At last! An explanation for terrible crossword fill that makes sense. Erik Agard is a very smart man.
Brandon Hensley’s New York Times crossword
Good puzzle, by and large. Top fill: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE (has any other gay movie character come close to rivaling his box-office receipts?), WHITECAPS/RUM RAISIN/EXPURGATE, HAD IT MADE, “…AND SCENE!,” HUXLEY, BROMANCE, POTUS.
Never heard of 30d. [Wood painted to look like a cannon], QUAKER GUN.
Least favorite fill: TRAC, SYD, VERAS, EVOKER, I ME, ALECS.
Four more things:
- 49d. [Love of one’s fellow man, to Greeks], AGAPE. Seems like this is usually clued as the two-syllable agape, as in gaping, which is the sort of word that hardly anyone actually uses.
- 53a. [Rot], DRIVEL. I need to use this word more often. VERAS, EVOKER … drivel!
- 6d. [Purchases that are puffed, slangily], CIGS. I really don’t like seeing people dying of smoking-related COPD or lung cancer. Tobacco is nasty stuff.
- 55a. [Rock star’s nickname derived from his jewelry], RINGO. Really? Why have I never heard that before?
3.8 stars from me.
Martin Ashwood-Smith’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “In Jokes”—Ade’s write-up
Happy Friday, everybody! Here’s hoping you enjoyed today’s gag gift, provided to us today by Mr. Martin Ashwood-Smith. In his offering today, four theme answers have the word GAG spanning multiple words in the entries, with the reveal coming at the final across clue (73A: [Joke, and a hint to what’s literally inside 17-, 30-, 48-, and 64-Across]).
- CARRYING A GRUDGE (17A: [Unforgiving])
- BANG AGAINST (30A: [Hit, in a way])
- SEGA GENESIS (48A: [Sonic the Hedgehog’s game system]) – Played this game WAY too many times when Sega Genesis first came out.
- HAZARDING A GUESS (64A: [Speculating])
The theme needed a couple of gerunds for it to be pulled off, but it was done pretty nicely, and didn’t seem forced. Don’t know why I’m fascinated with the fill of HUDSON HAWK, but it totally just stands out, in a good way (11D: [1991 Bruce Willis film]). Never seen the movie, however. What also stood out was the intersection of RAJ (18D: [Indian friend of TV’s Sheldon, Leonard and Howard]) and its inverted counterpart, JAR (23A: [Cookie container]). There’s a little mini Muslim theme here in the grid as well, with KORAN (15A: [Book of Islam]) and HAJI, which is pretty timely because of it being the month of Ramadan now on the Muslim calendar (56D: [Visitor to Mecca]). After putting in SEEP, and seeing its clue, I want to say to someone that I “seep confidence” instead of the word used in the clue that’s usually used in place of that (13D: [Exude]). That has the same ring to it, right?!?!?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SPURS (4A: [Short railroad tracks]) – Here are a couple of facts about the San Antonio SPURS, the five-time NBA champions (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014). The Spurs were founded in 1967 as the Dallas Chaparrals, and first played in the American Basketball Association (ABA). In 1973, they moved to San Antonio and, in 1976, were one of four ABA teams – along with the Denver Nuggets, New Jersey Nets and Indiana Pacers – who merged with the NBA. When the Spurs won their first title in 1999, they became the first former ABA team to win an NBA championship. (They remain the only one of the four original ABA teams to have won an NBA title.)
See you tomorrow from Deep in the Heart of Texas! Have a good rest of your weekend!
Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “A Medley of Fireworks” — pannonica’s write-up
Didn’t read the byline, didn’t look at the title, noticed many of the longest answers had CH bigrams. Wasn’t until the revealer way down at 116-across that I understood the gimmick. [Fireworks, and an anagram of seven other answers in this puzzle] PYROTECHNICS. Suitable for your Independence Day celebrations. Without learning the theme it would have been difficult for me to complete the first themer, as it’s the most strained anagram.
- 23a. [Recording studio fee?] PRICE TO SYNCH. Didn’t help that I think of 7d RISOTTO more as a small but filling entrée than a [Creamy appetizer]. As it was, bemusedly tried RICOTTA for some time. Also, the only three-word theme answer.
- 35a. [Opera star who knows the words before the libretto’s written?] PSYCHIC TENOR.
- 65a. [Spooky sound from many horror movies?] ECHO IN CRYPTS. Really wanted this to be present participle ECHOING …
- 72a. [Daisy relative that’s completely exhausted?] SPENT CHICORY.
- 104a. [Ads featuring unsophisticated humor?] CORNY PITCHES.
- 16d. [Habitual liars, e.g.?] CHRONIC TYPES.
- 64a. [Set designer’s Tony Award?] SCENIC TROPHY.
Can’t find much to say about the theme that wouldn’t be merely tautological.
- 12a [Group with colors] GANG, 45d [Tough’s territory] TURF.
- 3d [Wiliness] TRICKERY; 13d [Kicking around] ABUSING. “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference …” – Richard M. ‘Tricky Dick’ Nixon (7 Nov 1962) Speaking of trickiness, how about the innocuous-seeming 22a [Won, for one: Abbr.] HOMonym?
- 20a [Virginal relatives] PIANOS. A virginal is “a small rectangular spinet having no legs and only one wire to a note and popular in the 16th and 17th centuries —often used in plural —called also pair of virginals“ (m-w.com). SPINET is another crossword regular, so keep your fingers peeled.
- Icky mid-partial SOON AS (46a) somewhat mitigated by cross-reference to 47d [Pronto] ASAP.
- 1d [Six=pack sextet] POP TOPS. Not exactly the first feature one thinks of. See also, 127a [110-Across, tripled] NONET, and 110a [Rush, e.g.] TRIO. Rush–rush–rush, incidentally, would be very ASAP.
- Another mis-fill: with the P in place at 99a [Mug], went with PHIZ before PUSS.
- Absolute least-favorite fill: 101a [Bobby-soxer] TEENER.
- Favorite clue: 105d [Makes a long-distance call] YELLS.
- 81d [Velodrome vehicle] BIKE, aka velocipede.
Good crossword, but nothing to OOH and AAH over.
Jeffrey Wechsler’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review
There is always a temptation to cram in too much theme when it comes to wacky-style themes. Here we have 14/13/15/13/14, which is an ambitious arrangement to say the least! There will always be compromises. I must credit the fill here for being genuinely carefully crafted, with surprisingly few off notes.
The theme though… First, we have an awkward arrangement in the theme answers. If you have five letter-change answers – and three are in the first word and two in the final – the arrangement of first, first, first, final, final sets up a false expectation of consistency; it’s certainly inelegant. Either SCUFFEDCABBAGE and VIDEOSCREAMING should have been swapped, or SCABINTHEDARK and ROLLINGSCONES should have. The current arrangement was probably used in an effort to minimize the fall-out in the fill from the crowded theme.
The four theme answers I mentioned are all solid “puns” – they work both in their original and wacky senses. The middle one, SCOUTHEARTEDMEN, is a clunker for me. What does “scout-hearted” mean? It lacks any sense. Why not just have four answers if your fifth is much weaker?
- [“__ Wedding”: “The Simpsons” episode involving a fortune-teller], LISAS must’ve been a memorable Simpsons episode, since I remember it, and I’m a pretty casual watcher of the show…
- [Ginger Baker specialty], DRUMSOLO. Ginger Baker! I thought he’d be too obscure for crosswords. Please to see him get some credit!
- [“The drinks were on me”], IPAID. Not sure that’s a legit phrase, rather than just two words one might say.
- [Spooner of Spoonerism fame, for one, ALBINO. Who knew? Trivia!
Solidly designed grid, slightly staid theme. 3.25 Stars