I’m blogging about Joon’s self-published puzzle, but would like to point you towards another fun puzzle, this one a themed one by Rex Parker/Michael Sharp. The guy’s got some serious constructing chops. Michael’s in the same age group as Brendan Quigley and the rest of the Onion A.V. Club crossword crew, so the sensibility is similar.
Trip Payne’s New York Times crossword
I didn’t figure out this nine-piece theme until I got to the last component: ENDNOTES are [What some scholarly texts (and the 10-Downs to all the starred clues) have]. 10-Downs are ANSWERs, and the seven starred answers end with DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA, and TI:
- 14A. [Becoming slower, in music] is LENTANDO. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever seen this word before. Music is not my bag.
- 17A. [First track on many a Broadway album] is an OVERTURE. I don’t think I knew overtures were introductory pieces. With a few crossings in place, I tried SHOW TUNE, but if that were the answer, “first” would have no place in clue.
- 32A. PASTRAMI is a [Deli choice].
- 37A. ALFALFA! The Little Rascals [Role played by child star Carl Switzer].
- 41A. [Shade provider], 7 letters? I’ll bet a bunch of long-time solvers tried ELM TREE here. But this time it’s PARASOL.
- 47A. A [Long smoke] is a PANATELA, or long, thin cigar.
- 65A. The LITERATI are [Book reviewers, for example].
Tough one for a Thursday, no? Well, probably not so tough if you’re more attuned too music than I am. I admire the theme, but some of the fill trounced me.
Favorite clues and fill, plus tough nuts:
- 16A. The [“Dover Beach” poet] is Matthew ARNOLD. See, I’m more literati than musicati.
- 20A. [Figure (out)] clues SUSS (out). Love that word, I do.
- 25A. You like medieval weaponry? [Its punch is spiked] clues the menacingly spiked MACE.
- 59A. Hey, look! A shiny new clue for EPEE: [Descendant of the smallsword]. I was torn between EPEE and SNEE here.
- 2D. [Three-time Olympic gold medalist Gail] DEVERS is impressive. No other famous DEVERS people out there to replace her in the clue, but she doesn’t need replacing because she’s eminently clue-worthy.
- 4D. The [Baldness remedy?] that fools no one is the HAT. It is preferred to the comb-over, for sure. The shave or short-short haircut is good, too.
- 8D. [Carpenter’s sound, at times] is BAM. When hammering?
- 13D. Not wild about this one. EDS., or editors, are a [Self-appointed group, for short?] in that the publisher of Self magazine might appoint them.
- 15D. TRIBECA, the [Setting for an annual New York film festival], is a great entry.
- 21D. For [Charge 200% for, maybe], I went with STIFF first instead of SCALP.
- 39D. FINE ARTS are a [Bachelor’s area, perhaps] in that one can earn a B.F.A. degree.
- 40D. Oy. ALLIE is a [Title role in a 1980s sitcom], Kate & Allie. Hey! You know who played one of the daughters on that show? Ari Meyers of crossword fame.
- 42D. Say what? First LENTANDO, now ALLEGRO? It’s clued as a [1947 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical] I’ve never heard of.
- 48D. [“Changing the subject…], gotta love ANYHOO.
- 54D. The SEINE is clued by way of [The Pont Royal spans it]. Don’t think I’ve seen that bridge in a SEINE clue before.
If you coasted through this crossword, would you describe yourself as a music aficionado?
Joon Pahk’s “Themeless 10”
The two 15-letter answers that anchor most of the fill are tasty pop-culture morsels: the new video game BEATLES ROCK BAND ($60 million in sales in the first couple months) and the 2000 movie DUDE, WHERE’S MY CAR? Throughout the grid are all sorts of good entries with clever clues. (Please note: There are some who complain about clues being “too clever,” but for me, “clever” is praise.)
- Slangy and idiomatic and colloquial answers abound; SMACK-DAB; “NO, WAIT”; “IT’S TRUE!”; the automotive LEMONS that may include [Rabbits that don’t run, say]; “I’M IN.”
- 15A. Aw, look. Joon put his wife CAROLINE in the grid. Sure, he clued her as a [Ship burned and sent over Niagara Falls by Canadian loyalists, 1837], but I’m sure she’s appreciative anyway. Who knew the Canadians were so mean? Crosscan, you got a lot of ‘splaining to do.
- 37A. [Thor, for a day] clues EPONYM. Thursday is named after Thor. Joon digs Norse mythology.
- 2D. MALONE [“___ Dies” (Beckett novel)] rewards me for studying a teeny amount of Beckett. I was prepared to change it to MOLLOY; Molloy and Malone Dies were both 1951 Beckett novels. I was also prepared to plunk down IRAE at first glance.
- 4D. This might be my favorite clue: [Unit of heat?] for a COP.
- 33/34D. The [Lowered]/[Raised] combo clue adjective DÉCLASSÉ and verb UPLIFTED. I like the adjective change-up and the less common letters in 34D (vs., say, ELEVATED).
55D, the [Tribe also called the Arikara], is old-school crosswordese: the REE. If you’ve never encountered this answer before, file it away because you’ll see it again sometime.
Updated Thursday morning:
Tony Orbach’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Red or White”–Janie’s review
Oenophiles, rejoice! You will be able to satisfy your taste for the (fermented) juice of the grape according to the size of your thirst (or the number of people who’ll be joining you) as you open up the various WINE BOTTLES [Things suggested by the first words of 20-, 27-, and 45-Across] that work their way into today’s puzzle. This wiki article spells it all out; the puzzle is more selective, as you choose from (a):
- 20A. MAGNUM FORCE [1973 “Dirty Harry” sequel]. A magnum is a 1.5-liter bottle.
- 27A. SPLIT INFINITIVE [“To boldly go” is an example of one]. This clue/fill combo strikes me as particularly fresh/unexpected in the context of the theme. A split may be either a 0.1875-liter bottle (a/k/a a “piccolo”) or a 0.375-liter bottle (a/k/a a “demi”).
- 45A. IMPERIAL MAJESTY [Form of address for a supreme ruler, after “His” or “Her”]. This is one healthy bottle at 6.0 liters and is also known as a “Methuselah.”
Tony also gives us some bonus fill by including one of the U.S.’s great grape-growing and wine-producing regions, NAPA [California county known for its viniculture]. Cheers!
There seems to be a bit of a “liquid” supporting theme today, so if, for example, you decide on something a bit stronger than wine, you might opt for a SLOE [ ___ gin fizz]. Something stronger altogether, of course, would be a LOVE POTION [Aphrodisiac]. Or, to simply quench your thirst sans alcohol, sans secondary purpose, you can always enjoy some AGUA [Juan’s water], or perhaps even EVIAN, which comes from that [Lake Geneva spa]. For heaven’s sake, though, put that H₂O in a solid container and not a SIEVE, because one thing about a sieve: (like a lame excuse) [It doesn’t hold water]… (Put it in a particular home appliance and the result will be VAPOR [Humidifier output].)
Among other examples of fave fill and/or cluing today, I’d have to add:
- the double-vision sensation created by DÉJÀ [ ___ vu] and “AGAIN!” [“Encore!”]; (which ties into the mention of […”Once and Again”] and its star, SELA Ward);
- the pair of 20th-century art-world originals, [Surrealist Salvador] DALI and any [Calder piece], especially a MOBILE;
- TEATIME [Afternoon observance in England];
- PIED PIPERS [Charismatic leaders];
- the crossing of RUNGS [Ladder steps] and RANG [Pushed the buzzer];
- [Body bag?] for SAC (e.g., dural, bursa, amniotic, lacrimal, ET ALIA);
- and just because it is “that time of the year”… ELF with its punny clue [Sleigh labor?].
Dan Naddor’s Los Angeles Times crossword
It seems to be Wednesday Week at the L.A. Times, with four puzzles in a row landing in Wednesday territory. Five lively theme entries, all synonymous with 57A: PHENOMENAL. None was clued with anything but a reference to the other entries and yet the puzzle didn’t feel difficult. For that, I credit the easy crossings and a theme that’s easy to understand two entries in.
The other theme entries are OVER THE TOP and OFF THE CHARTS (which can also mean “excessive”) and BEYOND BELIEF and TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE (both of which suggest some doubt as to the veracity of the phenomenon).
Two 10-letter answers in the fill are stacked with theme entries but without confusion, as the theme clues (all that [See 57-Across business) are markedly different from the rest of the clues. 14A: [Wolf cry, often?] is a FALSE ALARM. 60A describes my son: he is INDISPOSED, or [Not feeling well], home from school with a fever for the fourth day in a row.
Weirdest clue: 56A: [Gunny fiber] for JUTE. Never saw that one while I was solving. Gunny is what gunny sacks are made out of. Who knew? Weirdest answer: INSC., or [Dedicated by the auth.] I was parsing “auth.” as authority, not author. INSC., short for inscription?
Crosswordese collection: TORII is a [Shinto temple gateway]. A [Steppes native] is a TATAR. SAS is an [Airline with a hub in Copenhagen]. ENOS gets a baseball/Enos Slaughter clue. ESSE is a [Latin 101 verb]. There can’t be many ALEROs ([Olds compact]) left on the road.
I like that MOUSSE/MOOSE crossing, don’t you?
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, “Animal Collectives”
The five theme entries, which have starred clues because two of ’em are shorter than some non-theme fill, end with collective nouns used for animals. [Domestic fish?] clues HOME SCHOOL, as in “school of fish.” [Lions loving life?] are a happy, GAY PRIDE. A “murder of crows” takes us to DIAGNOSIS MURDER, or [Medically trained crows?]. [Fly-hunting oxen?] form a SWAT TEAM. And a “band of apes” is referenced in GARAGE BAND, or [Apes whose habitat includes buckets and old bikes?]. (Public service announcement: Don’t house chimpanzees in your garage. If they get out, there will be trouble.) Colorful batch of phrases, those theme entries.
- 31A. LUDENS, a [Throat lozenge brand]. Yum, wild cherry. I miss the Pine Brothers cough drops, slightly less chewy than Jujubes.
- 4D. An illegal [Prohibition-era bar] is a BLIND PIG or blind tiger, “probably so named because in order to evade prohibition laws, the bars were disguised as exhibition halls for natural curiosities” (New Oxford Am. Dict.). News to me.
- Now, that’s how you do cross-referencing. 7D: DAMN is clued with [Be vengeful, as 64-Down], and 64D is GOD, the [Name invoked in many a curse].
- 37D. If you don’t know what NSFW means, you should learn. [Like most links related to Lindsay Lohan, for short], NSFW refers to anything online that is “not safe for work,” i.e., you’d get in trouble for looking at it if your boss or I.T. catches you. Don’t blithely click an NSFW link if your kid is looking over your shoulder, either.