Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Love Interests”—Jim P’s review
Valentine’s Day is nigh and love must be on the minds of the WSJ editorial staff and constructor Sam Donaldson. He brings us a listing of terms of endearment but re-casts them as love interests for an appropriate person. At first I was thinking the person involved was meant to be in love with the thing involved (yachter loving a boat, for example). Now I’m of the opinion that the theme entries are pet names used by the people involved but for another person. That makes more sense to me.
- 17a [Yachter’s love interest?] DREAMBOAT
- 21a [Kia driver’s love interest?] SOUL MATE
- 36a [Accordion player’s love interest?] MAIN SQUEEZE
- 53a [Butcher’s love interest?] LAMB CHOP
- 58a [Baker’s love interest?] BABYCAKES
So yeah. Maybe I’m just being dense, but I was confused by what the theme was intending. This is unfortunate since it looks to be pleasantly light. Once I got past my confusion, I liked it fine.
Fill in the grid feels like a mixed bag. I like CITYSCAPE, MALAMUTE, SUDANESE, BOLEYN, and TOQUE. I like TEA LEAVES as well, but it was tough to parse where it crossed AUDIS [R8 Spyder and e-tron Sportback, e.g.] and VOSS [Bottled water from Norway]. AFC EAST feels like kind of a clunker, as does SODA ASH [Compound used in water softeners] and stale crosswordese like OPE, ESTOP, and ARTOO were also distracting.
Clues of note:
- 28a. [Strikeout letters]. KAYS. Maybe I knew that the letter K was used to indicate a strikeout at one point, but I must have forgotten. I must have been thinking of boxing here because I put KAYO and never went back to check so I ended up with an error.
- 33a. [Chocoholic’s bane]. CAROB. Ha! Ain’t it the truth. Pro tip: Don’t give your chocolate-loving significant other CAROB this Friday.
- 39a. [DJ Spinderella collaborator]. SALT. Needed every crossing and still didn’t understand what this was until…44d. [DJ Spinderella collaborator] turned out to be PEPA. Nice. I like it.
- 12d. [They have issues to deal with]. EDITORS. Nice clue.
- 34d. [U Thant’s homeland]. BURMA. I’ve seen the name but couldn’t remember who or what it was. He was the third Secretary-General of the U.N. from ’61 to ’71.
Cute theme that was a little confusing for me. Fill and clues are fair. 3.5 stars.
Rich Proulx’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Happy Lincoln’s Birthday to you all! That’s a state holiday here in Illinois.
The theme revealer is GOD, 62a. [What each set of circled letters is, relative to the first word in its answer], and we’ve got two Greek gods, one Roman goddess, and one Norse god. I wonder if an Egyptian god could have been part of an apt phrase to replace one of the Greeks here.
- 17a. [Optimistic maxim from Virgil], LOVE CONQUERS ALL, Venus, goddess of love. At first, paying no mind to the circled letters, I thought the theme would connect to Valentine’s day and romance, but the next themer killed that theory.
- 27a. [Reliable things, to Ben Franklin], DEATH AND TAXES, Hades, god of the dead and/or death.
- 43a. [They make loud noises during showers], THUNDERSTORMS, Thor, god of thunder. This one feels less elegant because (a) it’s a single word rather than a phrase, like the other themers, and (b) Thor and thunder are actually connected via etymology.
- 54a. [Overly optimistic 1910s appellation], WAR TO END ALL WARS, Ares, god of war. Phrase feels naked without the at the beginning.
The theme idea’s really clever.
I had mixed feelings about the fill. I liked NOODGE, SIDELONG, THE OLDS, and possibly even BAT GUANO. Less keen on SNO-CONES (the weird variant spelling of snow cone that lives mainly in crosswords), TENT SHOW clued as [Circus] (is that a regionalism or something? sounds alien to me), singular ALTOID, EPI-, GTOS, UTA, AMO, REO, MERCS, OSSA, and SSNS. Some definite Scowl-o-Meter action tonight. I don’t know how I feel about DO IT UP. Do you like the entry?
Three more things:
- 11d. [“Me” in the Oscar-winning song “You Must Love Me”], EVA. Whaaaa…? I Googled this after the solve. Madonna, from the Evita soundtrack. I leaned on the crossings here.
- 41d. [Alternative to canned], BOTTLED. I was thinking of various canned foods rather than beverages and was confused by the answer as it emerged. Consider, if you will, bottled tuna. Bottled creamed corn. Bottled SpaghettiOs! Now my husband is envisioning a squeeze bottle of SpaghettiOs, so you can dispense just the amount you want. A dollop of SpaghettiOs on your morning bagel, perhaps.
- 51a. [Car rental add-on], GPS. Anyone else try GAS first and wonder what 52a could possibly be? I feel like the rental car either has built-in GPS or it doesn’t, and that buying gas so you can bring the car back on empty is a more familiar add-on option.
3.25 stars from me.
Kurt Krauss’ LA Times Crossword – Gareth’s summary
I like the surprise variation in today’s theme. Hidden letter strings are rather common in the LA Times, but today’s does something slightly different. I have no idea what the clue for INSIDEPITCH meant beyond [Blah-blah baseball…] but each circled letter string is a different meaning of PITCH – SLANT as in angle; TOUT as in advertisements; TAR as the goopy stuff; TONE as in the colour. Very creative!
The entries themselves were a tad on the lacklustre side, which goes with the territory of squeezing in five: plural GASLANTERNS, sort of contrived GETOUTOFIT, and undifferentiated CLINTONERA.
Unexpectedly, we have a pair of funny-to-say geography names in the longer fill: TITICACA and MACKINAW…
Patrick Blindauer’s AVCX, “T Time” — Ben’s Review
Patrick Blindauer has today’s AVCX, and “T Time” is an apt descriptor of what’s going on in the grid. 7 clues fit in T-shaped pairs of entries, with a T at the fulcrum of each T-shape:
- 1A/3D: Parade member in rhinestones, often — BATON/TWIRLER
- 6A/7D: “I swear!” — IT’S TRUE
- 9A/11D: Able to control oneself, in a way — POTTY/TRAINED
- 34A/35D: Spinoff video channel that played Prince’s “1999” for 24 hours on January 1, 1999 — MTV/TWO
- 38A/40D: Campaigning concern — VOTER/TURNOUT
- 44A/46D: Hydroelectric power generator — WATER/TURBINE
- 56A/58D: St. Louis setting — CENTRAL/TIME
I have a little bit of a quibble with MTV TWO as an entry, since the channel’s name started out as M2 and has always been stylized as MTV2 since a rebrand in 1999. Otherwise, this is well-executed
Elsewhere the fill:
- ALABAMA is a tempting seven-letter”Neighbor of Georgia” starting with an A, but this grid was thinking the Republic of Georgia, so you want ARMENIA.
- As far as ONLINE publications go, I miss “Choire Sicha’s former website” The AWL, but I’m really loving his work as the Editor of the NYTimes’ Style Section, particularly its Work Friend column