Ron and Nancy Byron’s New York Times crossword
The theme revealer is 55a. [Carved decoration on a ship’s prow … or a hint to the first word of 17-, 25-, 37- and 45-Across], FIGUREHEAD, and the other four themers yield the extrapolations full figure, action figure, stick figure, and “go figure.” Three noun phrases and a colloquial phrase, not a good balance.
- 17a. [Banned wrestling hold], FULL NELSON.
- 25a. [Aid in accomplishing a goal], ACTION PLAN.
- 37a. [“Don’t give up the fight!”], STICK TO YOUR GUNS.
- 45a. [Risk everything], GO FOR BROKE.
So much of this puzzle didn’t feel like a Tuesday puzzle, or really a 2016 puzzle. In my combined list of difficult and/or dusty fill, we have DECCA, HODS, DORIA, SADA, EELY, RANI, AT. NO., FER, DOERR, HAS AT, PETR (we don’t see a lot of Czech forenames in crosswords, nope), TUTEE, EDINA, SNELL, and ASSAY.
Three more things:
- 31a. [Guest you might not want to stay for too long], IN-LAW. I’m crazy about my in-laws, so my “too long” might stretch out a bit further than yours.
- 61a. [“Dark Sky Island” singer, 2015], ENYA. Title of her latest album, seven years after her previous one. The album’s sold OK, but it has zero hit singles.
- 39d. [Where you might hear “Ding ding ding!”], GAME SHOW. Game show aficionados, tell me: Which show currently airing in TV has the best example of a “Ding ding ding!” sound effect?
Three stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “The Movie Room” – Derek’s write-up
A movie themed puzzle this week, no doubt inspired by the Oscar-nominated film, Room, which is actually mentioned in one of the clues! Here are the thematic entries:
- 16A [She starred in 2002’s “Panic Room”] JODIE FOSTER
- 40A [He played the central unifying character in 1995’s “Four Rooms”] TIM ROTH
- 65A [He wrote, directed, and starred in the 2003 cult film “The Room”] TOMMY WISEAU
- 10D [Best Actress nominee for 2015’s “Room”] BRIE LARSON
- 27D [He played a part in 2000’s “Boiler Room”] BEN AFFLECK
I have seen a grand total of two of these movies (Panic Room and Boiler Room), and even then I think I haven’t seen those all the way through! I am not a big movie watcher. Big fan, just don’t watch many. One of the things that may change when I retire. And don’t have a toddler!
A fun puzzle from Matt again, and a quick time for me. Getting ready for Stamford! A solid 4.2 stars this week.
- 25A [Republican presidential candidate Marco] RUBIO – If you don’t know who this is, you are likely comatose, regardless of your political preference. Very timely, if nothing else!
- 69A [Ferrell’s cheerleading partner on “SNL”] OTERI – I mentioned a few months ago that I haven’t seen her in forever. Someone pointed out that she is still in some things. I still haven’t seen her, though!
- 3D [Asian capital nicknamed the City of Azaleas] TAIPEI – Nice piece of trivia!
- 48D [Olympics broadcaster Bob] COSTAS – This is official, I believe. Like there needed to be an official pronouncement! Olympics are a little less than 6 months away!
- 53D [Tennis champ Rafael] NADAL – I believe I mentioned this before, but I love tennis! Nadal is on his last legs, it seems to me, but he will go down as one of the all-time greats, especially on clay.
It’s cold here in Indiana, but it is supposed to warm up at the end of the week. We may survive winter yet! Enjoy your week!
Mark McClain’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I used to collect things when I was younger. As I get older, I have tried to simplify matters. Even so, I still have compulsions to watch entire seasons on Netflix! It’s kind of the same mentality, isn’t it?
I digress! The theme of today’s LAT puzzle is all about collecting! The long entries:
- 18A [Add to the language] COIN A PHRASE
- 23A [Unusually high temperatures, often] RECORD HEAT
- 38A [Law enforcement slogan] STAMP OUT CRIME
- 50A [Dessert with swirls] MARBLE CAKE – Yummy!
- 58A [What the starts of 18-, 23-, 38- and 50-Across can be part of] COLLECTIONS
Who hasn’t collected one of these objects at one time or another? Although records are passé (yet making a comeback!), and most people stream music! And marbles are REALLY passé, at least to me. Used to collect stamps, and coin collectors are still around as well. Nice theme idea. How about a solid 3.8 stars.
A few observations:
- 43A [Many opera villains] BASSI – I rarely see this word in a plural form, except in puzzles. Of course, with my unculturedness, I have never seen an opera!
- 64A [Adult insect] IMAGO – I am good with this word now; it used to look and seem weird.
- 5D [Grace opening] O LORD – Or, what my grandmother always used to say!
- 35D [Printer resolution spec.] DPI – I don’t know about you guys, but I am a hard core laser printer user. It’s all about the puzzles!
- 41D [Steph Curry’s org.] NBA – A timely clue, as the All-Star Game for the NBA was just Sunday. Steph Curry was prominently featured all weekend. I hope you found time to watch the 3-Point Shootout!
Hope you enjoyed the puzzle. Until Saturday’s LAT challenge!
Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 246), “Edgy”—Janie’s review
Terrific puzz today: strong theme, stronger execution. Terrific central reveal, too, right there at 36A. CITY BLOCK [Urban distance unit…or a hint to the puzzle theme], for as you see, the edges of the completed grid are comprised of the names of cities—eight of ’em, all seven letters long, all of ’em clued independent of their status as CITY names. Let’s take a (clockwise) walk around the BLOCK…
- 1A. BOULDER [Very large rock]. CO
- 8A. CHICAGO [“Razzle Dazzle” musical]. IL
- 14D. OLYMPIA [Dukakis of “Moonstruck”]. WA
- 46D. HOUSTON [“I’m Every Woman” singer]. TX
- 66A. MADISON [Unger’s pal]. WI
- 65A. NEWPORT [Cigarette brand]. RI
- 39D. JACKSON [Reggie, aka “Mr. October”]. MS
- 1D. BUFFALO [Critter on a nickel]. NY And, yes, while we correctly refer to that creature as a BISON (whose numbers are the topic of this recent and disturbing op-ed piece…), numismatically speaking we’re looking at the American BUFFALO, the flip side of the Indian Head nickel.
And you know what a border of seven-letter fill LEADS TO? Today, at any rate, that’d be a grid distinguished by beautiful open corners with interlocking triple-sevens, down and across (for a total of 24 sevens). While AURORAL and UPHEAVE feel forced and are not words we’re likely to encounter on any kind of regular basis (thank goodness…), entries like RE-ENTRY, FORTIES, ON ORDER, UNNERVE, GARMENT, TORT LAW, SALAMIS, LEADS TO, CHRISTO and ACTRESS more than make themselves welcome. Those last two especially.
Loved being reminded of the Reichstag-wrapping CHRISTO who, 11 years ago and closer to home, stationed curtain-like, orange-saffrony “gates” all throughout Central Park. Their placement in 12-foot intervals along some 23 miles of walkways emphasized the park’s “bone structure,” especially in the aftermath of a winter snow, when orange-on-white made the paths so visible. Because CHRISTO is so strong, coulda lived without the weak and duplicate-like CHR [Prot., for example], but also see how there was probably no easy way around this. (Maybe cluing it in connection with Contemporary Hit Radio? Still not particularly wonderful…)
Loved that ACTRESS was clued as [Flick chick] and then, that the puzz also gave us a chick-flick-specific shout-out to GEENA Davis, co-star with Susan Sarandon, of Thelma & Louise (also featuring a young, barely-known Brad Pitt in a role that won him a lot of attention). Another ACTRESS in the grid is Judy [Garland, nee GUMM]. Nee Frances Ethel GUMM if ya wanna get technical. Of the GUMM Sisters. The GUMM surname, however, got me to thinking about sisters and ACTRESSes Mamie and Grace GUMMer—which then had me wondering if there’s a GUMMest or two out there…
ONI [Clandestine maritime org.] has appeared in puzzles before—even several that I’ve solved. But darned if it didn’t seem like something totally new to me. This is the Office of Naval Intelligence, btw, which is BASED [Headquartered] in Suitland, MD. Feelin’ like an idiot here. Maryland is my home state. Never hearda ONI; never hearda Suitland. From where I sit, they’re doing a very good at the “clandestine” part!
About to take my leave here, but not without acknowledging the fair CITY of VENICE, which connects with painter (Jean-Baptiste-)Camille COROT, which connects with TIME BOMBS, the puzzle’s, uh, dynamite central Down entry. Keep solving and come back next week for more!
Jacob Stulberg’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Winning Words” — Jim’s review
I am going to apologize right of the bat for shortened and tardy posts this week. I traveled across nine time zones and am feeling the hurt! Yesterday’s WSJ holiday was a godsend for me, but time and crosswords wait for no one, so let us carry on!
Today’s puzzle is perfect for Ade, our resident sportswriter. Jacob Stulberg gives us a list of sports nicknames — not nicknames of players, but the actual sports themselves — mostly coined by sportswriters and commentators.
- 20A [Boxing, with “the] SWEET SCIENCE
- 39A [Soccer, with “the”] BEAUTIFUL GAME
- 56A [Horse racing, with “the”] SPORT OF KINGS
I’ve never heard of the “SWEET SCIENCE” but it originated in the early 19th century with writer Pierce Egan who referred to the sport as the “SWEET SCIENCE of bruising”. This term seems to have been the direct cause of nicknames for both Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard. (I wonder if Evander Holyfield’s ear was sweet.)
You can call soccer the “BEAUTIFUL GAME,” just don’t call it “soccer” outside the U.S.
Any other nicknames you can think of? Baseball is the “NATIONAL PASTIME” which makes a good 15-letter spanner. I’ve seen cricket referred to as the “GENTLEMAN”S GAME”. American football doesn’t seem to have any sort of ubiquitous poetic nickname.
There are four football references away from the theme (5A JETS, 38A Terrell OWENS, 28D TDS, and 37D PUNT). 49D PASSES could’ve been cross-referenced with both OWENS and TDS, but it gets a non-sports clue [Elapses]. Baseball gets one entry (30A RBI).
Aside from the theme, the puzzle seems solid and workmanlike. Our long Downs are FANTASIES and SPEED AWAY (which, with the sports theme, wants to be SPEEDWAY). I also like LOGBOOK and EARTHA, but there just isn’t a whole lot else to get excited about. Cluing is early-week straight (i.e. not very tricky).
Randall J. Hartman’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Heading South”—Ade’s write-up
Hello there, everybody! Today’s crossword puzzle, from Mr. Randall J. Hartman, is a progression, as each of the four theme entries are phrases that have the word “DOWN” in it, and that word shifts further to the right from one theme to the other when moving south in the grid.
- DOWN FOR THE COUNT (17A: [Knocked loopy])
- DOWN TO EARTH (30A: [Unpretentious])
- NO MONEY DOWN (48A: [Attractive offer from a car dealership])
- I WON’T LET YOU DOWN (65A: [Words of reassurance])
Nothing that really stands out in the grid for today, outside of thinking about how criminals take care of their foes when seeing the word WHACK (44A: [Knock off]). That also made me think of that term being used when I was growing up in the early 90s for something that was considered poor or substandard. “That school play was WHACK.” Anyone else here grew up knowing the term being used that way? I hope so! On the Sunday of the 2013 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, I remember taking an impromptu trip to CONEY Island with one of the volunteers, Judy Harris, who had a yearning for a Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog and just felt like going (16A: [_____ Island, New York]). It was so random, especially since I had only met her officially the day before, but it definitely turned out to be one of the best memories of my ACPT experience in Brooklyn. Though I remember getting chewed out for just putting ketchup on my hot dog. (Didn’t know there was etiquette with condiments on hot dogs.) For those who eat/have eaten hot dogs, what toppings do you put on it?
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NADAL (55D: [Spanish tennis player nicknamed Rafa]) –Will another man win at least one major title in 10 consecutive years, like Rafael “Rafa” NADAL did between 2005 and 2014? Not sure, but Novak Djokovic is sure to give him a run for his money right now, as Nole’s 2016 Australian Open win now gives the Serb at least one grand slam singles title in six consecutive years. The next grand slam is the French Open, which Rafa has won nine times.
See you all at the top of the hump tomorrow!