CS 6:19 (J―paper)
David Kahn's New York Times crossword
David Kahn is the King of Tribute Crosswords, and today he pays tribute to the late MICHAEL / JACKSON. This ["Farewell"]/BYE puzzle is being published online just five days after Jackson's death, whereas it took a few days more for the NYT to publish Vic Fleming's POPE BENEDICT XVI puzzle. Here's the content of the tribute theme:
What, no "ABC"? No "Rock with You"? With 13 solo #1 hits, it feels weird to have "JAM" (which peaked at #26) and ASK ME" in the puzzle.
Nonthematic highlights in this crossword: It's horrible to singularize a plural trade name, but I can't resist even a single SNO-CAP, or [Moviegoer's chocolate bite]; hell, I buy a box at Walgreens and eat Sno-Caps at home. [Zero] pulls double duty as AUGHT and NULL. If you posit that Romeo speaks Italian, [Romeo's love?] is AMORE. [Juan's uncle?] is how our hypothetical Juan cries "uncle": NO MAS, or "no more." [Greek leader?] is the letter ALPHA. There are a slew of these tricky clues—also the noun [Flies over Africa?] for TSETSES, [Jean Valjean, e.g.] for a NOM (French for "name"), and [Rose family member] for PETE Rose.
In the "No, no" department: No, NACHO is not a [Kind of cheese]. It's a kind of chip. And then there's an [Old fast-food chain], the Wednesday-unfriendly NEDICKS. If you're not a New Yorker (or a resident of certain other East Coast cities several decades ago), you are not likely to have heard of the Nedick's chain. On the plus side, they had an orange and green color scheme, much like this blog. 1-Across was a dead end for me, as [City SW of Syracuse] required plenty of crossings before ELMIRA emerged. If you're like me, your brain shuts down with a clue like [Middle of the second century]; first I ignore the clue and work on the crossings, trying to make sense out of the clue only if absolutely needed. With NEDICK'S, oh yeah, I had to work for CLI, or 151.
Updated Wednesday morning:
Paula Gamache's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Quiet, Please"―Janie's review
If silence is golden, Paula is a very wealthy woman. Today she's given us a puzzle with four lovely and lively "quiet" phrases:
Simply put, I had a good time solving this one. Some standout clues: [Electrically flexible] for AC-DC, [Lamb or Rice] for AUTHOR (i.e., essayist Charles or novelist Anne); [Young scientist of old teen fiction] for TOM SWIFT; and the best: [Letters from one who's shy?] for the oft-seen IOU―so that's "shy" as in "short of money" as opposed to "faint of heart."
And there's little that's BLAH about the non-theme fill. We get the fizzy COLA and CLUB SODA pair, the latter well-clued as [Splash at a bar]; or you could sip some CHAI [Spiced tea beverage]; an Independence Day reminder with RAMPARTS [Fortifications in "The Star-Spangled Banner"]; and a shout out to the CONGA [Follow-the-leader dance]. Do take a look at this clip of Rosalind Russell as Ruth Sherwood, aspiring reporter in Wonderful Town, in her comical (losing battle) to interview members of the Brazilian navy who would rather Conga! than answer her questions. Oh―and best of all: ARMY BRAT [Child on a base]―and not the kind MLB's DIMAG [Joltin' Joe] was famous for rounding.
Happily, this puzzle doesn't have lots of abbreviations. Yes, that was MLB as in Major League Baseball; and among a few others, there was also PACS, or political action committees; and OTOH―[...chatroom shorthand] for on the other hand. I do like the way OTOH sits above SOHO.
Finally, while no one has given me a SHOVE or theatened to have me SENT AWAY, I am going to take this opportunity to ["Make like a tree and leave!"]. Cheers, all!
Jack McInturff's Los Angeles Times crossword
My kid's staying home from camp today (cough, cough, sniffle, sneeze) so allow me to copy, paste, and edit material from my other blog. Today's theme is five phrases begin with words that can follow GLASS:
For a rundown of a few of my favorite things in this puzzle, see L.A. Crossword Confidential.
Brendan Quigley's blog crossword, "Animal Collective"
As the title suggests, the theme has to do with collective terms for animals. Alas, most of the terms are not so familiar, and the phrases that result from combining two collective terms are merely familiar phrases without much zing. So this one left me cold. The theme:
Collective terms for groups of animals are like phobias—you can find massive lists of crazy words, but there might not be a strong case that anyone actually uses those words in that way. Not a satisfying basis for a crossword theme, in my opinion.
AMIDOL is a [Photo-developing compound] I've never heard of. It links VAMOOSE (a non–Michael Jackson ["Beat it!"]) and a PB AND J, but...feh. Yesterday on Cruciverb-L, Merl Reagle spoke out against the inclusion of a crappy word between two cool words in the corner of a crossword:
sometimes they're absolutely unavoidable, as in wide-open puzzles, or when theme answers get thick and close and you've already restarted the puzzle five times -- but i've been seeing these words way too much in corners and sections that have a ton of other options, and each time it looks like the reason is just to get in a word like WIFI or XBOX. a turd between two slices of homemade tuscany bread is still a turd sandwich. we can do better than this.
The corners of Brendan's puzzle are fairly wide-open, but now I'm thinking about dreadful sandwiches instead of tasty PB AND Js. "Turd sandwich": new crossword jargon!
Matt Gaffney's Onion A.V. Club crossword
U.N. INTERVENTIONS are the [Global efforts to which this puzzle's theme is dedicated], and the other five theme entries have UN added to negate a word, changing its meaning:
June 30, 2009