Patrick Blindauer’s January crossword was posted Thursday. This one’s a PDF only, no keyboard-assisted solving. Watch for Matt Gaffney’s review on Saturday.
David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword
Nice grid, though the puzzle felt a little closer to Saturday difficulty than Friday. Here were spots that took some work (i.e., working the crossings):
- 19a. [1958 #1 hit composed by Vice President Charles Dawes], IT’S ALL IN THE GAME. Never heard of it; needed crossings to rule out … NAME.
- 31a. [Pluto, for one], MINOR PLANET. What?? Come on. We all filled in DWARF PLANET first, didn’t we?
- 50a. [Sportswriter Pasquarelli], LEN. Who? I don’t know him.
- 54a. [Newbery Medal-winning author Eleanor], ESTES. I don’t think I ever read any of her books.
- 42d. [Member of Clinton’s cabinet for all eight years], RENO. Could’ve sworn Janet Reno wasn’t around the whole two terms, so I had PENA.
Highlights on the fill and cluing fronts:
- 14a. [They may be marked with X’s], ADULT MOVIES. No hidden treasure.
- 33a. [Brand maker?], RED-HOT POKER. My favorite entry here.
- 34a. [Classic computer game played on a grid], MINESWEEPER. Click … click … click æ oops.
- 40a. [Group for people who are feeling blue?], DEMOCRATIC PARTY. My first thoughts were depressed people and people who cuss.
- 10d. [Roman “video”], “I SEE.” I like how the Roman “video” and LECH are both crossing the ADULT MOVIES.
- 13d. [Takes a second?], REWEDS. “Remarries” is much more common, but the clue helps sell it.
- 28d. [High-five request], “UP TOP.” Don’t leave me hanging.
- 31d. [Got by], MADE DO. Omigod! It doesn’t have any form of EKE in it for a change.
- 37d. [Macroeconomics pioneer], John Maynard KEYNES. Solid name, seldom seen in crosswords.
- 46d. [There’s not much interest in these nowadays], CDS. This is very true. Certificates of deposit pay more than, say, passbook savings accounts, but that’s not saying much.
I could do without Shatner’s obscure TEK and New AGER but in general, the fill is super-smooth and relatively lively. It’s relatlively. 4.25 stars from me.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Cereal Containers”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, and a happy Friday to you! Today’s crossword grid happens to be a mouthful…of breakfast food. Mr. Patrick Jordan provides our grid for today, and each of the theme answers have names of brand-name cereals hidden in the middle of the entries. In separate clues, the cereal names hidden in the theme answers stand alone as separate entries.
- MATRIX RELOADED: (20A: [2003 Keanu Reeves sequel, with “The”]) – Cereal hidden inside entry: TRIX (6D: [Cereal brand contained in the answer at 20-Across])
- PROLIFERATE: (25A: [Grow rapidly]) – Cereal hidden inside entry: LIFE (40A: [Cereal brand contained in the answer at 25-Across])
- DUTCH EXPORT: (44A: [Edam or tulips, say]) – Cereal hidden inside entry: CHEX (36A: [Cereal brand contained in the answer at 44-Across]) – I almost always have a box of Corn Chex in my place, by far my favorite cereal.
- YOU’RE ONE TO TALK: (48A: [“What a hypocritical remark!”]) – Cereal hidden inside entry: TOTAL (16A: [Cereal brand contained in the answer at 48-Across])
At first, I had wanted to put GAY TALESE in the “sports…smarter” moment, but had to mention him off the bat because of the amazing essay, “The Silent Season of a Hero,” that he wrote about Joe DiMaggio (4D: [“Honor Thy Father” author]). My seventh-grade science teacher gave me the article because he knew he was a big sports fan…and, for some reason, he had a huge stack of old magazines in the back of his classroom, including Esquire. Getting the “boat” part was no problem in one entry, but which letter was going to go with it today? It happened to be “E” to make E-BOAT (28D: [German torpedo shooter of WWII]). Hadn’t heard of MUSSY to be quite honest, and even when its crossings were correct, it still looked funny (63A: [Characterized by clutter]). Toughest clue for me today was PHILO, and that finally opened the door for me to finish the grid, as I was stuck on that left-hand side for a little while (25D: [Literary sleuth Vance]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LATER (22D: [“See ya!”]) – Grooming myself to be a future insomniac, there were many times in the late ’80s and early ’90s in which I watched the late night/early morning talk show LATER on NBC, with the main reason being that it was hosted, between 1988 and 1994, by NBC Sports broadcaster Bob Costas. In 2002, Later was rebranded Last Call with Carson Daly when MTV host Carson Daly took over the reins.
Have fun this weekend, and I’ll see you on Saturday!
Randolph Ross’ Wall Street Journal crossword, “Oxygenated” — pannonica’s write-up
Oo, oo, what’s the theme? I know! An oxygen molecule—so to speak—has been bonded—so to speak, again—to an existing phrase to create a new, wacky one.
Remember, oxygen (O2) is a diatomic gas and is typically found paired. Almost completely unrelated: deaerate is the only (relatively) common word I know of that contains the letter sequence E-A-E not as a Latinate plural construction. Came across it today in an article about how commercial orange juice companies process their “fresh” and “all-natural” products.
Back to el themo:
- 22a. [“Gesundheit! That was quite a sneeze!”] ACHOO DU LIEBER (ach du lieber ≈ “oh, my dear”). Not often we see a bilingual pun in an American crossword. For future reference, the onomatopoeic German spelling for the sneeze sound is hatschi. I’m sure this factette will enliven your next party.
- 34a. [Vocally objected to a newsmagazine’s articles?] BOOED TIME STORIES (bedtime stories).
- 43a. [Didn’t change a not-to-do list?] KEPT TABOOS ON (kept tabs on). Commandments, I guess.
- 62a. [Gibe about an obese platoon leader?] THAT’S A BIG FAT LOOIE ( … lie). Looie is a nickname of sorts for lieutenant.
- 82a. [Gears and gaskets inside a movie droid?] WORKS OF ARTOO (works of art). Artoo—as frequent crossword solvers as well as Star Wars fans know, is short for Artoo-Detoo, which is long for R2-D2. Notable that in 82d [FDR program] WPA, the crossing W stands for Works [Progress Administration].
- 88a. [What it might take to win the hand of one’s dream girl?] WOOING AND A PRAYER (wing and a prayer). Surprisingly, the original phrase apparently dates only to the WWII era; I thought it was much older—Shakespearean or Cervantesian, perhaps.
- 111a. [One who joins the skimpy bathing suit crowd?] SPEEDO ME-TOOER (speedometer). My favorite of the themers, for its sheer outlandishness.
Superficial observation: none of the double-Os (seven of them) SPAN (107d [Go over]) two words. Probably would have been much trickier and no doubt more torturous to do so.
- Theme had me looking at OREGANO (49d, in the center of the grid) in a new light, as King Lear’s daughter between two giant inner tubes.
- 12a [May symbol] EMERALD, 74a [October symbol] OPAL.
- 79a [William McKinley’s wife] IDA. Everyone seems to love the 2013 Polish-Danish film Ida (not to be confused with the 2011 Danish film ID: A). I’ve yet to see it, but am on the waiting list (only 4 of 8!) for it from the library.
- Mis-fills: Thinking it was SCAN, I was preparing to cry “duplicate!” on the aforementioned 107-down (see 54a [Checkout device] SCANNER); 92d [Does a peacock impression] – how could it not be STRUTS? Oh, when it’s PREENS. Even though I knew the correct answer, was hoping that 21a [Gin and tonic was concocted to prevent it] was BOREDOM instead of MALARIA.
Pretty much a standard mix and level of solid, longish non-theme fill, crosswordese/abbrevs./partials, and so forth. Nothing to write home about, one way or the other. Fun crossword.
(from Marin Marais’ Suitte d’un Goût Étranger (1717))
John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
The theme is a synonym one, but Friday-fied by clueing everything as [Top x]. Basically the second word is a synonym for chief and the phrases are then taken ultra-literally. I can see BUSHMASTER as a base phrase throwing quite a few of the less biologically-minded; it’s a Neotropical snake – surprised it was deemed well-known enough for a wordplay theme, but pleased to see it nonetheless. The change from BONEHEAD to BONE HEAD, a [Top orthopedist], amused me greatly. Other themers are [Top dairyman], CREAM CHEESE. [Top entomologist?], FLYWHEEL and [Top cinematographer?], FILMLEADER. The identical clues makes the theme slightly strained at times, but overall pleasing.
Clueing felt tougher all over today. Not in an unpleasant way, quite the opposite, but there were few gimmes and even once they were in place it was slow going. Long answers were mostly interesting, but lots of theme and long answers took its toll and there is some awful shorter stuff: OSIS, ACU, TPKE, ASRED, TOPOT, ALD.
[“And I’m Cleopatra”], OHSURE. Never heard anyone say the phrase in the clue, but its meaning was easily guessed.
[Small trunks], SPEEDOS is the clue of the puzzle. [“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity” writer], POE is runner-up.
An alternative clue for TOYDOG, [One prone to launch snarling like a tasmanian devil from the arms of an owner at a vet]. Prolix?