David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up
For today’s theme, we add “-ster” to existing phrases. Merriment ensues.
20a [Something carried surreptitiously into an alt-rock concert?] = HIPSTER FLASK. Hip flask.
- 27a [Perfect truck driver for the job?] = DREAM TEAMSTER. Dream team.
- 44a [Female street-racing champion?] = DRAGSTER QUEEN. Drag queen.
- 52a [Ostentatious member of the Mafia?] = FLASH MOBSTER. Flash mob.
All the underlying phrases are solidly in the language. I don’t mind seeing “-ster” in two different places; others may find that inconsistent. Overall, I like the theme.
The fill seemed more than Wednesday-challenging to me.
- Do non-medical people know that ROCHE makes Valium? I’m old enough to remember the ads.
- 36d [Composer Jule] is STYNE. Styne was of the greats (Funny Girl and Let it Snow, just for starters) but he died in 1994 and he’s not a household name in the same way Richard Rodgers is (because no one else had Rodgers’s genius for self-promotion).
- 23d [“1984” worker] is PROLE. I had to dredge that one from the memory banks.
- 62a [Filmmaker Ferrara] is a challenging way to clue ABEL.
What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: see above re: ABEL Ferrara.
Alice Long’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Have a Little Turkey” — Jim’s review
Editor Mike Shenk is not one to let a holiday go by without a holiday-themed puzzle. I expect a lot of us will have more than a little turkey tomorrow, but for today we’re just getting a taste. Some TOMs have invaded our theme entries.
- 18a [Place to seal up past-the-expiration Centrum?] VITAMIN TOMB. Vitamin B. That’s a pretty goofy clue, but I like goofy.
- 25a [Bay Area bits?] OAKLAND ATOMS. Oakland A’s. This is the least interesting of the lot. I’m not getting much surface sense from the clue.
- 40a [“Anything to declare?” and the like?] CUSTOMS WORDS. Cuss words. This one I love, though. “Cuss” to “customs” is pretty unexpected and fun.
- 51a [“Could you point out Hillary’s running mate?”?] SHOW TIM TO ME. Showtime. This one feels strained. “Time” becomes “Tim to me”. Meh.
So, hit and miss for me on the themers, which is about par for the course. But on the whole, it works.
We get several bits of good fill. I especially like WEIRDS OUT, SKIP TOWN, and SPROCKETS. This last one is clued as [Film projector teeth], but I prefer to recall the Mike Myers bit from SNL where he portrays German avant-garde TV host Dieter.
Also good: TWOFERS, POT PIE, EAST SIDE, and SLIMER.
Two names I didn’t know: [Movie tough guy ALDO Ray], and [British singer Rita ORA]. One is old, one is new. Per IMDB, Ray is known for The Green Berets and Pat and Mike (which sounds like another SNL bit). Per Wikipedia, Rita ORA made her debut in 2012. She’s had several #1s over there since then—right during the time I was living there; shows you how much attention I paid to such things.
And that’ll do it for me. I’m heading to the airport soon to collect my oldest daughter who’s on her first break from her first term in college. Looking forward to having our little family together once again for the holiday. I believe the WSJ is off for the holiday, so I will take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy turkey day!
Ben Tausig’s AVCX crossword, “The Couple Next Door” — Ben’s Review
Greetings, everyone! This week’s AV Club puzzle, “The Couple Next Door” is from editor Ben Tausig himself, and it was a nice pre-Thanksgiving puzzle, especially in my parents’ apartment building where it sounds like The Couple One Floor Up have a horse stomping around early this morning. Let’s take a look at what’s going on:
- 17A: Rhododendron that may or may not live? — IFFY AZALEA
- 28A: Annual ceremony that recognizes the Most Cautious Driver, Excellence in Dishes of Weird Candy, and Nicest Hug? — GRANNY AWARDS
- 49A: Scene at a “Simpsons” fan club meeting when Groening himself arrives and everyone loses it? — MATT HYSTERIA
- 65A: One whose diet consists of cute anthropomorphic convention characters? — FURRY EATER
Is it an earth-shattering theme? No, but it was a fun solve and that’s kind of what I’m looking for today. Changing the double-letters in IGGY AZALEA, GRAMMY AWARDS, MASS HYSTERIA, and FUSSY EATER to their next-door neighbors was clever – I think I liked IFFY AZALEA best.
Other fill I liked: PLAITS, DAKOTAN, MEMENTO, AKITAS, KAFKA, YO! MTV RAPS!, ECARTE
Lonnie Burton & Nadine Anderton’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
The first long answer I came across was THRIFTIER… Unlikely to be part of the theme! That’s because the theme goes down – MALC – or CLAM(S)UP is hidden in various down answers: NOR(MALC)URVE, FOR(MALC)HARGES, ANI(MALC)RACKERS, and, breaking the MAL / C pattern, (MALC)ONTENTS.
So, I’ve never encountered an ANIMALCRACKER in the wild, though, fa-la-la-la-la-la, Melanie has sung of them. We have Iced Zoo here, which I don’t think are at all similar.
ETHNO […musicology] is I believe editor Ben Tausig’s qualification…
Does anyone use ZAPPY to mean speedy?
OTOWN, as boy bands go, did not have much longevity…