Joel Fagliano’s New York Times crossword
The theme in this 16×15 puzzle is a hoot. We’ve got 16a. CASEY, a [Man trying to clarify the spelling of his name in 21-, 25-, 38-, 52- and 57-Across]. He gives phonetic cues that may serve only to confuse:
- 21a. [Unhelpful spelling clarification #1], C AS IN “CUE.” Cue sounds like Q.
- 25a. [Spelling clarification #2], A AS IN “ARE.” Are, R.
- 38a. [Spelling clarification #3], S AS IN “SEA.” Sea, C.
- 52a. [Spelling clarification #4], E AS IN “EYE.” Eye, I.
- 57a. [Spelling clarification #5], Y AS IN “YOU.” You, U.
- 66a. [What the listener might think 16-Across’s name is?], QRCIU.
I’ve played the “S as in sugar, K as in knight, E as in Eiffel, P as in pneumonia, Z as in zeitgeist” game, but I’d never thought of playing with words that sound like letters as Joel does here. Bravo, Joel!
I’m not seeing a lot else in the puzzle to remark on. Just these:
- 2d. [One of 14 in the Big Ten], IOWA. Rutgers. Rutgers is in the Big Ten now, right?
- 32d. [Celebrity couple portmanteau], KIMYE. Is there a shorter couple portmanteau out there?
- 57d. [Song that was a hit for a spell in the 1970s?], YMCA. Nice inclusion in a puzzle with a “spelling” theme.
Four stars from me.
Lee Glickstein and Jeff Chen’s Fireball crossword, “Heading Inside”
This 17×17 puzzle includes eight directional headings, each 3 letters long, stuck inside familiar words or phrases to change the meaning:
- 19a. [Tool, when ready to make a secret recording?] PAWN WIRED UP. That’s WNW inside PAIRED UP.
- 23a. [Change the placement of snitches at a table?], RESEAT FINKS. ESE in RAT FINKS. I was thinking of Potterverse golden snitches at first.
- 28a. [Totally killer mess for commissioned officers on a ship?], BOSS WARDROOM. SSW in BOARDROOM. What’s a wardroom, anyway? It is, the dictionary tells me, a mess for commissioned officers on a warship.
- 41a. [Hillbilly dads prevail in court?], PAWS WIN RELIEF. WSW in PAIN RELIEF.
- 45a. [Good deed involving a flag?], BANNER MITZVAH. NNE in BAR MITZVAH.
- 60a. [Swaying sculpture with long-eared dogs hanging from rods?], BASSET MOBILE. SSE in BATMOBILE.
- 67a. [Where Germans can find Chinese pans?], BONN WOK SHOP. NNW in BOOKSHOP.
- 76a. [Bad example of an androgynous person?], EPICENE FAIL. ENE in EPIC FAIL.
Lee and Jeff are both constructors with an affinity for intricate, ambitious themes, and they’ve done a good job with this one. I’m guessing it took nearly as long to come up with a good set of theme entries as it did to fill the grid and clue the puzzle. Is there a computerized, brute-force method to doing this, or was it all brain power?
Six more things:
- 16a. [Pretense, to Sham] made no sense to me. SIRE? So these are horses? Didn’t know either horse name. Did you see Billy Eichner on Letterman, making Dave play “Celebrity Child or Kentucky Derby Winner?”? There are a lot of goofy horse names out there.
- 1d. [“Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of ___”: Deuteronomy], ASPS. Whose wine? Ernest and Julio Gallo?
- All eight 8s are great: DIAL SOAP, DR. WATSON, MINNELLI, BACK-DATE, ASKS OVER (…eh), NICKNAME, ACID RAIN, and SOLSTICE. Those paired 8s aren’t accompanied by lousy crossings, either.
- The LAO language and YAO Ming want to know where their tasty BAO are.
- Stacked theme answers at the top and bottom of the grid are Reaglesque, and there’s Merl’s anagram, REGALE, right above the top stack.
- 51d. [“Chimp and ___” (kid-lit series by Catherine and Laurence Anholt)], ZEE? Never heard of it. The ZEE part meant working every crossing … but now that I see it, hey, “Chimp and Zee” sounds like “chimpanzee.”
4.25 stars from me.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “It Pays to Publicize”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning everybody! We’re past the hump and on to Thursday!
Today’s puzzle, served up to us today by Ms. Gail Grabowski, is brought to you by, well, the first words of each of the theme answers!! Each of those words are ways to convey some sort of information in one way or another.
- SIGN OF THE CROSS: (20A: [Religious gesture])
- COMMERCIAL PILOT: (39A: [Delta cockpit occupant])
- AD HOC COMMITTEE: (56A: [Specifically appointed group])
No real trouble spots while doing this pretty smooth grid. A couple of entries that really stood out, in a good way, were SHUSH PILE (11D: [Stack of unsolicited manuscripts]) and SMART DRUG (34D: [Memory enhancer, purportedly]). Also liked that smart drug crossed with some other (actual) medicine, as it pertains to DOSE (32A: [Two tablets, say]). I got SEMI immediately when looking at the clue, which actually scared me a little bit as I hope I don’t think about firearms the second I come across the word “automatic” (26D: [Automatic opening?]). Yes, I know it was a pun, but still, it was EERIE how I was on that answer immediately after seeing the clue (2D: [Like many of Dean Koontz’s novels]). Finally, don’t know what to make of NAR (45A: [GRF’s veep]); it obviously is a legit monogram (Nelson A. Rockefeller), but it’s not a common occurrence to see a vice president’s name monogramed – and it be popularized – unless the vice president was one that actually became president, like RMN. I think I’m being super nitpicky on this one, anyways, so let’s go to the sports moment.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: FRIAR (21D: [Monastery member]) – Simple one today, as the FRIAR is the mascot of Providence College, one of the seven founding members of the Big East Conference back in 1979. Most of the famous Friar athletes come from the basketball program, including Lenny Wilkens, who is only one of three people to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and as a coach.
See you all on Friday!
Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “It’s the Pits” — Matt’s review
Deodorant puns! Here we go:
17-A [Deodorant made with whiskey?] = ALCOHOL BAN. That would be an interesting buzz.
19-A [With 53-Across, curse a deodorant?] = DAMN / SURE.
24-A [Beckham’s wife’s deodorant?] = VICTORIA’S SECRET.
35-A [Wartime deodorant?] = BATTLE AXE.
47-A [Deodorant for the single man?] = BACHELOR’S DEGREE.
55-A [Deodorant in a shell?] = TURTLE DOVE.
Amusing theme, and lots of it. Thumbs-up.
So many 6- and 7-letter entries, even with all that theme material! DICE CUP, DEAD RUN, KRAMER, John LE CARRE, VERY ODD and DELUXE stand out.
*** I think the clue for SCHMO wants to be cluing “schmuck.” A schmo is more of an average Joe, not so much a [Real jerk].
*** The clue at 8-D shocked me: [Only Wimbledon winner to wear a wig]. Really? That hair metal/rattail thing wasn’t his real hair? I have to check on that.
*** Seeing RAM and EWE in the same grid reminds me of Kevin Der’s lovely 2013 Lollapuzzoola crossword “Animal Attraction.” I wish that were available in .puz format somewhere, since it deserves a much wider audience.
Julian Lim’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Today’s puzzle has a synonym theme with a nice colloquial feel. All the other four long acrosses are OFFTOAGOODSTART, in that they are used as interjections (using that word a bit loosely) meaning GOOD. It’s punchy when considered as a theme, and the answer set is also excellent:
- [“Take your time”], NICEANDEASY
- [1993 film loosely based on the Jamaican bobsled team], COOLRUNNINGS
- [NCAA regional semifinals, familiarly], SWEETSIXTEEN
- [Green-skinned movie villain], WICKEDWITCH
For a puzzle with 5 theme entries, it felt unusually open in construction. LIAMNEESON is a long full name and NECCOWAFER is an American product, and something I only know from crosswords. WHIPUP is a nice medium length answer.
- I’m not sure that the treatment suggested at [Sound that may be averted by holding one’s breath], HIC has much scientific backing…
- [Chinchillas, at times], PETS may be referring to either the rodent or the cat breed.
- The one Neil Gaiman novel I have read is not [“American ___”…], GODS but Good
Omens. I should probably read more!
Fun theme! plus rock solid construction = 4.25 stars.
PS, it seems you all have started without me. Odd, most days no-one comments on the LAT! ORL seems to be the smaller Orlando Executive Airport. I wonder if an executive airport is like an executive transvestite?