Timothy Polin’s New York Times crossword
Howdy, crossword fans. Doug here on my “usual” day. The theme today is …
- 5a, [With 68-Across, what the groups of circled letters are famous examples of] / [See 5-Across], WATER/FALLS. Check out the blue waterfalls in the solution grid. Pretty cool. (Yeah, we all know WATERFALLS isn’t two words, but I’ll allow it.) I’m familiar with all of these waterfalls except for Rhine Falls. Wikipedia tells me that “The Rhine Falls is the largest plain waterfall in Europe.” So yeah, I should definitely know that one. My geography blows. Wikipedia also tells me that “The falls cannot be climbed by fish, except by eels that are able to worm their way up over the rocks.” There’s my next clue for EELS: [They can worm their way up Rhine Falls]. Perfect. Look for it in my next Saturday Stumper.
I like the theme, and many of the entries that contain the waterfalls are fun, especially CALIFORNIA GIRLS.
- 1a, [As high as you can go], ACME. Shout-out to Monday’s constructor maybe?
- 25a, [Sea monster of Norse myth], KRAKEN. Awesome entry! And it looks like he was released near Niagara Falls. I never understood how this Norse monster got mixed up with the Greeks in Clash of the Titans.
- 10d, [Egg-laying mammals], OVIPARA. That’s a toughie. The OVI- part makes sense, but -PARA is a mystery to me. (Pannonica may enlighten us in the comments.) That entry is near two waterfalls, so I expected some rough stuff.
- 36a, [Actor Katz of “Dallas”] / 30d, [Financial guru Suze], OMRI / ORMAN. Two difficult names crossing. Could be deadly. Again, this happens near a waterfall. Who is this Omri Katz guy anyway?
- 67a, [Exiled shah Mohammad ___ Pahlavi] / [Big name in chips and pretzels], REZA / UTZ. Another iffy crossing, and I suspect these entries were chosen for the big old Z. UTZ is a regional (East Coast) brand, so I call foul. And don’t get me started on EDY’S, a brand I’ve never seen in a freezer case. West Coast represent!
- 19d, [Motorhead’s workplace], GARAGE. If the clue was [Motörhead’s workplace] (note the metal umlaut), the answer would be STAGE or MIDDLE OF A MOSH PIT.
- 31d, [Croaking sound], RIBBIT. I love seeing and hearing RIBBIT in the grid.
Clever theme that strained the fill in places. Overall a nice solve. Peterson out.
Byron Walden’s AVCX crossword, “One Thing On Top of Another” — Ben’s Review
After a deceptively hard 2.5-star puzzle in last week’s AV Club (that may have affected my eventual score for it), we’re back with a 5/5 that’s classified as potentially being a 6/5. Gulp. “One Thing On Top of Another” did take me a little longer than usual to figure out, but not because of the theme clues. Only 66 grid entries meant there were plenty of other tricky words to fill in. For the theme clues, though, it’s all about figuring out the ratios requested to get some phrases that are more well known:
- 20A: Average number of Jewish divorces on a NASA outing? – GETS PER MISSION
- 32A: Average box office for each Hollywood reboot? – GROSS PER VERSION
- 37A: Average number of egresses given alotted to a second-generation male? – OUT DOORS PER SON
I managed to get OUTDOORS PERSON first, then the rest fell into place. It was the rest of the fill in this week’s puzzle that ended up being trickiest, with some tough entries requiring me to figure out the name of a 1724 novella (40A, The REFORM’D Coquet) and a non-Roku streaming device (30D, D-Link’s MOVIENITE). It was tough going at times, but there were some fantastic clues along the way:
- 29A: “They’re number 2!” – BMS. (I am five. My apologies.)
- 3D: “Ejaculation that causes erection?” – ATTENTION (This one had me stymied until I had enough crossings, then made an elegant sort of sense once I thought it through.)
- 28D: “One whom whiskey sours” – MEAN DRUNK (another nice, elegant clue.)
Overall, a tougher effort, but I liked it more than last week. Maybe my expectations were correctly level-set, or maybe I just liked this puzzle more. 3.75/5 stars.
Randolph Ross’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Oo-ee, Baby!”—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Randolph Ross, deals with vowel replacements, but in a more interesting way than most grids with similar themes. It’s a pair of vowels, consecutively, being replaced in common terms/proper nouns, creating puns; the double Os become double Es.
- REVOLVING DEER (20A: [Bambi on a merry-go-round?]) – From “revolving door.”
- SMALL-TIME CREEK (25A: [Streamlet?]) – From “small-time crook.”
- THIGH-HIGH BEETS (42A: [Very large vegetables?]) – From “thigh-high boots.”
- NORWEGIAN WEED (47A: [Scandinavian pot?]) – From “Norwegian Wood.”
I may not have been doing crosswords long enough, as this is the first time I’ve come across the entry ROE V WADE in a grid (4D: [Landmark case of 1973]). Love the fill, especially since the “s” in “vs.” has been pretty much dropped almost every time the case is referenced. I’m sure there were a few people who winced seeing Orenthal James Simpson referenced in the clue for USC (39A: [O.J. Simpson’s sch.]). Just sticking with football, seeing the tapes of him run while as a Trojan definitely led me to believe, at one point, he might have been the greatest running back in college football history. Almost otherworldly. OK, back to crossword talk. I initial put in “Ahab” for NOAH, which was just a total brain lock on my part, especially since none of the across answers were making sense when “Ahab” was inputted (47A: [Ancient mariner]). That, and Ahab was a fictional mariner. At least Noah was a…well…umm…guess it depends on your religion, huh?! The clue to AKINS made me think of The Simpsons episode when Homer, while dreaming, wanted Sheriff Lobo to come back to television (37A: [Claude who starred in in TV’s “Lobo”]). Here’s the video…though the last second of it definitely is an edit made by someone else. Sorry I couldn’t find the clean video.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: JESS (38A: [Willard who fought Jack Dempsey]) – Built up as “The Great White Hope,” JESS Willard won the heavyweight championship of the world when, in an April 1915 fight in Havana, Cuba, he defeated then-champion Jack Johnson, knocking him out in the 26th round. (You heard me correctly…the twenty-sixth round!) Willard held the title for more than four years before he lost that July 1919 bout to Jack Dempsey, a fight in which Willard was said to have suffered a dislocated jaw, a broken cheekbone, broken ribs, several missing teeth and partial hearing loss in one ear. All in a day’s work, right?
Thank you all for your time, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
Mary Lou Guizzo’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
I’ve made a (very different) tree-themed crossword before. So I know that if you want a long list you need to include some of the various fruits that double as trees. This is a perimetre theme, which has two further systemic problems: a whole lot of simple one-word theme answers rather than a few interesting, longer answers; that, and the corners have both across and down theme answers and are extremely constrained (see also today’s NYT).
If you haven’t got it, the puzzle is TREELINED: lined by ASH, MANGO, EBONY/YEW, FIG, HEMLOCK/OAK, CEDAR, MAPLE/ELM, GUM, APRICOT. The clues try valiantly to be clued in non-trees ways, but that is mostly not really possible, alas.
The puzzle has a lot of predictable casualties around the corners and sides. It does have some interesting non-theme fill to make up for the mostly prosaic theme answers: ROBOCOP, MCBEAL (an interesting crossover?) plus crossing authors CATHER and MICHENER (read a lot of the latter, none of the former FWIW) and more literary AVONLEA.
- [Snapple’s __ Madness], MANGO. Snapple has only appeared in South Africa in the last few years. It is about three times the price of other juice and looks inferior in quality. I haven’t gone near it. Am I missing anything?
- [Wheel-spinning rodent], HAMSTER. The hamster I had growing up, Hogley, believed in running on the outside of her wheel so that it would push her against the bars and give her a back rub…
- [Cut that may need stitches], GASH. I’ve stitched a few knife wounds and fence wounds in my time…
Gareth, leaving you with one of the classic songs of the Britpop era: