John Guzzetta’s New York Times crossword
Another “theme answers turn 90° in the grid” theme. Here, the revealer is RIGHT ON CUE, 61a. [Prompt … or a hint to entering five answers in this puzzle], and each themer turns toward the grid’s right at the letter Q. The rightward Q-words are all legit fill, and clued as such.
- 1d. [Not ready], ILL-EQUIPPED, with 24a. [Produced laugh lines?] cluing QUIPPED.
- 5d. [Crookneck, e.g.]. SUMMER SQUASH, with 38a. [Put down], QUASH. May I just say how disappointed I am that “crookneck” visually represents this answer but none of the other theme clues do? [Pattypan or zucchini] would work.
- 10d. [Army terror?], GIANT SQUID/33a. [Pounds], QUID. Cute 10d clue.
- 50d. [School spirit raiser], PEP SQUAD/67a. [Leg muscle, informally], QUAD.
- 48d. [D.J.’s invitation], ANY REQUESTS/68a. [Challenges for knights], QUESTS. Had JOUSTS, which slowed me down a lot.
I like this theme, and while RIGHT ON CUE sounded so foreign to my mind’s ear while I was putting the answer together, eventually it dawned on me, right on cue.
Let’s talk about 22a. [Borrower], LENDEE. That’s not a word! Onelook.com indexes dozens of dictionaries, and none of them have documented this as a word anyone uses. Now, LENDEE is not the only woeful fill here. There’s also LAI, OES ([Latin diphthongs]!!), INS plus IN YOU and IN E (and ONS), and EPH. OES! OES no.
This is a puzzle with a 4+ star theme, some 4+ star fill, and some 1-star fill. Let’s average it out to 3.75 stars. If your theme can’t come together without such compromises in the fill, maybe it’s a sign to back off a little, push less on the theme.
Peter Gordon’s Fireball crossword, “Themeless 86”
Never heard of 1-Across. [Athlete who lit the cauldron at the 2002 Winter Olympics], ERUZIONE? Okay, so 2002 must’ve been the Torino Olympics, but who is this Italian athlete? Googling … Huh, turns out he’s American, one of the 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey players, and this was the SLC Games. ERUZIONE is also the Italian word for “eruption,” and it is not quite an anagram of EURO ZONE, which appears in the opposite corner of the grid.
Also never heard of the other answer in the top row, MUDCAP. 9a. [Explosive charge used to blast the surface of a rock]? Sure, if you say so.
Favorite fill: UNIRONIC, ZOETROPE, BEAD UP, CLEOPATRA, AL FRANKEN, ALCATRAZ. Worst: SOARER, NAIVER, ASTA, GT. BR., DONATORS (ahem, they’re donors), plural MAGENTAS. In a 70-worder from a skilled gridder, I wasn’t expecting to see more than a tiny bit of clunky fill.
I solved this puzzle last night and am blogging it in the morning. Zero recollection of the clues. Feel free to point out your own likes and dislikes. 3.5 stars from me.
Jerry Edelstein’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
One aspect of this theme puzzles me: the vertical themers. Is FLIPping a predominantly vertical action? This grid can be turned on its side and function identically; it’s a deliberate decision. Anyway, you FLIP SIDE to make SEDI (is that one of the lesser-known pharaohs?) and find it buried between two theme answers, as in THOMAS(EDIS)ON, CONTEST(EDIS)SUE, DESERT(EDIS)LAND ([Shipwreck movie staple] also matches DESERTISLAND), and STOR(EDIS)PLAY.
The theme is quite busy today, so the rest of the grid is mostly about containment. That’s fine, but it does put more pressure on the theme to deliver the goods…
- I started at 1A, saw [NFL threes], FGS and expected 1D to be thematic. Sure enough. Normally you wouldn’t resort to FGS in a small area, but when there’s a theme answer…
- [’70s “Laugh-In” regular Ann], ELDER. Offbeat clueing choice for that. It confounds the, “if you haven’t heard of the person, they will have an oddly spelt name” crossword-solving rule of thumb.
- [“Rosanna” band], TOTO. Also responsible for possibly the worst song of the 80’s, Africa.
- [Bacall’s love, informally], BOGIE. Continuing with the 80’s soft rock theme, I will not be linking to Bertie Higgins.
- [Parrier’s tool], EPEE. With a “P”, not a farrier with an “F”. You could use an epee as a hoof pick, but it’d make things a tiny bit trickier than usual…
Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “North to South”—Ade’s write-up
Sorry, all. Hope all is well, and just want to quickly review today’s special from Mr. Doug Peterson, where all of the N’s in common phrases are replaced by S’s, with the entries being puns of the clues.
- SET WEIGHT (17A: [Prop in a play about bodybuilders?]) – From “net weight.”
- SAIL FILE (26A: [Dossier on jobs and spinnakers?]) – From “nail file.”
- SIGHT AFTER SIGHT (41A: [Double vision?]) – From “night after night.”
- SERF BALL (51A: [Dance for drudges?]) – From “nerf ball.”
- SEAT FREAK (66A: [One obsessed with being on the aisle, say?]) – From “neat freak.”
Pretty good concept, and the fact that there were five theme answers gives this puzzle some crunch. Have been hitting up the SALAD BAR many more times lately while having lunches and dinners in an effort to lose some weight again (25D: [Self-service steak house station]). It’s been paying off, too…as well as running around in 95-degree Texas heat! No pun intended, but I was absolutely lost at sea with SEI, and even after filling that it, was left a little uneasy (32A: [Fast-swimming whale]). Frozen is now the gift that keeps on giving to crosswords, and with that, ELSA and Anna are now scorched in my mind (44A: [Animated “Let it Go” singer]). Maybe I’ll watch the movie some time in the near future, as I totally can’t remember the last Disney movie I’ve seen.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: HERD (36D: [Group of wildebeests]) – The Marshall Thundering HERD, or “The Herd” to many of its fans, is a collegiate athletics program currently in Conference USA. The Herd have produced a few professional players throughout sports, with a couple of the most famous athletes they’re churned out being future Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Randy Moss and former New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington.
See you all on the weekend!!