Daniel Landman’s New York Times crossword
The theme involves splitting a key word across multiple answers in the grid, so it plays like a puzzle with 12 theme squares since you needn’t pay any attention to those split answers in order to solve the puzzle. Not the most satisfying sort of theme for me.
37a, 40a. [With 40-Across, repeat offender? … or something found, literally, in four rows in this puzzle], BROKEN / RECORD. The word RECORD is broken across answers and I’ve circled its four broken appearances in my grid. The places where the word is hidden don’t bring the excitement, as it involves fill like EIRE, COR., RDAS, and PEREC. There’s also the perfectly good prefix ECO with that always-mystifying clue, 55a. [Car starter?]. Still don’t know anyone who talks about “ecocars,” and I drive a Hybrid and know an electric driver.
Lots of fill had a decades-old vibe to it—at least it did where I started in the puzzle, with PPD and STENOS and the Graf SPEE. And elsewhere, HORSECAR and -O-RAMA. And then there are the abbreviations (ADV, COR, CSA, ETD, plural and outdated RDAS, plural SRS, PPD), the awkward plural (PSSTS), various fragments and partials (GAI, A BONE, DECI-, AER, SAO, ECO-, SPEE, -O-RAMA, -IAL). And, if you prefer English vocab, there are also four foreign entries (ANNEE, ESOS, STADT, TE AMO). Lest you think I am being too hard on the constructor, see what he says at Wordplay: “Almost immediately after I mailed this puzzle in, about a year ago, I experienced a severe case of constructor’s remorse; I regretting submitting a puzzle with so much short ugliness and crosswordese, especially in the ‘theme rows’ (all of my more recent puzzles are cleaner than this). But when I was notified that the puzzle was accepted, it was very instructive: Will didn’t comment at all on the bad fill, but rather on how he liked some of the long Downs.” Memo to Will: That Gorski puzzle you singled out as having four junky answers edited out along with DELPY? This grid has a heckuva lot more junk in it, and BAT AN EYE/CHEERIO weren’t nearly enough to make me overlook the dross.
I do like seeing ILENE in the grid (54d. [Chaiken who co-created “The L Word”]), as my best friend’s mom spells her name the same way (and female creators/showrunners are still underrepresented in Hollywood).
2.75 stars from me.
C.C. Burnikel’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Today’s theme is [NSA surveillance activity … or, the process needed to dig out the info hidden in 17-, 25-, 37- and 50-Across?], DATAMINING. Somewhat controversial bringing the NSA into the clue? Anyway, the other four long across answers have DATA hidden in them. Two use a central AT to facilitate this. Two don’t. For better or worse, three of the four are phrases of more than two words. We have:
- [Progressive Era muckraker], IDATARBELL. Personally, I know her only from crosswords.
- [“Pretty darn good”], NOTBADATALL
- [Assume a military posture], STANDATATTENTION. Somewhat awkward clue. Interestingly, this is the only reason I can see that the puzzle is 16×15.
- [Waved from the curb, perhaps], HAILEDATAXI
- [Kevin’s “A Fish Called Wanda” role], OTTO. Does anyone really remember the names of film characters like that? Obviously some like RHETT are memorable, but personally I don’t feel like most have much of a life outside of the film.
- [With 26-Down, fashionable footwear], UGG + BOOTS. They’re still fashionable? Maybe they’re [In again], RETRO?
- [Balthazar, Caspar, and Melchior], THEMAGI. These names don’t appear in most canon places that talk about THEMAGI. Those places also don’t specify that there were three, although they bring three gifts.
- [Vegetarian side], BEANSALAD. Insert obligatory, “but what is it now?” remark here.
- [Field fare, briefly], MRE. I remember this as “mystery”.
- [Unlikely tomboy], GIRLYGIRL. I’d have thought the stereotypes are more than unlikely – mutually exclusive, but I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise.
- [Boston Bruins’ home], TDGARDEN. New to me, but looks like a solid, fresh answer.
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “City Dining”—Ade’s write-up
Hello once again, everybody!
Welcome to Hump Day, and I hope that you all enjoyed today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Tony Orbach. Each of the four theme answers are phrases/nouns in which the first part of the entry is also the first part of certain city nicknames. The second parts of the entries are also types of food, and the clues to the entries are puns, playing off of the food angle.
- CRESCENT ROLLS: (20A: [Official bread of New Orleans?])
- SECOND BANANA: (32A: [Official fruit of Chicago?])
- MILE-HIGH CLUB: (40A: [Official triple decker sandwich of Denver?])
- RUBBER CHICKEN: (56A: [Official joke dish of Akron?])
I’m pretty sure my parents flew KLM once back in the 70’s or ’80s, since I always remembered seeing ID tags strewn around my apartment when growing up (6A: [Airline to Amsterdam]). I also think I was responsible for littering those tags around the house as well. For some reason, the intersection of BE A PAL (45A: [“C’mon, bud, help me out here”]) and I’LL BE stuck out, and it struck me as somewhat amusing (42D: [“My word”]). Person 1: Be a pal, won’t you? Person 2: I’ll be! Also liked the intersection between RUBBER CHICKEN and PLAYROOM, as all playrooms across the country should be equipped with at least one rubber chicken (37D: [Toy-filled place]). I once heard a bad pun involving BREST (4D: [Port in Western France]). One time, when the French soccer team in the city, Stade Brestois (simply known as Brest), were losing and descending down the French soccer standings, I heard one reporter say, when Brest moved down in the standings after a loss put them in 12th place, that “Brest…sag to twelfth.” Remind me never to use bad puns when I’m on the air, ok?!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SOTO (23A: [____ speak]) – I always remember watching former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mario SOTO play in the 1980s, but I definitely caught him in the later part of the ’80s, meaning I missed the best part of his Major League career. I was totally shocked to find out that between 1980 and 1985, Soto struck out 1,063 batters, more than any other pitcher in baseball during that six-year span.
Thank you so much for the time, and I’ll see you all on Thursday!
Byron Walden’s American Values Club crossword, “Hidden Genius”
17a. [Pulitzer Prize-winner Douglas whose three famous subjects are hidden in this puzzle’s theme answers] clues HOFSTADTER. He wrote the book Gödel, Escher, Bach, and those three names appear in these:
- 27a. [Zorro’s secret identity], DON DIEGO DE LA VEGA. We’ve lost the umlaut.
- 49a. [Experienced something for the first time, so to speak], POPPED ONE’S CHERRY.
- 64a. [“Go ahead, sit”], “GRAB A CHAIR.”
All right, that works. “Grab a chair” isn’t a dictionary-grade phrase but I’ve heard it and possibly said it.
Five more things:
- 25a. [Manhattan neighborhood with lots of kimchee and karaoke, familiarly], K-TOWN. Didn’t know Manhattan had a K-Town. Fresh fill.
- 71a: Jodi ERNST and the 57a: IOWANs she represents make for a very fresh combo, 8 days old.
- 11d. [Dyspeptic sounds], UGHS. So Byron meant the Rex Parker sort of dyspepsia and not the too-much-crappy-food sort that leads to URPS, my first answer here. Question: Would URP pass muster as crossword fill? Because I use the word plenty but a lot of dictionaries don’t record the word; this one does, but not with my meaning (urpiness is generally shy of out-and-out burps, in my book).
- 43d. [Glass ceiling fan?], SEXIST. Ha! Good clue.
- 44d. [Butler’s domain?], EDU. As in Butler University’s website.
3.9 stars. EES, ORONO, A NOSE, and OLA knock this one below 4.