Henry Hook’s New York Times crossword
- 1A. CASBAH is the [Nightclub in the Trump Taj]. Taj Mahal = India, Casbah = North Africa. Has Trump lost his mind?
- 19A. [“Closer Than Ever,” e.g.] is a REVUE. Never heard of it. Not a big revue fan, truth be told.
- 29A. Should I have known that [Apollonian] means SERENE? Probably. And yet I didn’t.
- 35A. Eventually I knew this, with enough crossings. MEG MARCH is the [Oldest of a literary quartet], Alcott’s Little Women. I actually tried MEGILLAH here. I’m not proud.
- 40A. “AGONY” is a [Song from Sondheim’s “Into the Woods”]. Don’t know my Sondheim.
- 43A. SWAPS is a verb I know. SWAPS is also a [Racehorse whose 1955 Kentucky Derby win kept Nashua from taking the Triple Crown]. Man. I hate racehorse, poker, and nautical clues.
- 45A. [“Laus ___” (words atop the Washington Monument)] clues DEO. You’d think I’d remember than from visiting the obelisk last summer, but no. At least DEO is a plausible monument inscription.
- 12D. ETESIAN is a [Summer wind in the Mediterranean] but not, as ill luck would have it, one of the winds Volkswagen named a car after. I didn’t know what tense the verb in 26A: [Often-used word in Matthew] would be, so I tried BEGET and BEGOT (ETESIEN and ETESION) first.
- 23D. Holy moly, are you kidding me? I didn’t know “December Bride” when an actress from that was in Merl Reagle’s Sunday puzzle last weekend. What were the odds that another actress would pop up days later? Should’ve eyeballed the IMDb page last weekend. [Actress Felton of 1950s TV’s “December Bride”] is VERNA.
- 26D. Abe BEAME, sure. Didn’t realize that BEAMY ([Radiant]) was an actual word.
- 32D. Totally misunderstood the clue for SHUDDER: [Some people do it to think]. It’s not that some people must shudder in order to think—it’s that people say “I shudder to think that…”
- 37D. CALANDO is one of those music words that is utterly foreign to me. It means [Gradually quieting, in music]. I really wanted DIMINUENDO to fit here.
- 47D. Never heard of STAN [Coveleski of Cooperstown]. You could say what baseball team he played for, what position, and what years, and I still wouldn’t have known this. Or is he the famous mayor of Cooperstown?
I dunno. That’s kind of a lot of items in the “things I didn’t know” category for a little 15×15 puzzle. Whoa.
Here are my favorite things that I had, in fact, heard of before doing this puzzle:
- The pair of 16A: [Famous bodybuilder] and 48A: [Famous body builder?]. SCHWARZENEGGER and DR. FRANKENSTEIN, two of the finest Teutonic names ever.
- At 18A, ETHEL is clued as the [“On Golden Pond” wife] played by Katharine Hepburn. “Ethel Thayer. Thounds like I’m lithping, doethn’t it?”
- 23A: VAIL took me way too long to suss out, despite the fact that my sister-in-law lives in that [Resort town on I-70] and despite the fact that when we visited her a few years ago, she lived a couple towns down the highway. The bedroom window overlooked I-70, which has really fast truck traffic.
- 27A. I don’t like RECLASPS as an answer, but I like the clue, [Holds over?].
- 30A. Playful clue for ARTHURIAN: [In days of knights?].
- Yay! German I know! SEHEN means [To look, in Leipzig].
- 6D. “HARRUMPH” is something I write more than I utter aloud. It’s an awesome [Disapproving comment].
- 8D. Roman numeral clue for a Latin answer? Wha…? We don’t see that much. [CD, e.g.?] is an ANNUS, or year.
- 11D. Great clue: [Carousel riders?] refers to LUGGAGE at the airport baggage claim.
- 17D. Terrific fill: ZERO-SUM GAME is clued as a [Balancing act?].
- 25D. I like the can-you-figure-it-outness of [Barrows]. They’re CARTS, as in wheelbarrows. I half suspected it might also be a term for, I dunno, some sort of livestock.
- 44D. Tricky! [Michelangelo’s country] is not ITALY but rather, the Italian word for “country,” PAESE. So Bel Paese cheese is Pretty Country cheese?
- Trivia! 50D and 28D are one answer in two parts, clued with [its flag has a lion holding a sword].
The fill has lots of echoes. Besides BEAME and BEAMY, there’s EN MASSE with EN ROUTE and the RE- family: REVUE, RECLASPS, REENTER, REEVES, REOPENED, and REEDIER. I know only three use RE- as a true prefix, but they sensitized my eyes to the REs. Speaking of my eyes, each one has an AREOLA (14A: [Part of the iris bordering the pupil]). Please don’t look at them. You’ll make me blush.
Annemarie Brethauer’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Eastern Direction”
I wonder how many other constructors have submitted puzzles with Kurosawa themes. It seems like the sort of erudite theme that would appeal to constructors, though maybe not quite as much to the daily newspaper solving audience. Yes? No? This puzzle’s appearing this week because it was Kurosawa’s 100th birthday on Tuesday. The theme includes four of his movies; THRONE OF BLOOD, THE IDIOT, RAN, and RASHOMON. AKIRA KUROSAWA balances out the first title’s length. I have not seen any of these films, but know about the Rashomon effect named after the movie.
Favorite clue: 26D: [Plasma balls?] for STARS. A friend of mine just reported on Facebook that her son (age 9) rebutted his teacher, who said the sun was made of gas. Linus said no, it’s made of plasma. Apparently some teachers giving incorrect information to their students think it’s rude to tell them they’re wrong.
Gary Steinmehl’s Los Angeles Times crossword
Oh, this is a fun puzzle. The theme is THE POWER OF TEN (51A), an [Exponential measurement, and in a way, what’s demonstrated in how answers were formed in 20-, 34- and 41-Across?]. Those three answers have added 10…but really it’s the letters IO. Like so:
- 20A. [Barbecue area without chairs?] is STANDING PATIO—”standing pat” + IO.
- 34A. [Relative value used in a scientific workplace?] is LABORATORY RATIO (rat).
- 41A. [Small apartment for a comical septet?] clues SEVEN-CARD STUDIO (seven-card stud’s a variety of poker).
I don’t really see any fill that really knocks me out (though the 9s are a nice touch), but I had fun doing the crossword. Highlights:
- 1A. [Sugar substitute?] is the term of endearment DEAR.
- 15A. ALPO is a [Rival rival].
- 23A. [Gray head?] refers to the Civil War, the Grays versus the Blues. Robert E. LEE led the Grays (South).
- 46A. The Scottish overload is just nuts. I suspected a crazy Scots word, but LASS is pretty familiar. The fill-in-the-blank clue comes from poetry: [“O, gie me the __ that has acres o’ charms”: Burns].
- 63A. [One of Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers] is the OHIO. OH! IO! Or 10!
- 8D. My favorite clue: [Berlin number] is not EINS or DREI at all. It’s a SONG by Irving Berlin.
- 51A. Singer TORI is a [Famous Amos]. Does she make cookies?
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Solving through Trial and Terror”—Janie’s review
This is an add-a-letter theme and as the title hints at, that letter is “T.” So the equation is “well-known base phrase + T = new ‘improved’ phrase.” I had a mixed reaction to the theme-phrase set. That’s because in two cases the “T” attaches to the first word in the phrase, in two to the last. Okay, at least there’s symmetry there, but to my mind anyway, the title promised the alteration to the last word. The more “serious” issue I had though relates to one of the clue/fill combos, where ya really gotta stretch to make it work. I’m afraid I’m making the theme fill sound like it’s just so-so. No, no. With the addition of a single “T”:
- 20A. Arts and crafts → TARTS AND CRAFTS [Items at the handiworkers’ bake sale?]. Now that’s really funny. It also makes me think of the British dress-up PARTIES [Celebrations] known as “Tarts and Vicars.” Anyone who read or saw Bridget Jones’s Diary knows what I’m referring to. For the uninitiated, here’s a description and … it’s complete with a vegan menu for the PERFECT [Ideal] event…
- 32A. Still and all → STILL AND TALL [Like the big, strong, silent type?]. Icons from the past would include Gary Cooper and Gregory Peck. These days, who? Maybe Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Chris Cooper… The guys of the previous generation were taller, however.
- 40A. Rock and roll → ROCK AND TROLL [Things found under the bridge in “Three Billy Goats Gruff”?]. Okay, this one’s my [Bête ___ ] NOIRE. Why? Try as I did, I couldn’t find a version of the story that said a word about there being a rock under that darned bridge… Perhaps one exists in some illustrated version–and the idea of the resulting phrase is great fun. But it draws attention to itself for not being easily supportable. Fyi, I did find a children’s theatre version of the story whose troll is a misunderstood guy who only wants to befriend the Gruff family. In one attempt to win their trust he decks himself out as a rock singer and entertains them by singing “The Rock’n Troll.” But all in all, it’s a long way to go…
- 54A. Oil and vinegar → TOIL AND VINEGAR [Ingredients for effective window washing]. No kidding. Works like a charm.
Yes, we saw LESTAT [Cruise’s role in “Interview with the Vampire”] two days ago (time for some garlic, perhaps?), when he was clued in relation to author Anne Rice. On the positive side, her name ties in nicely to [Trainer’s advice for a sprained ankle], which is “ICE IT.” The more thorough approach, though, calls for the injured person to RICE it: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. It’s all spelled out at Rice University’s site.
The last items I want to point out today relate to the TIE-IN I perceive between SAGA [Long story] and [Fjord, e.g.] INLET, both of which have Scandinavian connections. Oh. And the origin of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”? Norway.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword, “Check These Out”
Chessmaster puns? As a theme? Ow. Karpov and Fischer (and neglected Kasparov) are familiar names from life, while TAL and ANAND are chess names I know only from crosswords. So the theme was gettable, but forgive me if I fail to be roused by a theme of puns with chessmasters’ names.
I finished the puzzle and then, instead of blogging about it, I started cleaning out my e-mail in-box. Not much to say about the puzzle, I guess.
Favorite clue: [Copy cats?] is a verb phrase and the answer is MEOW.