Daniel Raymon’s New York Times crossword
Unusual theme layout—two 15-letter Downs along with two Across 9s and a central 7. Each one contains the letter string ILL twice:
- 3d. [Luxury wheels until 2004], CADILLAC SEVILLE.
- 11d. [Last Whig president], MILLARD FILLMORE. Namesake of a junior high on The Brady Bunch.
- 21a. [Hayseed], HILLBILLY. Dictionary labels the term “chiefly derogatory.” Typically, we don’t care to see derogatory terms in the crossword, and there will be plenty of complaints about this one.
- 37a. [Hostility], ILL WILL.
- 54a. [What a stressed-out person may need to take], CHILL PILL. I use jigsaw puzzles as chill pills. V. effective.
Simple, basic theme concept that I like 80% of. Works for a Tuesday, unless you take umbrage at 21a.
Seven more things:
- 60a. [Scott of “Parks and Recreation”], ADAM. You know who Adam Scott’s character Ben looks like? Team Fiend’s Thursday BEQ blogger, Ben.
- 53d. [Pat who co-starred in “Journey to the Center of the Earth”], BOONE. A part of Pat Boone’s résumé I did not know.
- Crosswordese! Roman numeral CMVI, AGUE, HIES, ALIA, TO A TEE, STERE, AGORA, OMOO, ISL? Plus two not-so-easy Chinese names: 30d. [First premier of the People’s Republic of China], ZHOU and 27d. [Third-century Chinese dynasty], WEI. I couldn’t tell you why this puzzle was scheduled for a Tuesday, aside from the simplicity of the theme.
- 28a. [Musical piece whose name is Italian for “joke”], SCHERZO. I did not know that. Nor do I know what a SCHERZO is, actually.
- 58a. [Dumbbell], BIMBO. Okay, so the clue is not gendered, but the answer word definitely is, and it’s sexist.
- 4d. [Convenience at the airport], E-TICKET. It’s more a convenience and cost-saving device for the airlines than a convenience for travelers, no?
- I like Anatomical Row: a VAS, a SAC, FLAB.
Three stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Enter the Dragon” – Derek’s write-up
A puzzle about Bruce Lee movies? No, nothing like that. Each theme answer has the name PUFF added to it, as in Puff the Magic Dragon, who “lives by the sea.” A further hint is in the subtitle of this puzzle, which says, “I sea what you did there.” Campy, but still funny. A crossword puzzle is supposed to make you smile, is it not? The theme answers are:
- 17A [Dairy product used to fill a pastry] CREAM PUFF CHEESE
- 33A [Sweet statue of Sean Combs in the late ’90s?] SUGAR PUFF DADDY
- 40A [Part of the theme song for Blossom, Bubbles, or Buttercup?] POWER PUFF CHORD
- 58A [Frivolous article in the middle of the page?] CENTER PUFF PIECE
These seem hard to clue, but punny answers always are. The key is I chuckled at all of them, and that is the main payoff today. Regular dosage of smooth fill from Matt, as always. Some points:
- 55A [Brick in the organics section] TOFU – Something I rarely eat. Not a vegetarian at all. I should be, as it would help me lose this 20 lbs…
- 68A [1990s puzzle game set in an island world] MYST – I played this and Riven back in the day. I’ll bet most of you puzzlers did as well. It is primarily a puzzle game. Both available for iOS, if you’re interested!
- 5D [Aural “shift” named for physicist Christian] DOPPLER – Most notably used for weather radar. Not sure how it works. I missed that day in science class!
- 6D [___ Dei (“The Da Vinci Code” group)] OPUS – One of my favorite novels. The movie was good, but the book was a page turner, and was full of PUZZLES!
- 24D [Hip-hop trio with Lauryn Hill] FUGEES – Does this require a “with The” tag? Here’s their treatment of a Roberta Flack classic. If I did the link right…
Another stellar entry from Matt. Too bad I cannot make it to Vancouver this week! 3.5 stars from me. Until next week.
David Poole’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
Little bit of a gimmicky puzzle, but cute. Not too difficult, thus a Tuesday level puzzle for sure. I solved in Across Lite, so I don’t know if the print edition or other editions have shaded squares instead, but in my software the grid prominently features a set of four circles in each corner. Here’s how it breaks down:
- 23A [How a 49-Across goes] ROUND AND ROUND
- 35A [Paths described when things go 23-Across] CIRCLES
- 49A [Hotel entrance, often, and, literally, what each set of four puzzle 35-Across contains] REVOLVING DOOR
In the circles are the letters D-O-O-R, with the D in each corner and spelling the word DOOR in a clockwise manner. Quite clever. Nicely done in a progressive manner, as the theme becomes clearer the further down the puzzle you work. I don’t remember how I progressed in this puzzle, but I started basically in the upper middle and worked down, then did the corners. So this puzzle has a nice “a-ha” moment once you figure out what’s going on. Very well done. 3.5 stars from me. Some fill highlights:
- 16A [“Typee” sequel] OMOO – Probably the most famous novel no one has ever read. Or at least I haven’t read it…
- 20A [Nautical distance unit] SEA MILE – Don’t know if this phrase is ever used, but solvable nonetheless.
- 45A [Big name in hair trimmers] WAHL – I actually own a Wahl hair trimmer!
- 60A [China company based in Stoke-on-Trent] SPODE – Good misdirection. I don’t know my fine china…
- 64A [Yankee who passed Willie Mays on the career HR list on 5/7/2015] A-ROD – Or Alex Rodriguez, who thanks to his off-field steroid exploits is very famous and helps non-sports savvy solvers!
- 2D [“Hollywood Squares” win] OOO – I miss this show! One of the many game shows I used to watch when I was little. Who didn’t like Paul Lynde?!
- 44D [State whose name is part of its capital] INDIANA – Capital being Indianapolis, of course. Always weird seeing a reference to where I live!
Again, nice neat puzzle. Enjoyed this one a lot. Ready for LAT on Saturday…
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 214), “Crash Course”—Janie’s review
“Sometimes you feel like a nut—sometimes you don’t…” Sometimes a puzzle really strikes your fancy—sometimes… Today’s “Crash Course” was one of those very rare Gorski puzzles that missed the pleasure-in-solving mark for me. The anagram theme is just fine; ditto most of the themers. But the overall fill left a lot to be desired and left me wanting something more. No matter how winningly clued, I wanted more actual words (and fewer partials and abbreviations [RGIII? “YIKES!”]), more sparkle (and less crosswordese [ASA, ESA, EDOM, ET AL.), more longer fill (a little more than 80% of today’s fill is made up of entries that are five letters or less…).
More often than not, neither partials, nor abbreviations, nor crosswordese by themselves (or even in combination) are entirely unavoidable. This I understand well. But when all three are met with such abundance in one small space—and when the theme and themers don’t absolutely trump those weaknesses—up goes the CAP Quotient™ (crosswordese, abbrevs., partials [thank you, pannonica]) and down goes my solving pleasure. Which is not helped either by what I’m gonna call “obscurities,” but which you may see as “learning opportunities,” such as cluing IRAN as [Esfahan’s land] and the VELA [Southern constellation] pair. Is the puzzle entirely without assets? No, no, no. And now (I think you’ll be relieved to know), while I could definitely go on, I’ll spend no more time getting more specific about the puzzle’s weaknesses—and I will give credit where it’s due. In due time. But first…and starting with the last…
- 71A. SEDAN [Town car that’s “cracked up” in five horizontal answers (it’s the puzzle’s theme!)]. Yes, it took me until this clue for the theme to come into focus. Which I take as a plus. While it only works for the three longest themers, I kept thinking there was a “CD” tie-in. Somehow the “coincidence” of the last five letters of all of the themers being the same eluded me. D’oh. But I have to say, once the anagram gimmick was clarified and I saw how the long themers worked, I was then made uncomfortable about the idea of all these automobile crashes in my puzzle. The wordplay is fine. It simply didn’t appeal to me. And we are in **highly** subjective territory here.
- 17A. CAMPUS DEANS [College bigwigs]. A tad dry, but yes, they are. Also, kinda fitting that the “P” here is crossed by the education world’s KAPLAN [Test prep company].
- 25A. SAM SNEAD [Golf legend who said, “Of all the hazards, fear is the worst”]. Wise words, but see also: FDR’s first inaugural address. For this puzzle’s purposes, and where notable quotes are concerned, there’s far more life in Clemenza‘s classic instruction to [“Leave the gun. Take the CANNOLI…”]. Great clue and fill, that.
- 40A. “LA CLASSE DE DANSE”[French title of a ballet scene by Edgar Degas]. Totally classy fill.
- 50A. THE ANDES [High points during a South American trip?]. Oh, and they are!
- 64A. CLAIRE DANES [“Homeland” star who played Beth March in “Little Women”]. Am thinking I’m probably one of the minority here who has certainly heard of but never seen Homeland…
And, as promised, a listing of the other items in the “plus” column:
- MR. GREEN, that [“Colorful” Clue suspect]. Working off of the final “M” of EDOM, went first to MUSTARD, as in Colonel. Wrong… ;-)
- DRUID and [Old Celtic priest]. Just love the word. And the memories it summons up of Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park a/k/a “Droodle Park.”
- BONOMO [Longtime maker of Turkish Taffy]. How many teeth did you lose to this confection?
- SLY DOGS [Crafty guys].
- ODD LOT [Fewer than 100 shares]. Is this a purchase you could make on E-TRADE [Hi-tech investment firm]?
- STEEN [Dutch master who painted “The Drunken Couple“] because—well, more art history and, just see for yourself:
And that’s a wrap for today. Have a good week, all. Already looking forward to the next week’s offering!
Lynn Lempel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Where Am I?—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, crossword fans! My apologies for being MIA on Monday, but running around and tracking down almost 25 teenagers all day will make you have a tough time getting on to here. (I promise to put up a quick review of yesterday’s puzzle soon, from Mr. Patrick Jordan.) Today’s offering, from Ms. Lynn Lempel, has four theme answers that are actual geographic locations, but puns are used as their clues to play off the location names.
- LONG ISLAND SOUND (17A: [Roar of jets at LaGuardia Airport])
- ENGLISH CHANNEL (26A: [The BBC]) – “BBC one, BBC two, BBC three, BBC four, BBC five, BBC six, BBC seven, BBC heaven!” Much love to someone who mentions the movie I’m referencing with this song number in the comments.
- FLANDERS FIELDS (44A: [Ned’s career specialties on “The Simpsons”?])
- ROCK OF GIBRALTAR (57A: [Pop music on the Iberian peninsula?])
There are a few people on here that could probably tell us all about the SKINK and all of its attributes off the top of their head, but I’m definitely not one of them (21A: [Short-legged lizard that might resemble a snake]). Once getting ‘Long Island Sound,’ I decided to go to each of the other themes to try and fill them out, and was able to fill two of the other three without a crossing. (I had never heard of Flanders Fields until today.) Other than that, this puzzle didn’t give me too much of a HEADACHE in terms of tough trivia (36D: [Annoyance]). We’re about to have a talent show here at the camp, and one of the student athletes just said to me that he’s going to play an instrument, but won’t tell us. Will it be the VIOLIN (11D: [Itzhak Perlman’s instrument])? Hmmmm…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NICKEL (45D: [Cost of a bottle of coke for 73 years?]) – Fitting that I use this term given that I’m currently at a football camp at the moment. A NICKEL defense is an defensive alignment in which five defensive backs (cornerbacks/ safeties) are in during any one given play, as compared to the standard four defensive backs in a base defense. It makes sense to have “nickel” as the term for a defense with five DBs, but doesn’t make as much sense of having the term “dime” describe an alignment with six defensive backs.
Have a great day, everyone, and I’ll see you on the top of the Hump for Wednesday!