Will Treece’s New York Times crossword
Cute theme—musical artists whose names are “misspelled,” respelled with standard English words. The albums they’re clued with were all #1 hits: 47a. [Chart position reached by all the albums seen in the starred clues in this puzzle] is ONE.
- 18a. [*”Rubber Soul” group, to an overzealous copy editor?], THE BEETLES. The Beatles.
- 23a. [*”Chicken-n-Beer” rapper, to an overzealous copy editor?], LUDICROUS. Ludacris.
- 53a. [*”Evolution” group, to an overzealous copy editor?], BOYS TO MEN. I couldn’t help myself—I typed in BOYZ. The group is Boyz II Men.
- 60a. [*”Dr. Feelgood” band, to an overzealous copy editor?], MOTLEY CREW. I confess I was that overzealous copy editor for my high school newspaper—I “fixed” Margaret Hirschberg’s album review because there was no way “Mötley Crüe” could be correct.
- 3d. [*”Hysteria” group, to an overzealous copy editor?], DEAF LEOPARD. Def Leppard.
- 26d. [*”Meteora” band, to an overzealous copy editor?], LINCOLN PARK. Linkin Park—and I do know someone whose last name is Linkin, though the band did change it from Lincoln.
If you haven’t followed pop music of the ’80s and beyond, perhaps you didn’t care for this theme. I liked it, though half the album titles meant nothing to me (knew Beatles, Luda, Def Leppard).
Five more things:
- 1a. [Chuck of “Meet the Press”], TODD. Haven’t watched in years and needed all the crossings for 1a.
- 38a. [They move around a lot at a square dance], HIPS. Really? Are the hips moving any more than, say, the elbows? Seems like hula or the Twist would be a better dance for the clue.
- 65a. [Delhi order?], SARI. Say what? There’s nothing about “order” that is specific to apparel, so I was checking the crossings in disbelief.
- 1d. [Kool-Aid alternative], TANG. Not when I was a kid. We could have Tang for breakfast, but Kool-Aid was more of an after-school drink. Both are in powder form, yes.
- 41d. [Grape nut?], WINO. That seems wildly off base. A “nut” who is wild about the liquid grape product is a wine aficionado, an oenophile. A WINO is an alcoholic, and likely a homeless one. Can we not use clever-heehee clues for really sad answer words?
A bit more of the crosswordese-type of fill here than I like to see—N.CAR. that hardly anyone uses, dated SST, the [100 lbs.] hundredweight abbrev CWT, fishing boat DORY, partial TO ERR, plural EHS, suffix -ESS.
4.5 stars for the theme, 3-ish for the fill, about 3.8 overall. Might be a debut puzzle—in which case, yes, bring us more themes in this vein!
Erik Agard and Brendan Emmett Quigley’s American Values Club crossword, “Country Heads”
No need to know your world leaders for this theme—it’s familiar phrases whose first words double as the last names of country singers. This theme fairly screams Agard, as he digs country music. The puzzle wasn’t that hard—tougher than the usual Sunday NYT, but certainly not fiendishly difficult. The theme was a challenge for me as the clues gave song titles, and I only knew the names right off the bat for a few.
- 23a. [“Making Memories of Us” singer’s desk reference?], URBAN DICTIONARY. Keith Urban.
- 32a. [Like weed “enhanced” by the singer of “All My Ex’s Live in Texas”?], STRAIT-LACED. George, known to me mainly via crossword clues for EXS. Who told him to make his plural with an apostrophe-S?
- 36a. [Words of wisdom from the singer of “Rocky Mountain High”?], DENVER NUGGETS. John. Nailed this one thanks to the top-40 performance of country songs in the ’70s.
- 64a. [“When I Said I Do” singer’s electrical outlet?], BLACK POWER. Clint Black? Gotta say I love seeing BLACK POWER in the grid.
- 77a. [Where you can walk the dog and hear “Wagon Wheel”?], RUCKER PARK. Darius Rucker. What the hell is Rucker Park, though? Googling … a basketball court in Harlem of some note.
- 105a. [Cars that play “What Was I Thinkin'” when you honk the horn?], BENTLEY MOTORS. I always forget that Dierks Bentley is a single person because Dierks is such an unusual first name.
- 109a. [Procession of people singing “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'”?], PRIDE PARADE. Charley Pride. Along with Rucker, one of the most famous African-American country stars. Black power!
- 118a. [Sad feeling you get from listening to “This Kiss” while walking along the pavement?], HILL STREET BLUES. Faith Hill. Astonishingly, the only woman in this whole theme. SWIFT JUSTICE or SWIFT-BOATING could have worked; though Taylor might not continue to record country music, she certainly has in the past. Kitty WELLS FARGO, Minnie PEARL NECKLACE, Dottie WEST-something.
- 3d. [“Ring of Fire” sung right at your door?], CASH ON DELIVERY. Johnny.
- 52d. [Fraternity members who know all the words to “Friends in Low Places”?], BROOKS BROTHERS.
Lots of answers intersect with two or three theme entries, so you’d expect to see a goodly (badly) amount of compromises in the fill. The fill’s actually pretty solid, and there are lively longish answers like “NO GIRLS,” JULIETTE Binoche, “PUH-LEASE,” ASSLOAD, BON IVER, PUP TENT, SPYHOP, and KEY WEST. In the debit column, we have plural NITAS, -OLA and –EROO, partial TO U (113a. [“From Me ___” (Juelz Santana’s debut album)]), ALB, SERE, KER-, BAI, and plural ROES. About 10 blah short answers in a 21×21 is not terrible at all.
Word I must’ve known before but forgot: 126a. [Spots on peacock feathers], OCELLI.
Four stars from me.
Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Time for Bed”—Ade’s write-up
Good day, everyone! Not too much time today for talking about today’s grid, but Ms. Gail Grabowski’s fun grid inserts a BED, literally, to common phrases in each of the four theme answers.
- BARBED TRICK (17A: [Prank that could stick it to you?]) – From “bar trick.”
- PROBED ATHLETE (27A: [Sacked quarterback inspected for injuries?]) – From “pro athlete.”
- WEBBED CRAWLER (48A: [Earwig in a spider’s snare?]) – From “web crawler.”
- PLUMBED TREE (64A: [Sapling planted perfectly vertical?]) – From “plum tree.”
Would have thought there would be an “N” in OMAHAS (e.g. Omahan/Omahans), but nope (15A: [Nebraska natives]). Who else was/is thinking of Michael Jackson when filling in OFF THE WALL, as I did (11D: [Bizarre])? I’ve actually never gardened before, so OLD SHOE was lost on me for just a little while until realizing the obviousness of it (25A: [Part of a pair for gardening, perhaps]). So yesterday, ABEL was my sports clue of the day, and again, it makes an appearance with another religious clue (58D: [Biblical shepherd]). I’m hoping someone takes my sports spin on ABEL and uses it in a crossword soon though, just as I hope this entry will have a sports spin on it…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: LEM (66A: [Apollo lander, briefly]) – Former National Football League player LEM Barney was a defensive back for the Detriot Lions in the 1960s and 1970s, and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992. Also, Barney was one of the people who sang the background vocals in Marvin Gaye’s hit, “What’s Going On.” Hall of Fame player hanging with a legendary vocalist in the Motor City. Nice!
Thank you for your time, and I’ll see you all on Thursday!
Peter A. Collins’ LA Times crossword – Gareth’s rather too long-winded rambling review
I don’t know about you, but this took me some post-solve staring to grok. WISEMEN = Y’S MEN = famous males whose names have the pattern *Y *Y. Musical interlude. It’s quite a broad theme, so Mr. Collins has taken the “cram the puzzle to the gills with theme” approach to that particular issue. Our 6 WISEMEN are:
- [Motown Records founder], BERRYGORDY. Embarrassing moment. I had AROIL not AREEL (???) and convinced myself there must have been a BOBBYGORDY in addition to a BERRY. Gah!
- [Cubs broadcaster known for singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch], HARRYCARAY. Needless to say, I had no idea. The R intersecting with AVOIR was a WAG. Got lucky! I also find it curious the way American sports teams have their own broadcasters. In these parts, each network uses the same pool of commentators regardless of the teams.
- [“That’ll Be the Day” singer], BUDDYHOLLY
- [Longtime “60 Minutes” closer], ANDYROONEY
- [“The [52-Across] Story” Oscar nominee”], GARYBUSEY. Weird cross-reference, that!
- [“Football Night in America” analyst], TONYDUNGY. I’m not going to be the best judge of these things, but two sports journalists seems a bit de trop. It’s not like their fame is as generalised as the players (generally speaking).
With that amount of space devoted to theme, the rest is usually going to be filler rather than killer. Mr. Collins does a good job of keeping the wheels on in the fill. In fact, with FLYBYS, LOGOFF, TUNEIN, CAFTANS (stupid initial C tricked me!), GMAIL, ISEENOW and BITTE I’d say the mid-length answers are above average. There is only minimal grit too: ENRY, AKISS (rescued by its clue!) AVOIR was, as noted, tough for me; there are so many French a- crossword-ese answers!
Not really too much more I’d like to remark on. I can’t see the word reflux (here in [Oceanic reflux]) without thinking of horse gastro-intestinal reflux and colics! I wonder if [‘Tahs state] for NSW is Saturday acceptable? The New South Wales Waratahs are a Super 15 rugby team (Super 15 season starts this weekend, as does the Cricket World Cup – big sporting weekend!)
Well-filled. I’m going to abstain from a rating as I can’t assess whether all the names form a notable enough set or not.