Ian Livengood’s New York Times crossword
Imagine my surprise at 1a. [“Know what I’m sayin’?,” in hip-hop slang]. “YA HEARD” didn’t ring a bell (though it Googles up well enough, with website names, an Urban Dictionary definition, and T-shirts). I really wanted this answer to be “NAH MEAN?” My son says “nobody says that” about both phrases.
The other colloquial speech answers are 8a. [“Yep, alas”], “‘FRAID SO,” and 28d. [“All right already!”], “I GET IT, OKAY?” There are those solvers who disdain such entries, but I like them as long as they’re natural and not stilted.
Did not know: 16a. [1998 N.F.L. M.V.P. Davis], TERRELL. Had to work the crossings, which were not yielding to me so swiftly. 8d. [U.S. fraud watchdog], FTC, I wanted FCC. 9d. [Breadth], REACH, I tried WIDTH and GIRTH. 10d. [___ Arena (past Kings home)], ARCO, one of those things I piece together in crosswords but have no other exposure to. 13d. [Scuzz], SLEAZEBALL, love the answer but it didn’t come to me right away. 14d. [Motherland], OLD SOD, huh—I always thought this was specifically referring to Ireland but apparently the term is more generic than that.
Other fill I liked includes OPEN BAR, GELCAPS, CACKLED, SCRUNCH, RUSSIAN MOB, BED-HOP, TEAM SPORTS, THE REBELS, Costa Rica’s SAN JOSÉ, I, ASIMOV, ST. PETER, RAP GROUPS, RODEO DRIVE, DR. SEUSS, ASTRONAUT, and DELTA HOUSE. Didn’t love AZO, ISLA, ETD, OON, OSH, or AMO and AMAT (duplication alert!). But those were not a steep price to pay for all the good stuff. 4.25 stars from me.
Andy Kravis and Joon Pahk’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Hung Up on Phonics”
It’s “Hung Up on Phonics” rather than “Hooked on Phonics” because we’ve got phonic puns relating to artists whose work is hung up in museums.
- 17a. [Memo about museum staff putting mistletoe around Frans’s “Laughing Cavalier”?], DECK THE HALS. “Deck the Halls.”
- 24a. [Winged carrier of Paul’s “Twittering Machine”?], KLEE PIGEON. Clay pigeon.
- 34a. [Keith’s tribute to Coca-Cola ads?], RED HARING. Red herring.
- 49a. [Part of Juan’s Cubist jungle scene?], GRIS MONKEY. Grease monkey. Had no idea it wasn’t pronounced “gree,” as if it were French. Have not seen Spanish Gris elsewhere.
- 56a. [Don’t make it to a retrospective of Franz’s German Expressionist works?], MISS THE MARC. Never heard of Franz Marc. Here’s the Google image page. One part Chagall, one part Matisse, one part Picasso, one part Kandinsky.
Solid pun theme, probably a little too erudite for the New York Times puzzle.
Did not know: 47a. [Smetana symphonic suite whose title is Czech for “My Homeland”], MA VLAST.
Other artistic/musical/literary bits include the opera FIDELIO, the James Joyce story THE DEAD, Georges ENESCO, and Chekhov’s IVANOV.
Five excellent clues:
- 22d. [Like Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard”], AGING.
- 52a. [A bun may cover it], NAPE.
- 55a. [Orb in an orbit], EYE.
- 6d. [“___ Been to the Mountaintop” (MLK speech)], I’VE.
- 12d. [Perilous journalistic post], WAR ZONE. Sheesh, no kidding.
19a. [Address insertions, at times] clues ERS. Is it particularly British to say “er” (and also “erm”)? I think Americans use “uh” and “um” far, far more than “er”? I think the British are pretty much saying the same thing as us, but they assume there’s an R that is barely pronounced because they’re DEVIANT that way.
Four stars from me.
Raymond Hamel’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Ka-Ching!”—Ade’s write-up
Hello everyone, and welcome to Friday! Ka-ching!!
Today’s puzzle, offered up by Mr. Raymond Hamel, makes us have to add the letters “KA” to common terms to create some puns with our theme answers. With this, now I’m wondering what letter do I usually use as the first letter to spell out the money-making sound, C or K? I think I’m in the C category instead of K. No matter.
- KACHINA SET: (17A: [Collection of Hopi dolls?]) – From “China set.”
- BRONX KAZOO: (64A: [Instrument not played in the New York Philharmonic?]) – From “Bronx Zoo.” Either a kazoo has to be played during a show at the New York Philharmonic, or an animal at the Bronx Zoo should play a kazoo for show.
- DUTCH KABOB: (11D: [Lunch on a Netherlands spit?]) – From “Dutch bob.”
- KAYO ADRIAN: (30D: [What lovable Rocky Balboa would never do?]) – From “Yo, Adrian.” So what would not-so-lovable Rocky Balboa do?
The first thing the completed puzzle made me think about is the movie Rocky III, since there’s a reference to Rocky in one of the clues, as well as MR. T, who played Rocky’s nemesis, Clubber Lang (46D: [Costar of “The A-Team]). By the way, I’m surprised that more boxers hadn’t/haven’t acquired the nickname “Clubber” after watching the movie. It just sounds awesome. Another thing that was awesome was seeing EASY-A in the grid (52D: [Unchallenging course]) along with seeing what one’s report card would look like if a student took all easy classes, AAAA (22D: [Extremely narrow, as a shoe]). I watched enough Dudley Do-Right in my lifetime, but for the life of me, I can’t put NELL into my longterm memory and it always throws me for a little bit of a loop when seeing that clue (36D: [Dudley Do-Right’s love]). Best answer for me in the grid was RED TAPE (51A: [Bureaucratic nightmare]), and the one answer that will make me think too much of something that I shouldn’t need to think about is CYAN, as now all I can think about are colors mentioned in ink cartridges for printers (66A: [Blue-green shade]). I’m probably going to say “magenta” out loud at least once before this day is over, I bet.
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: PABLO (53D: [Two-time baseball All-Star Sandoval])– Pablo Sandoval is the fun-loving, free-swinging starting third baseman for the San Francisco Giants baseball team. Because of his great relationship with the San Francisco fan base, Sandoval, like many other players on the Giants, has acquired a nickname, Kung-Fu Panda. His nickname is such because he, despite sporting a rotund figure, is very spry and athletic for his size. Sandoval has won two World Series titles with the Giants (2010, 2012), and in the 2012 World Series, Sandoval set a record for hitting a home run in each of his first three at-bats during Game 1 of the Fall Classic against the Detroit Tigers. Sandoval, largely because of that performance, ended up winning the 2012 World Series Most Valuable Player award.
On to the weekend! Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you on Saturday!
Robin Stears’ Los Angeles Times crossword – Gareth’s review
Today’s puzzle’s theme was opaque to me until about 5 seconds post-solve. You need to stare at SWITCHHIT until it becomes SWITCH H/IT – H is changed to IT in four theme answers. It’s a clever concept, but it didn’t really make for great theme answers IMO: [Imp who annoys the webmaster?], SITEDEVIL; [Security group at a protest?], SITINGUARDS; [Quote from “Guerrilla Warfare”?], CITEGUEVARA; [Improved Gemini missile?], BETTERTITAN. The problem with answers like CITEGUEVARA is the second part remains, so the new answer feels basically the same…
Due partly to the central 11, this puzzle has big corners, and Robin has paid a lot of attention to them: SUGARPEA, DIMSUM and LOISLANE are all good up in the top-right, and they come only at the expense of DESAC. The opposite corner is more prosaic: CHATROOM is cutely quaint (I’m sure they still exist…), unlike the ETRUSCANS! OCA gets a high-falutin’ classical music clue, which is probably better than the tuber route! I didn’t know what ROBERTS referred to – apparently there is a 1955 film called “Mister Roberts”.
The one weak spot is surprisingly the constricted bottom middle: INWAR, IANS, SRTA, INT, TSA ; the only full word to be seen is STASIS!
Alice Long’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Catching Some Sun” — pannonica’s write-up
My retroblogging adventure continues, as I write this on Monday the 21st.
The revealer lurks at the beginning of Row 21: 126a [Shade from the sun that’s inserted in this puzzle’s theme answers] TAN.
- 23a. [Kudrow, making a home in Missoula?] MON(TAN)A LISA.
- 35a. [Snake that’s failing utterly?] (TAN)KING COBRA.
- 49a. [Caning material that’s fallen on the floor?] DIRTY RAT(TAN).
- 69a. [Yellow songbird?] GOLDEN (TAN)AGER. A possible joke about the now-infamous 15-letter (convenient for spanning daily grids) SCARLET TANAGER. However, the GOLDEN TANAGER (Tangara arthus) is also an extant species, which undermines this entry more than somewhat. In case you’re curious, the other bird’s scientific binomial is Piranga olivacea. The specific epithet “(‘… olive-colored …’) was based on a female or immature specimen,” but according to the rules of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, unless there is a really, really good reason the oldest issued name takes precedence, so the latterly proposed P. erythromelas (“red-and-black”) remains no more than a junior synonym. (in part from Wikipedia)
- 86a. [Dressy shoes worn by highland lasses?] TAR(TAN) HEELS.
- 105a. [Amazing plant?] BO(TAN)Y WONDER.
- 117a. [Bonzo in the ballroom?] (TAN)GOING APE.
[Addendum: 17d [Affected folks] POSERS. I don’t care for this spelling for this definition. 1poser : a puzzling or baffling question; 2poser : one who poses, which links to this entry for the verb pose … (transitive verb) 1 a : to set forth or offer for attention or consideration, b : to come to attention as : present, 2 a : to put or set in place, b : to place (as a model) in a studied attitude, (intransitive verb) 1 : to assume a posture or attitude usually for artistic purposes, 2 : to affect an attitude or character usually to deceive or impress. On the other hand, there’s no confusion when it comes to poseur: : a person who pretends to be what he or she is not : an affected or insincere person. (all from m-w.com)]
The rest of the grid is populated with smooth fill nearly throughout. Enjoyed the midlength fill including DEAD-TREE, ACID HEAD, DASTARD, HOT TO TROT, BACK NINE, ILL AT EASE, and CELTIC SEA. Cute crossing of the cross-referenced 40d and 45a for the [ … 2005 neo-noir movie] SIN CITY; the long-anticipated sequel will be released later this summer.
Good, varied cluing as well. Easy stuff, tricky stuff, interesting trivia. That sort of mix.