This week’s AVCX puzzle is a contest due Sunday at midnight – we’ll have a review up after the deadline closes.
Debbie Ellerin’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “OO 7”—Jim P’s review
I’m very happy to see Ms. Ellerin’s byline, not only because she makes great grids, but also because I don’t recall seeing a woman’s byline at the WSJ in a very long time. I hope it doesn’t take as long for the next occurrence.
I’m digging this theme, too. We’re presented with seven(!) two-word phrases which have two pairs of Os each. I guess it would be more accurate to title the puzzle OO 14, but I’m not going to quibble.
- 17a [Surefire] FOOLPROOF
- 24a [Uncommonly relaxed] LOOSEY–GOOSEY. I cannot see or hear this phrase without recalling weird Mr. Dozier, our high school Biology teacher and track coach who tried to ensure we were stretched and limber before running by repeating the mantra “LOOSEY-GOOSEY!”
- 39a [Question following an insensitive jest] “TOO SOON?”
- 50a [Logo customized to pay tribute] GOOGLE DOODLE. What a great, contemporary find.
- 62a [Great Dane of cartoons] SCOOBY-DOO
- 11d [Ottoman cousins] FOOTSTOOLS
- 29d [Waved aside] POOH-POOHED
The last one may be a little bit of a cheat since it’s just one word repeated, but I think that’s a quibble. The phrase is valid, and anyway…wow! Finding seven solid-to-fun phrases that have this feature and getting them all to fit in the grid is pretty darn amazing!
And to do that with fun fill like OLD SOUL, “RIGHT ON!”, YALE LAW, and PIE-EYED is more amazing still.
With that mountain of good stuff, you’d be safe in assuming there were some rough compromises. And there are some, but not nearly as much as you might think. The LAHTI / CREON stack in the SW might’ve caused some trouble. OKED always looks weird in a grid. Five-letter AEONS seemed unlikely when a three-letter EON would have fit the clue [Many, many moons] just as well. And I certainly didn’t know [Relief pitcher Darren] O’DAY.
But all that’s pretty minor. Most of my trouble had to do with cluing and pretty much just in the SE since I’d never heard the word “tight” used to mean “drunk” (59d, SOTS). And I think I must be getting PIE-EYED confused with “doe-eyed”, because I didn’t know that it, too, meant “drunk.” But most of those are my own failings.
Clues of note:
- 9a [Pads for artists]. LOFTS. Good misdirection here.
- 10d [Person wise beyond his or her years]. OLD SOUL. Why not just use the singular “their” in the clue? It would work just as well…better, in fact.
On the whole, I loved this theme and grid for its lively, fun phrases and strong fill. 4.25 stars.
Nancy Stark & Will Nediger’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Fun theme. 53a. [Amorality … as suggested by 17-, 25- and 41-Across?] clues LACK OF CHARACTER, and those other themers are movie titles suggesting a character who is absent:
- 17a. [1938 Alfred Hitchcock mystery], THE LADY VANISHES.
- 25a. [1999 Garry Marshall comedy], RUNAWAY BRIDE.
- 41a. [1933 James Whale sci-fi horror film, with “The”], INVISIBLE MAN. Not ideal to have that with “The”—particularly when another theme title has its THE in place.
You might quibble that the combo of two 1930s movies and one from 1999 has a “one of these things is not like the other” quality, but there aren’t a ton of vanishing/invisible/ runaway movie titles. I suppose Gone Girl would also fit, if there were another 8-letter title to pair it with.
Clue that doesn’t work for me: 39a. [List for the forward-thinking], AIMS. AIMS are not a “list.” They might be things itemized on a list. But that “forward-thinking” bit is also weird.
Fave fill: VERMEER, PRURIENT, NAYSAY. Not so keen on EX-ALLY (who really uses that?).
Three more things:
- 58a. [Stationery shade], ECRU. Much better than most ECRU clues out there, no? I checked the Crane site and they do indeed offer more wedding invitations in ecru than in white or blue.
- 35a. [Conveyances on and off base], JEEPS. I had the last three letters in place and could only think of STEPS. It’s not easy to envision staircases separating military bases from the civilian world, or staircases along the base path on a baseball diamond.
- 29a. [They can be dangerous when split], ATOMS. Indeed. Have you watched the HBO miniseries Chernobyl?
3.8 stars from me.
Paul Coulter’s Universal Crossword, “Hot Meals”—Judge Vic’s write-up
A quip theme, huh? Don’t get me started. I love them all–except for one that my friend Alan Olschwang did 15 years ago in the Tribune Media daily commuter puzzle (it was an unfunny Shakespeare quote).
Paul Coulter has done a nice quip theme here with an old one-liner that’s also a child’s riddle (if you start it out with a question):
- 17a [Start of a quip] YOU CANNOT STARVE
- 25a [Quip: Part II] CROSSING A DESERT
- 40a [Quip: Part III] BECAUSE OF ALL THE
- 51a [End of the quip (which should be spoken aloud!)] SANDWICHES THERE
There is other good stuff in this puzzle, though not much:
- 11d [Float path] PARADE ROUTE
- 23d [Dangerously unpredictable sort] LOOSE CANNON
The price you pay for a 4/15 theme.
Tim Schenck’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s theme summary
It’s a familiar enough theme concept. The central revealer is SPREADTHEWEALTH, and synonyms for money are spelt out in the circles: MOOLA, LOOT, CASH and BREAD. Not a fan of all the answers being one-word rather than phrases. The use of LOOT also seems to have different connotations to the others. LOOT is also repeated in the entry LOOTER elsewhere in the puzzle.