Patrick Blindauer’s New York Times crossword
Day three of the contest puzzles, and thus far I have no idea what will feed into the meta. Clearly there is room for extra stuff in the grid, with the theme again not taking up that much real estate.
The black squares make a sort of jack-o’-lantern face.
- 17a. [Words to a baby], PEEKABOO, I SEE YOU.
- 32a, 33a. [With 33-Across, meeting with someone in person], FACE TIME.
- 59a. [007 film of 1981], FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.
All I can think of now, unfortunately, is the Billy Idol song “Eyes Without a Face.” Now, why YouTube chose to show me a Pampers ad before watching an atmospheric ’80s video featuring sneer and guyliner, I can’t say.
In the middle row, UNCURL and SCROLL go together well, don’t they?
Whatever meta business is in this puzzle, it had better be good to make up for AGIN ILER ARTE AFTA ECLAT. Fancy to have CARL ORFF‘s full name, though, and LANCELOT, KUNG FU, and GO “PFFT.” And the chemistry trio of OXYGEN, DIOXIDE, and OZONE are interesting, though the OX- bit is duplicated.
61d. [Ambient music composer Brian] ENO recently shared his recommended reading list of 20 books he deems essential for sustaining civilization. Dude includes The Illustrated Flora of Britain and Northern Europe, which I have to think is largely useless for the billions of people who live in the rest of the world.
Random 3.66 stars, not knowing where this is all going.
Brendan Quigley’s American Values Club crossword, “As Above, So Below”
Three phrases get an AS snuck into their midst, and the phrases below them get a SO wedged in, changing the meanings entirely:
- 11a. [Protein-rich alternative to the patch?], TOBACCO CASHEW. “Tobacco chew” doesn’t feel in-the-language to me but then I am an inveterate tobacco avoider so what do I know? Not sure how a “tobacco cashew” would be formed botanically.
- 15a. [Dance of the woodlouse?], ISOPOD SHUFFLE. Little roly-poly bugs/pill bugs (other names for the woodlouse) are isopods, but so are the giant isopods that live in the sea. Please do familiarize yourself with them! They can reach 2.5 feet in length.
- 35a. [Dog in need of shampooing?], GREASY HOUND.
- 39a. [Drove a Phillips-head into a bowl of borscht?], SCREWED SOUP. Now, you can stick a screwdriver into soup, but soup just doesn’t have the consistency to be screwed.
- 61a. [Palestinian-Genevan alliance?], HAMAS AND SWISS.
- 65a. [Skiing surface slapped on?], CURSORY POWDER. Mmm, curry powder.
The title has philosophical/theological meanings that were unknown to me. Irrelevant to the theme format, though. I was disappointed to see that only the last AS/SO pair were placed directly above and below. Would rather have had all three pairs staggered than two staggered, one precise.
13×18 is an unusual grid size. I’m so appreciative of the AV Club and Fireball puzzles for allowing odd sizes so that theme ideas that aren’t suitable for a 15×15 approach can still see the light of day.
- 27a. [It’s hard work], MOIL. Most of us tried TOIL first, right? Hardly anyone uses MOIL.
- 67a. [Q: How many ___ agents does it take to change a lightbulb? A: Please remove your pants.], TSA. Hah!
- 22d. [Intuitively reasonable but rarely actually used name for an online publication], EMAG. If you have to include a dreadful e-word, own its dreadfulness.
- 34d. [The sperm stops here, briefly], IUD. No, incorrect. IUDs let sperm swim on by, unlike barrier methods such as the diaphragm or condom. IUDs just make the uterus inhospitable to any fertilized eggs that may drop by.
- 40d. [Bone linked to the anconeus muscle], ULNA. Whoa, an ULNA clue I haven’t seen before! With a muscle I didn’t know existed.
3.85 stars from me.
Jerome Gunderson’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
[Species of falcon also called an American kestrel] is just poor on many counts. SPARROWHAWKs are any of several hawks of genus Accipiter. It seems that some Americans do erroneously call the American Kestrel a sparrowhawk. Why reinforce that? It’s like clueing BEAR referring to KOALAs… Back to the main topic: it’s an oddball theme. WARANDPEACE are represented by “types” of DOVE (TURTLEDOVE) and HAWK. The theme is padded out by including LEOTOLSTOY, the author of WARANDPEACE.
The theme is sparse, and the fill is mostly pretty conservative. [Knight crew?] had me very puzzled: THEPIPS was not what I was expecting! The other big splashy answer was [Post-workout relaxation spot], STEAMBATH. Like I said pretty conservative, but pretty darn clean as well: WIRER/SRS is about it when it comes to the dicey stuff!
One more clueing issue: [Snoop’s former “surname”], DOGG – not sure that it’s really that former…
Sarah Keller’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Button Down”—Ade’s write-up
Welcome to Hump Day everybody!
We have a clever little theme with today’s grid, which was brought to us by Ms. Sarah Keller. Each of the three answers are two-word answers in which the first word can precede the word “button.” Also, the themes are going down in the grid, making the title of the grid all the more slick.
- SEARCH PARTY: (3D: [Posse, e.g.]) – Deciding if I should guess how many times I’m going to click on a search button today during work.
- CAMPAIGN PROMISE: (7D: [It may be broken after Election Day]) – The new broken campaign promise season starts in 13 days then!
- BELLY DANCER: (26D: [Sinuous Mideast entertainer])
It’s been a long while since I’ve come across SPOOR, either in a grid or in real life in general (59A: [Animal track]). Some shout outs to musicians are in the grid, with FOSSE (1A: [“All That Jazz” director Bob]) and EFREM (10D: [Violinist Zimbalist]). First typed in “aisle” instead of ADULT once I had the “A” and “L” in place, so that cost me some time (64A: [Movie ticket category]). For every time I see EDAM in a grid, I have to keep a running count of how many times I’ve seen the word without ever tasting the cheese (48A: [Wax-coated cheese]). I don’t know the official count, but let’s just start the count at 65. So the next time I see EDAM, I’ll mention that I’ve seen the word EDAM 66 more times than the number of times that I’ve eaten the cheese. Am I one of the few people who have never touched, let alone owned, an IPAD (38D: [Apple touch screen tablet])? I’m still shopping for a new or refurbished iPod – yes, iPod, not an iPad or an iPhone – for the one that I lost a year ago when I accidentally left it on a Greyhound bus. Le sigh!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: KARRAS (46A: [Alex of “Webster”]) – It’s something that Alex KARRAS is remembered almost more for his career off the football field than on the field, because he was a four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions and a member of the 1960s NFL All-Decade team. Not only did he play the dad in “Webster,” but he also played the hulking goon Mongo in the movie Blazing Saddles, the character who knocked out the horse with one punch. Karras, despite his NFL success, was suspended for the 1963 NFL season, along with future NFL Hall of Famer Paul Hornung, for placing bets on NFL games while playing in the league.
Have a great day, and I’ll see you all tomorrow!