Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 79”
Pretty easy for a Fireball themeless, if you ask me. I wasn’t perplexed by anything except the NUTMEG clue, 19a. [Kick the ball through the legs of]. Sportsy slang? News to me. Oh, and 20a. [Killer ___ (“Buck Rogers” villain)], KANE. Had to figure out that [Schlep] was TREK in order to get the K in KANE.
Top ten in cluing and fill:
- 15a. [Bruce Springsteen album featuring “Hungry Heart” and “Cadillac Ranch”], THE RIVER.
- 36a. [Top shooters at many basketball games], T-SHIRT CANNONS. Cannons that shoot apparel tops, not “best shooters.”
- 64a. [Red giant], PETE ROSE. Not astronomy? I’ll take it. I would like to put the
Cincinnati RedsCleveland Indians on notice—that mascotlogo is dehumanizing and it needs to go.
- 10d. [Rubber tree attachment], TIRE SWING. It’s a tree attachment made of rubber, nothing to do with rubber trees.
- 12d. [Taboo], VERBOTEN.
- 14d. [Rodent on the comics page], RATBERT. If only there were a Willard comic strip.
- 21d. [Literally, “with the scraping”], AU GRATIN. Foodie etymology! Makes sense but I don’t think I’d seen that before.
- 25d. [Get in touch with by the seat of your pants?], BUTT-DIAL. I don’t butt-dial, but I’ve been known to delete apps when holding my phone while doing other things and not looking at the screen.
- 34d. [Hesitate when transitioning], MISS A BEAT. Is this a musical clue? I just use the phrase nonliterally.
- 44d. [Maker of the handheld game Electronic Quarterback], COLECO. You hadda be a kid at the right time. I went over to YouTube to see the game in play (uh, it is no Madden 2015) and then got distracted by Merlin videos. I liked Merlin even better than Simon, I reckon.
Birthday greetings to 54d. [Hoopster nicknamed “Reign Man”], Shawn KEMP. I know nothing about him except that he shares a birthday (today/Wednesday!) with Michael Sharp/Rex Parker.
Smooth grid. Surprised to see that it’s a 68-worder and not a more forgiving 72. Four stars from me.
Stan Newman’s New York Times crossword
‘Tis a seasonal theme for the holiday, with three [Thanksgiving phrase]s in the grid. 15a: MUCHAS GRACIAS came together with the M of POMELOS and maybe the ***HA* from AAH and SCAM. Then I eyeballed 15a’s partner, 51a, and filled in MERCI BEAUCOUP with no crossings. It’s not as if VIELEN DANK was going to fit anywhere in this puzzle. The third [Thanksgiving phrase] is the Italian GRAZIE MILLE connecting the other two themers. I thought mille grazie was more common; yea or nay?
Simple theme. I’m quite fond of the central entry, 31a. [Highest-paid TV star of 2014, by far], JUDGE JUDY. Scrabbly and poppy and fun.
Other likes in the fill: OAXACA, SCYLLA, POTOMAC, SPRITZ.
Three more things:
- 20d. [Statistician Silver], NATE. He’s a heartthrob for the mathy gay set, and I love the career he’s carved out for himself.
- 49d. [Writer about Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals], Jean AUEL. I loved the Clan of the Cave Bear series in my youth.
- 38d. [Clothing items with fringes], SERAPES. Do you ever encounter this word outside of crosswords?
Four stars from me. Not much excitement, but also little junk to irritate me.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Turkey Serving”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning to you all on this Turkey Day!
Here’s a question off the bat to you: If you do the the traditional Thanksgiving feast at home, do you try and have the turkey done by dinner time, or earlier? With my family, for many years the turkey was usually done by noon, just in time for the football games to start. I’m pretty sure that was because of me, as I was just as excited for the sporting events coming on television as much as the food. If I could get both to start at the same time, even better!
Now, I can add finishing a crossword to the turkey and the football, and today’s grid, offered up to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman with cranberry sauce and yams, gives us four theme answers in which the first part of the entry are also parts of a turkey. Let’s dig in!
- THIGHMASTER: (17A: [Exercise device]) – This answer made me laugh out loud. Seriously! Please tell me someone out there still owns one! You’ll make my Thanksgiving!
- BREAST BEATING: (28A: [Loud display of grief])
- DRUMSTICK CAKE: (47A: [Rich dessert made with vanilla wafers]) – My word, that sounds good.
- WINGTIP SHOE: (62A: [Fancy footwear])
Being familiar with the novel, MOO was clued in a clever way, as anyone not familiar with the book would have had a hard time thinking that was the name of a university, real or fictional (32A: University created by Jane Smiley]). This is the second crossword puzzle in as many days that features ADRIAN MONK, which might be a sign that I should watch at least one episode of Monk to its completion (11D: [TV character who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder]). Interesting fact about TECH (39D: [Virginia or Georgia follower]): Did you know that Georgia Tech is only one of two schools that play in the FBS section of Division One that doesn’t contain the word “university” in its official title? The other is not Virginia Tech, as it’s official name is “Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.” If you’re wondering about the other university-less school in the highest level of Division One college football, it’s Boston College. Always like seeing full names in grids when possible, so ROY ORBISON adds a nice look to the grid (29D: [“Crying” singer]). Definitely a meaty puzzle worthy of being alongside any Thanksgiving main course.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: GAIT (3D: [Horse’s stride]) – It’s rare that I can get to talk about the greatest player/athlete in a particular sport on here. But that’s the case today, as Garry GAIT is considered by many to be the greatest player ever to play the game of lacrosse, if not the player that brought the trick-shot, showboating element of lacrosse to the mainstream. The Canadian-born was a four-time All-American at Syracuse University, from 1987-1990, and was a part of three title teams while an Orangeman. He also won titles as a professional in indoor lacrosse and outdoor lacrosse. Gait is currently the women’s lacrosse coach at his alma mater, Syracuse.
Have a great holiday, everyone!! Be safe, eat healthy, and enjoy your time with your family!
Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle — “Give ‘Em the Bird” — Matt’s review
Happy Thanksgiving to all. Brendan celebrates by stuffing a bird — not with stuffing, but into a base phrase:
17-A [Things broken by people who’ve never been to an alley before?] = B(OWL)ING CHERRIES. That’s an OWL (64-D) stuffed into Bing cherries.
28-A [As modest as ever?] = STILL D(EMU)RE. That’s an EMU (36-A) stuffed into the album Still Dre.
My wife got her R.N. from Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), whose mascot is the Royals. How lame is that? They should be the EMU Emus, of course.
49-A [Place where Dante does his writing?] = INF(ERN)O DESK. That’s an ERN (48-A) stuffed into info desk. I think “erne” is a more common spelling so that would’ve been a little better here.
63-A [Launched an ICBM?] = SHOT ONE’S WA(RHEA)D. That’s a RHEA (11-D) stuffed into shot one’s wad. Hey, if this (or 17-A) bothers you, then BEQ is not the crossword for you.
***I didn’t know MILO [TV actor Ventimiglia]. Wanted it to be John V., who was hapless restarateur Artie Bucco on The Sopranos.
***[Turkey setting] for ASIA is an old chestnut, but on Thanksgiving Day we’ll give it a gold star.
***I’m sympathetic to a fellow crossword writer who needs to escape from a tricky corner, but U-TWO for [“Songs of Innocence” band] is a ding of .1 stars. It’s always U2, as u know.
***[Blunt object?] for WEED is good, as are BILL BLASS and TRADE SHOW. Hard to shine much on the fill because there are no 6-, 7- or 8-letter entries in the grid (!).
3.75 stars. By the time you read these words, I will be in a turkey coma — and, I hope, so will you.
C.C. Burnikel’s La Times crossword – Gareth’s review
An interesting approach to this puzzle – unusual grid symmetry and a revealer placed on the bottom row of the grid: SEEYOU/AROUND. Four answers have the pattern C*U. A two letter wrap-around theme seems awfully flimsy, but the fact the words have to end in U is quite restrictive. Three of the four start with hard c’s and end in “oo” sounds. The first, COLORADOPLATEAU, instead ends in a long o sound.
The theme is made up of:
- [*Four Corners locale], COLORADOPLATEAU
- [*Arctic wolf prey], CARIBOU
- [*Car named for a California city], CHEVYMALIBU
- [*1965 Jane Fonda title role], CATBALLOU
Zhouqin fits in two long down seeds: the somewhat partial TALKISCHEAP (usually followed by “but money buys the whiskey”) and full name RHETTBUTLER. The bottom corners are also jazzed up with NATASHA/ELEKTRA and LAMOTTA being a trio of fun names.
Other bits and bobs:
- [Trendy cuff site], EAR. I have no idea what that clue means.
- [Nebula in Taurus, familiarly], THECRAB. I mostly hear this in relation to Cancer myself…
- [Former upscale Manhattan eatery], ELAINES. Is that no longer extant or no longer upscale?
- [Like many ventilation systems], DUCTED. Also, like many glands…
- [“Now I get it”], AHSO. I was pretty sure people of Asian descent found this offensive?