Matt Ginsberg’s New York Times crossword
Okay, I finished the puzzle but I haven’t yet pieced together the theme. Something about eggs and French eggs. There were Q and A clues with numbers. Let’s take a look:
4a. [Q1] WHY / 13a. [Q2] ARE / 19a. [Q3] FRENCH / 35a. [Q4] OMELETTES / 49a. [Q5] SMALL? 11d. [A1] BECAUSE / 26d. [A2] ONE EGG / 54d. [A3] IS AN / 55d. [A4] OEUF. “Because one egg is an oeuf” is a pun on “because one egg is enough.”
So that’s the joke. Why are the pieces labeled [Q1] and [A2] instead of [Part 1 of the question] and [Part 2 of the answer]? What entitles this theme to do away with thematic symmetry? It’s not as if the joke is so clever, so fresh, that it simply had to be the centerpiece of a crossword, even if it didn’t break up into symmetrical chunks. If you Google the phrase “because one egg is an oeuf,” you get over 2,000 hits—and if you go traditional with “un oeuf” in the punch line, you get over 7,000. I’m mystified. Does any of this make sense to you?
I was surprised to see the lowercasing in the 7a clue, [Ignores the teleprompter]. Apparently it is Times style not to adhere to the trade name’s CamelCase, TelePrompTer.
I am sweet on the CASH COW, ARETHA Franklin, PAY DIRT, “YES, BUT,” U.S. MAIL, [Is in low power mode] as a computery clue for SLEEPS, SCOOPED as a journalistic verb rather than an ice cream parlor verb, and SWEET ON. The 24a: RIAA clue is good, too: [Fighter of pirates, in brief]. And who doesn’t like language-trivia clues like 30a: [Only Semitic language that’s an official language of the European Union], MALTESE?
The Scowl-o-Meter was triggered by 41a: [Currency exchange premium], AGIO. Been a while since I saw that one in a crossword.
Frank Longo’s Furball crossword, “Vwllss Crsswrd 3”
Huh? What’s that? “Furball” is not the correct expansion of the vowel-free “Frbll”? If you say so.
I felt like I was flying through Frinko Lange’s latest vowelless puzzle. Until … ouch. Took me a lot longer to wrestle the bottom right into shape, particularly 53a. [Plans on getting even] just refused to yield its truth to me until I peeked at the enumeration in the other copy of the puzzle. Ah, HaS a SCoRe To SeTTLe. I was stuck on the last letter of 35d (ReTuRN PaTH, yes?), and NoT Too HoT, CoCoNuT oiL, and the continent were also elusive. I know, I know: How could I be stuck on the continent when the number of possibilities is only 7? I was thinking of South Africa’s Robben Island instead of aNTaRCTiCa‘s Roosevelt Island.
Clues of note:
- 18a. [One of millions in the Oxford English Dictionary], CiTaTioN. There are around 600,000 words defined in the OED. Do you suppose the total number of words in the OED (in entries, definitions, and citations) tops 1 billion?
- 1d. [Smelled like a dog], SNiFFeD. Uh, as opposed to how people smell things? I don’t know about you, but I do sniff if I’m trying to smell something.
I am partial to the answers that are extra-condensed (like JuiCe CoNCeNTRaTe) owing to their preponderance of vowels. You’ve got your PXS, or epoxies, and NDQT, or inadequate, both more than half vowels.
Some weeks back, Patrick Blindauer mentioned an iPhone/iPad app called Word Cracker, which was free for a day. I downloaded it and like the game (although they really should spell Antigua & Barbuda with a G and not a Q, like the font). They give you the consonants and you have to slide the vowels into place to make a real word. If you like vowelless action, check out Word Cracker.
I do love a good vowelless crossword, and there aren’t a ton of them out there once you’ve finished Frank’s book of them (currently available at a bargain price of $3.18 on Amazon!). So I’m giving this puzzle 5 stars and hoping for more vowelless puzzles soon.
Ben Tausig’s Ink Well crossword, “Adult Entertainment”
This week’s Ink Well theme is for mature audiences only—mature animal audiences. Each theme entry swaps a word that also refers to a young animal for a grown-up animal of that species:
- 1a, 73a. [Petting zoo pet with a prostate issue?], WHIZ GOAT. “Whiz kid” is about wizardry more than whizzing.
- 22a. [Sly canine working in the E.R.?], TRAUMA FOX. A trauma kit is, well, I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I reckon it is more extensive than a first-aid kit.
- 27a. [Winged assistants of private eyes?], BIRDS WITH DICKS, “dick” being slang for private detective. The original phrase is relevant to the movie The Crying Game.
- 48a. [Australian clergy member with multiple vaginas?], KANGAROO BISHOP. Joey Bishop was a member of the Rat Pack. And no, I do not know the term for a baby rat.
- 54a. [Grizzly who runs ahead to make sure there aren’t any traps?], BEAR SCOUT. Aww, I wish the BSA would call their adult male leaders Bear Scouts.
Things that were new to me:
- 5a. [Emergency preparedness needs], GO BAGS. I gather these are bags packed with everything you’d need if you had to evacuate in a hurry, but it also seems like a great word for urinary catheter bags.
- 10d. [Buttery lobster preparation], SCAMPI. I didn’t know you could scampify larger crustaceans and not just shrimp.
- 12d. [Common black-and-white cat name], OREO. Had no idea.
- 13d. [Modern lecture franchise], TED X. I know of the TED lectures, but not the X part.
- 20a. [Japanese candy sticks], POCKY. I think of them more as cookie sticks. But Pocky! Yummy little snackies.
- 9d. [Chatting or sleeping in English class?], GERUND. Great grammar clue.
- 11d. [Call Ralph on the big white phone], BARF. Wanted HURL here.
- 57d. [Shameless “Jaws” ripoff from 1977], ORCA. Yep, saw that one on the big screen.
- 63d. [Made do?], SHAT. Made doo, more like.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword – Sam Donaldson’s review
Today’s game of Name That Puzzle should be pretty easy, since 27-Down tells us that ANTE is the [Poker payment (and word that runs up in 1-, 8-, 10-, and 21-Down)]. That is, you’ll see the letter sequence E-T-N-A in those four answers, and since they’re Downs, it appears that A-N-T-E is running up the grid in each case. That makes me nearly certain that the puzzle’s title is Ante Up (and if it isn’t, it ought to be). So let’s get that part out of the way right now.
Yes indeed, the title is “Ante Up.” I really admire the execution of this theme. The grid has only 68 answers (well below the typical 72-answer minimum for themed puzzles), and that stacking of JIGGLING, CAN OPENER, and DONE TO A TEE in the northwest is terrific. This more than makes up for my having no clue about one of the theme answers (in fact, it was the last letter to fall). Say, that reminds me, we should mention the theme entries:
- 1-Down: [Barack Obama’s secretary of homeland security] is former Arizona governor JANET NAPOLITANO. You don’t see many puzzles where 1-Down is a theme entry; that’s a cool effect.
- 8-Down: Ah, the mystery place. The [Scottish town once popular with elopers] is GRETNA GREEN. Come again? Gretna Caesar’s ghost, I needed practically every crossing for this one.
- 10-Down: VIETNAM VETERANS are the [Dedicatees on a Washington wall].
- 21-Down: [Elm, Fleet, and Main] are all STREET NAMES. I happen to be blogging about this puzzle from an office location on Main Street in lovely Kansas City, Missouri. I don’t think that gave me any kind of edge in solving the puzzle, but it is a neat coincidence. Another fun fact (or, if you were unimpressed with the first coincidence, “Here’s a fun fact”): I think I learned from The Big Bang Theory that the most common street name is “Second.”
While I do prefer hidden word gimmicks where the word consistently straddles two words (that’s only true in two of the four theme entries here), and while I tend not to like fill such as INI, YEE, GPO, LET AT, NORN (that’s San’s customer on Cheers), I TO, and NAES, I can easily overlook these things because the theme concept, the fun stack in the northwest, and the lower word count far outweigh. What say you?
Two final points. First, to my surprise, there’s such a word as NITERY. It’s a [Cabaret, casually]. Guess I need to get to more cabarets. Second, was anyone else hesitant to write in VET as the answer to [Tabby’s doc] given that it crosses the second V in VIETNAM VETERANS? I realize this “vet” is short for veterinarian and not veteran, but I kept thinking there was something wrong with it. There’s not, of course, but I wonder if I’m the only one who hesitated on that.
Brendan Quigley’s website puzzle, “Call Me, Maybe” — Matt’s review
I didn’t notice this puzzle’s subtitle while solving, so I spent the solve wondering what in tarnation the theme could be. It’s music trivia: Brendan gives us the working titles of six famous albums, whose final names we must enter into the grid. They are:
20-a [… “Don’t Be a Faggot”?] = the Beastie Boys’ LICENSED TO ILL. Probably a smart change.
29/46-a [… “Automatic Changer”?] = the Rolling Stones’ LET IT BLEED. Probably a smart change.
36-a [… “Sheep”?] = NEVERMIND. That’s Nirvana, for everyone under 30 or over 70.
54-a [… “The Two Americas”?]. = U2’s THE JOSHUA TREE. Great album of course, but I still wish Big Country had dethroned U2 for the all-time “brooding, bombastic, melodramatic, Celtic rock champions” award.
59-a [… “Everest”?] = ABBEY ROAD. Have you seen the Abbey Road Crossing Cam? Every few minutes someone imitates the album cover.
So you’re probably thinking: Really? A BEQ music theme where I’ve actually heard of every theme entry?! But Brendan hasn’t lost his musical edge: he had to pick all very famous albums for this theme, since it doesn’t make any sense if you’ve never heard of one of the theme entries. That explains the safe choices.
39-d is an interesting choice of clue for an outstanding entry: [One of the “Elements of Style” authors] = E.B. WHITE. He’s also known for writing two extremely famous children’s books, Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, but BEQ went the other way.
From the BEQ personal experience file, perhaps? [Buy some flowers for the wife after forgetting date night, say] = ATONE, and [Saves roughly $80,000 in wedding costs, say] = ELOPES. I don’t think Brendan and Liz eloped, but that’s an awfully specific number!
21-d [Its largest newspaper is Navbharat Times] = DELHI. First, full credit for cluing this without a “deli” pun. Second, I don’t know what “Nav” means but “Bharat” is the Hindi word for “India.”
27-d: No “Toddlers & Tiaras” reference for TIARAS? You could have snuck a Honey Boo-Boo reference in for free! OK, either way.
Gary Lowe’s Los Angeles Times crossword – Neville’s review
This puzzle’s out to pop you a new one.
- 17a. [*”Karma Chameleon” band] – CULTURE CLUB
- 25a. [*Space traveler] – STAR SHIP
- 52a. [*It’s not good to meet with it] – FOUL PLAY
- 64a. [*Used car selling point] – SINGLE OWNER
- 39/40a. [Kid’s toy… the first word can precede the first word of the starred answers; the second word can precede the last word of the starred answers] – POP/GUN
Here’s a fun twist on the “word precedes the first word of each starred entry” puzzle. In fact, it’s a welcome twist on the “word precedes either word of each starred entry” puzzle.
Some [Birds do it] – LAY EGGS; this reminds me about the riddle in which a rooster lays an egg on the top of a roof; which side does the egg roll down? [Middle Aged?] is clever for FEUDAL, like the Middle Ages. [Kings shoot them] – PUCKS. Not the Sacramento Kings (basketball), but instead the Los Angeles Kings (hockey). Tricky, tricky!
Hard stuff: GITANO, it seems, is a [Jeans brand]. TINEA is indeed a [Dermatologist’s concern]; don’t do a Google Images search. GREGG stenography is a [Shorthand system] named for John Robert Gregg. Sometimes I think I don’t understand funogrufe at all.