Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword
The four longest Across answers are all typed with the TOP/ROW of the qwerty keyboard: REPERTOIRE, PROPRIETOR, PERPETUITY, and TYPEWRITER, [Apt example of this puzzle’s theme]. So are 10a/66a, 41a UTE, 42a ERI TU, 6d POOR, 11d OREO, 12d PEER, etc. It’s not hard to find websites that list the theme answers and other more obscure words that can be typed with the top row.
I was surprised by the number of Scowl-o-Meter triggers in this Wednesday grid. SERE, ERI TU, -OSE, UTE, ULEE, plural ERTES, EDER, and ERST all feel like the same handful of letters were thrown in a blender.
Five more things:
- 56d. [Slangy lead-in to “way”], ATTA. What? Who says that?
- 53a. [One shouldn’t drink to this], EXCESS. I’ll drink to that!
- 4d. [Occasion for amateurs to do stand-up], OPEN MIC. My favorite entry in this puzzle.
- 7d. [Iraq’s Mosque of ___ (pilgrimage site)], ALI. Didn’t know this one. We can always use a fresh ALI clue, though.
- 25d. [Prepared fancily], DID UP / 26d. [Ham it up], EMOTE. We couldn’t avoid the word “up” in the clue right after DID UP?
3.33 stars from me.
Aimee Lucido’s American Values Club crossword, “Massive Change”
I tell you, the difficulty ratings for the AV Club puzzles are entirely mystifying. This one took me longer than a Friday NYT and it’s rated 2/5 in difficulty? The ratings are so seldom in sync with my experience.
The theme entries get an abbreviated unit of weight or mass added to a familiar term to form a made-up thing:
- 18a. [“Holy crap, I’ve never seen kerosene in person before!”?], “OMG, LIVE OIL!” Olive oil.
- 23a. [Trade in heart tests?], EKG COMMERCE. E-commerce.
- 36a. [What each of this puzzle’s theme answers do], PUT ON WEIGHT.
- 52a. [How M&M incentives might be distributed, for a toddler still learning to draw the first few letters of the alphabet?], PER CAPITAL B. Per capita. Eh, this theme entry leaves me cold. Too much of a stretch.
- 57a. [Composer of “Eine very very kleine Nachtmusik”?], MINI MOZART. Mini-mart.
Theme works pretty well except for 52a.
Three more things:
- 36d. [Juan Felipe Herrera, for one], POET. Never heard of him; you can read a selection of his poems here.
- 35a. Chunky white bit in some fro-yo], ALOE. For real? Aloe chunks are available as a fro-yo topping? I do not care for fro-yo. (Don’t get between Team Fiend’s Sam Donaldson and fro-yo, though. He is cutthroat.)
- 26d. [Mrs. Pepper’s husband’s last name, on “Blue’s Clues”], SALT. Shouldn’t she go by Ms. Pepper, then?
Fill’s pretty good. Clues, as usual in AVC puzzles, are fun. Four stars.
Jeff Stillman’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
The theme is American DEODORANT brands. I know we get AXE (GETTHEAXE) here. Less sure about the others, though I don’t pay much attention to DEODORANT brands, so I’m hardly authoritative here. I know there’s MUM and OLDSPICE and BRUT, but after that things get hazy… Have encountered BAN (LIFETIMEBAN) in other puzzles; SECRET in TOPSECRET seems plausible; I assume the other is DEGREE in THIRDDEGREE. The difficulty is a little above a typical Wednesday because the theme answers aren’t clued straight, but rather as wacky-style answers relating to their hidden brands.
The central 9’s lead to “big” corners with many 7’s. They’re done mostly pretty functionally today – the best answers are BOOMBOX and DRIVEIN. On the other hand there is the contrived AVOIDER. I have no idea what the clue, [One using a bypass, maybe], means. I didn’t know actor LORENZO Lamas-Craig. Interestingly, Craig seems to be his wife’s name, that he has taken. Google suggests a soap star. Not a strong area for me, but one that is comparatively neglected in crossword puzzles – so plus points there. The Z intersecting ONZE may be problematic for some.
Not a whole lot more to say.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “C’mon, Man Up!”—Ade’s write-up
Hey there, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin, involves some long down answers, but getting the gist of it requires you to read upward on those down answers. Each of the four theme answers have the letters “MALE” appear consecutively, if reading it from bottom to top (67A: [Man who can be found running up the four longest puzzle answers]). In each of the entries, the letters span both words.
- JAKE LAMOTTA (3D: [Robert De Niro’s “Raging Bull” character]) – “I coulda been a contender!”
- ANGELA MERKEL (22D: [Chancellor of Germany since 2005])
- KEROSENE LAMP (9D: [Light for one living off the grid])
- FEEL AMOROUS (27D: [Be in the mood for romance])
Everything was pretty much a smooth sail until the very end, when having to figure out the crossing of ENATE (54D: [From the maternal side of the family]) and CRUET (66A: [Vinegar vessel]). Didn’t come as fast as I would want it, and if you didn’t grow up in a household that had cruets, like mine, it’s harder to have that term be a part of your lexicon. One day, I caught the end to Star Trek V (I think it was the fifth one) and had no idea that the character that TAKEI played ended up leaving the Starship Enterprise to become the captain of his own ship (17A: [George who was Lieutenant Sulu to William Shatner’s Captain Kirk]). Then again, I think I stopped watching the Star Trek movies after the fourth one. Pretty good fill today, though I’m sure a good number of people would complain about IUM (58D: [Three-letter ending for a majority of periodic table elements]). Oh, and then there’s ECUA (65A: [Northern neighbor of Peru (abbr.)]). Eww! But, hey, I still liked the grid overall!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MIX (48A: [Amalgam]) – Though born is Oslo, Norway, Mikkel “MIX” Diskerud is currently a midfielder for the United States Men’s National Soccer Team, as well as for New York City FC in Major League Soccer. At the moment, he has played 32 games in the United States shirt, scoring six goals.
See you all tomorrow!