Michael Hawkins’s New York Times crossword
The theme is fictional hangouts/eateries on TV shows:
- 17a. [“Friends” coffeehouse], CENTRAL PERK. Gimme.
- 21a. [“The Simpsons” watering hole], MOE’S TAVERN. Gimme.
- 29a. [“Alice” eatery], MEL’S DINER. Gimme.
- 43a. [“How I Met Your Mother” pub], MACLAREN’S. Never heard of it; didn’t watch the show but I know the characters spent a lot of time sitting in a booth (right?) at a bar.
- 54a. [“Star Trek: T.N.G.” lounge], TEN FORWARD. Never heard of that one, either.
- 59a. [“Beverly Hills 90210” restaurant], THE PEACH PIT. Knew that one, and also the adjacent music club, Peach Pit After Dark.
I like pop culture crossword themes (and work on 365 of them a year for my job). Surprised to draw a total blank on one third of this theme!
Despite the inclusion of a reasonably hefty six theme answers, the fill here is solid. There are zippy bits like these:
- 10d. [Prison in the Harry Potter books], AZKABAN.
- 23a. [Giants’ div.], NFC EAST. I prefer the NFC North but its letters are less crossword-friendly.
- 11d. [“What chutzpah!”], “SOME NERVE!”
- 38d. [Hastily thrown together], SLAPDASH.
- 6d. [1949 Tracy/Hepburn film], ADAM’S RIB. A classic.
- 31d. [Flopped], LAID AN EGG.
- 42d. [People of Oaxaca Valley, Mexico], ZAPOTEC. I love this word because it pairs nicely with The Greatest Runner of All Time, Emil Zatopek.
MII clued as a Roman numeral, ALIT, and Joon’s beloved architect EERO strike me as MEH (29-Down!), but that’s certainly not an untoward number of such entries.
4.25 stars from me. Well done.
Aimee Lucido’s AVCX crossword, “Titular Modifications” — Ben’s Review
This week’s AV Club from Aimee Lucido is a 2/5, although it felt to me about the same difficulty as last week’s 1.5. The title, “Titular Modifications”, was a pretty clear indicator that some sort of mammary-based wordplay was on its way:
- 17A: Film about someone who can unhook certain undergarments in no time flat? – THE WIZARD OF BRAS
- 41A: Film for Victoria’s Secret shareholders about the company’s ten-year plan? – RACK TO THE FUTURE
- 65A: Film subplot about upper prominences? – BREAST SIDE STORY
- 23A: With 56A, awards for which this puzzle’s theme entries may be eligible? – GOLDEN GLOBES
This felt really straightforward to me, and lacked some of the usual wit I look for in the AV Club’s cluing and theming. Sure, it’s a little more risque than your standard movie-title change-up puzzle, but with the rest of the fill in the puzzle, it’s not that far off from your standard weekly puzzle. There were a few clues that still had the usual AVCX wit about them, though:
- 14A: “Artistic movement focused on shocking the bourgoisie” – DADA. (I kept wanting this to be CONSTRUCTIVISM, but that’s not four letters.)
- 32A: “XBox’s foil in a Cee-lo Green lyric” – ATARI. (Today I learned how quickly I had forgotten the lyrics to “Forget You” and its stronger-titled counterpart.)
- 59D: “Taylor Swift song with lyrics about James Dean” – STYLE (I thought this was a nice newer clue for a word I’ve seen frequently in puzzles, even if it did get the chorus to the song stuck in my head)
3/5 stars. A theme that was a little too telegraphed by the title and some stale fill in the grid knock this one down for me.
Pawel Fludzinski & Amy E. Hamilton ‘s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Do I want to look up what BCS the [NCAA football ranking system…] is? Not really. It works pretty straight-forwardly as a revealer: two part words – B* C*. Five themers here because there are quite a few to choose from! All interesting as answers: BEAUTYCONTEST has the five star clue [Competition won by a knockout?]. BONELESSCHICKEN and BLOODLESSCOUP are both great answers, but are a bit distracting here, as they repeat the -LESS suffix. The set is completed by the pair of BLUECHEESE and BICEPCURLS.
With an expansive theme, there is little room for non-theme shenanigans. We get a pair of 8’s: NUTBROWN and KNEEPADS, for what they’re worth. NUTBROWN is indelibly linked to the song “John Barleycorn” in my brain. Everyone else too, right? DENALI has been in the news recently, as it has recently become the officially recognized name. Somehow this has managed to actually be controversial…
Several names were largely nowhere near my wheelhouse: Some MILNER called [Martin of “Adam-12”] rather than soccer player James or Viscount Alfred who has lots of things named after him in these parts… Similarly, I know a lot of ALBERTs but not [Angels’ slugger Pujols]. Naturally, his friends EDDIE, […Murray or Mathews] were similarly unheard of.
P.S. They aren’t OXEYEs, but the highlight of last week’s holiday was the carpets of daisies that adorn South Africa’s West Coast in spring. Not the best quality photo (taken with cellphone). My mother has better, but I don’t have copies yet…
Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Oh…It’s You”—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, deals with vowel substitutions, as each of the theme answers are puns, in which a regular phrase is altered by substituting an “O” where a “U” would be. Speaking of OU, why does the University of Oklahoma athletics teams abbreviate its school name as “OU,” instead of “UO?” Guess it sounds better, huh? Same with the University of Kansas, as I hear “KU” when people use the abbreviation. OK, I’m done.
- GOLF STREAM (18A: [Brook on a course?]) – From “Gulf Stream.”
- ROBBER MATCH (26A: [Compatible pair of thieves?]) – From “rubber match.”
- STOMP SPEECH (48A: [Foot-pounding oration?]) – From “stump speech.”
- BOBBLE WRAP (60A: [Slip cover-up?]) – From “bubble wrap.”
If any of you have any fun LIMBO BAR stories, please share them on here, because I’m a square and have never been to party in which I had to “dance” below one of them (4D: [Dancing under this is a success]). It probably will be a long, long time until I try doing that, given my height (6’4″) and my ever decreasing flexibility. If anything, I’m more of a FOSSIL at this point than a spring chicken (38D: [Old-timer, slangily]). I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen NEED ASAP as a phrase somewhere, so please help me out as to where I would actually see those words verbatim (41D: [Phrase on a rush job order]). I’m almost certain that I would never use LAXEST and probably would say “most lax,” if I had to use a superlative for lax (35A: [Most permissive]). Somewhat was caught up with S SHAPES, but not as much as I thought I would seeing those consecutive Ss (45D: [Ogees and the like]).
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: MARION (29D: [Ross of “Happy Days”]) – Recently retired basketball player Shawn MARION was a four-time NBA All-Star, who played most of his career with the Phoenix Suns, the team in which he made all of his four All-Star Game appearances. In 2011, Marion, nicknamed “The Matrix” for his one-time high-flying ability, won his only championship, as a member of the Dallas Mavericks.
See you all tomorrow, and have yourselves a good rest of your Hump Day!