Ryan Milligan’s New York Times crossword
60a. [Question answered by this puzzle’s circled letters] clues “WHERE IS THE THEME?” and the phrase HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT is hidden within the other three theme answers in circled squares:
- 17a. [Serious injury for a firefighter], THIRD-DEGREE BURN hiding HIDDEN.
- 28a. [“Pale” or “prairie” plant of the central U.S.], INDIAN PLANTAIN. IN PLAIN is hiding. This plant is not to be confused with the plantain that grows as a weed throughout North America, nor the plantain of the banana family that is so damned delicious when fried up sweet and ripe (maduros). Did you know?: Dictionaries will tell you the pronunciation is plăn’–tən rather than plan-tane. Don’t know anyone who says it the way the dictionary suggests.
- 46a. [Indication that “That’s how things are”], “SIGN OF THE TIMES.” SIGHT is hiding here. Awkward clue. In order to clue it as the 1987 Prince song/album/concert movie, you’d need to lose the F.
There’s not much to figure out in this theme, I don’t think.
Four more things:
- 36d. [Subjects of heightened interest, for short?], CDS. “Heightened”? According to this site, you’ll need to hold the money in that CD account for 5 years to earn 2.35%; for a 1-year term, the best you’ll find is 1.25%. I wouldn’t call those interest rates “heightened.”
- 30d. [Pastel shade], PEACH. There’s a box of juicy nectarines in my kitchen. Yum.
- Crosswordese! ENNA, ORNE, CVI, and TESSIE/ESSO are the fustiest answers here. ESME, ELL, ANAS …
- 43d. [Rots slowly], MOLDERS. Fill like ENNA molders.
3.4 stars from me.
Tyler Hinman’s American Values Club crossword, “Wanna Make Alphabet?”
Nifty theme, lots of fun clues, good fill. If you change the A in “wanna make A bet” to its Greek equivalent, you get an alpha and the title of this puzzle. The theme answers work the same way:
- 17a. [Celebrity’s consideration when thinking about wearing a fur coat?], PETA FACTOR. Eta looks like H, and “pH factor” is the original phrase here.
- 23a. [Wanting to know more about the local ecology?], BIOTA-CURIOUS. “Bi-curious,” first I becomes iota.
- 37a. [Ratite race?], EMU DASH. “Em-dash,” the M is mu.
- 49a. [Offerings at a combo salon/truck stop?], DOS AND DONUTS. The N in “do’s and don’ts” is nu.
- 59a. [Samberg working at Sonic?], ANDY CARHOP. “Andy Capp,” the first P converts to rho but the second one doesn’t (consistent with the unchanged “i” in 23a).
If you don’t know your Greek alphabet, this theme is bonkers. If you’re a longtime crossworder, though, the P = rho and H = eta bits have been implanted in your brain.
Unfortunate duplication: Batman “Adam” West is in the VAL clue, but ADAM is in the grid at 16a.
- 30a. [Actress Katherine who posited the weltgeist… wait, no, German philosopher who was on “Grey’s Anatomy”], HEGEL. Katherine Heigl, Georg Hegel. Wait, those names aren’t even pronounced the same (philosopher a long A sound, actress a long I sound). Maybe I don’t like this clue after all.
- 64a. [“Fun Home” honor], TONY. For the musical based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, a must-read.
- 5d. [John and Joel play them], PIANOS. Elton John, Billy Joel.
- 9d. [Noble rank that surprisingly isn’t for women], MARQUESS. Crazy English people, stealing “marquis” and changing the spelling and the pronunciation and creating a male term that looks like a female term.
- 33d. [Good foil], EVIL.
- 45d. [Urban areas without access to fresh food, so to speak], DESERTS.
- 52d. [Not Backstreet Boys or 98 Degrees or O-Town… you know, the other guys], N’SYNC.
Could do without: SNES, ICER. Really appreciated: MIND GAME, FOIBLE, SWABBIE, QUAHOG.
4.2 stars from me.
Jack McInturff’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I have often remarked that Jack McInturff and I operate on different cultural planets. See today’s puzzle, whose revealer is THREEONAMATCH. I vaguely recognize that that is a phrase, but I have no idea what it means. Faithful Wikipedia, what say you? The following. Hmm, that doesn’t strike me as superstition so much as plain probability given your odds of kicking it as a soldier… The theme answers betray a fundamental imbalance: a MATCHBOX or MATCHBOOK may have many MATCHSTICKs. Two of these are more similar to each other, than to the third. The theme answers consist of: [Formal education], BOOKKNOWLEDGE; [Hold firm], STICKTOONESGUNS; [Sweets for one’s sweet], BOXOFCHOCOLATES.
It behooves me to link to one of the most iconic and memorable opening riffs of the 1960’s now: HERE.
The grid design is forced (somewhat) by 13’s to be very blocky and compartmentalised. It does allow each section to be developed independently and thus more easily polished, but at the expense of flow between sections and space for long downs. The highlights are the HANGDOG/ALPO/LASSIE mini-theme, RAYKROC, SPYRI and the high value BIJOU/BJORN and INXS answers (what else can you do with I?X?)
Those of you who believe oddly that names are a special class of answer may be a little upset today. The top-left has SPYRI, RAYKROC and ELROY. Love seeing SPYRI; Heidi is still a beautiful sentimental book! Middle has BJORN/SINAI (tied to MOSES, nice!), EARLE and IBSEN. And so it goes. All perfectly well-known and gettable, just like most high-end vocab words. Well, SOBE/ESSIE may trip some people up. Didn’t really know ESSIE myself… Another unknown was SHOE as clued: this.
Not a lot more I’d like to say.
Todd McClary’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles”—Ade’s write-up
Hey there, everyone! A little bit earlier this time around, but I’m working on getting up in the crack of dawn to put this up in the next three days. Today’s crossword puzzle, created by Mr. Todd McClary, is definitely for the sweet tooth, as the four theme answers use puns playing off types of cookies, with an anagram of part of the actual cookie’s name in place of the actual word in the cookie’s name. Or something like that…
- GINGER PANS (17A: [Bad reviews for Ms. Rogers?]) – From “ginger snap.”
- MANILA CRACKER (26A: [Firework from the Philippines?]) – From “animal cracker.”
- NICKER’S DOODLE (44A: [Simple sketch featuring equine speech bubbles?]) – From “snickerdoodle.”
- SHORT BEARD (59A: [Trimmed goatee?]) – From “shortbread.”
Not only is this grid such a slick puzzle with the anagram action, the presence African geography, with TIMBUKTU, just takes it to a whole new level (10D: [Tourist town in Mali]). It’s a darn good thing that I’m somewhat familiar with Paul McCartney’s solo work, as INCH WORM would have been some serious trouble for me, and one I would need to use its crossings to get (37D: [Song character known for “measuring the marigolds”]). Oh, and now I have that song in my mind right now. Thanks Paul (and Todd)! What didn’t make me jump for joy is the seldom (never?)-used entry of SACHAR (24D: [“Holes” author Louis]). There’s a couple of questionable fill answers in the grid, including RATED R, but I definitely can look past that because of the quality of the grid (41A: [Like many horror films]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: BLAIR (36A: [British P.M. after Major]) – Former speed skater Bonnie BLAIR is one of the most accomplished Olympians in American history, winning five gold medals and a bronze in her four Winter Olympic appearances from 1984 to 1994. She won her first Olympic medals in the 1988 Calgary Games, winning the gold in the 500 meters and the bronze in the 1,000 meters. She duplicated her gold medal-winning feat in the 500 at the 1992 Games in Albertville, while also winning the gold in the 1,000. In her final Olympics two years later in Lillehammer, Blair also pulled off the 500/1,000 double. Blair and Apolo Anton Ohno (a crossword favorite) are the only two people in speed skating to win at least six career Winter Olympic medals.
See you all on Thursday, and, hopefully, I’ll have it up for you bright and early! Thank you for your patience!