Peter Collins’s New York Times crossword
Cute theme—four food items are topped with things they can be topped with. There’s HOT FUDGE on ICE CREAM, CHEESE on a BURGER, ONIONS (gross) on a HOT DOG, and MARINARA on a fairly arbitrary noodle choice, RIGATONI.
There are some tough crossings in here, particularly for a Tuesday. 8a. [Cousin of a mallard], SCAUP crossing 9d. [Michael of “Juno”], CERA (I know him well, but I’m not sure he’s a household name) and 10d. [Protection], AEGIS? Spanish crossing Spanish, 27a MAS/28d ANO? 43d. [Sayings of Jesus], LOGIA (tough vocab) and 48d. [Hindu meditative rituals], TANTRA crossing tortured word formation REGALER? About 15 proper nouns throughout? I could see this puzzle giving people AGITA (51d. [Unease] and/or fits).
Liked: LOGJAM, “I’M HIT!,” ASTERISKS, DEFCON, WATER GUN.
3.6 stars from me.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 211), “Hey, JUDE!”—Janie’s review
Double digrams! Each of today’s four two-word themers has a first word beginning “JU-” and a second word beginning “DE-.” While this is a not unusual type of crossword wordplay, it is a step up from the more typical repeat letter-pair (i.e., one letter for the first word, another for the second). More critically, the quality of today’s themers goes a looooong way towards making this one lively, lovely solve. It’s top-notch fill all—surprisingly so, given the particular letters in combination. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT and JUVENILE DELINQUENT spring to mind easily enuf, but both exceed the grid’s 15-letter limit. And they’re kinda on the dry side to boot. Not so:
- 17A. JUNK DEALER [Person who talks trash]. Twisty clue, too. I’ll take it! (And while I’m not wild for this particular plural…) down the road apiece, that junk dealer may have some interaction with someone who trades in [Metal wastes] SLAGS. Back to that clue, though, the other kind of “person who talks trash” is also probably someone who will SAVOR [Relish] the
- 26A. JUICY DETAILS [Titillating tidbits from a gossip]. Gorgeous fill. Ditto
- 43A. JUST DESSERTS [“TOP CHEF” spinoff for pastry chefs]. The show title is more than one kind of play on words. Although correct usage seems to be
breaking downchanging, here’s the skinny on “just deserts” v. “just desserts.”
- 58A. JULIE DELPY [Ethan Hawke’s co-star in “Before Midnight”]. And Before Sunrise and -Sunset as well. An award-winning, multi-faceted artist worth knowing.
And all that’s just for starters. There are two more tens and two eights that also up the ante for this puzzle’s worth. Take a bow JON STEWART and HALL PASSES + your clues. Mr. Stewart comes to us by way of a quote: [Satirist who said: “I have complete faith in the continued absurdity of whatever’s going on”]; those hall passes with a nice pun [Slips out of class?], in which “slips” functions as a noun and not as a verb. Take a bow, too, the shifty ON THE SLY [In secret] and gracious “I’D LOVE TO” [“Join me for a drink?” response].
There isn’t a lot of six-letter fill, but I definitely like seeing MUESLI beside ITALIC. And I really love the way (punny on more than one level…) the latter is clued: [Type that’s inclined to stand out?]. Terrific. While ENDING isn’t the most exciting word, I enjoyed the fact that this [Finish] is tidily crossed by NEO-, a [New beginning?].
Clue/fill pair that raised a flag? [Simple rhyme scheme] AABA. Why did this get my attention? Because yes, this may be a “simple” rhyme scheme with only two sounds, but good luck finding an example of it in simple verse. Where rhyme schemes are concerned, AABA is seen most commonly (and I use the term broadly) as the four final lines of the villanelle—which is not a commonly used form in poetry. Five ABA stanzas plus one AABA… Here’s a little about the villanelle and “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.” Better, imho, to clue AABA in connection with song form. It’s the backbone of the American Songbook writers, broadway and pop song writers. Read all about it. (With a nod to my colleague Ade, the arts will make you smarter, too!)
[Edited later to say…: a lotta pedantry for nuthin’. Mostly. The correct rhyme scheme/grid answer is ABAA—so apologies for misstating this above—and then inverting the internal letters throughout! The AABA song-form lesson does not apply. The issue of ABAA remains. It’s had plenty of play in puzzles, so clearly I’m the minority voice! ;-) ]
This is YouTube:
Not too complicated a theme, and the solve was fairly smooth. Does that mean the puzzle is easier, or that I’m in a good mood since my hometown Blackhawks won another Stanley Cup? ;-)
The theme answers are, as the title implies, full of Fs:
- 17A & 20A [With 20-Across, 1840s slogan in the Oregon border dispute] FIFTY-FOUR FORTY OR FIGHT
- 40A [Sold extremely quickly] FLEW OFF THE SHELF
- 57A [Sports figure in a 2015 sports scandal] FIFA OFFICIAL
- 62A [Repetitive Beach Boys hit] FUN FUN FUN
I liked this fine. Some may quibble that there are different numbers of Fs in the theme answers, but that’s no big deal to me. The entries chosen were nice and lively, and the reference to a FIFA OFFICIAL was timely, in light of all the scandalous news in recent weeks. Just a few notes:
- 9A [Office-inappropriate, in web shorthand] NSFW – Great entry. Not Safe For Work, I believe is what this stands for.
- 22A [Business priority] JOB ONE – Very nice
- 4D [Get the best of] OUTFOX – Nice as well. I don’t know if I remember seeing this in a while.
- 9D [Words after an insult] NO OFFENSE – Words you HOPE you hear, if you’re the offended one!
- 11D [Kills an enemy, in gaming slang] FRAGS – If you’re not a gamer, you may not know this term. I wonder if it comes from FRAGmenting your opponent…
- 24D [“Seinfeld” surname] BENES – Elaine Benes, that is. How popular is this show, still?? It’s supposed to be entirely on Hulu+ any day now; I want to watch the “Say Vandalay!!” episode when that happens!
- 29D [Woofers’ output] ARFS – Nicely done. Fooled me, but only for a second.
- 30D [“___ Frutti” (Little Richard hit)] TUTTI – Got this immediately. Showing my age…
- 34D [They can be bear markets] TOY STORES – Excellent clue. I wish I could write clues as well as this.
- 54D [“The Hunger Games” chaperone] EFFIE – A nice reminder that I am behind on this series of movies….
This one was fun. 3.5 stars!
Nice hidden word theme:
- 17A [Wet blanket] PARTY POOPER
- 24A [Poverty symbol] EMPTY POCKETS
- 47A [Power line holders] UTILITY POLES
- 58A [Smartphone texting feature, which usually detects and fixes the thing hidden in 17-, 24-, and 47-Across] AUTOCORRECT
…or what usually changes what you intended to write into some gibberish. The keyboards I use never correct when I type “yiu.” When I need it to work!
A few notes:
- 14A [Disney mermaid] ARIEL – Yuck…
- 33A [Periodic pork sandwich at the Golden Arches] MCRIB – Contrary to most people, I actually like McRib sandwiches. I just do NOT like how messy they are!
- 51A [Fertilizer compound] NITER – Only entry I hate.
- 66A [Annual sports awards] ESPYS – I imagined crossword constructors leaping for joy when these first debuted in 1993.
- 6D [Cold-morning pumpkin coating] FROST – Why coating a pumpkin? Doesn’t frost cover EVERYTHING?? And why are we discussing cold weather traumas in the middle of June??
- 11D [Area where evidence is gathered] CRIME SCENE – Splendid.
- 30D [Succeeds and then some] MAKES IT BIG – Also splendid.
Nice effort. 3 stars.
Todd McClary’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Bloomsday”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning, everyone! If you caught yourself not being able to smell the roses this morning, no worries! Today’s crossword puzzle, constructed by Mr. Todd McClary, includes three theme answers that are common names to flowering plants, with those names starting with a word that also happens to be a time of the day. There are a good number of people in the crossword community who are avid gardeners, so any words/information about these flowers, especially if you plant these specific ones, would be greatly appreciated!
**Addendum: So on the radio today, I hear about today being “Bloomsday,” and I’m like, “Was I missing something when doing the puzzle today?” My deepest apologies for not realizing that Bloomsday was a thing, and that it’s a worldwide celebration of sorts. The only work I’ve read of James Joyce is Finnegans Wake, and wasn’t aware of Ulysses, until now. But there’s a chance that some of you are celebrating Bloomsday in your own way today! Sláinte!**
- MORNING GLORY (20A: [Flowering plant (start of day)]) – Before finding this out today, if you asked me what ‘morning glory’ was, I probably would have humorously guessed that it was a euphemism for intercourse occurring before noon.
- EVENING PRIMROSE (39A: [Flowering plant (near end of day)])
- NIGHT JASMINE (57A: [Flowering plant (end of day)])
- GARDEN (19A: [Locale for this puzzle’s three longest answers])
This past Saturday, I attended a friend’s birthday celebration, with the evening ending at a karaoke bar, where one person in the bar sang to PEARL JAM‘s “Jeremy” (9D: [“Even Flow” grunge band]). I actually said this to one of my friends standing next to me, and I’m not kidding: “‘Jeremy'” is an OK song, but, for karaoke, “Even Flow” is 10 times better.” So, because of Saturday night, and because of solving this puzzle, I’ll have a Pearl Jam earworm all day long. This puzzle was a a fun solve, as the groupings of six-letter across answers in the Northeast and Southwest were fun, not including the one that was tied to the theme. Got to learn something new with the clue to JUDO (58D: [Sport that means “gentle way” in Japanese]). I admit to being a fan of old-school wrestling growing up in the 1980s, and my young self was always confused every time I saw advertisements for Billy GRAHAM‘s television sermons, as I had thought back then that Billy Graham was a wrestler (38D: [Evangelist Billy]). Eventually, I found out that they were two different people, but, to this day, anytime I see/hear the words Billy Graham, I think of “Superstar” Billy Graham of the WWF (World Wrestling Federation, not the World Wildlife Fund). Now just imagine if this person was on your television set talking about Jesus and the Resurrection…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: IDITAROD (41D: [Annual race in Alaska]) – Billed as the “Last Great Race on Earth,” the IDITAROD is an annual sled dog race that began in 1973. What I just knew about it recently was that the start of the race, which takes place in Anchorage, is only a ceremonial start. After that, the race restarts in Willow, Alaska. As most of you know from crosswords of the past, the end of the race, which usually takes just more than a week to complete, ends in the crossword-friendly city of Nome.
See you all on the top of the hump on Hump Day tomorrow!