Jules Markey’s New York Times crossword
This theme is two-pronged: One part fact collection and one part word ladder. One of the HOPE AND CROSBY “Road to __” movies was Road to Bali, and there’s a ROAD-to-BALI word ladder in the top and bottom rows: ROAD TOAD TOLD BOLD BALD BALI. The rest of the theme has costar DOROTHY LAMOUR, SONG AND DANCE MEN (the fellas’ “occupations” in the movie, though that plural in the clue feels inapt; you could say “fireman” is an occupation but not that “firemen” are occupations), and the not-really-a-genre BROMANTIC COMEDY.
The theme doesn’t resonate much for me, but I imagine Hope/Crosby/Lamour fans were pleased by it.
The fill is rough in patches. UTNE, APER, ORONO, ANIS, ANIL, EDDA, DEB, MMCCC, ALINED—there’s a fair amount of hardcore crosswordese in that list. And then there’s YODER! In a Tuesday puzzle! 29d. [Wisconsin v. ___ (landmark 1972 Supreme Court case on religious freedom)]? There is one truly landmark early-’70s Supreme Court case, and that is Roe v. Wade. The Yoder decision, Wikipedia tells me, was that the state couldn’t make Amish kids go to school past the 8th grade. Now, [Common Amish surname] would actually have been an easier clue for me. When you lay out your theme answers to force a Y***R crossing, you could go for YASIR or the partial YES OR and … that’s about it. Cruciverb has both of those, a single YOKER (no), and zero YODERs. [Wise green Jedi, as pronounced by a Brit when the following word starts with a vowel].
Top fill: “COME ON!,” COP CAR, and CAPRIS. I am wearing capris right now.
3.4 stars from me.
Nice puzzle. The theme, although not complicated, took me a while to latch onto. There are three theme entries; all of them are phrases with the letters TOM added to the beginning, clued by the word “foolery” in the title, which is seldom used alone (it actually IS a word!) but seen more in the word “tomfoolery.” It would be interesting to know the origin of both the words “fool” and “tomfool.” Is a tomfool a really special kind of idiot? The theme entries:
- 22A [ NFL’s Patriots?] TOM BRADY BUNCH
- 37A [Garbage bags for an action star?] TOM CRUISE LINERS – I always chuckle when I see a box labeled “can liners” instead of “trash bags.” It’s like people even need to be PC towards inanimate objects!
- 49A [Digit for a bizarre MTV host?] TOM GREEN THUMB
Very nicely done. Contained, at least for me, a satisfying a-ha moment, although it doesn’t take much to surprise me at 6:15am! The fill on this puzzle is pristine; I found nothing annoying. I take that back: I didn’t like 54D [89 years from now, in the credits] MMCIV. It was too early to do math in my head…
- 27A [“Chandelier” singer] SIA – She seems elusive (weird?), but her songs are pretty good.
- 41A [Inflationary figure, for short] PSI – There was a nice Patriots joke that could have been clued here…!
- 64A [“Card Players Quarreling” artist Jan] STEEN – I do NOT know art like I should. This is the painting:
- 4D [French pen, or LG smartphone] STYLO – Didn’t know this. I’m an iPhone disciple. I tried the Samsung Galaxy S5, and it was a disaster, at least for me.
- 30D [Turning into a hockey rink, e. g.] ICING OVER – Very nice.
Sometimes I am sharper solving first thing in the morning, as was the case today, but in other cases my solving times are dictated by what medium I am solving on. This one, as indicated by the faint yellow tint, was solved on my iPad with the Crosswords app. Yes, the one that costs $10! Other times I use pencil and paper, the NYT app, Across Lite on a computer, Crossword Solver, etc. Computer solving slightly quicker, iPad solving not bad, but I mistype a lot. What is your solving tool of choice?
3.5 stars for this puzzle. Very well done.
Another nice puzzle from the LA Times. I’m enjoying these the more I do them! Time constraints prevented me from solving them regularly before, but that won’t happen anymore. I will prioritize these.
This puzzle grid has the long theme answers going up and down, but it’s necessary:
- 4D [“Sugar and spice” tykes] LITTLE GIRLS (with RIGEL appearing upwards in the circled squares)
- 9D [Altar exchanges] MARRIAGE VOWS (VEGA)
- 21D [Brunch dish with hollandaise sauce] EGGS BENEDICT (DENEB)
- 28D [Up-and-comers, and what the circled squares contain] RISING STARS
Clever, neatly done, not to challenging, but still a nice a-ha moment when you figure out what’s in the circled squares. And as usual, nothing icky at all in the grid. Some observations:
- 6A [SALT warhead] ICBM – This reminds me of a moment from Wordplay when Bill Clinton sees a clue for this entry and says it’s “either ICBM or MIRV!” Who knows MIRV???
- 35A [Treat leniently, with “on”] GO SOFT – Much neater than describing rotting or melting food…
- 43A [Actress North] SHEREE – Most famous people with this name spell it differently. A Google search revealed she’s probably the most notable, and she isn’t that notable. An appearance on Playhouse 90, a recent Learned League answer I didn’t know! I’m sure I’d recognize her if I saw her in action. When Seinfeld episodes appear on Hulu in a couple of days, I’ll find her episode and watch. After I find the episode that ends with George screaming, “Say Vandalay! Say Vandalay!!”
- 45A [With affection] LOVINGLY – Nice. After some questionable recent puzzle entries, this is refreshingly nice!
- 5D [Like some triangles] SCALENE – Another nice one.
- 30D [IMer’s “Then again…”] OTOH – Stands for On The Other Hand. Seeing it more and more in puzzles. How long until it is crosswordese?
- 46D [Left hanging] IN LIMBO – Best in the puzzle. Fooled me for a bit; thought it ended in ED or ING.
Great early week puzzle. 3 stars.
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 212), “International Money-Back Guarantee”—Janie’s review
Wow. What a wonderfully executed theme. You see those circles in the print version of the grid (the colored squares on this page)? Each contains the name of an international monetary unit—spelled backwards and spanning two words in each of the five (terrific) themers, including that central grid-spanner. We’ve seen “hidden money” in puzzles before, but I don’t recall seein’ this particular kind of exchange, so to speak. WATT‘s the big IDEA? Take a look.
- 17A. [Escaped] BROKE LOOSE, in which the crosswordese-y Albanian LEK gets a fabulous make-over.
- 23A. [It will help you go places?] TRAVEL BUREAU, wherein lies the (mostly) Russian RUBLE. Nice clue, too.
- 36A. [1979 hit by Stevie Wonder] “SEND ONE YOUR LOVE,” which becomes a container for the Japanese YEN. While I knew the song when I listened to it, I hadn’t known its title. Which turns out to be—surprisingly, given the era in which it became a hit—gender-neutral. But take a listen (or a look). The title as written is never sung and gender-specific pronouns (both for “her” and for “him”) are heard in the hook.
- 46A. [Skin reaction to fear or cold] GOOSE PIMPLES, which houses the PESO, Spanish in origin and used in several Spanish-speaking countries. Goose pimples! Love seeing that in the grid.
- 57A. [Emmy-winning puppeteer who performed with Charlie Horse] SHARI LEWIS, who keeps the similarly multinational LIRA in her name. Great to see the full-name shout-out to the charming Shari Lewis, too. And just in case you somehow missed the hint in the title or what was happening in the the long themers, this little bonus shoulda set you straight:
- 60A. CASH [It’s “returned” in the circled letters…]. Just to spell it out (and sorry if this is overkill…), “returned”=written backwards…
That is one elegantly-conceived and tightly-wrought theme set, IMHO…
What else kept this such a smile-making solve? Let me hit some of the other SALIENT points. That would include longer fill, like solemn SWEARS TO [Solemnly affirms], ROLE-PLAY, the cautionary IN HASTE [Risky way to marry], and the aforementioned SALIENT.
I also liked the yogic tie-in between ZEN [Path to enlightenment] and INNER [Word with peace or city]; and then the tie-in between that inner city and URBAN. All of which lead to a kinda yin-yang VIBE, no?
More tie-ins by way of the [Poetic twilight time] E’EN, NE’ER [At no time, to (poet) Tennyson] and poet [W.H. Auden verse] ODE; and the genre-disparate [“OH, YOU Crazy Moon” (Sinatra hit)] and [“I’M SO Excited” (Pointer Sisters hit)]. Vive la différence, non? Btw, for those in or visiting NYC (and are so inclined…), the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center has a superb Sinatra exhibit (thru September 4th). It’s free and worth checkin’ out.
The clue for MOOSE, [Deer fellow?], led me to Wiki again. A moose is a deer? I mean, I knew they were both antlered, but given the differences in their appearances, could this be? Dear me… Live and learn, Jane. Live and learn. And then, the clue for PUG, [Dog named “Wrinkles,” perhaps], led me to Google Images. No explanation required.
As we all know, creating and/or solving a puzzle that seriously strikes our fancy can be a hit-or-MISS experience. Clearly, this was a hit for me. A BOLEYN NEPHEW [Henry Carey to Anne, 2nd wife of Henry VIII] for your thoughts!
Brad Wilber’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Some Pig”—Ade’s write-up
Good morning everyone! Not wanting to wait until the weekend to unveil a great crossword to the masses, Mr. Brad Wilber graces us with his presence – and a crossword puzzle – on a Tuesday, producing yet another good challenge. In today’s edition, each of the four theme answers is a play on words, replacing one of the words in each of the phrases with a similar-sounding word that relates to the porcine family or a porcine characteristic. Oh, and each of the clues create a scenario in which a star pig, Wilbur, goes through different stages of his star-studded life of fame. Honestly, Wilbur is just an attention hog!
- FAME IS SUCH A BOAR (17A: [“Wilbur, you’ve avoided the limelight since ‘Charlotte’s Web.’ How come?”])
- SWINE LANGUAGE (26A: [“We heard you went to college. What was your major?”])
- INDELIBLE OINK (42A: [“Now you’re coming out with a memoir. What’s the title?”])
- MAYBE A SHOAT FILM (58A: [“Do you think your story would make a good movie?”])
Started off fast in the Northwest, but after that, I had to throttle down and take my sweet time. I’m always on the lookout for a couple of opera clues when seeing Brad’s name on the byline, and, sure enough, he delivers with ORFEO, which, literally, was the last answer filled in today (61A: [“_____ ed Euridice” (Gluck opera)]). It didn’t help that I had ‘foisten’ instead of FOIST ON as one of its crossings for a couple of minutes (41D: [Saddle with]). Part of my slowdown also occurred because I initially put in ‘sou’ instead of ECU and wasn’t able to make that recovery quickly (7D: [Bygone French coin]). Darn you, old French coins!!! Some of the vocabulary was fun, with ASKANCE being the highlight of that (48A: [Suspicious way to look]). It was a good thing I was sure of the down answers in the Northeast because CALX wouldn’t have come to me in a million years (10A: [Post-combustion mineral residue]). I’m officially going to have calx in my mind anytime I think of caulk or need to use caulk. I remember back in the mid 1980s always seeing TAXI after watching New York Mets games when it was on WWOR-Channel 9 in New York, which probably made me the youngest person watching full episodes of Taxi in the city (35A: [Sitcom about a fleet]). Sometimes, they would air it during rain delays as well. And, sometimes, after Mets games on Ch. 9, they would air Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century, which easily made me one of the youngest people to watch (and remember) that show in New York as well. Man, Twiki the robot drove me insane with its “biddy, biddy, biddy” sound before saying something of substance. OK, I’m going off on a tangent, aren’t I? Well, time for the “sports…smarter” moment, and not a moment too soon…
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CHICANE (5D: [Do a snow job on]) – As it pertains to motor racing tracks (and any other road for that matter), a CHICANE is a man-made, shallow, S-shaped curve used to slow down traffic for safety purposes. Although there to slow down drivers and increase safety, on most racing tracks – usually in Formula One and Indy Car – drivers use the chicane to try and pass another driver that’s immediately in front of them.
See you on the top of the hump tomorrow! Have yourself a good day/evening…