the Cruciverb-L mailing list about a puzzle in which he had SERTS, plural. *facepalm* He was quickly disabused of the notion that the plural was solid fill, and reworked the grid.
Strong theme, fill less so. 3.33 stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ crossword, “From Start to Finish”
The easiest Jonesin’ puzzle I can remember. No trickery to the theme—it’s just phrases that start with S and finish with F.
- 17a. [Move on], SHAKE IT OFF.
- 54a. [Chinese dish with seeds], SESAME BEEF. That’s a thing? I never look at the beef menu section.
- 11d. [Dinner when you can’t decide], SURF AND TURF.
- 25d. [Petrified], SCARED STIFF.
Fairly lively set of phrases, but not a challenging set of clues.
Five more things:
- 16a. [___ Eightball (Emily Flake comic)], LULU. Don’t know this one.
- 28a. [1990s dance hit, or the guy (John) who sang it], SCATMAN. I know Scatman Crothers from ’70s TV, but not this guy or dance hit.
- 1d. [Bobs and weaves, e.g.], DOS. Terrific mislead in the clue. Both are hairdos and verbs of evasive maneuvering.
- 13d. [Seattle’s sound], PUGET. Admit it, you wanted GRUNGE to fit here.
- 29d. [Bill featured on “Picture Pages”], COSBY. I don’t know what “Picture Pages” is. I was 12 when the TV thing went national, and thus too old for kiddie TV.
I like the midsection of the grid, with its BOOGIE, and overall the fill is smooth. 3.9 stars from me.
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Country Legend”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everybody! I hope your Tuesday is getting off to a great start!
Today’s grid is a music tribute, presented to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, as we are made to answer a little trivia about the man known as The Red Headed Stranger.
- WILLIE NELSON: (1A: [With 66-Across, country music star and 2014 inductee to the “Austin City Limits” Hall of Fame])
- IRS AUDIT: (18A: [1-/66-Across suffered a famous one])
- ON THE ROAD AGAIN: (20A: [November 1980 Billboard Hot Country Singles #1 hit by 1-/66-Across])
- HONEYSUCKLE ROSE: (37A: [Movie featuring 1-/66-Across and 20-Across (1980)])
- ALWAYS ON MY MIND: (54A: [May 1982 Billboard Hot Country Singles #1 hit by 1-/66-Across])
The first answer I filled in was WAGON, and after that, the 1-/66-Across musician was pretty much a cinch since both were six letters and Willie Nelson was the first person who popped into my mind (1D: [Word with chuck or station]). There may be a chance that the constructor is a Baltimore baseball fan, given the clue to AL EAST refers to the team that’s running away and hiding in first place in the division as we speak (14A: [Orioles div.]). And it has to be said that rest of the division this year is a SORRY LOT, including the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox (38D: [Pathetic group]). I think from now until the end of the year, I’m going to count how many times I’ll come across ELSA in a grid, just for fun (29D: [“Born Free” lioness]). Almost a year ago, I attended a wedding of a couple of good friends of mine, and participated in my first HORA (32D: [Jewish wedding staple]). It was fun until it was time to lift the chairs of the bride and groom into the air. A few people had already volunteered to do so, and I thought I would just be in the perimeter of the circle, but the second before the groom was lifted into the air, one of the volunteers made eye contact with me. Of course, when he saw me, all 6’4″ and 250-plus pounds of “muscle,” he shouted, “Get over here and lift!” I think we lifted him up for about five minutes but it felt like a half and hour, since I was so sore afterwards. But it was more than worth it, and it marked my first hora experience in style!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ORR (49A: [Hockey legend Bobby]) – Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr played 10 of his 12 seasons as a member of the Boston Bruins and is widely considered as the greatest defenseman of all-time. His speed and scoring/play-making ability revolutionized the position, and he’s the only defenseman to ever win the scoring title in the National Hockey League. A series of knee injuries forced his premature retirement, and Orr was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame at 31 years old, the youngest person to ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame at that time. He also is the subject of one of the most famous sports images ever, celebrating in mid-air after he was tripped a split second after his championship-clinching overtime goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues.
See you all on Hump Day!