Joe Krozel’s New York Times crossword
There are four SEASONS (35a. [Noted quartet]) and each one (provided you say AUTUMN rather than fall) has six letters. Those four seasons appear in a ring/diamond in the grid, making for quadrants that include some triply checked letters. This 72-word grid has, as far as I can tell, just these 31 theme squares, so it almost plays like a themeless since only one of the Across or Down answers is themed. With IN ESSENCE the longest answer in the puzzle, we get one of those quasi-themeless puzzles packed with 7-letter answers—the sort of grid that tends not to excite me. I like those zippy 9- to 15-letter phrases and names more than your RAILCAR and NOTATES and ALUMINA type stuff.
Five more things:
- 16a. [Longtime “General Hospital” actress], ANNA LEE. I knew exactly which actress the clue was looking for—the old woman who played matriarch Lila Quartermaine—but spaced on what her name was. Not super-famous, but lovely.
- 17a. [Place for a “Don’t Mess With Texas” buckle, perhaps], GUN BELT. I tried SUNBELT first.
- There are
three fourfive INs in the puzzle: IN ALL, IN SHAPE, GET IN ON, IN ESSENCE, and partial IT’S IN. Really? My limit is two, maybe three if the surrounding fill is great.
- 2d. [20,000 pounds], TEN TONS. What? No. You can’t just arbitrarily combine a number and a unit of measure. FIVE WATTS. SIX OUNCES. NINE ERGS.
- 44d. [Judeo-Spanish], LADINO. Neat word. You owe it to yourself to read a little on this Romance language if you’re not already up on it.
EEEE and IIII? Ooooh. Not keen on either entry.
3.33 stars from me.
Francis Heaney’s American Values Club crossword, “Clear Your Mind”
Okay, I’ve completed the 17×17 grid and the theme answers instruct me to ERASE ALL ANSWERS / WHOSE CLUES DON’T / START / WITH THE LETTERS / IN THE WORD “FORGET.” Well, now, that’s a lot of extra work to do after finishing the puzzle. Let’s get to it.
Space space space space space, etc. … through the Acrosses, now back through the Downs to add back in the entries whose clues start with F, O, R, G, E, or T. We end up with 20 entries in the grid, and they intersect in pairs. Highlight the letter where the unforgotten words meet and you get BLANK SLATE.
I guess that’s neat, but I’d like this better if it were presented as a meta puzzle without the instructions that leave so little brainwork to be done to reach the final answer. The crossword itself had a little lively fill—DREAM JOB, RAISE MONEY—but generally was less Heaneyesque than usual (DYERS, JILTER, AGARS, ERTES, EL AL, singular DREG, etc.). I wonder if the awkward SET OF TWO was meant as a hint to connect each crossing set of FORGETtably clued answer words for the meta?
- 83a. [Decide to get Outside more?], RENEW. Magazine RENEWal clues are always fun.
- 4d. [Baby ___ (daughter of “Dog the Bounty Hunter”)], LYSSA. Wow, that was all crossings for me.
- 41d. [New Jersey city near Staten Island], RAHWAY. Raise your hand if you’re not from Joisey and tried RAMAPO first.
- 75d. [Where you are, from your perspective], HERE. I disagree. Right now, I am way over there.
3.9 stars from me.
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “I Got Lost at the Cineplex”—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! Today’s crossword, brought to us by Mr. Randall J. Hartman, is more fun with puns, as the theme answers are well-known movies are given a a new look when the lone letter “I” that is in the title is removed from it. Very clever.
- GONG MY WAY (17A: [Instruction from a demanding orchestra percussionist?])
- FORGET PARS (23A: [Advice to a rookie golfer?]) – If only rookie golfers could forget pars and head for birdie and eagle land so quickly.
- THE SOCAL NETWORK (37A: [LA TV station?]) – My favorite pun of the lot, for sure!
- JUST MARRED (45A: [Barely scratched?])
- SCARY MOVE (57A: [Double backflip in FMX?]) – Do you know what FMX stands for?! Thanks to working on the X Games for a few years, that was a slam dunk. (It stands for Freestyle Motocross, by the way, the riders are the modern day Evel Knievels.)
I don’t remember every skit from HEE HAW, but the one mentioned in its clue today, for some reason, was one I definitely remembered from the show (25A: [Country variety show that featured the skit “Lulu’s Truck Stop”]). I feel like Deb Amlen, the New York Times Wordplay blogger, should be on here to talk about the clue for ALIEN, as I believe she’s the biggest Doctor Who fan I know (56A: [Doctor Who, notably]). I started watching the series for the first time about a year back and watching the episodes in which David Tennant played the Doctor, and I liked it much better than I would have expected. But instead of TV aliens, I usually stick with watching classic animation more often, so definitely was heartened by the appearance of HANNA (42A: [Huckleberry Hound co-creator]). Of all the memorable songs done by REM, the one that’s in my head as we speak is “Everybody Hurts,” which I need to get out of my mind ASAP (5D: [“What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” band]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: ARNE (35D: [“Rule Britannia” composer]) – Did you know that current U.S. Secretary of Education ARNE Duncan was a captain on the Harvard University basketball team in the 1980s and played professional basketball in Australia afterward? Just in case you were doubtful of his basketball skills, here’s Duncan showcasing his moves on the hardwood during a celebrity All-Star game last year.
Have a good rest of your Hump Day, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Michael Dewey’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Today’s theme is explained at BREAKINGEVEN. This translates to E… …VEN, EV… …EN, and EVE… …N, in order. EASYBAKEOVEN is an excellent answer. EVILQUEEN is the second. EVERLOVIN is not a Ricky Nelson song I know: the man had 18 top 10 Billboard singles by my count, but that one only hit #16. Maybe you all know it better than I?
It’s a pretty minimal theme, 42 squares, so (even with opening 12s) there is space for the constructor to play. MCJOB, NETBOOK, UPTOYOU, DROPIN and QUASAR are shorter than most answers in fill highlights reels, but they’re excellent choices to include.
On the other hand in a 4×3 area like the bottom-right, there is no justification whatsoever for resorting to a univ. abbr. like ORU. Few if any solvers care that much about a Z. AGENA is the type of difficult, hard to guess, answer you want to restrict to having at most one or two examples of in your puzzle. Here it crosses the strange name of mister EVIGAN. I can see this stumping a good number of people – I think that’s a fairly clear example of a bad cross.
2.5 Stars. Gareth leaving you with a song relating to [Nyctophobe’s fear], DARK.