Mike Buckley’s New York Times crossword
Okay, this one should have been the Tuesday puzzle and the Tuesday puzzle should have run on Thursday. This puzzle was way easier than both the Tuesday and Wednesday NYTs!
The theme is 15-letter songs, otherwise unrelated, that fit together in an interlocking matrix:
- 17a. [Sheena Easton hit from a Bond film], FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. Saw her performing this song on the main stage at a neighborhood street fair a couple summers ago. Is it weird that the Northalsted Market Days main stage is in the 7-Eleven parking lot? In its defense, the fair does draw 300,000 people.
- 37a. [1958 hit by Jackie Wilson], LONELY TEARDROPS.
- 57a. [1964 #1 hit with a motorcycle crash sound], LEADER OF THE PACK.
- 4d. [1953 hit for Julius La Rosa], ANYWHERE I WANDER.
- 7d. [R. Kelly hit from “Space Jam”], I BELIEVE I CAN FLY. Eww, R. Kelly. Not a good man.
- 10d. [Depeche Mode’s first U.S. hit, 1985], PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. This and 17a are the only songs here that I really know at all. I like my ’80s tunes, yo.
That’s it—just six song titles that interlock. No further thematic connections, no wordplay. A bit of a let-down, especially on a Thursday when I hope to be challenged more than this. (“More Than This”! More ’80s music, by Roxy Music.)
The folks who prefer not to have too many names in a puzzle may have had a conniption here. I count 20+ people, places, and brand names. This accounts for my Tuesday-grade solving speed—I know names. OTIS and KESEY crossing ICEE and SKYY, okay by me. Probably grumbleogenic for many others.
Five more things:
- 62a. [Elvis, to Spanish fans], EL REY. Really? Guess so. “El Rey del rock and roll.”
- 45d. [Online provider of popular study guides and lesson plans], ENOTES. For real? Didn’t know of eNotes. Do I tell my high-school kid?
- 40a. [Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-___], SISI. You may think the entry is bad because that blank space is affixed to el- rather than being a stand-alone word, but he is called Sisi in the media.
- 34d. [Guiding lights], LODESTARS. Anyone else have POLESTARS first?
- 26d. [Movie pizzeria where Radio Raheem ate], SAL’S. Remind me to watch Do the Right Thing, somebody. I’ve never seen it.
3.25 stars from me.
Erik Agard and Amy Reynaldo’s Fireball Crosswords — “Hush, Little Baby” — Matt’s review
The aphorism that children should be SEEN AND NOT HEARD is the basis for this amusing theme. That entry spans the center of the grid, clued as [In the Across answers, what the circled letters should be], and the circled letters indeed spell CHILDREN from top-to-bottom.
What ties that all together? The eight letters are all silent on their acrosses:
9-A [Ukase issuer] = (C)ZAR. Derived from “Caesar.”
13-[Pinky, e.g.] = G(H)OST. Tough clue. From ????T I entered DIGIT, but we’re talking about the Pac-Man ghost here.
20-A [Enterprise officer?] = BUS(I)NESSMAN. You know what the Latvian word for “business” is? Bizness.
27-A [Countries are often in them] = TA(L)KS.
47-A [Free spirit?] = (D)JINN.
53-A [Cleveland Indians pitcher Marc whose nickname is “Scrabble”] = (R)ZEPCZYNSKI. Whoa, I’ve seen eye exam charts with more vowels than that. 40 points in Scrabble, if I’m counting right.
65-A [Carried] = BORN(E).
66-A [Describe] = LIM(N). [Describe crossword writer Julian] would be LIMN LIM.
Snappy theme, with a perfect 15-letter reveal across the center, good title, symmetrically-placed themers, and challenging clues. A completely professional operation.
***The Dakotas section of the grid was the last to fall and added almost two minutes to my solving time. I had ??KI for [___ bar] and put in SAKI. Didn’t seem possible that that could be wrong, but it was TIKI. The evil [Crack in the wall, maybe] for STASH didn’t help; I had AKON and AXON for sure, but ??XI? clued as [Manic ___ dream girl (stock character of movies)] was a mystery. My possibles were TOXIC and MOXIE, but turns out it was PIXIE.
***I was just about to ask you all what the clue and answer to 23-Across meant: WERE clued as [Fus, across the English Channel]. But now I realize that it must be French; I’d misread the clue as referring to the Atlantic Ocean.
***28-D is one of the all-time badass-sounding geographical place names. Next time someone asks you where you live, take a deep, imposing breath, look them square in the eyes, and declare: “I live on the Isthmus of KRA.” Then walk away.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s website crossword – “Applying Pressure” — Ben’s Review
After a few weeks where it’s taken me almost the entire puzzle to figure out the theme, it was really nice this week to have a puzzle where from the title I had half an idea what was going to be happening. Unfortunately, some frustrating fill in the middle of the puzzle kept me from really loving this week’s BEQ.
The theme entries this week were all about, as the title suggested, adding pressure (or more specifically, PSI) to some already familiar phrases:
- 20A: Getaway spot with three points? – ELLIPSIS ISLAND
- 36A: Hip-hoppers from Dallas? – TEXAS RAP SINGERS
- 56A: What some cheapskates give in lieu of bills at a strip club? – TIPS IN WHISTLES
All three of these were really nice finds, even if I tend to roll my eyes at hip-hop artists being called “rap singers” (although I can’t say I have a better term). Also nice was a reference to rockers EX HEX (14A, an easy clue for me, although my guess is that anyone not super-familiar with Pitchfork or other indie rock blogs may have gotten this one from the down clues) and current Best Actor frontrunner EDDIE Redmayne (9D).
Here’s where it gets frustrating, though. There were a number of entries and clues for this puzzle that felt trickier than they needed to be. TATA felt like a logical answer for 29A, but the “I’m ghost” portion of the clue (which I’m assuming is a reference to something I’ve missed) led me to think it was too straightforward until I solved the corresponding down clues. Other entries that ended up bugging me this week were 27A‘s BIRL (Logrolling competition roll), 40A‘s ROAD SODA (which felt clunky as a phrase, but is a real thing, as a quick Urban Dictionary search proved). Because my music knowledge, while wide-spanning, is not quite as vast as Brendan’s, I also managed to miss both 48A‘s NE-YO (“R&B artist with the 2015 single ‘Coming With You'”) and 6D‘s WARSZAWA (Really? The Polish name for Warsaw? As fill? Even with a reference to David Bowie’s “Low” in a parenthetical?). This is one week where I knew what was going on with the theme, but some frustrating fill left me wanting a smoother solve.
Victor Barocas’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
The puzzle today has a bare bones revealer: DETECTOR. The theme phrases all end in words that can fit the pattern “___ DETECTOR”. These words are used in the same sense in the theme phrases as they are in the detector phrases. I think that that’s pretty unavoidable here, it should be noted. Of the detectors, I hadn’t heard of a radar detector, which apparently detects speed traps. The phrases, apart from their literal thematic connection, are quite colourful. We have:
- [“You don’t look a day over 29,” probably], WHITELIE. I should hope not, I’m 28!
- [Didn’t come to pass], WENTUPINSMOKE
- [Flooring phrase], PEDALTOTHEMETAL
- [So as not be noticed], UNDERTHERADAR
The big (57 letter) theme is all-pervasive. Most of the puzzle is built around accommodating said theme, rather than providing additional pizzazz. The result is an impressively clean grid, but without big “wow” moments.
- 14a, [Palm that produces purple berries], ACAI. Berries only in the culinary sense, as they’re drupes botanically.
- 22d, [Kitchen-dweller of song], DINAH. Is that the “is there anyone finer, in the State of Carolina” Dinah, or another? I can’t be arsed to go digging!
- 33d, [Prince in “Frozen”], HANS. A movie that it seems was made for crossword constructors!
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Bayou Blues”—Ade’s write-up
Hey there, everyone! Sorry this is late, but a hectic travel day has left me just having to post the puzzle, and maybe a little review. Just finished it now, and still don’t really get what the theme is. Probably a joke riffing off of Noah and his Ark and why a certain pair of animals (well, insects) made it onto his boat, and how he could have spared us from the scourge that is the mosquito when loading all of those living creatures. I guess…
- I’M SORRY THAT NOAH DIDN’T SWAT BOTH OF THOSE MOSQUITOES (17A: [Bayou tour guide’s T-shirt message, part 1]), (39A: [T-shirt message, part 2]), (60A: [End of the T-shirt message])
Was a tougher than usual puzzle for me, being that I never heard of the saying…if it actually is a saying. Loved a lot of the down fill, especially PURSUANT (5D: [Following, with “to”]), FLASH MOB (9D: [Virtually organized crowd]) and SKI JUMPS (40D: [Winter Olympics ramps]). Speaking of ski jumps, I was on top of a ski jump before, and that, more than any time in my life, gave me borderline vertigo! That was scary for me! Originally wrote in “omit” instead of SKIP (1A: [Leave out]), but then, coincidentally, OMITTING was then an answer later on (41D: [Leaving out]). All’s well that ends well, right?!.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BASH (10A: [Spirited shindig]) – In the late 1980s, the Oakland Athletics lineup, consisting of sluggers Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Rickey Henderson and Dave Henderson, were known as the BASH Brothers because of their home run hitting prowess. The power-hitting A’s made the World Series in three straight years, winning in 1989 and losing in 1988 and 1990.