For the Wall Street Journal crossword, look for Jeffrey’s Diary of a Crossword Fiend post Friday morning.
Trip Payne’s crazy crossword, “Something Different #3”
Each month, Trip adds another crossword of some sort to his website, Triple Play Puzzles. This is the third “Something Different” creation on Trip’s site; all are 21×21 goofball puzzles with sprawling, wide-open grids filled with nutty answers. One of the older puzzles includes URANUS WARBLER (clued as [Songbird from a distant planet]—see? Eminently gettable!) and FIFI I MIND ([“Gigi and Marie don’t bother me, but ___”]), for example. And that grid at the left is from this week’s puzzle. How it hankers to be filled!
I won’t spoil the answers for the new puzzle, or talk about the clues and answers that amused me the most. If you need help with the puzzle, the Across Lite file is unlocked and you can also view the solution on Trip’s site. But do the puzzle! It’s fun. It will also be good training for the upcoming Fireball crossword guest-constructed by Trip, another “Something Different” puzzle. If you’re a long-time Sun crossword solver, you may remember this format as the “Wacky Weekend Warrior” released around April Fool’s Day.
Trip Payne’s New York Times crossword
Oh, look. I pre-blogged Trip’s kooky puzzle and the CHE puzzle and left space for the NYT write-up here, and it’s another Trip byline. Either this themeless is on the easy end of the Friday scale or I was on his wavelength after doing his other puzzle earlier this evening.
Favorite clues and answers:
- 15A. A [Person with a shaky story?] is a HULA DANCER shaking her hips to relate a story.
- 20A. Track-and-field star Jackie Joyner married Bob KERSEE, a [Joyner joiner?], and became Jacke Joyner-Kersee.
- 25A. NOSE JOBS? [They change people’s profiles] quite literally.
- 40A. I didn’t know this French phrase. [Coup de ___ (sudden impulse: Fr.)] clues TETE. A blow of the head = sudden impulse? I’ll buy that.
- 47A. [Person from Moscow] is an IDAHOAN. Not that Moscow.
- 51A. PACK RATS is a great answer. [They hold on to things], you know.
- 3D. [What the fortunate reach] is OLD AGE. Indeed.
- 4D. To [Complain loudly] is to RAISE A STINK. I’ll bet you a dollar that Trip didn’t submit the puzzle with that “stink” duplication in the 66A clue, [Be a stinker]/REEK.
- 26A. My favorite entry here is “JUST THE SAME…”—[Despite everything].
- 37A. The [Spanish seaport] of ALICANTE has a pretty name, doesn’t it? I suspect I recognize the name solely from crosswords.
- 49D. [A in physics?] stands for an AMPERE. See also 54A: FERMI, a [Physicist with a unit of distance named after him]. Oh, and 19A: ETAS, or [Viscosity symbols], and 16A: RADS, or radiation [Dosage units].
Have any of you ever read any essays written by Charles Lamb under the pen name ELIA? I haven’t. He’s clued here s [“The Praise of Chimney-Sweepers” writer] and no, that didn’t ring a bell.
Todd McClary’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Source (Make That “Course”) Catalog”
- 17A. SHINGLE LIT scrambles English into shingle. [“Should that say ‘English,’ or will we really be reading nothing but roofing manuals in ___?”]
- 28A. [“Should that say ‘American,’ or will we really be studying the past by watching widescreen ’60s films in ___?”] CINERAMA HISTORY?
- 47A. [“Should that say ‘Forensic,’ or will we really be practicing criminology on trees in ___?”] CONIFERS SCIENCE?
- 64A. [“Should that say ‘Art,’ or will we really be practicing psychology on rodents in ___?”] RAT THERAPY?
I like the angle of anagramming a key word in each theme entry rather than an entire phrase. The academic slant fits in perfectly with the puzzle’s venue, too.
Highlights from the rest of the puzzle:
- 14A. The [Trendy antioxidant berry] is the ACAI. I’ve read the pronunciation but have forgotten it. Ah, here it is. Açaí, with a soft C.
- 36A. I like clues like this: BANTU is a [Language-group name meaning “people”].
- 51A. [Weaving course?] isn’t an art class, it’s the curving SLALOM course.
- 70A. The ELBOW is the official H1N1-savvy person’s [Recommended place to cough].
- 7D. [Poker pair?] does not clue ACES. Nope, it’s AWLS, a pair of which could indeed do a lot of poking.
- 13D. An APIARY is a [House of wax?], beeswax in particular.
Patrick Jordan’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Rock Group”—Janie’s review
Neither geology nor music comes to unify today’s theme. Rather, the first word of each of the four theme phrases is one that can follow the word “rock,” for a little bit of “Before and After” action, as in:
- 17A. (Rock) SALT SHAKER [Item on a diner table]. Or any dining table, no? Rock salt is table salt; and it’s also the stuff that the sanitation department spreads on the roads when a snow storm is predicted. Helps to keep the white stuff from freezing up, creating ICE [Word after pack or black].
- 10D. (Rock) BOTTOM ROUND [Beef cut]. Rock bottom is as low as you can get/be/dig. In that last case, that’d even be beneath the MIRE [Slimy mud]…
- 24D. (Rock) GARDEN PARTY [Summertime social]. A garden party in a rock garden could be a very elegant affair, too.
- 55A. (Rock) CANDY APPLE [Carnival treat on a stick]. Two rather sugary confections, those. Did you ever make your own rock candy? Seems to me this was “homework” in elementary school. It was an easy way for us KIDS to learn about crystal formation and the sweet results served to ELATE us. (This was the kind of learning-by-doing that made dentists around town positively GIDDY!)
Patrick’s pangram also includes such pleasing fill as PEN NAMES [Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, et al.], REVAMPED [Modernized], FORGIVEN [No longer resented], and QUASARS [Starlike objects].
And if there’s no “rock group” here per se, there is [“Diamonds & Rust” singer Joan] BAEZ and Gladys Knight’s PIPS [“Midnight Train to Georgia” backup group].
Seems there’s a little “time off” mini-theme today. You could CAMP [Spend a weekend in the woods], perhaps do some hiking–and take comfort in the thought that the [Second half of a mountaineer’s trip] is the DESCENT. Or perhaps you’d prefer the beach, in which case it might be nice to trade that pup-tent for a CABANA [Seashore structure], have a lovely [Piña ___] COLADA–or even just a COKE [Popularly pop, familiarly]. Or you may choose to LOLL [Hang out in a hammock] right there in your own backyard. When you’re AWAKE [Done dozing], guess what? You can nod right off again. It’s your time off!
Dan Naddor’s Los Angeles Times crossword
- 17A. [German version of GQ?] clues HERR STYLE, playing on hairstyle.
- 18A. [Section reserved for a German composer?] is BACH’S SEATS (back seat).
- 23A. [Car parked next to a German sedan?] clues an AUDI NEIGHBOR (“Howdy, neighbor!”).
- 35A. [Germans living in the fast lane?] are AUTOBAHN SOCIETY. This one took a few minutes to make sense: the Audubon Society.
- 43A. [Give a German philosopher the third degree?] clues QUESTION MARX (question marks).
- 52A. [Former German chancellor’s coffee sweetener?] clues LUMP OF KOHL (lump of coal). Now, this one I don’t care for. There’s nothing to indicate that it’s a lump of sugar. “Kohl’s lump” would be a tumor.
- 59A. [Causes for alarm in the West German capital?] clues BONN FIRES (bonfires). Hang on—there’s no such thing as West Germany anymore.
As you might expect in a puzzle with so much thematic material, the non-theme fill is mostly undistinguished. The 8s in the corners are solid, but A-RONI, -ATOR, HES, and PHS are typical of the rest.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Child Support”
The theme’s a quote from comedian Mike Birbiglia” I DIDN’T REALIZE / HOW GOOD I WAS WITH / COMPUTERS UNTIL I / MET / MY PARENTS. The grid has left-right symmetry to accommodate the quip. My mom will be setting up her Mac soon, and if she’s anything like my father-in-law, we’ll be getting a lot of frantic calls for help for the next decade or so.
I like the smattering of Zs in the fill, but really, Brendan, E-ZINE for one of ’em? Daily Kos is a political blog and Daily Beast is a news reporting and opinion site. If you have to include E-ZINE (or worse still, E-MAG), at least clue it with a site that calls itself a magazine, like Slate or Salon. Variant spelling HONIED also hurt. The quote includes MET and yet WAS MET ([Didn’t go unfulfilled]) is here too; not a good entry, plus it’s a duplication? The ICER, NENE, and ETUI also grate in combination. Looking forward to “Themeless Monday” after the weekend!